Jerry Angelo, the now-former general manager of the Chicago Bears, has been long thought to have been poisoning the organization from the inside out, making terrible personnel and draft decisions, allowing mismatched coaching pieces to lead the team and generally drawing the ire of the fans during his 11-year tenure.
While it's a sign of positive things ahead for the Bears, at least from a front-office perspective, just relieving Angelo of his duties is but one step the team has to make on a very long journey if they are to fix the myriad problems that plague them.
The Bears also parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike Martz, which was both a smart and necessary move and a depressing one. Martz, who had been with the team for two years, runs a complex West Coast offense that was ill-suited to quarterback Jay Cutler and his motley crew of receivers.
Thanks (or no thanks, really) to Angelo, the team never got the pieces necessary to make Martz's system work, and now that Martz is gone, the team will have to hire its third offensive coordinator in four seasons.
Teams that have a revolving door at offensive coordinator never perform well—it's just impossible for quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends and the line to get comfortable with a new approach quickly and then adapt to yet another new approach in the following season.
Stability is key for any team, and it's necessary for a quarterback, even one as experienced as Jay Cutler. Though Martz's system wasn't suited to Cutler's strengths, it was at least one he was familiar with. Now he has to start all over again with a new coordinator and new quarterbacks coach, as Shane Day left with Martz.
Cutler's problems don't just end with Martz's departure and the fact that he'll be learning the system of yet another coordinator. Regardless of the system put in place, Cutler simply doesn't have the tools to make it successful.
Beyond wide receiver Earl Bennett, who was one of Cutler's Vanderbilt teammates, there just aren't any receivers on the team worth starting.
Drop machine and first-down aficionado Roy Williams is a poor fit for the Bears or any team, Devin Hester isn't reliable enough to be a primary receiver, Johnny Knox needs more development and a coach who believes in him and Dane Sanzenbacher is a stop-gap and little more.
Drafting a starting-caliber wide receiver as well as bringing in some reliable, veteran hands are necessary. The team needs to think about being competitive with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, two division-mates who have explosive offenses and will continue to defeat the Bears without the team committing to serious improvements.
Improvements on the offensive line, a long-time issue for the Bears, will help Cutler's success rate. At running back, Chicago is solid and has good depth, but they need to seriously consider paying starter Matt Forte what he's worth rather than slapping the franchise tag on him in 2012.
On defense, the team is aging and lacks a venerable secondary. Defensive backs should be a high priority for the Bears in the 2012 draft, as well as picking up some young linebackers to build depth for the future.
Ridding themselves of Angelo and putting that shameful era behind them is an important first step for the Bears if they hope to improve in 2012 and beyond. However, that is the first step, not the only step.
There's a lot to be done in Chicago and there's no quick fix for any of those issues. Make no mistake, without a serious overhaul, the Bears will be in trouble in 2012