The answer to the Bears’ multitude of issues is a wild-eyed, few-degrees-off-center coach in northern California.
There’s a good possibility that the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh will divorce after the season. A wonderful landing place would be Chicago, where the NFL franchise he once played for is a mess. Hiring Harbaugh to coach and make personnel decisions would serve several purposes. It would give the Bears one of the smartest, most-successful leaders in the NFL, and it would purge Gotham City of its anemic duo — general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman.
Now that I’ve got your hopes up so high that breathing is difficult, know that the chances of the Bears pursuing Harbaugh are about the same as the chances of the Bears introducing stripper poles to Soldier Field.
This is not an attempt at reverse psychology. I’m not saying that the Bears will snub Harbaugh in the hopes that the McCaskeys will do the opposite and actually hire him. I’m saying it because I don’t believe ownership has the faintest idea of what greatness looks like. If it did, it would stop hiring people who look and act like McCaskeys.
Harbaugh is not easy. He has had run-ins with a lot of people, including 49ers owner Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke. He also has been to the NFC Championship Game each year since becoming San Francisco’s head coach in 2011. He lost in the Super Bowl in the 2012 season.
What do you want? A guy with the interpersonal skills of a cactus? Or a guy who wins?
Harbaugh is not easy, and the McCaskeys adore easy. Look at the list of coaches since the Bears fired the very-not-easy Mike Ditka: Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith and Trestman. That’s not a quartet of coaches; that’s a flowerbed. Emery and Jerry Angelo, the kind of guys you’d feel comfortable taking home to meet your mother, Virginia, have been the general managers.
The type of coach the McCaskeys admire hasn’t worked. Whatever the explanation for their resistance to a strong leader – too much power, too much money, too many headaches – those reasons have fallen away in the face of no Super Bowl titles since 1985.
Of course the Bears should hire a big-name head coach with wide-ranging powers, but they have avoided that obvious solution in the name of who-knows-what. Again and again, when the opportunity to make a huge statement has presented itself, the McCaskeys have muttered something unintelligible and hired men with no previous NFL head coaching experience. For the longest time, they went without a general manager, in the name of Lord-knows-why. When they joined the 20th century and hired Angelo and Emery, they went to the discount rack.
Fair or not, the perception is that Emery tells Trestman what to do in all matters. If true, it means the Bears have someone who has a difficult time identifying top-flight talent dictating to someone who has a difficult time coaching. What says “success’’ more than that?
Given the way the Bears’ season has gone, with horrible losses to New England, Green Bay and, to some extent, Detroit, you would think that the Bears would show up in media stories about possible landing spots for Harbaugh. But, no. The Raiders have been mentioned, as have the Jets and the Dolphins. So has the University of Michigan, his alma mater.
That might be the most incriminating part. No one is talking about the Bears and Harbaugh as a potential match. Everyone knows there is no way the McCaskeys would eat the rest of Emery’s and Trestman’s contracts, pay off the salaries of the assistant coaches, perhaps trade a draft pick to get Harbaugh and then spend $7 million a year to lure one of the hottest coaching prospects in the NFL. Are you crazy? All that money? The McCaskeys? No.
Whatever you might think of Trestman as a coach, he’s a nice man. He’s well meaning, courteous and caring. But the calm-coach route hasn’t worked for the Bears since they canned Ditka after the 1992 season. I’m not lobbying for a raving lunatic. It’s simply time to try a different tack, especially if Harbaugh is on his way out in San Francisco.
But what should happen and what will happen are two different things. The crazy coach who might be available is also a coach who wants it all.
So ignore your Harbaugh fever dream, Bears fans. Emery and Trestman aren’t going anywhere. The McCaskeys just want peace and quiet. And your season-ticket renewals.