So, after 11 years as the Bears' personnel boss and draft-day decision-maker, general manager Jerry Angelo is out and team president and chief executive officer Ted Phillips will seek his successor.
Phillips proposes to handle the search himself.
He said, "My feeling is over the last 10 or 11 years, my experience, my contacts in the league with other teams (and) talking to some folks internally, I think we'll be able to handle that search and come up with the right candidate ourselves."
That can't make Bears fans, even those who wanted Angelo out, feel very good, considering that Phillips has always been considered more a bean counter than a football guy.
However, feeling the need to close the talent gap between themselves and their NFC North rivals in Green Bay and Detroit, Phillips fired Angelo last week.
"It's my decision," Phillips said. "It has the support of ownership."
Chairman of the board George McCaskey and his mother, team matriarch Virginia McCaskey, were apprised of Phillips' decision to fire Angelo and concurred.
"He took it as the professional that he is," Phillips said. "A little surprised, but he understood, and he took it as well as anyone could. I have great respect for him."
The Bears' fall from grace this year was a hard one, and Angelo will be the scapegoat, along with offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who resigned on the same day. After a 7-3 start, the Bears lost five straight and fell out of the playoff race, missing the postseason for the fourth time in five years.
Since Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith were considered equal partners in the on-the-field product, many wondered why Angelo took the fall and not Smith, who will be retained.
"We felt that ultimately Lovie is the right head coach for this team," Phillips said. "We like his staff that's in place, and we want to close that talent gap with our division rivals, and that's why the decision was made."
Smith was hired by Angelo to succeed Dick Jauron after the 2003 season.
"I will always be thankful to Jerry for hiring me," Smith said in a statement. "We had an excellent working relationship, and he helped us win a lot of football games. I have tremendous respect for him and am sorry to see him go.
"But I also will embrace the opportunity that comes with change. We have an excellent core in place. I look forward to working with a new general manager to bring a championship to Chicago."
Phillips also expressed thanks to Angelo for helping build a team that won four division titles, played in two NFC title games and one Super Bowl. But he added that it wasn't enough.
"He's put his life's blood into the Bears," Phillips said. "(He's a) tireless worker, and I'm going to miss him. But at the same time, we need more."
Angelo's spotty track record on high draft picks did not work in his favor.
It started with his initial first-round pick, offensive tackle Marc Colombo, who spent four injury-riddled years with the Bears. After multiple surgeries on a knee that was originally injured in his rookie season, Colombo was cut but went on to start 88 games for the Cowboys.
The next year Angelo had two first-round picks. He whiffed on Penn State defensive lineman Michael Haynes, but quarterback Rex Grossman had some success in Chicago, helping the Bears to Super Bowl XLI. He finished the 2011 season as the Redskins' starter.
Angelo hit on '04 first-rounder Tommie Harris, who made three straight Pro Bowls before injuries derailed his career. In '05, even though the Bears had veteran running back Thomas Jones, Angelo used his first-rounder on running back Cedric Benson, who was cut after three injury-marred seasons and two off-the-field arrests. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the Bengals this season for the third straight year.
Running back Jahvid Best says he will be back next season and from listening to coach Jim Schwartz talk on Monday, he's counting on that.
"Every year you have contingency plans, and that goes for healthy players too," Schwartz said. "You always have other plans. But we have two outstanding young players at that position, guys that have complementary talent that fits well with what we want to do.
"We've been a little star-crossed at the running back position, but it will be good to get him back."
Best, whose career has been threatened by a series of concussions (one in college and two early this season), said he was on pace to return next season.
"Right now I am just focused on getting back on the field," Best said Monday. "That just means staying in shape and getting ready for when our offseason picks up. I'll be ready to go with the rest of the guys."
He said that once he went on injured reserve, he stopped taking the concussion tests. He has been training the last couple of months, but obviously he has not been cleared for contact.
"Since I got put on IR, it's like what's the point of even testing right now," he said. "Right now it's just staying in shape and getting ready for offseason workouts."
He was asked the obvious questions - does he have any doubts he will be able to play again?
"No, I don't have no doubts," he said. "I mean, a lot of other people may, but me personally? No."
Best suffered the second concussion in a Week 6 loss to the 49ers. Despite missing the last 10 regular-season games, he still led the team with 390 yards rushing.
"We talk about how Calvin Johnson affects coverage; well Jahvid Best affects coverage also," Schwartz said. "He's a tough matchup for a lot of linebackers. We saw what Darren Sproles did for the Saints, Best causes the same problems."
Green Bay Packers
If all goes well for the Packers the next two weeks and they snag a berth in Super Bowl XLVI, their travel distance this postseason will be all of the 400 miles that separates Green Bay from Indianapolis.
The conveniently short journey from the upper Midwest to the lower Midwest, however, could be comparable from an opposition standpoint to the thousands of frequent-flyer miles the team amassed in the course of winning the Super Bowl last season.
The playoffs for the Packers again start with playing a team from the NFC East. The conference's No. 1 team will host the New York Giants on Sunday in the divisional round, a year after sixth-seeded Green Bay traveled to Philadelphia and knocked off the Eagles in a wild-card game.
The Packers went to Atlanta the following week and embarrassed the top-seeded Falcons in a divisional matchup. If heavily favored Green Bay can avoid being upset by the surging Giants, it will remain home at Lambeau Field for the NFC Championship on Jan. 22, potentially against the New Orleans Saints, who, like the Falcons, are from the NFC South.
Win the NFC, the Packers are back in the Super Bowl to defend their league title - and they can take delight en route to Indy as they fly over Chicago, where Green Bay completed its three-game road sweep of conference opponents in last year's postseason by ousting the division-rival Bears.
"Taking the show on the road last year, so to speak, was huge for our confidence as a team, as a young team, knowing that we can do it on the road. We got it done on the road," receiver Greg Jennings said. "And, now, there's a quiet confidence that we don't have to go through that this year. We can sit back and kind of not relax but take it all in and let our home crowd experience what we were able to deliver last year.
"So, hopefully again, we want the same result but (taking a) different path of getting there. This is the preferred path, like (head coach) Mike (McCarthy) has mentioned, and we'll see what happens."
A missing person report had been filed Sunday night for Michael Philbin, who was last heard from in the early morning Sunday. Philbin, a student at nearby Ripon College, was visiting friends at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh during the weekend.
Cause of death hasn't been determined.
Michael was the second oldest of Joe and Diane Philbin's six children.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson issued a statement on behalf of the organization later Tuesday: "The Packers family was saddened to learn of the passing of Michael Philbin, son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. Our thoughts and prayers are with Joe, his wife, Diane, and the Philbin family as they cope with their loss. This is an emotional and difficult time for them, and we ask that everyone respect their privacy. All of us in the Packers family share in their grief."
Joe Philbin has been on Green Bay's coaching staff since 2003 and the offensive coordinator under McCarthy the last five years. McCarthy calls the plays on game day for the Packers, but Philbin has been instrumental in the game planning for the Packers' highly productive offense.
With the Packers on a scheduled off day Tuesday, it's unclear whether Philbin will rejoin the team later this week and fulfill his coaching duties in the coaches' box for the game Sunday.
McCarthy said Monday he has contingency plans for his staff this week in the event Philbin would be away for an extended period.