Phil Pash's Simply Sports: So when can we expect a Bears winner?

Summer weather could be here. The hazy, crazy, lazy days of summer. What topic to write about? I got it … a fall-winter sport like pro football, and in particular, Da’ Bears. Remember this quote: “We feel good about the direction of our kicking position, and Paul will have the opportunity to join another team’s offseason program well before training camp.’’

It was made by Bears general manager Jerry Angelo after kicker Paul Edinger was released May 22, less than two weeks after Doug Brien was signed. Brien, cut by the Jets in April after they drafted a kicker, came under fire after missing two potential game-winning field goals in the final two minutes in the Jets’ divisional playoff overtime loss at Pittsburgh last January.

Brien converted 51-of-61 field-goal attempts and 57-of-58 extra points over the last two seasons with the Jets. Last season, Edinger made just 15-of-24 field goals. But he is one of only four kickers in team history to score 100 points in a season, a feat he accomplished twice. Edinger ranks third in club history with 110 field goals. He led the NFL with 53 field goals of 40 or more yards during his five-year career.

Another Angelo “deal:” In January 2002, defensive back R.W. McQuarters signed a $21 million contract extension that ran through 2006. He was released May 23.

In five seasons in Chicago, McQuarters had 295 tackles and nine interceptions. Last season, he showed his versatility when he switched from cornerback to safety and returned punts.

Angelo’s comment: “After exploring trade opportunities with R.W., we felt it was in everybody’s best interest to release him at this time.” The point? Angelo is on his second coach—Dick Jauron and now Lovie Smith—since becoming Bears GM on June 12, 2001. The Bears were 5-11 last year, 7-9 in 2003 and 4-12 in 2002.

In Angelo’s first season (2001), the Bears were 13-3 and won their first division title in 11 years. He gets credit for the season, but arriving in June, how much true impact did he make on the team?

I think three straight losing seasons is long enough to wait for results. When do they start winning again?

I wonder how many people WEREN’T thrilled with the announcement the Bears and Packers will play on Christmas Day in Green Bay? Watching the game probably will cut into some other Christmas Day activities.

The Bears also will play on New Year’s Day at Minnesota, but that’s quite a bit different than a Christmas Day game, what with Christmas being more of a religious day and a day for spending time with family.

The first Bear-Packer game—in Chicago—will be Dec. 4, and the Bears will play six of 16 games against 2004 playoff teams while facing quarterbacks Michael Vick of Atlanta and Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh.

In the Bear-Packer series, the Bears still lead 85-78-6 but have lost 19 of 22 since 1994, including 11 straight home games to the Packers.

The Bears have finalized their 2005 preseason schedule with one game televised nationally and the final four contests simulcast throughout the Chicago area on WMAQ-TV (NBC5) and Telemundo Chicago.

The Bears will open the preseason Aug. 8 against the Miami Dolphins in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, to be broadcast on Monday Night Football. Chicago then will play at St. Louis Aug. 12 and at Indianapolis Aug. 20 before hosting Buffalo Aug. 26 and Cleveland Sept. 1. All five games begin at 7 p.m.

The final four preseason games also will be carried throughout much of Illinois on the Bears’ affiliate network, which includes WIFR-TV-23 of Rockford.

From the June 8-14, 2005, issue

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