Gale Sayers rips Jay Cutler, Lovie Smith

When asked for his opinion on the current state of his former team, Gale Sayers recently took the opportunity to bash several key members of the Bears.

From the Chicago Tribune:

“Cutler hasn’t done the job,” Sayers said. “(Brian) Urlacher, I don’t know how good he’s going to be coming back. He’s 33 years old. They need a couple wide receivers, a couple defensive backs. They haven’t done a good job.

“If Lovie doesn’t do it this year, I think he’s gone. He had a good team the Super Bowl year. Nothing came together for him the last couple years.”

While I think he’s being closed minded when it comes to Cutler’s play (a lack of pass protection and poor production from the receivers played as much of a part in Cutler’s struggles last season as his decision making, plus he’s only been there for one year), it’s hard to argue with Sayers’ point about Lovie Smith. Outside of the 2008 season in which they were one win shy of making the playoffs, the Bears have regressed in each of the last three years under Smith since he led them to the Super Bowl in ’06.

While the Bears were aggressive this offseason in signing free agents Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor, as well as trading for Chris Harris and hiring Mike Martz to run the offense, they did very little to address their offensive line woes. Moving Frank Omiyale from guard to right tackle doesn’t constitute filling a hole. It merely creates a need for a legitimate right tackle and Cutler will more than likely fear for his life again this year. (Although he was going to have to do that anyway with the way Martz leaves his quarterbacks unprotected.)

That said, the Chicago faithful expect the Bears to win this year after the flashy moves it made this offseason. But the more likely outcome is that Smith will once again fail and will be replaced after the season. And if GM Jerry Angelo were ushered out the door with him, then that’s a scenario that Bears fans wouldn’t mind seeing.

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Bears lacking direction under Angelo, Smith

If anyone can explain to me the direction the Chicago Bears are taking this offseason, then I’ll donate a week’s salary to your favorite charity. And “backwards” doesn’t count.

The Bears began the offseason by firing offensive coordinator Ron Turner and relieving head coach Lovie Smith of his defensive play calling duties. GM Jerry Angelo’s first choices as candidates to replace Turner and Smith were USC offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and former Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. But he lost out on both when Pete Carroll hired Bates to run the offense in Seattle and the Giants hired Fewell to run their defense in New York.

It’s an understatement to say that Angelo settled for Mike Martz in early February. Angelo had Rob Chudzinski, Hue Jackson and a host of others atop his wish list of offensive coordinators, but nobody wanted to come to Chicago with the possibility of Smith and his entire staff getting axed a year from now. Angelo was desperate, and so too was Martz.

Out of options again, Angelo promoted defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator on February 5, despite the fact that Marinelli had no previous experience in that role. When the Bears hired Smith in 2004, he tired to bring Marinelli (his former staff member in Tampa) to Chicago to be his new defensive coordinator but the Bucs didn’t release Marinelli out of his contract. Seven years later, Smith is getting his wish.

With the coordinator roles finally settled, Angelo thought it would be wise to fire director of pro personnel Bobby DePaul on Monday. This is significant because DePaul was the man that orchestrated the Jay Cutler trade and had been with the Bears since 2001. That’s nine seasons of experience that Angelo just fired, not to mention the person responsible for pulling off the franchise’s biggest trade.

The timing of DePaul’s firing is perplexing. Most teams fire personnel people in May because at that point, the draft is over and free agency has settled in. Teams rarely fire the man responsible for evaluating players, managing scouting and preparing the club for free agency right before the NFL combine and the free agency period begins. It just doesn’t make any sense because scouting free agents and prospects is a yearlong process – a process that should be almost completed in mid February.

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The Bears have yet to hire coordinators

Here’s a disturbing nugget of truth for Chicago fans: It’s January 21 and the Bears still don’t have an offensive or defensive coordinator.

On January 5, the Bears fired offensive coordinator Ron Turner and dismissed rumors that assistant Rod Marinelli would be named the new defensive coordinator. But it’s been over two weeks now and the team has yet to find a coordinator for either side of the ball.

It’s not like the Bears haven’t been trying. They offered former Bills’ interim head coach Perry Fewell a contract, but he turned them down and accepted the Giants’ defensive coordinator job. With few reliable candidates left on the market, there’s a good chance that the Bears will re-visit the idea of making Marinelli the D-coordinator.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Chicago Tribune reports that the Bears will interview Chargers’ assistant head coach Rob Chudzinski for their vacant offensive coordinator position. Given his success in Cleveland (albeit, it was only one year), Chudzinski would be a solid choice as the team’s next O-coordinator but the problem is that it seems like the Bears are flailing. Will Chudzinski maximize Jay Cutler’s strengths or is Chicago’s front office just trying to find anyone at this point?

The good news is that the team hired Mike Tice to become their new offensive line coach. While he failed as a head coach in Minnesota, Tice has also had success as an assistant and the Bears need someone with credibility to come in and revamp their underachieving O-line.

It’ll be interesting to see who the Bears wind up with and whether or not their lack of direction so far will come back to haunt them in 2010. Of course, many Chicago fans believe that with Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo running things, the Bears are doomed no matter what decisions they make.

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