NFL 2021: The playoffs thread

Jed York was on that terrible owner list back during the Harbaugh/Baalke rift.

Then he stumbled onto the magic formula: hire the smartest football guys you can find, make sure everyone understands and accepts the power arrangement, give them the job security needed to do the job, and then butt out.

I've hardly heard a Niner fan mention Jed York in years now. It's funny how quickly everyone's opinion of you will improve once you stop being part of the problem.

Yeah just get out of the f*cking way and let smart people make you a winner.

*Legion* wrote:

Alright fine. Don't tell anyone.

Spoiler:

‘It all starts with the McCaskeys’: How the Bears ended up in ‘an endless cycle of inheriting the previous regime’s trash’

By Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain

The Bears were 2-0, but Matt Nagy wasn’t happy.

The team was watching film following its 17-13 win over the Giants in Week 2 of the 2020 season. The offense went scoreless in the second half, but it was a 12-yard completion before halftime that had Nagy frustrated with quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Again.

Trubisky had looked left, then right and then completed a pass to Cole Kmet over the middle. The second-and-7 completion was the fifth play of an 11-play scoring drive that ended with a Trubisky touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney.

But Trubisky’s pass to Kmet was meant to go elsewhere. Nagy had called for a three-route concept to Trubisky’s left: Mooney ran a fade, Allen Robinson ran an out and Tarik Cohen ran a swing route. Trubisky’s reads were supposed to take him from fade to out to swing, and the Giants defender covering Robinson slipped, leaving him wide open. Instead, Trubisky went over the middle to his tight end, which Nagy pointed out.

“He ripped Mitch in front of the whole team,” a source said.

“Nagy proceeded to chastise Mitch for being uncoachable and not throwing it to the proper guy in front of the whole team,” a second source said.

Nagy, like many coaches, often called out players. It was one of his tactics for maintaining accountability and challenging his team. In the Week 5 loss to the Raiders in London in 2019, the offensive line felt the brunt of his wrath. Defensive players, including star outside linebacker Khalil Mack, were singled out, too. It bothered some of them, especially when the defense did its part while Nagy’s offense sputtered.

But the rebuke of Trubisky struck a different chord in the locker room. “It did bum Mitch out, but it also bummed out his teammates,” another source said. “Mitch was really liked by his teammates.” Backup quarterback Nick Foles, the former Super Bowl MVP, waited in the wings. And a week later, after Trubisky threw an ugly interception in the second half against the Falcons, Nagy benched him.

The demotion reverberated throughout Halas Hall, and the franchise turned the page on its quarterback of the future.

Again.

Since George McCaskey took over as chairman of the Bears in 2011, the three most important people in his franchise — the GM, head coach and quarterback — have seldom aligned. Bad decisions compounded previous bad decisions.

“Nobody gets a clean slate; nobody gets to build their own program,” said former long snapper Patrick Mannelly, the longest-tenured player in Bears franchise history. “It feels like everybody kind of has had one handcuff on whenever they got hired.”

“It’s an endless cycle of inheriting the previous regime’s trash,” a former team employee said.

And it’s about to happen again.

The Athletic talked to more than a dozen sources close to the team about the moments over the past decade when the organization didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be — or how to fix itself. The sources were granted anonymity in exchange for candor.

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Bears players didn’t feel like winners on their bus ride from Ford Field to Detroit Metro Airport on Dec. 30, 2012.

They had defeated the Lions 26-24 and finished the season with a 10-6 record, but they didn’t qualify for the postseason, losing out on the NFC’s final seed to the Vikings because of a tiebreaker. And much-loved head coach Lovie Smith was in trouble.

Chicago had hired Phil Emery to replace Jerry Angelo as GM a year prior, and the veterans on the team knew just how important a playoff berth could have been to Smith.

“The older guys understood that, ‘Listen, we have to win for Lovie to make this thing work,'” Mannelly said. “Because GMs want their own coach. They want their own people. We had a feeling that year that we have to make the playoffs to make it impossible to fire him.”

