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Good morning, frents!
And good riddance, Urban Meyer. Using a unique blend of both verbal and physical abuse, the Jags coach beat Matt Nagy to the unemployment line just 13 games after being hired on a five-year contract. What a guy.
Hawks 5, Capitals 4 (OT)
Bulls at Raptors, PPD
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5 lessons George McCaskey needs to learn while renovating the Bears
The Tribune's Dan Wiederer dropped another great deep dive on the dysfunctional Chicago Bears franchise on Wednesday. It's a long read, but like his 2019 piece on the Trubisky draft, it's worth your time.
Among the golden nuggets:
- Ted Phillips has been holding private discussions to "distance himself" from football operations, finally making the acknowledgement that he doesn't have the chops to oversee the on-field product.
- Gary Fencik, Patrick Mannelly and Olin Kreutz all going on record wondering why more ex-players aren't tapped for their expertise or opinion.(Fencik and Kreutz clowning George McCaskey and Phillips for last season's year-end press conference is also worth the price of admission.)
- One source crediting Ryan Pace's failure to the GM being incredibly adverse to any sort of conflict. "Conflict puts the fear of God in Ryan," the source said.
- The best quote, also attributed to a source: “George listens and hears. I know that he’s frustrated. I’m just not sure he has a full sense of what to do.”
If you've gone on record as saying the Bears need a down-to-the-studs rebuild, Wiederer lays out the receipts. Read the piece and you won't be left with any doubt that the Bears' well needs to be drained and refilled with a new bucket carried by someone not named George or Ted.
"There’s a giant awakening awaiting all of us at some point," Fencik says. "You just need the right people in here."
Easier said than done, of course and it's going to take both some intense self-reflection and even more drastic action on McCaskey's part to find successful water carriers. Hopefully, he "listens and hears" what's being said about Wieder's article.
McCaskey took over the role of chairman from his brother Michael in 2011 and I'm guessing he'll look back and try to figure exactly how he ended up with a lost decade under Marc Trestman, John Fox, Matt Nagy, Phil Emery and Pace.
But I'd instead he look at what the Cubs, Sox, Hawks and Bulls have done in roughly the same period.
Like the Bears, each of those Chicago franchises reached similar points with flagging trust from the fanbase and a bottoming out in the standings.
Unlike the Bears, those four teams were successful in their turnaround. The Hawks and Cubs won long-anticipated titles. The Sox and Bulls may get there yet.
Here are five lessons I think McCaskey can learn from his Chicago colleagues:
1. Hire the best: The Ricketts family went out and poached Theo Epstein from his hometown Red Sox. With a potential franchise quarterback, a glittering new stadium (possibly) and the reputation as a sleeping giant, there shouldn't be anyone out of the Bears' league.
2. Hire what you admire: McCaskey needs to look around the league and find successful teams he'd like to emulate. Michael Reinsdorf and the Bulls did that with the Nuggets and ended up with Arturas Karnisovas (who in turn brought in Marc Eversley from Philadelphia.) This can admittedly backfire as McCaskey was impressed with Pace's New Orleans pedigree and Nagy's place on Andy Reid's coaching tree.
3. Don't let loyalty get in the way: Look what happened with the Sox and Bulls once Kenny Williams and John Paxson were finally ushered out of the driver's seat. (Yeah, there's that whole Tony La Russa deal, but I'll tailgate in Packers colors if Mike Ditka returns to the sidelines.) Pace and Phillips may be nice guys, but the McCaskey family owes them a lot less than the generations of fans who have been waiting almost four decades for another Super Bowl title.
4. Spend more money: Hiring good people doesn't mean anything if you don't give them good tools. The Bulls and Cubs both spent to expand front offices that were much smaller than necessary to win. The Hawks built out a scouting department that brought back some big wins from Europe and in later rounds of the draft. The Bears are worth $4 billion and counting. No expense should be spared in bringing the team into the 21st century.
5. Speak your goal: McCaskey's intentions will be clear if he does any (or all) of the above. And while it may not be his style to be so brash, I'd still like to hear him say it's Super Bowl or bust. Doing so would both hold himself accountable and set expectations for everyone else in the organization. No, it's not the way things have normally been done at Halas Hall, but if Wiederer's piece proved anything, it's that a complete reprogramming is in order.
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News and results
Hawks: Three goals in 34 seconds keys win
A second-period burst and an OT winner from Caleb Jones (his first goal in a Hawks uniform) keyed a 5-4 win over the Caps at the UC. Marc Andre-Fleury got career win No. 501 on the night he was honored for his 500th and Patrick Kane recorded assist No. 700 on Alex DeBrincat's goal in the second.
- The Hawks reached a settlement with Kyle Beach earlier in the day. Terms were not disclosed. "The Blackhawks hope that this resolution will bring some measure of peace and closure for Mr. Beach," the team said in a statement.
- Next: The Hawks face Nashville at the United Center on Friday night.
Bears: Larry Borom joins COVID-19 list
The rookie OT is vaccinated, so he can rejoin the team with two negative tests within 24 hours. If he can't, the Bears o-line could be in (further) trouble for Monday night's game against the Vikings.
1. The city council lifted the ban on sports betting, paving the way for books at Chicago's stadiums and ballparks. CBS 2 Chicago
2. Rick Morrissey tries to answer the question: How could the Bears have been so wrong about Matt Nagy? Sun-Times
3. Bret Bielema's 22-person early-signing class includes another member of the Kreutz family and 10 in-state recruits. The Champaign Room
4. The Cubs hit three of the eight "most irrelevant" homers in 2021. Fox Sports
5. An independent library in Humboldt Park is fighting to keep its doors open. WTTW
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