By Doug Halberstadt
“What do you think about the Bears getting rid of (Jerry) Angelo and (Mike) Martz?” I’ve been asked that question and I’ve heard it asked of others dozens of times over the last several days.
Last week, Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips informed Angelo he was being relieved of his duties. That same day, Martz and the team agreed it was time to go in different directions.
After parting ways with Martz, only a couple of days passed before Head Coach Lovie Smith promoted veteran offensive line coach Mike Tice to offensive coordinator. Tice will call the plays and continue to work in a hands-on manner with the offensive line.
That brings me back to the original question. My initial response is it’s a good start. I’m still not convinced the Chicago Bears will be successful as long as Smith is their head coach.
In my opinion, Smith is more to blame for the Bears’ disappointing 8-8 record this year than either Angelo or Martz. Smith has consistently failed to prepare his reserve players to be ready to take over when a starter becomes injured. This was never more evident than this year when quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a season-ending thumb injury.
Back-up Caleb Hanie has been on the Bears’ roster for four seasons and looked lost and inept this year when he was called upon to lead the team after Cutler went down. I lay that directly at the feet of Smith.
In 2010, Hanie appeared in two games, throwing for 55 yards on five-of-seven passing. His best game was when he entered the NFC Championship Game versus Green Bay (Jan. 23, 2011) late in the third quarter and led two scoring drives, completing 13-of-20 passes for 153 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
The year before that, he appeared in only two games. He was a paltry three-of-seven passing for 11 yards. He also had one interception.
That’s hardly enough real game experience over a four-year period for a back-up quarterback. There have been ample opportunities for Smith to insert him in a game when the Bears have had a secure lead. For some unknown reason, Smith chose to stay with his starter.
I have numerous other issues with Smith’s ability to motivate and be an effective head coach. I’m somewhat bewildered how he has managed to stay in Chicago as long as he has. It was almost exactly eight years ago (Jan. 15, 2004) when he was hired as the 13th head coach in Bears history.
I believe the Bears will continue to wallow in mediocrity as long as Smith remains at the helm. If Phillips had really wanted to make a difference, he would have thoroughly cleaned house and included Smith in his dismissals. Instead, he merely did the football equivalent of sweeping the dust under the rug.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Jan. 11-17, 2012, issue