Success Despite Himself: Overrated Chicago Bears GM Jerry Angelo Needs to Go

Tab BamfordSenior Writer INovember 30, 2008

In just five seasons as General Manager of the Chicago Bears, Jerry Angelo can look at the team and take credit for two division championships and one trip to the Super Bowl.

The problem is, Angelo can be viewed as the cause of the success or the reason the Bears haven't achieved more. When breaking down his track record, perhaps Angelo has been more of a hindrance than the foundation to the Bears' recent track record.

Angelo has built a team, or taken credit for building a team, that has not been the most cohesive group of pieces. Let's consider a number of ways Angelo has impacted the roster:


The Draft

Who are the winners Angelo has selected in the first round since taking over before 2001? David Terrell, Marc Columbo, Rex Grossman, Michael Haynes, Tommie Harris, Cedric Benson, Greg Olsen, and Chris Williams. Terrell, Columbo and Haynes gave the Bears less than one good season, and it could be debated how much good football Benson gave the franchise.

Grossman did take the team to the Super Bowl, but has been largely seen as a bust because of questionable decision making and month-long lapses in judgment.

Harris has been injury prone but solid, while the book is still out on Olsen and Williams.

Angelo has found a few diamonds in the rough, though. From 2002, fourth rounder Alex Brown has been a solid contributor on the defensive line. In the second and third rounds of 2003, Angelo found corner Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs.

Tillman's partner as starting corner for the Bears, Nathan Vasher, was found in the fourth round of 2004.

Other picks after Round One that have turned into gold have been Devin Hester, Bernard Berrian, Kyle Orton, and running back Adrian Peterson.

Of the 63 players Angelo has drafted, fewer than 20 have contributed in the NFL at any level. Hester was selected as a corner out of Miami and was truly a diamond in the form of crude coal.

Angelo had proudly traded out of draft positions he didn't like over the years. Perhaps most noticeable was his trade with the Jets in 2003, when he traded down from the fourth overall pick. Angelo would use the two picks he acquired in that first round to select Grossman and Haynes; he would pass on Troy Polamalu, Terrell Suggs, Larry Johnson, Dallas Clark, Willis McGahee, and Osi Uminyura, all of whom play positions the Bears have had issues with since 2003.


Free Agents

The biggest issue with Angelo's handling of players who have come through the gates at Soldier Field for a tryout is one name. The Bears have been trying to find a quarterback since Erik Kramer left in the early 1990s, and currently have the serviceable Orton behind center.

But before he was a media darling in Dallas, Tony Romo was trying out for the Bears. Romo played decently in a couple preseason games before receiving his walking papers from Angelo. Romo is now dating Jessica Simpson.

Angelo also compensated the Chiefs with a draft pick in bringing OT John Tait into the fold, and overpaid for backup quarterback Brian Griese, OT Fred Miller, and OG Roberto Garza.



Angelo has traded draft picks back and forth, we've already spoken about that. But he also gave away Thomas Jones in an effort to prove how weak Benson was as a feature back. He also traded away too much for Adewale Ogunleye.

There have also been deals that Angelo hasn't made that have reflected poorly on his regime in Chicago. The fiasco surrounding Briggs' and Brian Urlacher's contract situations the past two years have been comical.

Angelo has also been made to look a fool by letting defensive coordinator Ron Rivera leave, only to see the defense not play as well the next season.

Finally, the contract negotiations with and eventual signing of Devin Hester to be a receiver, not only a return man, has led to Hester being replaced on kickoffs due to lack of production.

Overall, there is very little that Angelo has done that has made the Bears a winning team. He has made player management an issue in each off-season since his tenure began, making public the negotiations with players like Urlacher.

He has also not pulled the trigger at times when he needed to, leading to additional confusion in both the media and the Bears' fan base.

Angelo needs to go. His tenure has been nice, but there is undoubtedly more that could be done with the talent the Bears have (and have had) since 2001.