Jerry Angelo gave his end-of-the-year press conference on Tuesday and expressed disappointment that the Bears were unable to make the playoffs for the second straight season.
During the 30-minute conference, Angelo said many intriguing things, seeking to reassure Bears fans that the Bears were committed to winning. Perhaps of all his statements, the most gratifying for me personally to hear was how he was not 100% committed to Kyle Orton as the Bears’ answer at the quarterback position.
After the first seven games of the season, Bears fans and certain members of the Chicago media were ready to give Orton a contract extension, but I cautioned that we had seen that kind of success before, in 2006 under Rex Grossman. Similarly to the second half of that season — although not as dramatic a drop as Grossman showed — Orton’s success wavered and he wound up leveling off.
It was, is, and will continue to be my stance that Orton has one year left on his contract and he should put together a full season of being a consistent, above average quarterback — which he did not sustain for a full year — before giving him an extension. I think bringing in a quarterback to compete with him in 2009 would be a wise move. It brought out the best in him this past year and could do the same thing for him or someone else for 2009.
As the following video shows, Angelo said he needs to see more consistency out of the position and he won’t hesitate to pull the trigger on bringing in another quarterback to compete for the starting job if an attractive situation presents itself. He said while the team will look to upgrade every position — including at receiver, where fans and analysts have clamored for upgrades all season — that everything starts at the quarterback position and they need to stabilize it once and for all.
Other noteworthy comments Angelo made include his faith in Brian Urlacher despite one of the middle linebacker’s poorest seasons since his injury-shortened 2004 campaign, and his belief that Tommie Harris will perform at a much higher level than he did this year and will vindicate the franchise’s faith in him and the contract extension recently given to him.
Angelo also said that money invested in certain players would not prohibit the Bears from making changes they see necessary. Could that be a hint at players like Nathan Vasher or Adewale Ogunleye losing their spots with the team?
As far as the rumors surrounding former Lions head coach — and long-time Lovie Smith friend — Rod Marinelli joining the coaching staff in some capacity, Angelo said he would welcome the idea.
“I think the world of Rod Marinelli,” Angelo said. “I would love to have Rod Marinelli on our staff, and I think Lovie would say the same thing. He’s a great football coach. Anytime you get a chance to get a great coach or great player, you’re not going to sit here and say that you wouldn’t consider him or you wouldn’t work a way to do that.
“But that’s premature. I think Rod is a very good coach and he’ll be a great addition to any staff.”