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Bears' executives failing the course on managing change at Halas Hall

Bears running back Matt Forte injured for last 41/2 games seasis planning play Jan. 29 Pro Bowl Hawaii.| Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Bears running back Matt Forte, injured for the last 41/2 games of the season, is planning to play in the Jan. 29 Pro Bowl in Hawaii.| Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 21, 2012 8:44AM



Years ago, when he was an Ivy League business professor, former Bears chairman Michael McCaskey wrote an interesting book titled The Executive Challenge: Managing Change and Ambiguity.

Wake up, students! I know it doesn’t have the ring of, say, The Hunger Games, but the book does have its moments, such as when it describes in detail how patriotic, high-ranking officers in the 19th century U.S. Navy actually were less concerned with killing the enemy than they were with preserving their own jobs.

Sound like Halas Hall, ca. 2012?

Yep.

Because what we have going on over at Bears headquarters right now is a whirring merry-go-round of everybody-save-your-own-butt.

Theoretically, the Bears are trying to fill many vacancies with better people than were in those spots before so as to win more games than any team in the NFL, plus the Super Bowl. But that’s not what it looks like if you peer closely and see the quiet craziness taking place.

First off, at this moment, the Bears have no general manager, offensive line coach or quarterbacks coach.

What they do have is an O-line coach, Mike Tice, who was promoted to the offensive coordinator’s job after previous coordinator Mike Martz was told he was not wanted.

But is Tice content with his upgrade? Absolutely not. In fact, he’s interviewing for the Oakland Raiders’ head-coaching job. If he takes that job, the Bears temporarily will not have a GM, offensive coordinator, O-line coach or quarterbacks coach.

What they will have — ta-da! — is an unsinkable president, Ted Phillips, and a bulletproof coach, Lovie Smith.

Any general manager who would take the empty Bears GM spot knows he has Lovie, come hell or cannon shells, for at least another year.

Who would take such a job? GMs must hire their own coaches. That’s how it’s done. That’s how author McCaskey implies it must be done. He calls such ordered strategy a ‘‘map.’’ For our sake, we’ll call it sanity.

How does such a non-sanity happen?

Obviously, Phillips and Smith have been able to convince the McCaskeys at the top of the Bears’ organization that it’s not their fault.

The nose dive after the 7-3 start in 2011 was because Martz didn’t know how to make the untalented Caleb Hanie a reasonable NFL quarterback replacement for Jay Cutler, QBs coach Shane Day didn’t know how to keep Hanie from throwing interceptions and GM Jerry Angelo didn’t know how to draft or trade for somebody better than Hanie.

See, it had nothing to do with Phillips’ oversight skills or Lovie’s head-coaching duties.

And now let’s add to this tornado of irrationality the fact that running back Matt Forte, injured for the last 41/2 games of the season, is planning to play in the Jan. 29 Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

Forte is unsigned by the Bears and quite unhappy about that fact, but he’s willing to possibly injure his just-healed knee — or any other body part — in what is an honor-to-be-a-part-of, amusing but irrelevant contest that no one will remember for any reason. Unless there’s a major injury.

Forte, who finished the season with 1,487 yards from scrimmage, explains that he could get hurt walking out the door as easily as in the Pro Bowl. That logic might be a trickle-down effect from Halas Hall Think.

Unless Forte really believes several 320-pound men might fall on him the next time he leaves his house.

The only stable thing with the Bears seems to be franchise quarterback Cutler, the inscrutable, odd but seemingly improving passer who has a chance to be very good. But then, Cutler has finished the last two seasons with an injury, and he’ll soon be bombarded with all kinds of new instructors around him.

Does that make sense?

Apparently, at that suburban rabbit hole just off Route 94.

McCaskey has been largely silenced in recent years. But as the eldest grandson of George Halas, maybe he should get his management book into the hands of his governing family and the remaining Bears brass.

You can buy the dusty book new for $39.95 on Amazon. Or there a bunch of used copies on the site, starting at $0.01.



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