And they didn’t. Smith was fired Monday. Players cried in the locker room.

“Lovie wins 10 games and he’s gone?” a team source said. “I mean, come on.”

The year prior, Angelo had been dismissed in McCaskey’s first major move as chairman. Team president Ted Phillips — who joined the team in 1983 as its controller, was promoted to his current position in 1999 and has overseen every major football and business decision since — was in charge of the search. Emery and current Buccaneers GM Jason Licht were finalists. Smith, coming off an 8-8 season in 2011, sat in on the interviews.

Chicago hired Emery, but he was told to stick with Smith for the 2012 season instead of finding his own coach.

“It didn’t make any sense to fire Jerry and keep Lovie,” a former team employee said. “George wanted to make his stamp, and that was his chance.”

It felt similar to 2001, when the hunt for a new GM — one run by Phillips and featuring an executive search firm from New York — simply took too long, and Angelo was hired on June 12. Training camp was only weeks away, and Angelo was told to retain then-coach Dick Jauron. The Bears went 13-3 that season and Jauron won NFL Coach of the Year. Angelo wouldn’t get a chance to bring in his own candidate for two more years after Jauron went 11-21 from 2002-03.

“Dick ended up getting an extension rather than getting fired because we had such a strong year, and you couldn’t let the guy go,” a former employee said. “Phil was told the same thing when he got that job, that he had to go with Lovie for one more year.”

When Emery fired Smith, he cited the team’s lack of playoff appearances and the problems on offense. Said Mannelly: “I think that Phil Emery thought he had it all figured out.”

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/81GPuEs.jpg)
Marc Trestman (left) was Phil Emery’s hand-picked successor to Lovie Smith in 2013; both of them would be out only two years later. (Jim Prisching / Associated Press)

Bruce Arians was in a hotel room a few miles away from Halas Hall on Jan. 16, 2013, when Emery selected the next Bears coach. Arians seemed like a slam-dunk hire, particularly given his work with quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck and the 11-5 record he posted as the interim head coach in Indianapolis the previous season.

“He thought he had it,” said Jake Arians, his father’s adviser. “He was excited about coaching Jay Cutler. With ‘no risk-it, no biscuit,’ he thought Jay could have had some monster years. He had camaraderie with Phil Emery. They saw things similarly, had the same philosophies.”

But he wasn’t Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman, and according to a team source, “Phil was driven for Trestman.” Arians never received a call from Emery, who delegated the job of informing Arians of his decision.

The Bears’ interview process was unique. There was a mock press conference, much like the one the team put on during its 2004 coaching search, when Steelers offensive line coach Russ Grimm — a finalist along with Smith — botched the pronunciation of “McCaskey.” Rod Marinelli, the Bears’ defensive coordinator under Smith, was also involved. Emery was convinced he could retain Marinelli, who met with both Trestman and Arians. Marinelli, though, wanted to leave after Smith was fired. And Arians wanted to hire Todd Bowles anyway.

Arians, the reigning coach of the year, never came back to Halas Hall. And neither did Marinelli. Five days after Trestman was hired, Mel Tucker was named defensive coordinator but with an unusual caveat: He must run Smith’s defense, even though he wasn’t familiar with the scheme. “He was hamstrung,” Mannelly said. “All these coaches were learning all the calls, Lovie’s Cover 2.”

It was a disaster. Linebacker Lance Briggs stayed after practice to help younger teammates because his position coach, Tim Tibesar, didn’t know the defense. “When you don’t have buy-in from the players and the players are trying to self-correct so they perform, it’s like, ‘Holy sh*t,'” a former staff member said.

It would have helped to have had Brian Urlacher around, but that was another issue. On March 20, 2013, hours after Trestman met the media for the first time during the NFL’s annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, the team sent out a press release announcing that Urlacher, a future Hall of Famer, would not return after 13 seasons with the team: “We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian,” it said. “And both sides have decided to move forward.”

