Angelo and Smith: Converging To Form The Perfect Storm In Chicago

Victor FerenziCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2009

It has been said that actions speak louder than words, and Jerry Angelo’s lack of action this offseason speaks volumes.

After another speech about improving the team through both talent and coaching, we head into another season of wait and see. Angelo has been with the Bears since June of 2001 making 2002 his first draft, but it wasn’t until 2004 when, after being turned down by two other coaches, that Angelo hired Lovie Smith to be the new head coach of the Chicago Bears.

So began the perfect storm. Lovie was the perfect complement to Angelo, they set up a platform in which the continuously offered each other plausible deniability. “We like player X, but we will use this time to evaluate everyone.” “We will use the players that give us the best chance to win.”  Then the next week we’ll hear “we need to get better at position X”.

Angelo and Smith sound more like politicians, talking often, but never really saying anything. They leave just enough doubt in people’s minds to keep a united Anti-Angelo/Lovie front at bay. If people can’t decide on whose fault it is then no one needs to be held responsible.

They exude a condescending attitude towards fans and media alike. Anyone who dares to question the abilities of Angelo or Smith obviously just does not understand football. We’re all too ignorant and don’t understand the complexities of the day to day strategies towards winning. We don’t see the improvements and potential that they do, yet the Bears don’t get any better.

When the public pressure becomes too overbearing, they just use a coordinator or a player as a scapegoat. How long can it be everyone else’s fault? When do we ask the big question; if all of these players and assistants are so bad, maybe it is because Angelo and Smith cannot judge talent? Isn’t that a big part of their job? Why is it that no one has asked about the all of the assistants and coordinators that have left the Bears for the same job somewhere else, or even a demotion somewhere else?

Almost every other team has lost the majority of their coaches due to promotion, not the Bears. Coaches just want to leave the Bears and they don’t care how. Is it because they cannot tolerate working with Lovie or because they know Chicago is a career killer and they will have to take a step back before taking a step forward.

My guess is a little of both. What is worse is that every coach that is then brought in is a personal friend of Lovie’s and/or Angelo’s, many of whom have little or no experience, and many of whom have never experienced winning. Double-talking politicians and nepotism, do you think Chicago attracts this or just brings it out in people?

Let’s take a quick look at some of Heckle and Jeckle’s finer moments:

Angelo on coaches:

Angelo hired Lovie Smith away from the St. Louis Rams after a season in which their high-powered offense finished second in points but their defense was 16th and 17th in points and yards respectively.

What does this mean? It means that while the Rams won, Lovie had little or nothing to do with it. Lovie’s defense is predicated upon slowing the other team’s offense down instead of stopping them. Keep giving up yards and hope that you can get a turnover.

The problem is that unless you have one of the top scoring offenses in the league you can’t win like this. Angelo hired Lovie when he had no experience actually stopping offenses or playing from behind. Angelo threw him on a team whose offense ranked 23rd and 28th in points and yards respectively. This is not hard math people.  

Angelo provided Lovie with offensive coordinator Terry Shea. Shea’s coaching career was riddled with one and two-year stints with various college and pro teams, but I guess Angelo thought he was a long-term answer.

Shea’s latest accomplishment at the time was quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. K.C. had a good offense in 2003, however this was due to Priest Holmes 2,000 plus yards from scrimmage and record setting 27 rushing touchdowns, and not Shea’s coaching.

Throughout the 2004 season Angelo and Lovie repeatedly announced their confidence in Shea, but when the angry mob showed up to Halas Hall with pitchforks and torches the day after the season ended, Shea’s head (and job) were promptly handed to the crowd.

Ron Turner was promptly hired for his second term and Lovie and Angelo have been driving coaches away ever since, slowly replacing them with people from Lovie’s Christmas card list.

Lovie and Angelo on players:

Let’s forget about free-agent acquisitions, Angelo has never gone after an elite player. Angelo’s stance is to forever try to find the diamond in the rough that everyone else has passed over. Let’s look at the draft.  Of the first day draft picks Angelo has drafted seven first-round picks, seven second-round picks, and nine third-round picks, how many are still with us?

Of the seven first-round picks, four are gone, one is a backup (Olsen), and one has played less football for the Bears than Rudy did for Notre Dame (Williams). So who is left? Tommy “I couldn’t care less since I got paid” Harris.

