I didn’t have one concrete theme from Black Monday but instead several distinct thoughts. Here they are.
Thought #1 – Emotion Not a Bad Thing
Football is a game of strategy and emotion. The strategy has spawned an entire industry of newfangled NFL writers who believe the $50 they spend for All-22 access makes them the heir apparent to Vince Lombardi. (X & O writing is quickly supplanting Combine analysis and salary cap breakdowns as the most surefire way to put me to sleep.) Strategy is why coaches are paid millions, why they sleep on their couches as their families fall apart at home and why play sheets now look like Greek diner menus in Clifton, New Jersey.
Emotion is the far less dissected issue, the far simpler issue and, in my estimation, just as important.
Here is a Tweet I received yesterday from follower @CowenJosh:
I think what Bears fans want is someone as passionate about the franchise as we are. We had years of emotionless sidelines.
This is not uncommon. Fans want emotion and an NFL franchise needs an emotional leader. They need someone to show fire, show desire, show passion. Mike McCarthy is fiery on the sideline. So are Mike Tomlin and Tom Coughlin and John Harbaugh. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and Phil Rivers lead emotionally from the field and their teammates would walk through flames for them. The game requires constant inspiration and someone must tangibly provide it throughout the sixty minutes.
Football fandom is not, for the most part, a cerebral experience. It is an emotional one. Fans want emotion from the competitors because the fan’s biggest fear is those coaching/playing for his/her team don’t care about winning and losing as much as he or she does. Pete Carroll paces the Seahawks sideline like a 25 year-old writer backstage at opening night of his first play. Nervous energy. Intense focus. If he stands still for a moment, he’ll spontaneously combust. Players feed off that pacing. Fans embrace him because of it. You might think this a minor detail but you’d be dead wrong.
2014 was a season defined by a lack of competitiveness, a lack of competitive fire, a total and complete lack of desire on the field. When the 2014 Bears were put into a hole they reached for the nearest shovel and buried themselves further. In a league where the rules are designed for teams to eradicate big deficits with the passing attack and equipped with a high-priced quarterback and passing coordinator as coach, the Bears let 14 points deficits become 30 deficits and did so with smiles on their faces.
George McCaskey tired of those looks. Those looks pissed off his 91 year-old mother.
Thought #2 – Re-branding the Bears
Kyle Long described the right coach for the Chicago Bears:
“People need to know that when they’ve played the Chicago Bears, that they’ve been through hell.”
The Bears changed the mentality of their organization under Emery & Trestman. They wanted to out think their rivals in the talent acquisition game and out think their opponents on the field. One resounding theme from McCaskey? He’d rather out hit people.
Thought #3 – Accorsi Hire a Savvy Move
Ernie Accorsi is a legend, one of the truly brilliant football people in league history. Hiring him is a admittance by George McCaskey that the organization can no longer depend on the “expertise” of Ted Phillips to conduct searches for genuine football people. It is a mature decision by an owner coming into his own.
For those upset that Ted Phillips is still in a position of power, think about it. What other choices does McCaskey have? The family is completely incapable of running a hot dog cart, let alone a multi-billion dollar business. Phillips is a great businessman and the family’s most loyal servant. By hiring Accorsi, McCaskey has cleverly found a way to strip Phillips of the influence that infuriated Bears fans while allowing him to retain his authority inside Halas Hall.