Rozner: Chicago Bears' victory takes back seat to coaching search
Three years ago this week, George McCaskey fired the Chicago Bears' GM and head coach and left precisely no doubt about who was in charge of the football operation.
"We feel the structure we have is a good one," McCaskey said that day. "The head coach reports to the GM, the GM reports to the team president (Ted Phillips) and the president reports to the chairman (McCaskey)."
There was nothing vague about it. There is nothing vague about it.
"We have an excellent collaboration," McCaskey said that day. "Ted keeps me informed on actions he's taking or will take. We collaborate. It's not a voting situation."
So it wasn't at all surprising Sunday when Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that Phillips was beginning to shop for a new head coach.
He is the president of the team. He sees himself as a football guy after decades fronting the franchise. He's making a list and checking it twice.
"Ted Phillips, their president, doing homework now trying to figure out which candidates are going to be available," Rapoport said, "in the likely event John Fox is out."
While some teams have already made changes to get a head start on the off-season, the Bears crawl toward the end of another miserable season and yet another coaching change.
Fox will pay the price for GM Ryan Pace's failures, and it remains to be seen whether Pace will keep his job. Assuming he does, it will be entertaining to watch Pace spin his three-year record, which improved to an impressive 14-33 Sunday as the Bears defeated the winless Browns before a half-empty Soldier Field.
It's difficult to remember a time when the Bears were less relevant or interesting, and the fans have stayed away in droves during the second half of this season.
Pace has won six games, three games and five games in his three seasons and ought to go the way of Fox.
Any explanation to the contrary will be met with screams -- and not screams of joy.
But if he stays, McCaskey, Phillips and Pace will stand before you and pretend the Bears won 10 games and made the playoffs this season.
They will speak as if they were a single play away from winning the Super Bowl.
They will sell you hope and insist that the Bears aren't really a 5-win team, that it's really so much better than your eyes tell you it is.
They will remind you of Sunday's game, when the Bears easily handled the 0-15 Browns.
They will talk to you like you are too dumb to understand what a good football team looks like.
They will say they are close to being a playoff team, just as they said a year ago and the year before that.
They will say you can't build for lasting success in the NFL in only three years, that it takes four or five or six, hoping you forget they change their timetable and move the goal posts any time it suits their narrative.
That is what the Bears do. This is what the Bears have always done.
And while Pace is in witness protection, they throw Fox out front several times a week as a human shield at best and a sacrifice at worst, though his postgame news conference Sunday was his giddiest of the season.
Maybe he's realized that making several million dollars to stay home next year and far from Chicago is his best bet.
Maybe he's just glad it's almost over.
Either way, it's far past humorous that Phillips and McCaskey form the search committee for a head coach, when even with a combined 60 years in the business they needed to hire a consultant three years ago to unearth Pace.
And though they found themselves unqualified to find a general manager, they are now qualified to determine Pace's fitness as a general manager?
The Bears are a riddle wrapped in an enigma, but there is no mystery as to why it's been 32 years without a Super Bowl.
Forget 1985. The family-run business operates like it's 1955.
Go ahead and laugh. It might spare you from crying.
• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.