Let me be perfectly clear, I believe Jerry Angelo is one of the worst General Managers in the National Football League, but at some point, you have to decide where the blame really lies.
Surprisingly, it isn't with Jerry, at least not mainly with Jerry. Jerry should be fired for one reason, and one reason alone, failure to insist Lovie Smith adapt.
You can criticize all the personnel decisions.
They've been bad. Do you think they were made completely without approval of the coaching staff ?
Then you have to wonder, were they really that bad for the system the Bears play?
The Bears play the Tampa Two.
Focus of that defense: Stopping the run and creating turnovers.
Format: Cornerbacks that take on the run, Speedy Safeties that can pick up and carry the WR after the CB passes him off, a Middle Linebacker that can get deep drops, Small Penetrating Defensive Lineman, and Outside Linebackers that clean up the run game.
What has Jerry Angelo supplied the Bears with?
Charles Tillman and Corey Graham. The Bears have two corners with the size to play the run, strength to jam a WR at the line, and enough speed to carry that WR to the second level.
Nathan Vasher and Trumaine McBride are pretty prototypical nickelbacks for a Tampa-Two System. Zachary Bowman has the size to step in for Tillman or Graham.
For the system, at CB, Jerry Angelo has provided perfect talent.
Next up is safety. The Bears' biggest problem at Safety has been either the poor health of Mike Brown or the Adam Archuleta debacle. Chris Harris was a nice in the box safety but so is Payne. Then there are KR and Backup Safety D. Manning, backup Craig Steltz, and now signee Josh Bullocks.
You can't argue with Manning as a KR. You can't argue with him as an extra safety in pass protection. You can argue with him as a starter. Who do you blame for Brown's injury history? Jerry Angelo ?
Would anyone have released Brown when he has possibly been the most important player to the defense?
Throw in Bullocks and Steltz, and you have an athletic quartet perfect for the cover two.
Look at the Linebackers. Jerry really has only added one through the draft, Lance Briggs. You really can't complain about Briggs cleaning things up.
Brian Urlacher in the Middle still gets the best drops of any Middle Backer (Ray Lewis is right there with him). Urlacher's reaction to run plays is also top notch.
Hunter Hillenmyer also cleans up well on the strong side. Perhaps not as athletic as some would like, Hillenmyer is a tackling machine that Jerry Angelo picked off the Green Bay scrap heap.
Depth is weak, but part of that is because of the focus on special teams talent in the backup positions. Who can argue with the Bears' special teams ?
Small Quick Defensive Lineman. Brown, Ogunleye, Anderson, and Baldwin are prototype ends for the tampa two. The Defensive Tackles Tommie Harris, Anthony Adams, Dusty Dvoracek, Marcus Harrison all fit the quick burst first category.
Perfect for the system.
On offense the Bears have struggled but is that Jerry's fault?
One Wide Receiver is Devin Hester, perhaps the most exciting player in the game. Given the choice of keeping Berrian or Hester the Bears chose Hester.
The other Wide Receiver was Brandon Lloyd or long time favorite Marty Booker or Rashied Davis...that's the possession WR. Didn't Jerry bring in one of the top possession receivers to play college football in Mike Haas? Isn't a coach responsible for getting the right guys on the field?
Bear Tight Ends Des Clark, Greg Olsen and Kellen Davis present what could be the most athletic trio in the NFL. All provide the speed to threaten the seem. But in the Bears offense we see them putting up numbers like much less athletically gifted TE's.
Check the times on John Carlson, Kevin Boss, Anthony Fasano, or even Jim Kliensasser then check the Yards Per Catch. Why aren't some of the most athletic TE's in the league being used to threaten the seem ?
Jerry gave Lovie the players.
Quarterback? Does any one throw a nicer deep ball than Rex Grossman? Does anyone manage a game and take hits as well as Kyle Orton?
The line? Jerry hasn't restocked it very well in the draft but he has rotated in enough serviceable players to keep the Bears competitive.
Guys like Ruben Brown, Roberto Garza, Fred Miller, John Tait, John St. Claire, and Dan Buenning to augment failed draft picks like Terrance Metcalfe, Marc Colombo, and a few others.
Chris Williams was injured before the draft but the Bears doctors cleared him. I thought Sam Baker was more technically sound and Otah and Albert had more potential but Williams was the choice. Why ?
Williams fit the offense better than any of those others. He was a true Left Tackle as an athlete. He could play in a system that moved the pocket a bit. Do you think that choice was made without the coaching staff?
So what is the problem with the Bears?
They run a passe system on both offense and defense.
The Tampa Two is dead. Tampa scrapped the system after a 29-sack season. They began to transition away from the system with Ryan Sims, Greg Peterson, and Jimmy Wilkinson joining Bigger End Kevin Carter last season under Raheem Morris.
Leaving two NFL teams playing a cover two: Chicago and Indianapolis.
Neither defense dominated last year. The league adapted. The Bears didn't. Teams got quicker at the Guard spots, Taller at WR, or in some cases, just better at avoiding the jam, added a TE to delay the Defensive ends by chipping on the way out in the passing game.
Worst of all, they ran right at them.
Offensively, I have to be honest, I have no idea what kind of system the BEARS are running. I'm almost certain the Bears really don't have a definition of this system either. They have a power running back, who runs a little high.
They have a LT who is basically a RT (St. Clair) and a LT who is "athletic" when his back is healthy. The Center is small but skilled and Garza and Beekman aren't really power blockers.
So what is really Jerry Angelo's biggest failing?
Is it the drafting? Is it free agency? Let's be honest; it may be the drafting, but Jerry's Free agent signings have kept the Bears afloat.
Jerry's biggest problem may be loyalty and a long memory. Lovie got his start with Jerry. Marinelli did too. I'm sure the long time scout crossed paths with innovator Ron Turner more than once.
And Lovie hasn't adapted.
He's brought in cover two staples like Adam Archuleta, an old friend.
He's brought in Rod Marinelli, despite the cover two's apparent failings.
He's gotten smaller at Defensive End and Defensive Tackle.
The Bears adapt to the league or even better get ahead of the curve, or they'll continue to fall back.
A good GM would be bringing in some coaches that Lovie isn't entirely comfortable with. He'd be demanding some changes in scheme. Jerry's not a good GM.
He has supplied his coach with players that have fit the system.
It appears the Bears will be the last team employing that system. Maybe the Bears can end up so far behind the curve they end up cutting edge. They could be so out of style they end up in style as Retro.
That's got to be the hope for Bear fans.
If they can't pull it off with what they have its at least a three year rebuilding process under the next coaching regime.
If Jerry Angelo is still in Chicago, the odds are he'd give that coach exactly what he asks for, too. And if a GM does that you can't blame him for anything but the coach.
If a GM can't find those faults in a coach, it's time to blame the president.
Hey, Ted Phillips - You're on the clock.