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Angelo in play: Jets talking to former Bears GM

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Angelo in play: Jets talking to former Bears GM

Former Bears GM Jerry Angelo has some familiarity with working out quarterback issues. So it probably shouldnt be a complete surprise that he is on a short candidate list for the GM spot with the New York Jets, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

Mehta tweeted Wednesday night that the Jets will interview Angelo on Thursday. According to Mike Florios roundup at ProFootballTalk.com, Angelo is part of a search process that includes Miami assistant GM Brian Gaine, San Diego director of player personnel Jimmy Raye, 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble and New York Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, one of the finalists for the Bears GM job that went to Phil Emery.

Let the info flow

The grumblings around the NFL that Phil Emery is using his coaching search to pick the brains of candidates are amusing. For a couple of reasons.

One is that anyone who fails to learn something from candidates being interviewed for a job is an arrogant idiot. Any candidate worth interviewing likely has some good ideas or he shouldnt be in the meeting in the first place.

And if the candidate doesnt know that he is going to divulge solid information, he also doesnt belong in the interview. If answering How would you fix Jay Cutler? or What would you do to fix the Chicago Bears offense? is giving away some sort of competitive information; if Phil Emery has to rely on relative outsiders for those answers, then Emery may not be the guy to be handling this whole thing.

If Emery doesnt already have an idea of how to fix the offense, he should have shared a cab to the airport with Lovie Smith.

But the second point here is that if that if any candidate is not savvy enough to do a reverse-brain-pick, then he is a dolt. If you dont have some good questions for your potential employer, you didnt prepare very well.

A serous candidate should leave his extensive session knowing what Emery will do with Brian Urlacher, Henry Melton and some other key individuals. He should have gotten from Emery an idea of what the Bears intend to do in free agency.

Information flows both ways. Indeed, what candidates might learn about the Bears could far more revealing than what Emery can draw out of them that might help the Bears.

Cause for pause

The death of Mirko Jurkovic late Wednesday to cancer was an occasion for pause. The former Notre Dame guard out of Thornton Fractional North High School was a ninth-round draft choice trying to make the Bears in 1992, and Mirko was one of the first people I met on the first day covering the Chicago Bears.

He didnt make the Bears from a draft class topped by Alonzo Spellman and Troy Auzenne and rookie free agents that included Ed OBradovich, son of Bears great OB, and Jim Schwantz.

Most fans wont really remember Mirko. But sometimes its worth stopping and giving a thought to people who trip lightly and briefly through our lives.

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

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USA TODAY

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

The news on Tuesday wasn’t really any sort of surprise: Brian Urlacher being selected as a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Some of the immediate thoughts were, however, for one writer who covered Brian from the day he was drafted on through the unpleasant end of his 13-year career as a Bear.

Good thoughts, though. Definitely good.

The first was a flashback, to a Tuesday in late August 2000 when the ninth-overall pick of the draft, who’d been anointed the starting strong-side linebacker by coach Dick Jauron on draft day, was benched.

It happened up at Halas Hall when Urlacher all of a sudden wasn’t running with the 1’s. Rosie Colvin was in Urlacher’s spot with the starters and would be for a few games into the 2000 season. I caught up with Brian before he walked, in a daze, into Halas Hall after practice and asked about what I’d just seen.

"I'm unhappy with the way I'm playing and I'm sure they are, too," Urlacher said. "I don't think I've been playing very well so that's probably the cause for it right there. I just don't have any technique. I need to work on my technique, hands and feet mostly. I've got to get those down, figure out what I'm doing. I know the defense pretty good now, just don't know how to use my hands and feet."

Urlacher, an All-American safety at New Mexico but MVP of the Senior Bowl in his first game at middle linebacker, had been starting at strong side, over the tight end, because coaches considered it a simpler position for Urlacher to master. But he was not always correctly aligned before the snap, did not use his hands against blockers effectively and occasionally led with his head on tackles. His benching cost him the chance to be the first Bears rookie linebacker since Dick Butkus to start an Opening Day.

It also was the first time in his football life that Urlacher could remember being demoted.

"It's not a good feeling," he said. "I definitely don't like getting demoted but I know why I am. I just have to get better."

Coaches understood what they were really attempting, subsequently acknowledged privately that the SLB experiment was a mistake. While the strong-side slot may have been simpler than the other two principally because of coverage duties, "we're trying to force-feed the kid an elephant," then-defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

"So you see him gag and what do you do? You give him the Heimlich maneuver, you take some of it out of his mouth, try to chop it up into smaller pieces. He's going to devour it and be a great football player. But he wouldn't be if we choked him to death."

Urlacher didn’t choke and eventually became the starter, not outside, but at middle linebacker when Barry Minter was injured week two at Tampa Bay.

We sometimes don’t fully know the import or significance at the time we’re witnessing something. Urlacher stepping in at middle linebacker was not one of those times – you knew, watching him pick up four tackles in basically just the fourth quarter of a 41-0 blowout by the Bucs.

That was the beginning. Over the years came moments like Urlacher scooping up a Michael Vick fumble in the 2001 Atlanta game and going 90 yards with Vick giving chase but not catching him. Lots of those kinds of moments.

And then cutting to the ending, in 2013, when he and the organization came to an acrimonious parting after GM Phil Emery managed to alienate the face of the franchise both with the one-year contract offer and the way it was handled. Butkus had a nasty separation at the end of his Bears years, too, and Bill George finished his career as a Los Angeles Ram after creating the middle linebacker position as a Bear. Maybe that’s just how Bears and some of their linebackers wind up their relationships.

In any case, while there is no cheering in the pressbox, the hope here is that Brian goes into the Hall in a class with Ray Lewis in their first years of eligibility. Somehow that just seems like it all should close out for that confused kid from New Mexico who lost his first job out of college, but responded to that by becoming one of the all-time greats in his sport.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the most blame for Bears losses?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the most blame for Bears losses?

Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Kevin Fishbain (The Athletic) join Kap on the panel. It’s another losing season for the Bears. So who deserves the most blame: Ryan Pace, John Fox or the players? Plus Mark Schanowski drops by to talk about the Bulls future and if the Celtics will win the East.