The average sports radio station and online resource has a target audience ranging from ages 25 to 54, mostly male. This means that almost twenty-five percent of that audience was not yet alive to experience the ’85 Bears Super Bowl Championship, the Super Bowl Shuffle, the origins of the term Grabowski, or even Walter Payton as an All-Pro. Another twenty-five percent of that demographic hadn’t even started the first grade during the pinnacle years of the organization.
The result? HALF of the intended audience consuming Chicago sports media have never fully experienced a Super Bowl winning team, much less a dominant franchise. If you ask most Bears fans in this age range to provide the highlight of their fandom, most will recall the kickoff return by Devin Hester in Super Bowl XLI, a game the Bears lost to the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts. Since that game, the Bears missed the playoffs in 10 of 11 seasons, highlighted by double-digit losses in the last four.
Fast forward to this January as Ryan Pace, along with media moths George McCaskey and Ted Phillips, interview various potential candidates to serve as next Bears coach and make roster decisions this offseason. Bears fans need to demand more. The faithful followers of the NFL’s charter franchise need to become more informed and educated about the potential moves that will lay the framework for the 2018 team and beyond. The target age group needs to crave the championship they have never enjoyed.
Let’s begin with the coaching search and John DeFilippo, the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback coach and current “Flavor of the Month” to be the next leader of the blue and orange. Twitter and online discussion boards are flush with Chicago fans praying that “Coach Flip” will be selected by Pace and Co. to serve as next head coach. Why? Mainly because of a YouTube video that hit the internet a few weeks back of DeFilippo breaking down some Eagles footage with a very enthusiastic and authoritative tone that made the “fanboy” in every wanting Bears fan to jump up and surface.
Suddenly, Coach Flip was the “must have” for every Bears fan. Nevermind that he is only 39 years old, has never served as a head coach at any level, has only served as the offensive coordinator and called plays for one year in the NFL (the 2015 Cleveland Browns ranked 24th offensively), and is currently being assisted by head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich in the development of second-year starting quarterback, Carson Wentz.
Meanwhile, the Bears brass has also interviewed Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for the head coaching position. Shurmur is 53 and has NFL head coaching experience, albeit with a depleted Cleveland Browns team. During those two years, Shurmur improved the lowly Browns’ offensive ranks in both passing and rushing, despite having Brandon Weeden as his only choice at quarterback and having his only viable running back, Trent Richardson, traded to the Indianapolis Colts mid-season. This year, as the leader of the Minnesota Vikings, Shurmur has the Vikings in the top third of offenses, despite losing his starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, to injury. Throwaway backup Case Keenum is having a career year under Shurmur, leading the team to the #2 seed in the NFC.
Why isn’t Shurmur a “must have” for Bears’ fans? He is considered not as energetic as options such as DeFilippo. He doesn’t have a YouTube video of himself breaking down clips of how he has turned Keenum into a top-10 quarterback this year or video of breakout star wide receiver Adam Thielen consistently getting wide open in the Shurmur offense.
Bears fans need to be better than this. They need to demand more.
So, if you find yourself in the lower portion of the 25 to 54 target age group and you are a diehard Bears fan, do Bears Nation a favor before you send that next tweet or post that next blog: check the facts beyond the hype. Then demand the same from Bears ownership and management.