In truth, only one side made the decision.

“Brian is a beloved figure in that building,” a former employee said. “Emery made that decision for Brian. That press release hit a lot of people right alongside the head because nobody expected it. And then all of a sudden, here it is, it’s like, ‘Oh my God.'”

“Brian was the leader of the team, and he was a Lovie Smith guy, but he was more of a Chicago Bear,” Mannelly said. “He would do anything to help the next head coach come in. … He got it and he understood it. Phil made a mistake, I believe.”

Nine months later, Emery signed Cutler — the quarterback Angelo acquired in 2009 for a package that included two first-round picks — to a seven-year extension that guaranteed him $54 million over the first three seasons and $38 million at signing. Culter threw a league-high 18 interceptions in a turmoil-filled 2014 and was benched for Jimmy Clausen late in the season. The team posted a 5-11 record, and both Emery and Trestman were out.

“Phil wanted more of an offensive philosophy, and they handed the keys over to Jay,” a team source said. “He shouldn’t have done that. Jay needed to be controlled a little.”

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On Jan. 9, 2015, Ryan Pace stood at the same lectern Emery once did and spoke about the quarterback to whom Emery had handcuffed him. As the Saints’ director of player personnel, he’d seen up close what made Drew Brees into one of the NFL’s best passers, but he wanted to reserve judgment on his new signal caller. “I want to get to know Jay,” he said.

But with two years of guaranteed money still left on Cutler’s deal, the truth is Pace was stuck with Cutler.

McCaskey and Phillips turned to Ernie Accorsi to assist them in their GM and coaching searches in 2015. Accorsi, a longtime front office executive with the Colts, Browns and Giants, was widely respected around the league, but by the time he was hired to consult the Bears he’d been retired for nearly a decade. “The Ernie Accorsi thing was a disaster waiting to happen,” a team source said.

Chicago picked four finalists for the GM job: Pace, Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard, Texans director of player personnel Brian Gaine and Titans VP of football operations Lake Dawson.

Ballard, a former Bears scout, appeared to be an easy-decision hire. But sources said Ballard had two requests: 1. He wanted to report directly to McCaskey instead of going through Phillips, and 2. He wanted to move on from Cutler. Ballard was offering the franchise an opportunity for a reboot, but the Bears didn’t want to take it, choosing to go with Pace instead. One source suggested that Ballard’s ties with Angelo and Emery hurt his case, that the team wanted a “fresh start” from the past.

But there was more to it.

“That thing stunk,” a former employee said. “It’s a good ol’ boy thing. Ryan Pace was a recommendation from (Saints GM) Mickey Loomis. Loomis and Ted are tight. (Saints coach) Sean Payton wanted Pace to be GM. Accorsi and Payton are connected. There was a reason Pace interviewed last.”

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/1PzggYA.jpg)
The pairing of head coach John Fox (left) and GM Ryan Pace was described by one former employee as an “arranged marriage.” (Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

On the day Pace was hired, he interviewed head-coaching candidate Todd Bowles — the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator under Arians — in an appointment previously scheduled by McCaskey, Phillips and Accorsi. Four days later, a new candidate emerged when John Fox was fired by the Broncos.

Fox and Accorsi worked together with the Giants, and as sources said then and now, Accorsi loved Fox. It ultimately became Pace’s call to hire him, but the idea of pairing Pace, who was 37, with an older coach in Fox appealed to the brain trust at the time. One former employee described it as an “arranged marriage.”

“Fox was put in place because they had a young GM,” another former staff member said. “He was an older guy, he understands personnel. It was the master plan from Accorsi, Loomis and Ted.”

Together, Fox and Pace overhauled the roster Emery and Trestman left them. Some of their best players were traded away, while others were cut. In a particularly controversial decision, Pace released kicker Robbie Gould on Sept. 4, 2016, after consulting with Fox and special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers. The move would have lingering consequences, but it wasn’t the last time Pace would listen to his coaches.

