General

The Bears could benefit from new blood at the very top

This weekend’s Wisch List newspaper column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)

The WISCH LIST

By Dave Wischnowsky

The Chicago Bears are mess.

Or, they simply had a bad week.

The sky is falling at Halas Hall. Or, the media just needed some controversy to fill 10 days of dead air between football games.

Jay Cutler is a jerk and a sorry team leader. Or … well, maybe that one’s not so debatable.

But, no matter where you stand regarding the current condition of the Chicago Bears, I think all fans can agree on one thing about the (would-be) Monsters of the Midway: the team itself isn’t standing quite where we’d like it to be.

And I don’t just mean at 2-0 with a win against Green Bay notched into its belt. I’m talking bigger picture than that.

Now, to be sure, it’s still incredibly early in this young season and the Bears – despite last week’s nationally televised pratfalls – could get on a roll just as quickly as they stumbled up in Wisconsin.

But, like a warm day in February, the Bears also are Chicago’s annual tease. So often it seems that whenever fans’ expectations soar – as they did following the team’s offensive explosion vs. Indianapolis in Week 1 – the Bears so quickly stick a pin in the city’s collective balloon and deflate the excitement.

After all, for what’s been a respectable team the past four-plus seasons – an overall record of 36-30 since 2008 – the Bears seem to have an abnormally high incidence of stunningly embarrassing performances, the latest coming at Lambeau.

And why?

Well, I partly blame Cutler, whose leadership and decision-making chops I’ve always doubted. I partly blame Lovie Smith, who tends to coach well enough to keep his job, but never quite well enough to make the Bears a true title threat. And I partly blame the Bears’ front office, which can’t seem to plug a porous offensive line no matter if it’s Jerry Angelo, Phil Emery or Bozo the Clown running the show.

However, I believe all of those widely discussed problems are more symptoms of the Bears’ malady than they are the true cause of it, which I think stems from the very top of the organization.

Namely, the ownership of the McCaskey family.

Since becoming a charter member of the NFL in 1920, either George Halas or his offspring have owned the Bears. And while the franchise has built a grand history, it’s also utterly ridiculous – and inexcusable – that here in Chicago, the NFL’s second largest market (since L.A. has no team) and most passionate pro football city in America, the Bears have only won on Super Bowl. And that came 27 long seasons ago.

With Soldier Field selling out no matter what, the Bears have long lacked an overall sense of accountability and urgency. The franchise could benefit greatly from new blood in the owners’ booth.

That, however, is unlikely to happen, if for no other reason than unlike the owners of many pro franchises – such as the Wirtzes with Wirtz Beverage Group and the Ricketteses with TD Ameritrade – the McCaskey family business is the Bears and only the Bears.
It would be nice to think that there’s a younger McCaskey just waiting in the wings to bring the team to greater glory, a la Rocky Wirtz with the Blackhawks.

But, if that McCaskey really existed, we’d likely have seen him (or her) by now and the Bears’ best hope for true NFL dominance might be a truly dominant new owner.

With that, maybe you’d see a Bill Cowher stalking the sidelines at Soldier Field. Maybe you’d see an offensive line that’s more line than offensive. Maybe you’d see a QB who behaves as if he answers to the guy signing his paychecks. And maybe you’d even see a Super Bowl championship parade down Michigan Avenue.

Or maybe I’m just dreaming.