Bears

Bears: McCaskey sends strongest possible 'accountability' message, again

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Bears: McCaskey sends strongest possible 'accountability' message, again

The immediate focus of the past day has been Ray McDonald and the veteran defensive tackle’s third arrest in the past nine months. But the bigger spotlight has been squarely on Bears Chairman George McCaskey, and what that light has revealed is more than a little bit interesting.

McCaskey, who insiders say has something of a temper when he feels wronged, was exactly that by McDonald, and not just by McDonald.

For the second time in barely five months, the Bears chairman has paid much more than cursory lip service to the notion of “accountability.” In the process McCaskey exhibited the fortitude to acknowledge his own major mistake and to place his own ego a decided second to both doing the right thing and also doing the right thing for the Bears. This is no small matter.

[MORE: Bears release Ray McDonald in wake of arrest]

In January it was McCaskey admitting a franchise-grade mistake when he fired Phil Emery after just two years as general manager. This was McCaskey’s first big hire, he got it wrong and did not compound the mistake by staying with the error.

The Bears made a mistake on McDonald. To their credit, they did not compound the mistake by hiding behind “waiting for matter to make its way through the courts.” The absence of a criminal conviction does not mean that the criminal act never happened. Far worse than a mistake is not fixing it. McCaskey did that.

McCaskey initially opposed the signing of McDonald, understandably not keen on the risk inherent with someone with a dubious past. He had that “no” vote irrespective of what McDonald represented, a quality football player intimately familiar with the coach (Vic Fangio) and the defense he would be working with.

McCaskey did some personal vetting of McDonald, meeting one-on-one with him, and changed the no to an “OK,” but a conditional one. McDonald signed for one year and was on hand for the veteran minicamp. He projected to be a linchpin at one end of the forming 3-4 Bears defense.

But with the latest action, McDonald made saps out of McCaskey, Fangio, GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox, all of whom were called on for and gave public endorsements. And they cut their losses.

[MORE: Bears' Ray McDonald arrested on domestic violence charge]

“We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear,” Pace said in a statement issued Monday. “He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him.”

A point here is that McDonald has never been convicted of anything in the recent spate of incidents. And he was not some inconsequential down-the-depth-chart player. This was a starting defensive lineman.

The fault here lies with Ray McDonald, not the people who gave him one more chance.

And some credit goes to a chief executive who twice in six months has sent significant accountability messages from the highest reaches of the organization. McCaskey addressed his own mistakes promptly and decisively. That is a message that resonates beyond just Ray McDonald.

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

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USA TODAY

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.    

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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