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On April 27, 2017, Pace stunned the football world — including his head coach — with a trade for a quarterback who would define Pace’s time as GM and symbolize the franchise’s ongoing inability to get the quarterback right. “The GM fell in love with (Trubisky),” a team source said, “and the rest was history.”

Pace’s path to trading up to the No. 2 pick to select Trubisky began a year earlier.

Heading into the 2016 draft, after the Bears posted moderate improvements in a 6-10 season, there was a quarterback who Pace loved — North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. The GM wasn’t alone. Other members of the scouting department were big fans.

But the Bears were picking 11th. They still had another year of guaranteed money on Cutler’s contract. A move to draft a franchise quarterback at this juncture was unrealistic.

Instead, Chicago watched Philadelphia move up from No. 8 to No. 2 to take Wentz. In Week 2, on “Monday Night Football,” the Eagles came to Soldier Field for the rookie’s second career start. Wentz was 21-for-34 passing with a touchdown and no interceptions as the Eagles built a 29-7 lead. Cutler threw an interception, was sacked three times and later left the game with an injury. After the game, Pace sent Josh Lucas, his director of player personnel and one of his closest confidants, on the secret search for the Bears’ next QB.

The Bears finished the 2016 season with a 3-13 record, and Chicago held the No. 3 pick in a draft that featured three surefire first-round quarterbacks in Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Finally out from under the Cutler deal, Pace could have fired Fox and hired a head coach to go through the process of selecting a new quarterback with him, but ownership likely wouldn’t have signed off on starting over with a new coaching staff after only two seasons.

Again.

That put Pace in a position to search for a franchise quarterback when he knew he would fire Fox at the end of the season.

“Why the f*ck does John Fox need to know anything?” a source said. “He’s a lame duck. Everyone knew that.”

After two seasons it became apparent that the arranged marriage was headed for a rocky end. Fox didn’t match the energy of Pace or his younger staff members. One person familiar with Fox’s style suggested he was just “going through the motions.” He seemed tuned out in meetings, and there was friction with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

“It wasn’t like they were totally removed from the process, I just think they were shocked when (the Trubisky pick) came down,” one team source said. “They probably would’ve rather had Jamal Adams.”

Indeed, Fox wanted the LSU safety. Pace wanted a quarterback.

“If Fox really, really paid attention to his coaches and all the signs, he probably would have known that was the direction,” another team source said.

Trubisky was put into the lineup in Week 5, even though the coaching staff — and personnel office — wanted to be deliberate about his development. Trubisky threw seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions, finishing his rookie season with a 77.5 passer rating and 32.4 QBR. The Bears went 5-11.

Fox, as expected, was fired. Pace ran the coaching search, and in his ongoing goal to replicate the Saints’ blueprint, Pace found a young, offensive-minded head coach to pair with his quarterback. Nagy, who had been part of the staff developing Mahomes as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, became the next Bears head coach. The quarterback was already in place.

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Trubisky was guiding the Bears to their first playoff win in eight years.

The first half of Chicago’s wild-card game versus the Eagles on Jan. 6, 2019, wasn’t pretty for the second-year quarterback, but in the fourth quarter — and despite tearing his plantar fascia earlier in the game — Trubisky completed two passes to Robinson to set up Cody Parkey for a game-winning field goal. But after an Eagles defender tipped the ball, it bounced off an upright and the crossbar before hitting the Soldier Field grass.

The thrill ride that was the 2018 season ended. The good vibes, though, would carry the franchise for the next eight months.

“Mitch did his job,” a source said. “That’s a team that goes on and wins the Super Bowl for Christ’s sake.”

During the regular season, the defense dominated. Under Nagy, Trubisky put up two of the best games in Bears history. The team went 12-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since Smith was fired. Nagy won Coach of the Year. Pace was voted Executive of the Year by his peers. And Trubisky played in the Pro Bowl.

