By: Matt Jensen | Section 312 Sports
It's mid March, we're in full swing of the NFL off-season and the tourney is about to kick off next week. The new league year in the NFL kicked off on Tuesday afternoon, and with that, the start of the NFL Free Agency/Trade season. We were delighted with a nice little 15 minute time span that included back to back to back monster trades, which generally don't happen anywhere but fantasy football. Except for in my leagues, where the guys I play with wouldn't make a trade if I threw in a reach around from Scar Jo. Speaking of back to back to back, since this is going to be a Chicago focused article, in the midst of the NFL Free Agency craziness on Tuesday, Jorge Soler, Javy Baez, and Kris Bryant decided to go back to back to back in a Spring Training Game for the Cubbies. I confirmed my curiosities with www.internetinchicago.com (made up website), that the internet, in fact, did almost break on the North Side afterwards, and with that, the expectations of Cubs fans rose even higher than Trump's monstrosity on the river. Forget all that though, the reason I'm writing this is to discuss what is happening with the Beloved, and what they're doing, or attempting to do, this off-season.
My original thoughts were to just post this as something shorter, probably as a Facebook status, but this is America and I pay $7 a month to keep this website active, so might as well use it for what I want. Now while this site, and our Podcast, has always been geared to be more national, this is going to be strictly about Chicago, and more specifically, the Bears. So, where to start? After the disappointments of last season, I was fully on board for a complete rebuild this off-season. This has been an aging team for years now, with bad contracts all over. The last two Bears administrations (Phil Emery, Jerry Angelo, & Co.) loved to give out money on multi-year contracts, especially to guys over the age of 30. Due to that, we've seen, especially on defense, an unathletic, slow team that just can not keep up with the rest of the league. All I wanted to see this off-season was for them to cut the bad contracts, go young, get athletic, free up some money, and start building towards the future, knowing they'd be sacrificing a couple of really bad seasons in the short term. At least that would be a plan. Then they started making their moves, which showed, once again, they really have no plan at all.
Their first move, hiring Ryan Pace from New Orleans, a guy in his 30's, to be the new GM, looked like a step in the direction I wanted to see this team go. They bring in a young guy who, by all accounts, has been groomed for a GM job since he started working in the league. He would grow in the job, and with it, the team would grow with him. His first order of business was to hire a new coaching staff, and that's when it seemed like the plan I wanted to see, started falling apart.
John Fox, 60, was hired after multiple successful seasons in Denver, including a Super Bowl appearance. It was the type of contradictory hire that was in no way, a build for the future type of hire. He's a coach you bring in to win right now, same with Vic Fangio and Adam Gase in the coordinator positions. If they wanted to build towards the future, they'd of hired Adam Gase, who they interviewed, for the head job. It would have been his first time in the big chair, but he could have prospered and grown right along side of Pace. Instead, they did what the previous regimes had done before, go the other way.
We fast forward to free agency now. It started the week prior to the start of the new league year when they decided to cut Brandon Marshall. Again, this move aligned with the go young, cut bad contracts, direction I wanted to see them head. The move had Patriots written all over it. Get rid of a guy a year too early, rather than a year too late. Then free agency started, along with the looming decision they had to make on their QB, the most polarizing player in Chicago in a long time.
The first move was signing Pernell McPhee. A pass rushing outside linebacker from the Ravens, who the Bears decided to give a five year, $40m contract to be their starting outside linebacker in their new 3-4 defense. McPhee had a career high 7.5 sacks last year as a situational pass rusher in Baltimore. At 26 years old, he fits the go young and athletic route, though I have my skepticism in him as a player, just as I would anyone that you bring in to be an every down guy who has only ever been a situational player in the league. It's like asking Garth to host Wayne's World. It just doesn't generally work.
The next move was classic Emery/Angelo. Bring in a defensive back in his 30s and give him a multi-year contract. They signed Antrel Rolle to come in and play safety. For as much as Bears fans hated Chris Conte, he did make some of the most athletic plays at the safety position in the league, and you're not going to see the same types of things from Rolle, now at 104 years old. It's being sold from Halas Hall as they're bringing in a “3 time Pro Bowler”, but does it count if those “3 Pro Bowls” came in the 80s? This guy was in the 30 for 30 on ESPN, The U….Part 1. Did the Bears not learn their lesson with Charles Tillman? Or Tim Jennings? Or Lance Briggs?
I don't quite mind the Eddie Royal signing. He provides the Bears with some speed at the slot position on offense that they just didn't have before. The Bears had the slowest receiving core in the league. But as we all know, the real meat and potatoes of this entire thing was their decision on what to do with Jay Cutler.
When Phil Emery and the Bears decided to give Cutler a monster contract, with the thought of him being their franchise quarterback (when they could have franchise tagged him for 1 year), it was met with skepticism around the league. A guy with all the physical tools, who could just never put it together on the field. Whether it be from his multitude of turnovers, or the body language police calling him out for sitting by himself looking pouty on the sidelines, he's a guy that just hadn't gotten it done in his time in Chicago to warrant that big of a contract. Now, that same contract, has handcuffed them from a financial and roster management standpoint. If we take the contract situation out of it, Cutler just has not done what he was brought to Chicago to do. Sometimes in life, a parting of ways is just the best thing for everyone involved. If two people are dating and it just doesn't seem to be going anywhere, you may really like each other, the other person may be really good looking, and have a really nice apartment with a super comfy couch, but it just may be time to part ways if there doesn't seem to be a future. It seemed like we were in that situation this off-season with Cutler. I get both sides of the argument on whether to keep Jay or not. I get the side that says why they should get rid of him, and I get the side that says, what else is there out there to replace him with? It's like Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men. But not good Charlie Sheen on 'Men', but like coke and hookers, warlock, Charlie Sheen on 'Men'. It was just time to part ways, even though you do so understanding there's not much else out there to replace him with, all due respect to “Dude Where's My Car” Kutcher (also a Bears fan by the way). Me just typing that and thinking about the comparison of Cutler to that, it seems like a complete insult though to coke and hookers, but I digress. It was time to part ways with Cutler. They had to get rid of this guy to move forward. Here we are though on Thursday and we have Cutler as the Bears starting QB for 2015 to look forward to. And as of today, $10m of Cutler's contract for 2016 becomes fully guaranteed. So, there's also that. If the Bears wanted handcuffs, I'm sure there's phone numbers they could call in Chicago to get that kinda play.
Which brings me to the title of this article. After all of this, I can't help but think of this scene from Dumb and Dumber. I'm fed up with this team and the “direction” that they can't seem to make up their mind that they want to go. I was okay with bad if it seemed like it was going in the right way. I'm not okay with bad without a plan for the future. I feel like this is where we are:
I've had it with this team, We've got no Q, We've got no D, the Fans heads are FALLING OFF!!!