December 31, 2012
DENVER — Let it be known, for now and evermore, coaching the quarterback of the Chicago Bears should come with a Surgeon General's warning:
May Be Hazardous To Your Career.
The Bears quarterback — perhaps you remember him, he once pouted in these parts — claimed another one Monday. Lovie Smith was fired in Chicago.
That makes three head coaches fired in large part due to Jay Cutler. That makes three times as many fired coaches as playoff wins.
That ratio stinks, if you ask me. In an NFL that demands win-now results, one fired coach is normal. Two isn’t unusual. Three in seven seasons? That’s a trend, football fans.
Black Monday stormed through the NFL and cleared out offices like a football tornado.
The unlucky seven lost their job — Smith in Chicago, Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona, Norv Turner in San Diego, Chan Gailey in Buffalo, Romeo Crennel in Kansas City, Andy Reid in Philadelphia, Pat Shurmur in Cleveland — with the possibility of more to go.
We learned again this is a league run not by GMs or HCs, but by QBs. Three of the fired coaches had QBs-by-committee, one had a rookie QB (Brandon Weeden), one had an elite QB in one of his worst seasons (Philip Rivers), one had Ryan Fitzpatrick. One had the Bears quarterback, whose natural ability is outdone only by his natural ability to get coaches fired.
Among other things, the coaching carnage left John Fox as the longest-tenured coach in the AFC West. He’s been here two years. His Broncos are No. 1 in the AFC playoffs. His quarterback is an MVP candidate.
“We get a week off, which is nice,” Fox said Monday at Dove Valley.
Meanwhile, the Bears quarterback is a football hurricane. He evacuates the poor man in charge.
The Bears started this season with a 7-1 record and missed the playoffs, costing Smith his job. In Chicago, he won 18 more games than he lost.
The Broncos started their 2008 season with a 4-1 record and missed the playoffs, costing Mike Shanahan his job. In Denver, he won 52 more games than he lost.
I know Josh McDaniels was fired in Denver after shipping the quarterback to Chicago. It wasn’t simply The Trade that ended his tenure, not a minute too soon. But the coach-quarterback clash certainly hastened the end.
There was one common denominator. Until the former Broncos quarterback learns there is more to being a Super Bowl winner than a big arm, he will continue to finish off coaches at a greater rate than he finishes off scoring drives. Leadership isn’t measured per pout.
Is it any wonder Shanahan made Cutler a first-round pick in 2006 — and his next first-round quarterback was Robert Griffin III? RGIII buys leadership by the Beltway barrel.
As a former Illinois resident, it is my civic duty to come to the aid of long-suffering Bears fans. Between John Elway and Peyton Manning, Denver loyalists can’t fathom the quarterback drought in Chicago, or the 27 years (and counting) without a Super Bowl triumph.
So I submit to Halas Hall a single humble suggestion: Hire Mike McCoy. The Broncos offensive coordinator was born to be an NFL head coach. Going from Denver to Chicago, all he needs to change is his healthy collection of visors for a bag of beanies.
The 40-year-old McCoy transformed an offense to allow Tim Tebow the same number of playoff wins as Cutler. Then he helped overhaul an offense to build a juggernaut around Peyton Manning.
His credentials might include a magic wand. McCoy would need one in Chicago.
A team’s greatest mistake is allowing the inmates to run the asylum. When the Bears hitched their wagon to an incorrigible QB with a history of insubordination, the franchise took a risky stance: Our future is in his hands.
To make it right, the Bears should put their future in McCoy’s.
Just so he knows that job comes with a warning label.