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UPDATED 01/03/12 1:25 p.m.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — After 11 seasons, Jerry Angelo is out as Bears general manager.
The news comes on the heels of the Bears’ 8-8 season that featured a five-game losing streak after Jay Cutler was injured.
There were rumors just a few weeks ago that Angelo would retire at the end of the season. But the Bears confirmed Tuesday that Angelo was fired, and his departure was not voluntary.
CBS 2’s Jill Carlson says Angelo’s downfall was his poor track record at drafting and evaluating talent, and making sure backup pieces are in place when key players go down.
The result was that when Cutler and running back Matt Forte were injured, the team entered a downward spiral with backup quarterback Caleb Hanie struggling at the helm.
“Let’s not forget that the Bears were 7-3 at one point this season, before losing five straight, and I think it’s that inability, perhaps, to evaluate talent and have some of those key backups at key positions to absorb injuries, that in essence is his downfall,” Carlson said.
But WBBM Newsradio’s Jeff Joniak emphasized that Angelo’s tenure was one of the more successful in recent Bears history.
“The Bears are only one of 14 teams since Angelo’s arrival in 2001,” Joniak said. “Only four NFC teams won it.”
Angelo was hired in 2001. He fired Coach Dick Jauron three years later and hired Lovie Smith, who became the first coach to take the Bears to the Super Bowl since Mike Ditka.
He also led the team to four division titles, two NFC Championship game appearances and the Super Bowl appearance in his 11-year tenure as the head of the Bears football operations.
Altogether under Angelo, the Bears have had 98 wins and 85 losses, including during the playoffs.
Though he pulled off the biggest trade in Bears’ history when he traded for Jay Cutler in 2009, Angelo will be remembered for his poor drafts that ultimately led to his demise, Carlson says.
“Kudos for (acquiring Cutler), but then he didn’t surround Cutler with the talent necessary to be successful, in terms of an offensive line that could protect him; a true number one receiver that he could thrown to,” Carlson said. “He was the most sacked quarterback in the league.”
Forte, in fact, was the first offensive player drafted by Angelo to make the Pro Bowl, just this season.
If Hanie’s record had been better late in the season, the outcome for Angelo likely would be “entirely different,” Carlson said, “but I think that again goes to the lack of foresight.”
WBBM Newsradio’s Josh Liss confirmed in a Tweet that head coach Lovie Smith will return for the 2012 season.
The team will hold a press conference at 4pm at Halas Hall.