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Where does Virginia fit in Bears' silly GM search?

Ted PhillipsLovie SmithCorporate OfficersMichael McCaskeyVirginia McCaskey

If I ran a top-down corporate structure and an underling walked into my office with a plan to fire the guy directly below him but mandate that his successor retain the person below that level, I would’ve fired the guy for presenting such a cockamamie idea.

Instead, George McCaskey endorsed Ted Phillips’ cockamamie idea.

The Bears rookie chairman supported the cockamamie idea at the Tuesday news conference to explain that the general manager was done, but the guy below him is golden, and every GM candidate had better understand that he must check his authority at the door and his vision is what Lovie Smith tells him it is.

Say this for Phillips: He sounded authoritative and confident while answering questions about his cockamamie idea for hiring a general manager.

But still, a cockamamie idea is still a cockamamie idea.

By denying the new GM the customary and important exercise of selecting his own coach to execute his vision --- this is all kinds of stupid and I haven’t even finished the sentence --- you’ve placed half of the GM’s greatest chance at success in a blind trust.

By empowering an employee lower on the food chain, the Bears have neutered the supposedly higher-ranking executive to a large degree. Neutered his leadership and neutered the Bears’ choices. Neutered his progress and neutered the variety of ways the Bears might succeed.

By forcing the new guy to agree with Smith’s philosophy, the Bears have negated even the consideration of changing the Bears' defensive scheme. A talent evaluator who has been feeding a successful 3-4 defense would be told that his ideas are not wanted by the Bears because a coach who has missed the playoffs four times in the last five years has other thoughts.

To paraphrase Groucho, I wouldn’t want to hire a candidate dumb enough to take the job with those restrictions.

But I understand why Phillips might want exactly that kind of GM. Perhaps Phillips figures that anyone dumb enough to take the job under these conditions also isn’t smart enough to out-politick him in the strange and screwed-up hallways in Lake Forest.

Good survival instincts. Bad corporate execution. Bad football thinking.

This should’ve been the easiest news conference for the Bears to win since Michael McCaskey was bucked down to just son. The Bears were ridding themselves of a GM who would be hard-pressed to find manure at Arlington Racecourse. That was a gimme news conference.

And yet, the Bears lost the news conference. Lost it because of a cockamamie plan.

Is Phillips really this dumb? Is the new McSon this dumb?

That’s one conclusion. It’s valid based on the history of this often embarrassing organization.

But there is another conclusion: Maybe Phillips and McCaskey had to play it that way because Virginia McCaskey wanted to retain Smith.

Everyone seems to tell the same story: The Bears matriarch is very fond of Smith as a person and a coach.

If past is prologue, she is not someone to be trifled with. Virgnia and her late husband, Ed, also were fond of Dave McGinniss, who was announced as the new coach by Michael McCaskey, except McGinnis had agreed to nothing and promptly left town.

Virginia let her goofball son hire Dick Jauron, then she sent him to his room without dessert. Phillips was installed as team president and chief executive officer.

The woman can make hard decisions. The woman can discipline her kids, no matter how old they are. That can be pretty intimidating for family and co-opted sons such as Phillips alike.

Virginia likes Smith. Phillips and the new McSon saw what happened before. Maybe I’m connecting the wrong dots, but there has to be something to explain a general manager search that is weapons-grade stupid.

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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