It seemed as if the Bears had finally done it — they had the GM, the head coach and the quarterback. Trubisky’s second pro season was far from spectacular (24 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions), but some indicators provided hope. And during the Bears 100 celebration in Rosemont that offseason, Trubisky sat on stage with Jim McMahon, wearing sunglasses and a headband like the Punky QB.

To some, though, it was evident that things weren’t working out with the quarterback and head coach. “Mitch never checked the boxes for Nagy from Day 1,” said one source.

Then came the Week 1 matchup against Green Bay. In the most anticipated regular-season Bears game in decades, Trubisky was 26-for-45 passing with one interception and no touchdowns. He was sacked five times. The Bears lost 10-3. “The Packers game was where you were like, ‘Oh sh*t, this is not working out,'” said one source.

To those who had followed Trubisky’s short career, it was apparent the match wasn’t working. The general sentiment? Nagy tried to make his quarterback something that he wasn’t. “Matt understands that public perception,” a former Bears player said. “If his quarterback isn’t doing what he wants, what he sees in his dreams, it’s going to be a tough dynamic, and it’s going to reflect poorly on him and his staff.”

Trubisky didn’t help his cause. Some of Nagy’s play calls worked, but Trubisky didn’t connect with his receivers, most notably on deep balls. There were costly interceptions. Then he tore his labrum in his left shoulder in Week 4 — an injury that later required surgery — and his legs stopped being a threat.

After the 2019 season concluded, Trubisky prepared to meet with Nagy. They needed to have a conversation. How were they going to make this work? The quarterback prepared notes for the meeting. Nagy, though, didn’t make it — “He no-showed him,” a source said. Trubisky left his notes behind.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/JktLcXk.jpg)
“Mitch never checked the boxes for Nagy from Day 1,” one source said. (Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

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The following March, the Bears acquired Foles from the Jaguars for a fourth-round pick. The team also restructured his contract, securing his place on the roster for at least two seasons. Trubisky was assured only one when Chicago declined to exercise his fifth-year option. “Mitch really, really got screwed,” a team source said.

Nagy and his assistants wanted Foles, and Pace delivered. A pandemic-shortened training camp helped Trubisky keep the starting job to begin the season, but one week after the victory over the Giants, Nagy benched Trubisky mid-game. Foles led the Bears to a comeback victory over the Falcons, but the offense didn’t get any better over his two months as a starter.

The Bears went on a six-game losing streak, in the middle of which Nagy handed play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Trubisky put off surgery on his throwing shoulder and returned to the lineup after Foles got hurt, this time with Lazor in his headset. Trubisky came equipped with plays he wanted to run. In the past, Trubisky’s concerns had been shrugged off — he had been wanting to get running back David Montgomery and Kmet more involved — but now the coaches listened.

“(Trubisky would) be in the middle of camp and be like, ‘Guys, none of this stuff is working,’ or he’d be pointing out the problems with the offense, and he’d be getting this, ‘Oh, no, man. Don’t worry at all. It’ll all come together. Have faith. Trust the process,'” a source said. “And then it gets to the season and we have all those problems happen.”

The Bears won three games in a row with an offense that looked nothing like the one Nagy tried to install. The unit scored 30-plus points in four consecutive games — albeit against below-average defenses — a feat unheard of for the franchise.

But after a 13-play, 60-yard touchdown drive to start the Week 17 game against the Packers, the Bears didn’t find the end zone again. At 8-8, Chicago made the playoffs in a weak NFC, but the offense sputtered in a 21-9 wild-card loss to New Orleans. Sources speculated then and now that Nagy had a larger role in play calling in the Saints game than he publicly stated.

It was Trubisky’s final game as a Bear.

The match with Nagy didn’t work, but the evaluation Pace made four years earlier held the franchise back, too. In 2019-20, Trubisky didn’t prove he could be the franchise quarterback. Last offseason, he signed a contract to back up Josh Allen in Buffalo.

