Over the past 24 hours or so, the Bears board has been awash with angry threads and posts about the Bears and Jerry Angelo doing a rotten job in the free agent market - never mind that JA has pretty much communicated that he would rather invest big money to keep their own and make smart economical selections in the FA market. Whether we agree with this philosophy is fair game. But, expecting him to behave differently means that we have not been paying attention to how he has said he would behave.
Never mind that the Bears have multiple needs in the O-line, backfield, receiver, safety, probably LB, and probably DT - go out and over pay this one guy, he is my favorite. I want the Bears to win badly. However, I choose to be realistic about that. I would much rather see the Bears be smart and attempt to address as many needs as possible as opposed to making a couple of splashy signings, but coming up short come training camp because there are too many other things that have gone unaddressed. Trust me, I am not defending Angelo as much as I beginning to wonder what exactly does it mean to be a fan?
Each year, only one team wins the SB. 31 other teams go unsuccessful each season. For me, that bit of perspective allows me to be a fan and root for the Bears with some realistic sanity about how I view their operations. A GM comes out and states what his philosphy is and how he is going to pursue the off season. The only realistic expectation I can then have is for him to behave accordingly. I may or may not agree with his approach, or the choices made using that approach. But, I have to appreciate that he has a plan and is attempting to execute it. It was not long ago when us Bears fans did not have a clue about what the FO was doing because the FO had no clue as to what they were doing. Jerry Angelo has built a team that has won 3 division titles and been to a Super Bowl. That does not get him a bust in the HOF, but it should allow him room to operate without doomsday judgements rendered 12 hours into the FA period.
I cannot imagine how stressful it is to be a fan that is only sated if his team wins it all. I am a Chicagoan. I have been a fan of the Bears, Cubs, and Bulls for nearly 40 years. I have seen bad Bears teams. No, I mean really bad teams. I witnessed a 1-13 team in the early 70's. I have lived through Abe Gibron and Dave Wannstedt. I have watched Michael McCaskey flounder. I have been forced to watch Stan Thomas, Curtis Enis, Rashaan Salam and Cade McNown. I know bad. So, by no means am I happy with a 7-9 season. But, I also can sense when a FO has no confidence in their plans and procedures. I know the difference between being a disaster and catching bad breaks. Jerry Angelo is not perfect. But he is far from being terrible.
Show some patience, Bears fans. And, show that you do know the game. Every FA with a name is not going to be signed by the Bears. The salary cap requires that you make smart moves and sometimes, tough moves. No team will ever be without needs. Hopefully, JA and his plan can minimize the needs for the Bears. There is this FA period, the draft, the FA period following the draft, and the June 1 salary cap purge for Angelo to use to attempt to improve the Bears. I will reserve judgement on this off season until all this takes place. I have no idea if the Bears will have a contending team in '08. I also have no idea if they will be bad this coming year either. The NFL has become a year to year proposition. You can fly high one year and finish under .500 the next. Each off season, you can build a contending team from the ashes of the previous season. At this date, I am trying to figure out why so many Bears fans are so unhappy.