When Jerry Angelo finally emerged to discuss the season that disappointed him to the point of making him scarce for a few months, at least the Bears general manager stood and talked for a solid half-hour.
What he actually revealed was very little as he prepares for organizational meetings that will chart a course for the coming months. Sure, he shared his disdain for the state of the offense, but those expecting a bold proclamation were not entering Thursday’s press conference realistically. The nucleus for a top 10 defense remains in place and Angelo likes some of the pieces on offense.
We’ll run down some of the highlights from the session:
Q: Will you explore opportunities to upgrade at the quarterback position?
A: We’ll look at anything. I know that sounds cliché-ish but we will. We’ll look at anything that we feel that will be able to upgrade our roster. But we also have to be pragmatic about it as well. So I’m not going to rule anything out at this point. We were a 7-9 football team. Obviously we have things that need to be corrected and fixed and we have to be honest in our evaluation and we will be honest in our evaluation. And once we determine what our needs are then we’ll address those first and go from there.
Q: What has to change to eliminate the futility the team has experienced on offense?
A: I think we have a good nucleus of offensive players. We have a good blend. We have good possession down receivers, I think we have good slot receivers, we have speed receivers. Where we did not perform well was in our running game. We weren’t able to get the big plays out of the running backs. That does affect an offense like ours particularly when I stand up here and say that the mantra of our offense is to run the football. So we’re always going to be looking anywhere on that offense and what I said, that we have to address that a few weeks ago, part of that is the quarterback position, it starts there, getting that stabilized, and making sure that we can do the things that I outlined early on.
Q: Do you agree with coach Lovie Smith wanting to keep his staff intact?
A: Yes, I agree with that, and I know there’s been a lot made of that. He’s got to feel comfortable with the people that he works with every day, and that obviously is Lovie’s call. He feels real good about his staff. We’ve talked about that. We feel the problems that we have can be corrected. We have made changes on our staff before. If that were what he felt was in our best interest, I’m sure he would have done it. But again, he feels good about his staff. We’ve won with these coaches and we feel that the problems that we have as we go on we need to do more soul-searching so-to-speak, but when we do we feel those things can be corrected and be corrected with this staff.
Q: How do you approach the situation with Rex Grossman set to become a free agent?
A: We’ve got to get the position stabilized. I felt going into the year, this was the best we’ve ever been. Each one of them played good football at some point in time. It’s unfortunate that we had to see all three of them again. So first and foremost, we have to get the position stabilized going into ‘08. That will be determined in the spring and obviously the preseason. We would like to have Rex back in the mix. We’ll talk through that as we get into our meetings with our coaches. Rex showed some good play, particularly when he was coming back off his little sabbatical. So we’d like to have as much competition as we can there. But again, we’ve got to get that stabilized. That’s got to be first and foremost.
Q: How close is this team to being back at a championship level?
A: Right now what we want to do is fix what we feel is broken. Once we get our ship in order and we get back to playing the kind of football consistently that we’re capable of playing—and we got a snapshot of that in the last two games. Those were two good football games. I’m not going to get euphoric and say that’s who we’re going to be ’08. But it was good to see that we could still play that kind of football. You did see consistency, more so on the offense. You did see the kind of defense that we’re accustomed to seeing, and again you saw good special teams. We played well as a team. We weren’t able to do that throughout. Does that mean we’re going to have to make household [wholesale] changes to get to that point? I don’t feel we need to. But we need to get to that and if we get to that point, then we’re going to be a good football team. It’s that simple. And then it’s going to be determined on Sunday. I don’t think we’re that far from being that team that you saw in the last two weeks and certainly in ’06. But we do have to do some things in this offseason, and again, we have time and we’ll take that time and when we do make decisions, we’re not going to make them as I have alluded to before emotionally. I want the coaches to take some time off, go through their cut-ups, let us look at the things that we feel really are the problems and then we’ll address those.