Forget past ties to the Bears; it's time to hire Mike Shanahan

SHARE Forget past ties to the Bears; it's time to hire Mike Shanahan

I must be hallucinating. There is no way in the world the Bears would consider foisting upon their fan base a first-time general manager who once worked for the organization. Not after what former Bears scout Phil Emery did to them as GM.

And there is no way the Bears would consider hiring a head coach who has never been an NFL head coach before. Not after what neophyte Marc Trestman did to them as coach.

That one-two punch would be a public-relations disaster. So, no, couldn’t be. As I said, there must be something wrong with my head. Dropped as an infant? Quite possibly.

And, yet, as I scan the news, it seems the Bears did indeed interview Chris Ballard for their vacant general manager position Wednesday. Worse, it didn’t seem to cause much of a negative stir in Chicago that Ballard, the Chiefs’ director of player personnel, had spent 12 years at Halas Hall. I thought that, given the futility of the last 29 seasons, past connections to the Bears would be considered a virus, not a virtue.

Pleased understand the threat here: Former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, the man who brought Jay Cutler to Chicago, has been pushing Ballard for the job through various media outlets.

Still nothing? No outrage? OK, how about this: There is also a public push for a former Bears special teams coach to be the franchise’s next head coach. The only way that would be more like the Bears is if the guy were married to a McCaskey.

Dave Toub was on Lovie Smith’s staff for nine years. He is highly regarded around the league as a special-teams coach. But this gets back to what it always does with the Bears: Why is it that nobody has hired Toub as their head coach? Optimist’s answer: It only takes one team. My answer: And it’s usually the Bears.

Let’s stop with all the nonsense.

They need to hire Mike Shanahan before it’s too late. And by “too late,’’ I mean before they go and hire either someone inexperienced as a head coach or with ties to the team’s past or both. They can find a GM who can work with Shanahan.

The rap on him is that he had a horrible run in Washington. There’s no getting around that. He was 24-40 in four years (including a 10-6 record in 2012) and struggled with Robert Griffin III. But what the Bears need most is someone who has done this job before and who has won. If Shanahan is a “retread,’’ then I’ll take my chances on a retread who has won two Super Bowls and had a 138-86 record with the Broncos.

This is not about Cutler. In fact, I would feel a lot better about pushing Shanahan’s candidacy if Cutler weren’t around. Shanahan was Cutler’s head coach in Denver when the quarterback went to his only Pro Bowl, and there will be people who believe he can raise the dead.

As I wrote the day the Bears fired Emery and Trestman, they should hire Shanahan only if they believe he’ll be a great head coach for everyone on the roster, not just for Cutler. Proceed as if Cutler isn’t your future and go from there.

According to the Sun-Times, the Bears will interview Shanahan once they hire a general manager. ESPN reported that Shanahan is not on the Bears’ list. Can he work with whoever the new GM is? Hopefully, but Emery and Trestman were usually on the same page, and where did that get you?

I’d feel better about all of this if the Bears weren’t the Bears.

Even with Ernie Accorsi as their consultant, they seem to be approaching the search for a general manager and coach in the same way they have been doing it for decades – by seeking out people looking for a promotion from personnel director or coordinator.

Chairman George McCaskey insists that the Bears won’t “foreclose’’ on any type of person for the job openings, which is McCaskey for not wanting to get into specifics. And it’s true that just because someone has worked for the Bears doesn’t mean he’s bad at his job.

But the franchise needs a fresh start. That means no one who has worked for the organization and, preferably, no one without prior GM experience. Same with the head coach.

I don’t care if someone has a great interview at Halas Hall. I’m sure Emery blew away McCaskey and president Ted Phillips with tales of his organizational skills and his knowledge of obscure folk singers. They named him general manager, and he proceeded to give Cutler a seven-year, $126 million contract.

How about a different route this time?

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