Why Jerry Angelo Had To Go
With all of Chicago rejoicing at the news of Jerry Angelo’s firing, please allow me, a lifelong Bears fan, to throw another piece of wood onto the bonfire.
Jerry Angelo was the Rex Grossman of GMs, below average and employed in a high profile position for far too long. Angelo came to Chicago in 2002, having built his reputation in Tampa Bay with an admittedly impressive defense to play his devoted Tampa 2 scheme. The building blocks of that defense–a ferocious front 4 anchored by penetrating DT playing the “3 technique” (Warren Sapp), a weak size linebacker that can shoot the gaps (Derrick Brooks), and an intelligent secondary that can read and tackle (John Lynch)–were focal points that Angelo tried to establish with the Bears.
And Angelo was relatively successful in this task. Though he inherited Brian Urlacher (a converted safety who was the prototypical Tampa 2 defender), he added important pieces such as Lance Briggs, Tommy Harris, and Charles Tillman that were the cornerstones of the Bears dominant defense for much of the 2000s.
But that was the pre-modern NFL.
As the NFL has progressed into more and more of an offensive (read: passing) league, Angelo was unable break out of his defensive-oriented mold. Not only did Angelo prioritize defense in the draft (50 defensive players vs. 32 offensive players), he simply was not a good judge of offensive talent, particularly at the skill positions. Rather than run down the litany of wide receiver and offensive line busts from the Angelo tenure, let me just offer you this: the one time Angelo took it upon himself to spend a 1st round pick on a quarterback, he picked Rex Grossman. That says it all.
Now, I’ll give Angelo credit enough to recognize that since he was such a horrible early rounder drafter, he might as well trade away his first round picks to acquire a decent quarterback in Jay Cutler. But when Cutler went down this year, the true hollowness of the Bears roster was revealed. No decent back-up quarterback, no offensive line or wide receivers to help one out, and a solid, but aging, defense that had lost the ability to make the big play.
Their ineptness revealed that it was clearly Angelo’s time to go.
Next on the clock? Mike Martz.