Pyle sounds off

Whenever I think about Jerry Angelo, so many words come to mind. Domineering, arrogant, vain, and that's just for starters. Angelo will never be a team player. Football is the true team sport so that would make him odd man out to begin with. But, I must admit that there have been some very interesting, surprisingly aggressive moves made recently at Halas Hall, all at Angelo's instigation.

One head coach got fired and a new one came in. That in itself isn't necessarily an unusual thing. What is out of the ordinary, however, is that just about everybody in the coaching ranks at Halas Hall is brand new to this level. And it's one of the largest, if not the largest, coaching staffs in the NFL.

Just going down the list of the new guys, it quite apparent that there isn't a lot of NFL coaching time there. That isn't to say that these people weren't good choices, just that they are somewhat inexperienced.

I'm delighted that Ron Rivera was named defensive coordinator. He had nine years as a player. That's very good for the team right now. Rivera brings a thorough knowledge of the game and has an ability to relate to his players. Not to mention he's aware of the history of the franchise and respects it.

Wade Wilson is another excellent pick. He has been in the NFL for 19 years. He'll be a fine quarterback coach. I think that he'll be able to work with Rex Grossman, Jonathan Quinn, and Chris Chandler quite effectively. It's particularly important for the team to have brought in someone for this position who had years of on field experience. Wilson was always cool under fire, and he should be able to impart that to his players.

Lovie Smith has no head coaching experience at this level, but he is well respected and has an excellent background in defense. I read in a newspaper column early in January that the Bears had very little credibility in the league and that they would have trouble attracting a top quality head coach. That may have been true, but I think that Smith could prove to be an excellent fit. He seems very dynamic and bright. If he can get all of his assistants and players headed in the same direction, things could turn out surprisingly well for the team.

I also like the offensive coordinator, Terry Shea. Again, a bright fellow with a promising background. Shea seems football savvy and motivated, and I think he'll be able to get good things from his players. That both he and Wilson have been hired indicates to me that, at last, the Bears are going to be paying attention to the quarterback position. If so, that's the first time this has happened in 50 years. I also like the fact that Shea has experience working with Quinn the new QB free agent. That should cut Quinn's learning curve considerably.

I don't know too much about the rest of the staff, but their credentials seem to indicate that they will fit in well at Halas Hall. The hirings were aggressive could work out extremely well. The fact that Angelo has taken control of this process will put the credit or the blame squarely on his shoulders, however. I only wish that the GM had been this actively interested in improving the team several years ago. But if the Bears had done well then, Dick Jauron wouldn't have been fired and that's an entirely different scenario.

One thing that definitely surprises me right now is the way the Bears have been spending money going after players. Look at the free agent market. Chicago is right in there going after a lot of these big name players. John Tait would be an instant upgrade if the Chiefs don't match the Bears offer for the right tackle. I like the new RB Thomas Jones. He could open the offensive game plan considerably.

They are beginning to move people around on the OL, but I am surprised that RT is the first position the Bears are looking to solidify. And why would you want to place a new player at LT? What about Marc Colombo? Is he ever going to play? Is he in the Bears' future plans? It's been two years since he's been on the field and this guy was a first-round pick. Isn't it time to play him or replace him? It seems that the experiment has gone on long enough.

Phillip Daniels was quoted some time ago saying that he preferred to play for a team that wants to win. Daniels was frustrated; he didn't feel that the Bears had the horsepower or the desire to go anywhere. Is this finally changing? Let's hope so.

To be successful in professional football, every player has to have an inner fire. For the defense, it's necessary to be overwhelmingly aggressive, to want to dominate on every play. For the offense, it's in t he ability to work as a team, to analyze and to coordinate their efforts. And it's the kind of situation where success breeds success. Winners tend to keep on winning.

Can the Bears finally turn things around and regain this type of a positive mentality? Can they once again be feared in the NFL instead of being viewed as a laughingstock? The right pieces are beginning to come together. But, it's still a tremendous gamble with very high stakes. Can Angelo pull this off? It's high time that the fans in Chicago have something to cheer about. Angelo wanted control of this team and he got it. If this experiment fails, at least we'll know exactly where to place the blame.

Mike Pyle played center for the Bears from 1961-69 and has continued to follow the team through his work in broadcasting and print media.


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