The Wait is Over

On Christmas Eve Jerry Angelo announced that Dick Jauron would be back for the 2002 season and beyond. It took almost two months to get a contract extension worked out, but the wait is now over.

The Bears announced the final year of Jauron's original four-year deal would be terminated and he would be given a new three-year contract through 2004. Essentially giving him a two-year contract extension with a pay raise from his $1 million dollar salary. The terms of the deal were not released.

Angelo said he was relieved to that the deal was done.

"I'm very excited, happy not only that the process is over with because I know it's been on every bodies mind particularly mine and I'm very happy with the outcome," Angelo said. "The overall fundamentals of how we look at our football team and organization we were in agreement with and that's why I made the statement that I wanted Dick Jauron back as our football coach and I wanted him back for a long time."

Jauron said there were no real surprises in the way the negotiations were handled, but added the process did wear on him.

"I'm very tired. I feel like I'm still in the season and maybe it's because of this (the contract negotiations) maybe it's just because it was a long season and a very successful season and a season that ended so dramatically. But, I do think this process was part of it, so it was tiring."

A humble man Jauron thanked the many people that helped him along the way.

"There's lot of people to thank for me," Jauron said. "I'll start with the McCaskey family, Ed and Virginia, for just giving me the opportunity to be here. And then Ted (Phillips) and then Jerry (Angelo) and then maybe most importantly my family, who make the whole thing worth wild for me obviously. At the bottom of that list, but not in terms of importance is our football team or players and our coaching staff who have given me the opportunity to remain here."

Jauron said loyalty is as important as anything thus having his assistants' back was crucial to him.

Still there seems to be some doubt from Angelo about John Shoop. When asked about the Bears offensive coordinator Angelo didn't answer directly and said the issue would be addressed in the near future.

"All the coaches that are presently under contract and Dick would like to have all his staff back and I plan on starting that process (of meeting individually with each coach) sometime next week," Angelo said.

Although, Jauron does have the power to hire his assistant coaches and made a move today replacing former linebackers coach Dale Lindsay.

The Bears hired Gary Moeller as to fill the whole left by Lindsay. However, the fine print of the deal was not disclosed reading into what Angelo said could suggest that he has the final say on the 53-man roster.

"Yes, one of us does have the final say and that's in the fine print (of the contract), but today we're here to talk about the big print," Angelo said. "Jointly we make decisions, but there's no decision that we've made that we haven't agreed to jointly."

Angelo went on to stress the importance of his relationship with Jauron.

"This is a team and it's all about team. We preach it to our players and it has to start at the top. Our relationship is the catalyst in making this thing go," Angelo said. "Is it important that I have a good relationship with Ted? Yes. Is it important that I have a good relationship with Dick's staff? Yes and I've said that to Dick. But, the most important relationship is the relationship that I have with Dick."

In his third season with the Bears Jauron led Chicago to a regular season record of 13-3, becoming just the third head coach in the 81-year history of the Bears franchise to lead his team to 13 wins in a season. A feat previously only accomplished by Halas and Ditka (1934, 13-0; 1985, 15-1; 1986, 14-2). Jauron also improved his career record to 24-24.

In recording 13 wins in 2001, the Bears improved by eight games in the win column from the 2000 season, the third best turnaround in the NFL since 1978, improving from 5-11 in 2001.

Jauron was named the AP Coach of the Year following the 2001 season after leading the Bears to their first NFC Central title since 1990 and their first playoff appearance since 1994. He joins two-time winners George Halas (1963 and 1965) and Mike Ditka (1985 and 1988) as the only Bears coaches to receiver the honor.

Jauron was named the 12th head coach in Chicago Bears history on January 24, 1999, following four seasons as defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is a 25-year veteran of the NFL as a player and coach.

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