Of the seven second-round picks what did we get? Tank Johnson traded his pads for an orange jumpsuit. Mark Bradley was announced as the No. 1 receiver shortly before getting a pink slip.

Daniel Manning is an up and coming corner, no safety, no corner, no nickel back, special teamer, bench warmer, who knows what this season will bring. Devin Hester had a great first and second year before becoming the No. 1 receiver, which as we all know makes anyone instantly irrelevant in Chicago.

Dan Bauzin is gone, however Forte looks like the real deal, but we’ll see if the Bears find a way to ruin that. Of the nine third-round picks, four are gone. Lance Briggs has been a true find, and perhaps the only player who earned his money last year.

Dvoracek has spent more time at AA meetings than on the field. Garret Wolfe has become an average special teams player. Marcus Harrison shows a little promise, but I find it funny that we cut Benson for boating while black (Angelo says he shouldn’t put himself in that situation, apparently Angelo is not well versed in genetics) but keep a guy with felony drug charges.

Earl Bennett is currently our defacto starter, one day he hopes to catch his first pass. The Bears offense is terrible every year and every year we wonder about receivers, quarterback, and offensive line.

We still have three of the 10 offensive linemen Angelo has drafted, and Josh Beekman is the only one with starting experience. Beekman did a decent job last year and looks like he could get better, so Angelo replaces him with a third-string tackle from Carolina who has only started one game in his career.

Angelo also has a nice collection of other teams discarded guards as well. Of the three tackles the Bears have on the team right now, they collectively have one starter, and that is Omiyale, who is slated to play guard.

The Bears haven’t had a legitimate receiver since Willy Gault. Angelo has drafted eight receivers, seven are gone and the remaining (Bennett) has never caught a pass. They have drafted three quarterbacks, Orton is left. Orton is average and may one day be a little better than that, but he can’t throw the deep ball and he will never be a star.           

Lovie on Game Day:

Lovie is clearly a guy who has lost control of his team. Attitude reflects leadership and the Bears attitude is telling. No one is buying into this system anymore. We have a defense that doesn’t take advantage of its player’s abilities. We have corners that aren’t taught how to bump receivers off their routes at the line of scrimmage (essential in cover 2), which doesn’t give the line enough time to get after the quarterback, which means the Bears get burned.

Lovie’s offense is so archaic and conservative that it appears as though they consider the forward pass a trick play. In fact, this team hasn’t had any creativity from the coaches since special team’s coach Danny Abramowicz left.

Lovie consistently fails to use time outs effectively, often take them at the wrong time allowing the other team to kick field goals or take a last shot down field. Who can forget when Lovie smugly told the media how “we don’t make adjustments” yeah, we know Lovie, we were watching and so was the other team.

There was also a Super Bowl game that the Bears had in hand against a team that gave up more points in a season than any other team in Super Bowl history. The Colts had one of the worst run defenses ever that year, so what does Lovie do, he stops running the ball.

That is Lovie’s plan. He always thinks he will outsmart the opponent by doing what they don’t expect. The problem is there is a difference between doing the unexpected because it is clever and catches the opponent off guard, and doing what no one thinks you will do because they don’t believe you’re that stupid.

Nobody expects someone to rob a bank with a slingshot, surprising as that may be for all of 10 seconds it is still a suicide mission. Just like Lovie’s playbook.

I have been a diehard Bears fan my whole life. Yes, I am one of those people who loves to talk about the ’85 Super Bowl. I know that irate fans sometime lack objectivity, but the situation at Halas Hall is way out of control.

Since the Angelo-Smith storm front blew into town they have dismantled a team that had promise. Even when they’ve had talent and some coaching they’ve managed to give up.

People will talk about winning division championships in a weak division as a success. People will say that limping to the Super Bowl with a Ron Rivera defense, luck, and a few big plays means that Lovie is a good coach. That must mean that Rex is a good quarterback.

The Bears didn’t get there because of Lovie and Angelo, they got there in spite of them. The whole experience over the past few years reminds me of one of those experiments where they put a bunch of people in a room to fill out a survey and they’re really filming them. Then they start sending smoke in from another room just to see if anyone will speak up, but no one wants to be the first one to yell fire.

Well the smoke has been pouring into Halas Hall for years now and I don’t want to wait until we’re sifting through the ashes for someone to yell fire.


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