Rozner: The Bears' process is a 'collaboration'

  • Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips, left, and Chairman George H. McCaskey listen to question at a news conference after the firing of head coach Marc Trestman and General Manager Phil Emery at Halas Hall on Dec. 29, 2014, in Lake Forest. Ryan Pace would be hired to replace Emery, and in 2017, after going 14-34 in Bears' worst three-year stretch since the '70s, Pace was given a contract extension through 2021.

    Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips, left, and Chairman George H. McCaskey listen to question at a news conference after the firing of head coach Marc Trestman and General Manager Phil Emery at Halas Hall on Dec. 29, 2014, in Lake Forest. Ryan Pace would be hired to replace Emery, and in 2017, after going 14-34 in Bears' worst three-year stretch since the '70s, Pace was given a contract extension through 2021. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/17/2021 5:44 PM

Last week's Bears news conference brought many a chuckle from the fan base, but probably nothing brings more laughter than when the owner defends the hierarchy.

It's always about collaboration and process when leadership speaks, whether it's George McCaskey, Ted Phillips, Ryan Pace or Matt Nagy.

 

Part of that process involves the chain of command, which McCaskey has made clear.

"We feel the structure we have is a good one," McCaskey said the day the Bears fired Phil Emery and Marc Trestman. "The head coach reports to the GM, the GM reports to the team president (Phillips) and the president reports to the chairman (McCaskey)."

There is nothing vague about that.

When Pace fired John Fox, Phillips admitted that he was compiling a list of coaching candidates for the GM, just as Phillips is always involved in the search for a GM, along with various consultants or search firms, and then McCaskey and Phillips decide which person to hire.

They speak frequently of their "collaboration," a word that was used in different forms 16 times last Wednesday, second only to "process," voiced 17 times. These are words offered to avoid answering questions.

But when fans are upset that the team doesn't have a football person in charge of the operation, the Bears don't like it. McCaskey and Phillips insist they're qualified to run the team based on their long employment with the club, and McCaskey went out of his way to defend Phillips last week.

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"Ryan and Matt are our football guys," McCaskey said. "I've heard it often that Ted meddles in football affairs, and that notion is just absurd. It just doesn't happen.

"He's the president and CEO. Ryan reports to Ted. But the idea that Ted or I meddle in football decisions is just not true."

That's a smart way to change the subject. No one has suggested Phillips is drafting Mitch Trubisky or designing the read-option, but the people who do those things are hired by McCaskey and Phillips.

If Phillips is compiling a list of GM and head coaching candidates, is he not involved in football decisions? Splitting hairs, if you like, but the point fans are trying to make is they'd like someone who knows how to run a football team making the most critical decisions.

The last 35 years of failure suggests that whether it's Michael McCaskey, George McCaskey or Phillips, they don't seem to be very good at what they do, semantics or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That's a valid criticism," George McCaskey said last week. "My performance is evaluated by ownership and the board, and that's how that process works."

What does that mean? For the love of Abe Gibron and all that's holy, you are ownership.

McCaskey was the ticket director until 2010 and since then has run the football team. In that time, he has fired Jerry Angelo, hired Phil Emery, fired Emery and hired Pace. Together, they have fired Lovie Smith, hired Marc Trestman, fired Trestman, hired Fox, fired Fox and hired Nagy.

In that 10 years, the Bears have not won a playoff game, playing only a pair, putting them in terrific company with the Bengals, Lions, Jets, Dolphins, Raiders and Washington as the only other teams to have not captured a single playoff victory.

They have two winning seasons during that time, with only the Jets and Raiders worse than the Bears among that group.

"I think accountability is about taking responsibility for the decisions you make," Phillips said. "Good ones, bad ones and learning from them."

When Pace was 14-34 after three years, the Bears (after 2017) gave him a contract extension through 2021.

"He shows a clear vision," Phillips said that day, "of how to put together a winning team."

No three-year stretch had been worse since 1975.

"This has taken longer," McCaskey said that day, "than any of us has expected."

So, it was all bad, but the evaluators of the evaluator -- the men at the top -- collaborated and through their process rewarded Pace with an extension.

Now, Phillips loves where the Bears are headed.

"We've looked at how the drafts have improved in the last three years versus the prior three years. We see lots of reason for hope," Phillips said. "We have a young foundation that we can build on."

Sounds like he's involved in evaluating drafts and the GM's ability to build a championship roster.

"There's lots of different layers to any decision to keep a person, not keep a person," Phillips said. "So, we'll look at all the different layers and peel them all back."

Perhaps that means something, but it sounds like absolutely nothing.

"Frankly, we're excited about the ability for the two of them (Pace and Nagy) to look at the (quarterback) position together, whether it's free agency, the draft, current quarterbacks we have, and make the right decisions," Phillips said. "They are fired up about it. So are we and we have great trust in their ability to figure that out.

"Have we gotten the quarterback situation completely right? No."

Completely right? How about even a little bit right?

"Have we won enough games? No," Phillips said. "Everything else is there. ... And we have a solid football foundation. We have a solid football culture."

On how they acquire quarterbacks, Pace said, "Our process is always the same and is always getting refined as we go forward. I think sometimes it can be a little bit different in what avenue you're acquiring the player."

The process is the same, but it's not, and maybe a little different.

Double-talk, gibberish and evasion from start to finish, 90 minutes of absolute nonsense, a news conference that left the fan base fuming.

Huddled up in their Lake Forest bubble, Ted Phillips and his crew are fired up about the future.

And the process of collaborating is well under way for 2021.

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