Rozner: Bears' firings only part of solution

  • Bears chairman George McCaskey and ownership must get out of the way and let a legitimate football brain run that side of the business going forward.

    Bears chairman George McCaskey and ownership must get out of the way and let a legitimate football brain run that side of the business going forward. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/30/2014 9:07 AM

You know what you call the firing of Phil Emery and Marc Trestman?

A good start.

 

The general manager and coach failed and needed to go, but we've seen the Bears' deck chairs reshuffled in the past, only to watch the water pour in all the same gaping holes.

Remaining is the same ownership group, with all the same ideas of how to run a franchise.

"We feel the structure we have is a good one," George McCaskey said late Monday afternoon. "The head coach reports to the GM, the GM reports to the team president, and the president reports to the chairman."

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Chairman McCaskey knows it was team president Ted Phillips using search firms and NFL contacts to unearth the likes of Jerry Angelo and Emery, and their choices of Lovie Smith and Trestman produced 3 playoff wins in 11 years.

The hope was that George McCaskey would be the first McCaskey to understand enough -- or care enough -- to fix the bigger issues, the lack of a football boss with unfettered authority at the top.

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This goes all the way back to the death of Mugs Halas in 1979, the departure of Jim Finks in 1983 and the firing of Jerry Vainisi in 1986.

If Mugs had been around, Finks would not have left. If not for Michael McCaskey, Vainisi wouldn't have been forced out.

All of today's problems trace back to Michael McCaskey's involvement, his butchering of stadium negotiations and the Dave McGinnis debacle. That led to Ted Phillips, who led to Angelo and Smith, who led to Emery and Trestman.

They allowed Mark Hatley to run the draft in 2001, even though they knew he was leaving shortly thereafter due to conflicts with Phillips.

It was laughable, but the circus atmosphere is nothing new in Lake Forest.

Inexplicably, George McCaskey allowed Phillips to find Emery, and King George had clearly been embarrassed enough to bring a barrel of bleach to Monday's scrubbing. He could not, with any logic, explain giving Emery another coach, another season, another roster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Emery's the one who chose Trestman over better candidates, at least one of whom, Bruce Arians, admitted this season that the Bears' interview process -- and demands about assistant hirings -- was awkward and too bizarre to seriously consider taking the job.

The McCaskey family is not to blame for all the world's problems, but it's not overstating it to say that no long-term solution to a decades-old problem can be found without ownership getting out of the way and putting in charge a legitimate football brain that knows how to build toward long-term success.

Even though Phillips found Angelo and the team of McCaskey and Phillips found Emery, it will be the same pair that decides how to proceed now.

"I don't regret the hiring of Phil or the hiring of Marc," Phillips said Monday. "It didn't work out. We didn't win."

The only change this time around is they'll have former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi consulting and helping compile a list of names.

"Ernie will definitely be involved in the process," Phillips said. "Ernie will make recommendations, but ultimately the decision on GM will be made by George and myself."

So not all that different from last time.

"We have an excellent collaboration," McCaskey said. "Ted keeps me informed on actions he's taking or will take. We collaborate. It's not a voting situation."

And why are they qualified to choose?

"I think Ted and I understand the history of the Bears," McCaskey said. "Ted and I have lived it. We feel a collaborative effort is the best way to go."

This season has been humiliating for the McCaskey family, and that's not reason alone to fire people. Incompetence is the problem, but it speaks to the family ownership dynamic that embarrassment matters more than incompetence and that's what led to Bloody Monday.

This season has been a nightmare for the franchise, but that's insignificant compared to the fact that the Bears have precisely 5 playoff wins in the last 25 years.

The Bears have the fewest homegrown players in the NFL, while division-rival Green Bay -- poised to make another playoff run -- has the most players who have played only for the Packers.

Coincidence? Certainly not.

The Bears have made mistake after mistake in the draft and have had to pay for those disasters by trading for players like Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall and signing expensive free agents like Jared Allen.

That's the story of the Bears. Perpetually bad on the field because they are ceaselessly confused off the field.

The embarrassment is unpleasant, but it pales in comparison to the dull future complicated by mistakes in front-office and coaching hires, and yet they make no meaningful change at the top, where McCaskey and Phillips will again decide on the GM and coach.

"Our family has complete faith in Ted," McCaskey said. "He has our complete support."

Until a genuine NFL structure is set up, starting at the very top -- with someone like, say, Ernie Accorsi -- the pattern will continue with hope for lasting success a mirage.

Hey, maybe they'll get it right this time. They're certainly due to get lucky, but history -- at least the last 25 years of it -- tells us it's unlikely.

Firing another head coach and GM doesn't change that.

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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