Trubisky wasn’t the quarterback the Bears hoped, and Nagy wasn’t the coach to get the most out of him.

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When McCaskey and Phillips retained Pace and Nagy after the 2020 season, they provided the franchise an opportunity to finally get the team’s three most important positions aligned.

In the winter, the Bears looked into trading for Wentz. When they found out they were on Russell Wilson’s shortlist, they put together an aggressive offer. When neither materialized, they went to their top choice in free agency in Andy Dalton, a lackluster move one source said Nagy wanted more than Pace.

But no moment in recent Bears history invigorated the fan base like last spring’s decision to trade up for Justin Fields. One team source credited Nagy for being in full support of drafting a quarterback, even if it could cost the coach his job in the short term.

Nagy was steadfast that Dalton would be the starter and Fields the backup. He wanted to use the 2017 Chiefs blueprint, when Alex Smith started so Mahomes could develop at his own pace before taking over, and taking the league by storm, in 2018. Fields spent all summer taking the backup reps, but among a fan base desperate for a franchise quarterback — and one that had no interest in watching Dalton — the plan had little support.

Then came the preseason opener.

Fields had an 8-yard touchdown run and then threw a 30-yard touchdown pass. He was 14-for-20 passing for 142 yards and didn’t turn the ball over. Soldier Field was electric that afternoon, but when the Bears returned to Halas Hall, nothing had changed. Dalton was the starter, Fields was the backup.

“They shot themselves in the foot when they decided to go with Dalton, especially after the Dolphins preseason game,” one source said. “This (city) wants the kid to play.”

Fans booed Dalton the next week in a preseason game against Buffalo — and cheered for Bills backup Mitch Trubisky.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/XOKpYeB.jpg)
Justin Fields may be the Bears’ quarterback of the future, but he won’t be involved in the team’s search for a new GM and head coach. (David Banks / Associated Press)

Fields was the backup throughout camp and the preseason but was forced into action — and “set up to fail,” according to one team source — after Dalton suffered a knee injury in Week 2. The rookie made his first career start in Cleveland the following week, and the Bears put together one of the worst offensive displays in NFL history.

Chicago mustered only 47 net yards. Fields was sacked nine times. The Browns won 26-6. The city had never been more excited for a quarterback’s debut, and it was a disaster.

Nagy gave up play calling the next week, and the Bears won back-to-back games before another losing streak began. The offense was worse than it had been with Trubisky. Fields wasn’t ready for the moment, and he didn’t have the right infrastructure to guide him. The Bears had their quarterback, they thought, but finished the season ranked 30th in passing offense and 27th in scoring, emblematic of the final three years under Nagy.

“Ultimately, if you really try and define Matt Nagy’s offense … with multiple changes they’ve had, the multiple players they’ve had at the quarterback position, I think at times it lacks an identity,” said ESPN analyst Matt Bowen, a Chicago-area native.

Some sources suggested that Nagy was hired as a head coach too early in his career, that he needed more time calling plays in Kansas City and more seasoning overall. Walkthroughs were “a mess,” a source said, and the lack of accountability at Halas Hall showed up in penalties during games. Nagy connected well with some players, while his grip on others faded as the losses mounted and fingers pointed. Nagy tried to assert himself. Players were fined more this season than in the previous three.

All the while, the offense remained broken. Fields had no rapport on the field with Robinson, constantly playing catch-up with someone he didn’t get to throw to in training camp.

There were glimpses, though. In the second half of Week 9, something clicked. In front of a national audience on “Monday Night Football,” Fields made big play after big play, sparking a comeback against the Steelers on the road. His best moment of the year came when he hit Mooney for a go-ahead touchdown in what would eventually end in a 29-27 loss. Despite the outcome, the Bears went into the Week 10 bye feeling as good as they had about their quarterback and offense in a long time.

