Jauron's journey comes to an end

There's no debating the class of Dick Jauron, but what GM Jerry Angelo called, "a bottom line business" a 35-46 record wasn't good enough for him to return for a sixth season.

Jerry Angelo called his '03 squad a playoff caliber team heading into the year, but a 1-5 start quickly turned the talk of Jauron's future. There was a feeling that Jauron's strong finish to the season might save his job. The Bears went 6-4 including two wins with rookies contributing on both sides of the ball.

"Simply put, expectations weren't met," Angelo said. "Looking at Dick's overall career record, I just didn't feel that the hope that we need to move on to the next level was there and I felt it was in the best interest for everybody to make the decision now."

However Angelo said he took into account the entire five-year tenure of Dick Jauron. He concluded that after one playoff appearance and four losing seasons out of five that the organization needed a change.

"To achieve our ultimate goal, winning a championship, a new direction is needed," Angelo said. "We need to demonstrate the ability to win on a more consistent basis, something that we haven't done here in quite some time."

Jauron is the only coach in franchise history to have three double-digit losing seasons. His only winning campaign came in 2001 when the Bears were the surprise of the NFL. A 13-3 record yielded the Bears first division crown since 1990 and earned Jauron Coach of the Year honors. He received a contract extension through the 2004 season, which leaves the Bears on the hook for the final year of his deal worth $2.4 million.

After being within one game of the NFC Title game, the Bears have taken a major step back over the past two seasons. Chicago is 11-21 during that span.

"We're in this business to win football games, we're in this business to win championships," said Bears CEO and President Ted Phillips. "I've been here 21 years and seven of the first 10 years I was with the club, we were in the playoffs and went pretty far quite often. We've made the playoffs twice in the last 11 years and that's not good enough."

Punter Brad Maynard said Jauron wasn't overly upset when he spoke with the team Monday.

"I don't think even he'd say it was a raw deal. We had opportunities. He was here five years and the record is what it is," Maynard said. "Sometimes you say he didn't have the personnel to play with and that type of thing. He did what he could with what he had," Maynard said.

Jauron was hired on January 24, 1999. Ironically he wasn't the Bears first choice. The team wanted Dave McGinnis, who became the Cardinals front man a year later, but before the numbers were worked out the deal fell through. Jauron, who was the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator at the time, became the 12th coach in franchise history.

"To Virginia and the family, I say a sincere thank you for everything you've done for me," Jauron said. "To the Bears organization as a whole I'm indebted. There are many people here who I feel close to and will continue to feel close for my entire life and I appreciate their support."

Some believed that Jauron's relationship with the McCaskey family would hinder Angelo from making a move, but in the end one man had the power to hire and fire.

"(The) Ownership and myself are fully supportive of Jerry's decision," Phillips said. "That being said, it wasn't an easy one. Dick has carried himself with a lot of class. And when you have a coach and a person with the quality of Dick Jauron, it always makes it tough when you want to say goodbye. So that part was tough but there's a 100 percent support in the decision."

Despite the somber news, Jauron seemed in good spirits as he made his last appearance in front of the Chicago media.

"I certainly appreciate the opportunity that was given to me and I will never forget it," Jauron said. "To be a coach in the National Football League is a great honor. To be a head coach in the National Football League is really an unbelievable thing and to be a head football coach for the Chicago Bears I think is a really special thing."

The rest of the coaching staff will have a chance to be interviewed by the new head coach. At this point the entire group has one year left on their contracts and would have to seek permission from the team to interview elsewhere.

The fact of the matter is that it's doubtful any of the coaches will return with the exception of assistant defensive line coach Richard Dent and possibly quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, who has established a strong relationship with Rex Grossman.

A player that could be on the way out is Phillip Daniels, who said Jauron remained positive about the team he's leaving behind.

"He just told us we've got a championship team to keep striving and (in the) next couple years we'll have a championship here," Daniels said. "We're all sad to see him go but we have to move on. What's done is done.

"I think a lot of guys like myself, we're concerned with our future rather than a lot of other stuff that's going on right now. I'm in the same boat as Coach Jauron and we've just got to keep our heads up just like he kept his head up and just keep moving forward."

The 53-year-old stressed the fact that while this part of his coaching career has come to an end he still has the itch to stay in football.

"I hope to back in this city at some time working for somebody else. That's my goal and my ambition," Jauron said. "I certainly wish it could have turned out better, but I am not looking back. I am definitely looking forward."

Tomorrow Bear Report will examine what type of candidate the Bears are looking for and who fits the description.

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