Chicago Bears GM Jerry Angelo Out; Tim Ruskell or Bill Polian In?

Jay FloydContributor IIJanuary 3, 2012

LAKE FOREST, IL - APRIL 3: The Chicago Bears General manager Jerry Angelo looks on as the Bears announce Jay Cutler as their new quarterback during a press conference on April 3, 2009 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Illinois.  (Photo by Jim Prisching/Getty Images)
Jim Prisching/Getty Images

Jerry Angelo was fired as the Bears' general manager. 

And Tim Ruskell, one of Angelo's recent hires, may be the next candidate in line.

Why do that?

Ruskell has been a longtime friend and colleague of Angelo's since their days in Tampa Bay. He was the former president of football operations for the Seattle Seahawks for five years before joining the Bears last season.

Making him GM would effectively mean Angelo's departure brings little change, other than who's running the team in the same direction it's already been going for a decade.

Because Lovie Smith gets to stick around (for now), but few GMs are willing to join a franchise without the ability to pick coaches and implement their philosophy.

That's why Tim Ruskell, or the recently fired Bill Polian, could work.

Both are familiar with the philosophy of the Tampa 2 defense, Ruskell from his days in Tampa and Polian because it's what the Colts ran under Tony Dungy for several years.

So both might be satisfied with keeping Lovie as head coach, maintaining cohesion on the field and getting a chance to alter the course of the franchise without a significant overhaul.

Truth is, it's hard to draft worse than Angelo's Bears did. And Ruskell is a respected talent evaluator, so his coming to Chicago last year was writing on the wall that Angelo wouldn't be around much longer anyway. And whether Jerry would retire or get fired, it appeared even then he'd hand-picked a successor.

Ruskell has been part of selecting some quality players in drafts, including Trent Dilfer, Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, Warrick Dunn, Mike Alstott, Donnie Abraham, Ronde Barber, DeAngelo Hall, Chris Spencer, Matt Schaub, Lofa Tatupu and Brandon Mebane. 

Polian offers another approach that could work around Lovie Smith.

Polian built the mid-90s Buffalo Bills that went to four consecutive Super Bowls. Then he went to Carolina and took an expansion team to the NFC championship game in just his second year.

Then he went to Indianapolis, where he turned the 3-13 Indianapolis Colts into a machine. His first pick draft pick that year, of course, was Peyton Manning. But he also found Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney and Bob Sanders.

Should the Bears hire Ruskell or Polian? Keep Smith and stick with the same philosophy but let someone else take over the draft? 

Or should Chicago wipe the slate clean and start over from scratch?