GM plans, Week 2: Bears in no hurry


GM plans, Week 2: Bears in no hurry

The search for a successor to general manager Jerry Angelo moves into its second week, with the Bears yet to formally interview anyone. It would be a mistake, however, to equate lack of action with lack of a plan.

One perspective on what the Bears are doing, and not doing, is a case of them having Plan B in place and methodically going about Plan A. Consider:

Stereotyping and all kidding aside, the Bears have typically made major moves quickly, if not always the right moves. They have consistently gone after their biggest personnel targets Erik Kramer, Bryan Cox, Mushin Muhammad, Julius Peppers, even the trade for Jay Cutler, even Chester Taylor aggressively and fast.

And when Dave Wannstedt was the hot coaching candidate of 1993, Michael McCaskey out-bid and out-hustled the New York Giants for him.

The point is, a couple actually Reggie McKenzie, Eric DeCosta and even Les Snead in Atlanta were at the top of the Bears list, and they never got in the hunt for DeCosta and McKenzie. The obvious conclusion is that they were not inclined to be rushed into a move.

Ted Phillips was part of the organization through all of those moves from Kramer to Wannstedt to Peppers.

It is unlikely that he has suddenly gone sluggish, unless theres a reason.

Plan B: Ruskell?

The reason may be as simple as having a Plan B with which they are at least OK: Tim Ruskell in place as director of player personnel. Ruskells record at Tampa Bay and Seattle are open to question; thats for another time. And the fact that he was brought in by Angelo wouldnt normally be a positive for his chances.

But the Bears arguably are in a very tight spot, because Ruskell was hired as a de facto consolidation of the pro personnel and college scouting jobs. So with Angelo gone, the Bears are beyond bare bones in their personnel area.

That, in a win-or-else year possibly for Lovie Smith and more, is very, very tight staffing.

Ruskell at least has the relationships and organization under him in place.

And one more plus for Ruskell (and for Angelo, indirectly and irrelevantly): The top three picks of the 2011 draft -- Gabe Carimi, Stephen Paea and Chris Conte were all impact players as rookies, injuries aside. Not since the 2004 draft have the top three picks Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, Bernard Berrian, plus Nathan Vasher looked as promising.

And one other scenario suggests itself: If the Bears stay with Ruskell and Smith, and the 2012 season blows up, they are in a contractual position to make sweeping changes, beginning at the top of their football operations.

Then, with contracts like Cutlers, Devin Hesters, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlachers and others expiring or within a year of expiration, they perhaps commence with a total rebuilding.

Divining exact intentions and plans at Halas Hall has rarely been easy. But those plans, likely more than one, are very clearly in place.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”