Dismissal expected despite 7-9 record

Updated: December 31, 2003, 5:11 PM ET
Associated Press

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Dick Jauron was fired as coach of the Chicago Bears on Monday after his fourth losing season in five years.

The Bears closed a 7-9 season with a 31-3 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Jauron, who had a year left on his contract, leaves Chicago with a 35-46 record, including 0-1 in the playoffs.

"My decision was based on overall record," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said at a news conference. "Simply put, expectations weren't met. We're in a bottom line business. Looking at Dick's overall career record, I just didn't feel that the hope we need to move on to the next level was there."

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli also reported Monday afternoon that the Bears have given Angelo and team president Ted Phillips four-year extensions that will take them through the 2008 season.

Jauron's only winning season was 2001, when the Bears went 13-3 and lost their only postseason game of his tenure. That earned him the NFL Coach of the Year award.

Jauron also spoke at the news conference. He expressed appreciation to the team's players, staff, fans and especially the owners for a coaching experience he said he would never forget.

"That being said, in no way do I feel like this is the -- hopefully not -- the end of my coaching career. I hope to be back in this city at some time, working for somebody else. That's my goal and my ambition," Jauron said.

"He's a good guy. He took it in stride, you know. We're all upset. But you have to move on. What's done is done," defensive end Phillip Daniels said Monday after a team meeting. "We're sad to see him go."

Daniels said the players respected the way Jauron kept the Bears together despite a 1-5 start.

"He's not down on himself right now, he knows he'll get a job somewhere out there," Daniels said.

The Bears went through three quarterbacks and had numerous injuries throughout the season.

Punter Brad Maynard said Jauron wasn't overly upset when he spoke with the team Monday.

"I don't think even he'd say it was a raw deal. We had opportunities. He was here five years and the record is what it is," Maynard said.

"Sometimes you say he didn't have the personnel to play with and that type of thing. He did what he could with what he had," Maynard said.

Since he came to Chicago, Jauron has been burdened by an unsettled quarterback situation nearly every season, much of it because of injuries and some of it because 1999 first-round draft pick Cade McNown never developed.

His latest game of quarterback musical chairs involved Kordell Stewart and Chris Chandler. Stewart started seven games and Chandler six before the Bears turned it over the last three games to rookie Rex Grossman.

In his five seasons, Jauron was forced to make 23 changes at starting quarterback.

Heading into the final game, Chicago had yet to start the same lineup on offense and defense two straight weeks.

Anthony Thomas, the workhorse of the offense, missed three games because of a sore foot and pneumonia. Leading receiver Marty Booker also missed three games with a sprained ankle.

Stewart, the Bears' big free-agent pickup in the offseason, was ineffective before losing the job to Chandler. Stewart got the job back after Chandler hurt his shoulder late in the season, but after the Bears were officially eliminated from the postseason in early December, they gave Grossman an opportunity to play.

The offensive line was very nicked up, and while the defense was a little more stable, tackle Keith Traylor and linebacker Warrick Holdman missed games.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press