About a week ago I went on the Twitter and wrote something to this effect: Jerry Angelo’s front office work for the Chicago Bears over the last three years has been significantly better than the work done by Belichick in New England and the Polians in Indianapolis. It created something of a stir. I was called many bad names. And calmly I responded to each of my naysayers with, “Please go look at the data.” The responses were either an apologetic “you were right” or nothing at all (which I took to similar effect).
There are three ways to add talent to an NFL roster: draft, trade, free agency. (Duh) In the last few years Angelo has drafted a now top five NFL back, traded for a top ten quarterback and signed in free agency the premiere 4-3 end in the game. That’s pretty darn good. The collection of players he’s compiled led by the man he hired to be head coach, won the 2010 NFC North division title, went to the NFC Championship Game and they are a better team in 2011.
Nobody is going to argue that Jerry Angelo is the best General Manager in the sport. He’s not. But because the Chicago media operates with a Negativity First platform all of Angelo’s failures receive front page publicity while his successes are relegated to footnotes below the TV listings. Yes, Angelo has struggled with his first-round selections but he’s also found Matt Forte and Devin Hester in the second round after the entirety of the league passed on them. (We may not have the elite wide receiver some teams have but NOBODY ELSE has a Hester.) Yes, Adam Archuelta was a nightmare but Tim Jennings and Amobi Okoye have been flat-out steals. Yes, the offensive line remains a work in-progress but that is less the result of bad talent evaluation and more the result of having to rebuild the entire unit following the demise of the veteran-laden 2006 unit that included Fred Miller, Ruben Brown and a hanging onto his prime Olin Kreutz.
We’d all like that elite wide receiver, an Ed Reed-type at safety and Anthony Munoz protecting the blindside. But there isn’t a current team in the NFL that has everything. The Packers, the current gold standard, have severe defensive deficiencies and a mediocre-at-best offensive line. But their quarterback has strung together the most impressive twenty-game span the position has ever seen and many of their deficiencies have been carefully hidden behind that. Look at how we idolized those organizations in Indy and New England. The former was an injury to their quarterback away from going WINLESS and the latter has a patent pending on losing playoff games at home. And look at what happened to the Philadelphia Eagles when they made the type of free agency splash fans clamor for. They lost to a quarterback who played at Fordham.
With the heart of the defense (Pep, Lach, Briggs, Nut) having a few more years before their window closes, the Bears are only a few pieces away (if that) from winning the big one in February. Hell, right now you could argue they firmly belong in that collection of next-tier teams below the Packers and I would relish the opportunity to see them in the conference title game at Lambeau this year. Maybe I’m a minority opinion but I like the collection of guys Jerry Angelo has found and I would grade his tenure as GM with a plus sign. And I think he could be one offseason away from cementing his legacy in the city.