Jauron Gets Seal of Approval

When Jerry Angelo was hired in June as the Bears first general manager since 1986, he said the relationship between a coach and general manager was more like a marriage.

Well, it looks like the engagement is over. Ending weeks of speculation, Angelo announced Monday that head coach Dick Jauron will return for the final year of his contract in 2002 and negotiations for an extension will begin after the current season.

"I felt this was the time and I told you (the media) coming in that when the time was right I was going to announce it," Angelo said. "I wanted to make sure I felt good and Dick felt good about me as I have about him."

After compiling records of 6-10 and 5-11 in his first two seasons in Chicago, Jauron has emerged as a leading NFL Coach of the Year candidate in 2001. He's guided Chicago into the playoffs for the first time since 1994.

When Angelo was hired he was given the authority to hire and fire coaches. But at the time, team president and CEO Ted Phillips guaranteed that Jauron would be retained at least through the 2001 season.

Jauron signed a four-year contract when he became Bears' coach in 1999. Many felt he would have to make the playoffs this season to be retained for the final year of his deal. All along, Angelo said he would evaluate the situation at the end of the season and base his decision not only on the team's record but his ability to work with Jauron.

"I can't be any happier in terms of the work he and his staff have done," Angelo said. "I feel very comfortable with them. I've been very impressed with what Dick and his staff have done this season."

The Bears (11-3) can clinch their first Central Division title since 1990 with a win at Detroit coupled with a Green Bay loss to Minnesota.

"What our staff has done this season speaks for itself," Angelo said. "I know San Francisco and Pittsburgh had Cinderella stories, but they didn't come into the same situation. Our staff rose to the occasion."

However, the question still remains if the entire coaching staff will be brought back next year.

"We'll talk about that," Angelo said. "My main focus was on Dick and myself and once that was solidified, everything else will run its course.

"There are issues we'll discuss as we get into this thing later," Jauron said. "But I can't tell you how happy I am with this staff and how indebted I am to this staff. They're a good group of guys."

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