Bears president refuses to say it's playoffs or bust

Following three consecutive years in which the Chicago Bears failed to reach the playoffs, team president Ted Phillips said that status quo was no longer acceptable.

On that day in early January, the franchise fired most of the offensive coaching staff. That wasn’t anything really new. Bears coach Lovie Smith has been turning over his coaching staff since after his first season in 2004, regularly launching assistant coaches.

But the Bears certainly didn’t follow with the type of offseason that’s been typical for them. Instead, the team went gangbusters in free agency and landed the top prize, defensive end Julius Peppers. Smith hired maverick offensive coordinator Mike Martz, inserted Rod Marinelli as his defensive coordinator and the organization, as a whole, has acted with a great sense of urgency.

Asked if it was playoffs or bust for Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo, Phillips balked in a visit with the Mully & Hanley Show on WSCR-670 AM Friday.

“Our goal is always to make the playoffs because we want to win Super Bowl championships. That's been our goal," Phillips said. "I think everything we do points to that. I can't put a number of wins on it. At the end of the year there are so many factors involved. I want to know that we're headed in a positive direction. We'll just see how it goes.

"I am very optimistic despite our preseason record that we've got the players, we've got a good mix of veterans and draft picks," Phillips said. "At the end of the year I talked about status quo not being acceptable and I think in this offseason we haven't just sat back and said, 'Trust us.' There have been significant additions to the coaching staff. Our player personnel department was totally restructured and as fans were worried we wouldn't compete financially in an uncapped year, I think we showed just the opposite. We made a lot of moves. I think they were all the right moves and positive and that will be shown starting Sunday."

The expectation publicly is that Smith and Angelo must develop a winner this season, a team that reaches the postseason. It will be difficult for Phillips to sell progress, otherwise, but the trick bag he’s holding is that his future could be linked to that of the other two men.

The Bears will undergo a change at the top at the end of the season when George McCaskey will take over as the chairman of the organization, replacing his older brother Michael McCaskey. What, if any change that will bring with it remains to be seen. For those feeling the heat, a playoff season is the best way to secure their employment.

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