MORRISSEY: With McCaskey, Phillips in charge, does the next coach even matter?

SHARE MORRISSEY: With McCaskey, Phillips in charge, does the next coach even matter?

Bears president Ted Phillips (left) and chairman George McCaskey listen during a news conference at Halas Hall. (Tim Boyle/For the Sun-Times)

George McCaskey and Ted Phillips don’t know what they’re doing. And they don’t know that they don’t know what they’re doing. This is the Bears’ biggest problem, and it has haunted them for years.

We don’t know yet if general manager Ryan Pace knows what he’s doing. That’s scary. You want really scary? We don’t know if Mitch Trubisky, the quarterback whom Pace took a huge gamble on, will turn out to be good.


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There’s nothing that can be done about McCaskey, the team’s chairman, and Phillips, the team’s president. They’re embedded. They’re the stain that won’t come out in the wash. If I said that they’re not going anywhere, it wouldn’t be entirely true. The Know Nothing Party of Two will be traveling around the country with Pace to interview head coaching candidates.

Pace has called the selection process a collaboration between him, McCaskey and Phillips. Most disconcerting of all is that the GM thinks it’s a good idea. He gushed at a news conference Monday about how well the three men work together, about the way they feel comfortable dropping by each other’s office. I pictured a daily Nerf basketball dunk contest.

It sounded so wholesome, so collegial. It sounded like management heaven. But even if you were lulled for a moment into believing that Pace’s golly-geeing about collaboration was a good thing, you quickly remembered what you’ve known for years: McCaskey, a son of the owner, and Phillips, an accountant, have no more business adding their insight to football matters than two basset hounds do.

Pace is allergic to news conferences, but the few times I’ve witnessed his act, he has struck me as the person in any office who gets along with everybody. He’s the guy who puts his arm around your shoulder and seems to care deeply when you tell him about your excessive perspiration problem, which you think is caused by the stress of not having made partner yet, though you’re not sure.

He’s a consensus builder, not a decision maker. He has made McCaskey and Phillips believe that their opinions not only are valued but necessary. He has made them believe they know something about football, coaching and leadership. Did you listen to McCaskey on Monday?

“Ted and I are both available to Ryan as sounding boards, to play devil’s advocate, to make sure that he’s considering all aspects of a particular candidate’s makeup, approach, strategy, philosophy, making sure we’re looking at every candidate that might be available,’’ he said.

What the Bears need now is a strong personality, someone who would have walked into McCaskey’s office with a printout of the above quote and said, “Um, no. Not even close. I’m flying solo on this coaching search. Stay out. I’ve been here three years. I know what I’m doing. I’ll check back in with you when I’ve found someone.’’

The good news is that most of the coaching candidates the Bears are interested in are candidates whom other teams want to interview. In a sense, that means the candidates have been somewhat vetted, though admittedly by teams bad enough to need a new coach.

If Pace insists on collaboration, he should collaborate right up until it’s time for a final decision. Whichever coach George and Ted want, he should go the opposite way. If they say cut the blue wire to disable the bomb that will wipe out the planet, he should cut the red one.

The last thing he should want on his final day with the Bears is to say that he did it their way. Their way, the McCaskey Way, hasn’t worked. If it’s important to Pace to make his bosses happy by including them in the decision-making, it’s his funeral. But doing it his way and actually winning – that would be the ultimate.

Alas, McCaskey and Phillips just gave Pace a contract extension through the 2021 season. So the three of them, already thick as thieves, are thicker than ever.

I had been holding out hope that the Bears would stumble into the right coach after firing John Fox. But having watched Monday’s odd, gooey news conference, I wonder if the right coach would even matter. I wonder if the reincarnation of Vince Lombardi would matter.

How could Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Eagles quarterbacks coach Joe DeFilippo or anyone else make a difference if McCaskey and Phillips are in charge? I think you know the answer. You’ve lived it.

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