Bears

Is Bill Polian the answer for Bears?

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Is Bill Polian the answer for Bears?

It seems strange to say, but Jerry Angelo is not the Bears GM.

After years of banging the pots and pans in the streets clamoring for the team to fire Angelo, now Bears fans have to shift their energy to who they actually want to replace him at his old desk.

Of course the decision will ultimately be made by the McCaskeys and not the fans, but that doesnt mean campaigning for a new GM should be frowned upon.

Since the Colts fired Bill Polian and his son Chris on Monday, lets see if they would be a good fit in Chicago.

The elder Polian helped build championship caliber teams in Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis over the past few decades. After spending 14 years with the Colts, owner Jim Irsay said the team needed to move on.

Would the 69-year-old Polian want to continue his career in another NFL front office? Would his son be along for the ride? CSNChicago.com's John Mullin says immediate speculation has centered on Polian.

Two very important questions that would need to be answered before the Bears can even make an offer.

The Daily Herald made a great comparison with how the Blackhawks brought in Scotty and Stan Bowman to run the show.

Sustained success is hard to duplicate, but Polian has a history of repeatedly doing well at the NFL Draft. He has built solid organizations from top to bottom, which is exactly what the Bears need.

Polian would have to be able work around the fact that Lovie Smith is staying put as head coach, similar to how Angelo operated his first year with Dick Jauron entrenched in 2001.

If the McCaskeys are looking for an individual who helped build winners in a variety of different ways, Polian may be the perfect pick.

From 1986-1993 Polian was the draft wizard who assembled a Bills team that reached the Super Bowl in four consecutive seasons. In 1994 he moved on to become the key cog for the expansion Carolina Panthers, an organization that arguably had the greatest meteoric rise in NFL history by reaching the NFC Championship game in only its second year of existence.

After four years in Carolina, Polian was tasked with turning the 3-13 Colts into a winner. Enter Peyton Manning. Polians first draft pick in 1998 was surrounded by talent year after year and the team would shortly turn into a perennial powerhouse. Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders and Robert Mathis are just a few of the many draft gems Polian polished off during his 14 years in Indianapolis.

The Bears have more talent in place than any one of Polians previous three stops. In Chicago the Bears have used free agency and trades to form most of its nucleus. Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are among the very few draft success stories that still remain intact.

Elite stars Julius Peppers and Jay Cutler have been brought to Chicago to win now. The big problem is that they were supposed to be a quick fix to cover up the fact that a solid foundation wasnt built by the front office.

Now the Bears must bring in an experienced contractor to help support the cracked foundation that lies beneath millions of dollars of investments on the top floors of the Chicago Bears estate. If Polian is the guy for the job he will start by doing what hes always done best, drafting instant impact players in April.

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.