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Even Shoop Lasted 3 Seasons

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jan 5, 2005 4:43PM

2005_01_sports_bears_fire_terryshea.jpgFollowing a season in which the Bears ranked last in the NFL in total yards and points, offensive coordinator Terry Shea was fired on Tuesday. Having previously served as quarterbacks coach within the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs offensive sytem, Bears fans cheered his hiring less than one year ago when new coach Lovie Smith named him the successor to John Shoop. But when the team goes 5-11 and ranks last offensively, somebody had to be the fall guy. And Smith made Shea that guy.

Did Shea get the ax too quickly? Chicagoist tends to think yes. He clearly did not have the tools at his disposal to run an offense like KC had. Particularly once Rex Grossman was lost for the year early in the season. While the Bears finished dead last in 7 of 11 key offensive categories, the Bears were 12th out of 32 teams in total yards prior to Grossman's injury. And the Bears also lost their top two receiver from last season when they didn't re-sign Dez White and traded Marty Booker. It's pretty hard to run a passing offense without your top QB and capable receivers.

On the other hand, Grossman's backup Jonathan Quinn was signed after Shea lobbied hard to add the journeyman QB he'd coached in KC. And he was the one who insisted that Chad Hutchinson wasn't ready to play for weeks, only to see Hutch take the field and have the best game of any Bears QB all season. Yet he still saw fit to give himself a "B" grade when asked a couple weeks ago to grade his performance. And clearly he did not deserve that high a grade. Bears GM Jerry Angelo was pretty blunt during Monday's post-season press conference when he said,"We were abysmal on offense. There are reasons for that. We have tough questions to ask ourselves, and we have to do it objectively and not emotionally."

Nonetheless, Lovie Smith did get emotional during yesterday's press conference announcing Shea's firing. "It's not a happy day when you're dealing with a good man and a good coach like Terry,'' Smith said. "But I'd like to see the offense go in a different direction.'' He said that he intends to change the offense into a more run-focused attack. So now the speculation begins as to who will replace Terry Shea. Might former Fighting Illini head coach Ron Turner return to his old job? His name is one among many being bandied about in the media. Former NFL head coaches Marty Mornhinweg and Jim Fassel have also been mentioned. Would USC's Norm Chow want a chance to move to the pros? Whomever it is, expect a site to launch soon after his hiring.