How can this be? Bears considering Jerry Angelo’s buddy Tim Ruskell for GM job
By Rick Morrissey firstname.lastname@example.org January 11, 2012 7:56PM
In another flight of illogical thinking, Tim Ruskell is rumored to be a candidate for the Bears’ general manager job. Hello! Ruskell was brought into the team’s front office by fired GM Jerry Angelo. | Otto Greule Jr.~Getty Images
Updated: February 13, 2012 9:23AM
What’s most troubling about the Tim Ruskell rumors is not that they’re still around but that they started.
If I have this straight, the Bears fired general manager Jerry Angelo because they thought he wasn’t good at a job that puts a premium on the ability to identify talent. Now they’re apparently considering Ruskell for the vacant general manager job, even though Angelo was the one who had identified his old pal as a talent and hired him to be the team’s director of player personnel.
Is that about right? The failed GM’s handpicked man has a shot at replacing him?
The situation carries the same whiff of illogic that was wafting around Halas Hall last week, when the Bears announced that not only was coach Lovie Smith’s job safe after one playoff appearance in five seasons but that he would have input into who the next general manager would be. Fear not, the Bears told us; after a year, the new general manager will have the power to fire the coach who helped him get the job. What a relief.
According to reports, the Bears are considering Ruskell, who struggled as general manager in Seattle after a good start there. We’ll assume he gets along with Smith, which we all know is the main criterion for the job. Team president Ted Phillips has made it clear that Lovie is Bill Belichick in disguise. Whoever gets the GM job will have to agree with that assessment, as unrecognizable as it might be.
This would appear to be the time for a fresh start in the player evaluation department, seeing as how the Bears’ talent level was exposed after Jay Cutler went down with a broken thumb.
If the Bears are considering Ruskell, it’s clear they (a) don’t think they have a problem and (b) don’t want to spend the money to clean house and bring in a new scouting department.
I do believe Angelo was handicapped, to an extent, by the McCaskeys’ death grip on the purse strings. The Bears went through the 2011 season with about $18 million in salary-cap space. Some of that money went unspent because, they said, they believed in the players they already had. The Bears are big on comfort, but that wasn’t comfort. That was cheapness.
It would be one thing if McCaskey family members led extravagant lifestyles and needed the cash. You could understand if they were jetting to Paris every other weekend for truffles and caviar. But there is no suggestion of that. If anything, they seem more likely to drive to Arby’s.
The family sits on top of a business that Forbes says is worth $1.093 billion, making it the eighth most valuable franchise in the NFL. When it comes to the actual playing of the sport, the standings say the Bears are so-so.
It’s why some of us are braced for the Ruskell appointment. It’s why we’re braced for the expedient move, the one that would come with the least upheaval, even though an upheaval is most certainly what this franchise needs. Feel free to walk around with your nose up in the air and say the Bears are historically superior to the Chiefs, the Bucs, the Ravens, the Rams, the Jets and the Saints. Just know that they have as many Super Bowl titles as those teams. One.
But we carry on here in Chicago, still dipping into nostalgia provided by the 1985 Bears. That’s enough gruel for us, isn’t it? If you have the audacity to speak up and say you want more, you’ll get more of the same and a ticket-price increase, for good measure.
The Bears don’t like change. They’re the person with the nagging cough who, out of fear of a cancer diagnosis, won’t make a doctor’s appointment. It’s why the team was content to elevate Mike Tice from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator, even though he had never been an offensive coordinator.
The Bears ensured it would be business as usual when they decided the next GM would have to keep Smith for 2012. It almost guaranteed the hiring of a yes man. It might be why potential candidates have taken other jobs.
Last week, the Raiders hired Reggie McKenzie to be their new general manager. His first order of business was to fire coach Hue Jackson after an 8-8 season. That’s the power a team normally gives a GM. That’s how it’s supposed to work. But not in Lake Forest, the backward capital of the world.