I’ve been singing the first line in Taylor Swift’s “Lover” — We can keep the Christmas up lights ’til January; this is our place, we make the rules — since Monday when I finished taking down our decorations. It’s almost all packed up, save for one strain of lights that I’ve decided to keep up year round because I like the aesthetic they bring to the basement.
• Stop, collaborate, and listen:
The Bears would like you to know they plan on collaborating this offseason.
— Pat Tomasulo (@pattomasulo) January 14, 2021
• At the risk of being hyperbolic, I must ask — was that the worst Bears press conference ever? That was the embodiment of “this could’ve been an e-mail.” Necessary changes weren’t made. Many important questions were sidestepped, dodged, dismissed, and ultimately, not answered in a satisfactory way. End-of-season press conferences should – at minimum – be informative self-reflections on the year that passed. And in some cases, they should produce hope for the future. Wednesday’s press conference starring Chairman George McCaskey, President Ted Phillips, GM Ryan Pace, and Head Coach Matt Nagy featured none of that.
• Whew! There’s a lot of good reading out there when it comes to yesterday’s presser. I would encourage you to read pieces by Adam Hoge (NBC Sports Chicago), Jon Greenberg (The Athletic), Chris Emma (670 The Score), Dan Wiederer and Colleen Kane (Chicago Tribune), Jason Lieser (Sun-Times), and Brad Biggs (Tribune). The full-scope of what we witnessed yesterday felt overwhelming because there was so much to churn through. We’ll highlight some of it in the Bullets to follow.
• When asked what he saw in the 2020 season that suggested the Bears were making real progress, McCaskey name-checked Darnell Mooney’s development as a fifth-round pick growing into a starter’s role. With all due respect to Mooney’s growth, I can’t imagine a 5th-round rookie having saved Pace and Nagy’s job. And if that’s the case, then I’m disheveled knowing that it wasn’t even mentioned that Mooney’s move into the starting lineup came at the expense of Anthony Miller, a floundering second-round pick from 2018 who has failed to take the next step in his own development and was last seen walking off the field after being ejected from a playoff game for punching an opponent after a play was over.
• For what it’s worth, McCaskey also said the Bears need better quarterback play. Which, to me, suggests he should know that the Bears didn’t make the progress he claims to believe they made. Because if you think the development of a fifth-round rookie receiver means you’re growing, while also acknowledging that the most important position in sports needs to be fixed immediately, then your priorities are out of whack.
• McCaskey also mentioned the Bears not quitting after a six-game losing streak as a sign of progress and growth. And for the first time in my life as a football fan, I witnessed someone crediting a six-game losing streak as a sign of progress. As a post of comparison, the only other teams who suffered six-game losing streaks are the Jaguars and Jets. Those two teams are picking first and second in the 2021 NFL Draft. They’ll find growth in new front offices, head coaches, and quarterbacks. Meanwhile, the Bears stand pat because they happened to play a beat-up Texans team, a stumbling Vikings squad, and the aforementioned Jaguars to snap their skid. I’m sure the Jets and Jags would’ve made “progress” if they faced the league’s underbelly in the closing weeks.
• Hearing McCaskey refer to Ted Phillips’ tenure in Chicago as “extraordinary” almost resulted in me falling out of my chair. Mostly because evidence to the contrary exists:
— dan durkin (@djdurkin) January 13, 2021
• There is nothing extraordinary about the résumé above.
• Not only is this professional word salad …
what an answer pic.twitter.com/Lavkbywcjb
— cam ellis (@KingsleyEllis) January 13, 2021
• … but to talk about “culture” days after watching one of your players get ejected for punching an opponent DURING A PLAYOFF GAME — becoming the second to do so this season — offends my football sensibilities. Whether it’s tone deaf or ignorant is neither here nor there. Because in either case, it’s bad.
• Also, if McCaskey insists on saying that Phillips has no hands in football operations, then why was he involved and prominently featured in a 90-minute press conference laying out the future of the football operation? I’ll hang up and wait for my answer.
• I suppose I can credit McCaskey for saying this: “Sometimes, you have to take the route you think is best, even when it’s not the most popular decision.” You’ll often catch me saying something like “fortune favors the bold.” And there is truth in that. It certainly takes a bold stance and some cojones to go against the grain and fade popular opinion because you feel some way about someone or something. Clearly, McCaskey has strong conviction when it comes to Pace and Nagy. It’s just that he held a 42-minute press conference (which you can re-watch here) and gave no tangible reasons as to why he feels that way.
• Some additional listening:
• Meanwhile, this is how a professionally run family business in the NFL operates:
Tomlin: "I'm not going to maintain status quo and hope that the outcome changes. That's the definition of insanity."
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) January 13, 2021
• And this is how a new-school, progressive franchise operates:
The #Jaguars identified Urban Meyer as their top target from the start. He did have some talks with the #Chargers, but the focus was always on the Jags. No. 1 pick, plenty of cap space, endless draft picks… https://t.co/xfxCr9O7Ls
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 14, 2021
• Vikings executive George Paton is getting the Broncos GM gig:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 13, 2021
• In other words, Bears Assistant Director of Player Personnel Champ Kelly isn’t getting that job. Maybe Kelly still leaves for another position. There are other GM gigs open, but he was a favorite to land that gig. At least the Bears are – for the moment – keeping one of their better talent-evaluators.
• I guess last year wasn’t all bad. That Khalil Mack fella is still good at football:
Sacks Created — where we credit the person who first beat their blocker, as opposed to the person who finished the sack.
Aaron Donald 19
Myles Garrett 16.5
T.J. Watt 14.5
Khalil Mack 13
Justin Houston 12
Emmanuel Ogbah 11
Carl Lawson 10.5
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) January 14, 2021