But Fields didn’t play well against the Ravens, then suffered broken ribs. Dalton came in and threw two touchdown passes, but a defensive breakdown led to an ugly loss to a Baltimore team playing without Lamar Jackson and several other starters. All the good vibes from the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh were gone. The 16-13 loss to the Ravens was the team’s fifth in a row, marking the second consecutive season the Bears posted a losing streak that long.

“Game over,” one team source said that night.

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At one point early during the 2021 season, Nagy and McCaskey discussed the possibility of starting Fields over Dalton. The coach asked the chairman what he thought.

“I said, ‘I’m uncomfortable that you’re even asking me the question,'” McCaskey shared during Monday’s hour-long Zoom call with reporters. “That’s a coaching decision.”

McCaskey was asked Monday whether Fields would play an active role in the Bears’ GM and head coach searches. After all, the Bears’ next GM and coach won’t have a first-round pick this year because of Fields. What followed went viral.

“Well, I’m just a fan; I’m not a football evaluator,” McCaskey said. “As a fan, what I see is a dynamic player with a lot of potential, a lot of ability, a lot of heart and a strong work ethic.”

But he won’t be involved in the searches.

“We will be very interested to hear from both general manager and head coach candidates what their plan is to get the most out of the quarterback position for us,” McCaskey said.

For the fourth time since Smith was fired, the Bears will be introducing a new head coach, and for the second time in five years, that coach will be paired with a first-round pick at quarterback who didn’t show enough as a rookie to be the definitive answer. For the third time since Angelo was fired, there will be a new GM.

The Bears’ inability to get the quarterback, coach and GM combination right can be traced to the top, where McCaskey and Phillips have overseen the franchise’s most important decisions, choices that have led to this endless cycle. McCaskey announced this week that the new GM will no longer report to Phillips, who will be overseeing the team’s potential move to Arlington Heights. Neither McCaskey nor Phillips were made available for comment for this story.

Taking out the middleman does improve a power dynamic that many around the league didn’t understand, but it might not fix things. Several sources noted that while Phillips is a popular punching bag, he hasn’t impeded major football decisions. “They hire a GM and expect him to be an expert,” a team source said.

McCaskey remains in charge. He will ultimately pick the team’s new leadership but has done little to warrant confidence in his decision-making. “George says that he doesn’t meddle and that Ted doesn’t, but they do because they select, and they don’t realize it,” a former employee said. “When you’re the one making the decision, it’s just natural.”

The decisions made under McCaskey’s watch have resulted in 13 starting quarterbacks and zero playoff wins over 11 seasons.

“It all starts with the McCaskeys,” a team source said. “It starts with George.”

— Additional reporting by The Athletic’s Dan Pompei

Thanks, but I didn't read it. I merely wanted to feel powerful for a minute.

IMAGE(https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/50cf32ece4b07366e9267386/1519656922459-ZVKALEZHZ8I2YZAIRGCS/dance.gif?format=1500w)

I skimmed it, mostly because I'm not all that interested in the Bears but do enjoy seeing the dysfunction in other teams. Glad to know that the Panthers aren't the only incompetent franchise in the league.

I thought the story treated Mitch/Mitchell with a lot more sympathy than maybe he deserved. Then again, it was a hatchet job on Nagy, which means the sources are more likely to be on Team Trubisky.

I read every word. Hook that dysfunction up to my veins.

Vector wrote:

I read every word. Hook that dysfunction up to my veins.

Me too, but don't tell Legion.

*Legion* wrote:

I've hardly heard a Niner fan mention Jed York in years now.

I've hardly heard a mention of Jed York in years now.

Enix wrote:

I skimmed it, mostly because I'm not all that interested in the Bears but do enjoy seeing the dysfunction in other teams. Glad to know that the Panthers aren't the only incompetent franchise in the league.

I thought the story treated Mitch/Mitchell with a lot more sympathy than maybe he deserved. Then again, it was a hatchet job on Nagy, which means the sources are more likely to be on Team Trubisky.

Looking at the current state of the NFL I’d argue that the non dysfunctional teams are the minority…most of the league is literally a clown show.

Enix wrote:

I thought the story treated Mitch/Mitchell with a lot more sympathy than maybe he deserved. Then again, it was a hatchet job on Nagy, which means the sources are more likely to be on Team Trubisky.

The article still dinged Pace for drafting Trubisky in the first place.

Also, Trubisky being trash and Nagy mishandling him at every step can both be true.

My favorite part of the article was the repeating theme of "Nagy stopped calling plays for a few games, and the offense got better".

*Legion* wrote:
Enix wrote:

I thought the story treated Mitch/Mitchell with a lot more sympathy than maybe he deserved. Then again, it was a hatchet job on Nagy, which means the sources are more likely to be on Team Trubisky.

The article still dinged Pace for drafting Trubisky in the first place.

Also, Trubisky being trash and Nagy mishandling him at every step can both be true.

My favorite part of the article was the repeating theme of "Nagy stopped calling plays for a few games, and the offense got better".

Year in, year out. It's the Nagy Tradition.

Soon there's to be a Rhule Tradition where you get an underpeforming QB, put them behind a bad line and then jettison them for another underpeforming QB all while blaming someone else.

The Matt Nagy/Matt Rhule coaching tree:

IMAGE(https://c.stocksy.com/a/o9s300/z9/923168.jpg)

So, just about as successful as the Belichick tree?

Well, I'm rooting for the Bengals this year, mostly so they can break their no playoffs win streak. It's at 31 years now. That's nuts.

Happy 22nd anniversary to Dan Marino's last NFL game and one of my five worst experiences as a fan.

I was a huge Dolphins fan growing up (Miami's OT loss to the Chargers in the '81 playoffs is my all-time worst game) and loved Marino. And in his final game ...

... the Jags absolutely crushed the Dolphins, 62-7. It was a carload-of-nuns-running-head-on-into-a-carload-of-puppies-and-then-caught-between-two-trains-hitting-each-other awful.

But that was a nice run by Fred Taylor, huh?

Want to feel old? Denver rookie CB Patrick Surtain II's father played in this game. You'll see him missing a ton of tackles. Here are the ESPN highlights (and click on the photo if you don't see a video play button).

I see Alex Leatherwood didn't make it one whole year before getting moved inside to guard.

Hah, checking PFF, he made it 4 games. Nice one Gruden/Mayock.

Bengals get this TD then this game is over. Raiders can't match the energy of the Bengals.

Worst thing the Bengals have done to the Raiders since they broke Bo Jackson's hip.

garion333 wrote:

Bengals get this TD then this game is over. Raiders can't match the energy of the Bengals.

This didn't age well.

Rat Boy wrote:

Worst thing the Bengals have done to the Raiders since they broke Bo Jackson's hip.

Is that the last time the Bungles were in the playoffs?

Why is Renfrow not on the field for every snap?

Oh, Bungles dline is completely injured from this game. Nuts.

garion333 wrote:

Oh, Bungles dline is completely injured from this game. Nuts.

And yet the Raiders offensive line can't stop holding the guys that are left.

*Legion* wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Oh, Bungles dline is completely injured from this game. Nuts.

And yet the Raiders offensive line can't stop holding the guys that are left.

Yeah, really shooting themselves in the foot that drive. Cost em four points.

Bengals gonna ice the game on this drive. Raiders D is soft atm.

Edit: Toughened up when needed. Only up 10 now.

MMD, if you aren't watching this gane then the only thing you need to know is that the Bengals D was so injured during the game that Vernon Hargreaves came on for a play and held a guy on 3rd down to keep a Raiders drive alive.

Oh my.

That was a great 4th quarter. Football is actually good when both teams are in it until the end.

Damn. So close to taking it to OT.

*Legion* wrote:

Damn. So close to taking it to OT.

Carr deserves a better org. To the Browns he goes! Lolololololololol

Wow. 31 years.

You're on the clock, Lions.

Whelp, guess I don't need to watch this game.