The focus in Chicago and many other Bears fans in relocated cities for years has been their disdain for Lovie Smith. Nine years with Lovie Smith through all of the hot seat periods calling for his name seemed to be a little too long for the relationship to last. Frankly I thought he should have been let go a few years back. His coaching over the last few years actually was solid. Ultimately the front office decided it was just time for an overhaul of change. Change is good in the NFL ranks for coaches, and the time had come for Smith to depart.
Change though can be a period that players and coaching staffs undergo rough stretches. We all know how Jay Cutler has been portrayed by the media, and how he has a tendency to forgo making the right play with idiotic throws. His play will definitely be an adjustment for his new head coach in Marc Trestman. Cutler is not your ordinary temperament type of personality.
Trestman’s football background is there, and his success in the CFL convinced the Bears organization to take an unorthodox approach in hiring Trestman from the CFL.
A head coaching change was not the only big announcement the Bears had this offseason. They also did not retain Brian Urlacher at linebacker. The cornerstone linebacker had been with the team for 13 seasons. The Bears decision to only offer him a one year two million dollar deal at first drove Urlacher irate. He believed the offer was basically a cop out to tell him he was not wanted as a Bear anymore.
His plan to test the market as a free agent died quickly as he announced his retirement.
There were no mysteries that Lovie Smith was a defensive minded head football coach as a Bear and the team reigned and fed off his leadership defensively. Heck there style of play even got them to an improbable Super Bowl with Rex Grossman/Kyle Orton leading the way. That seems like many years ago, and it was. Chicago unlike most teams has retained quite a few players on the defensive side of the football.
This year is going to be a true test of their defense that has lost nine years of Smith’s coaching, and thirteen years of Urlacher at linebacker. A combined twenty two years of experience.
Looking at the Bears roster they have players such as Charles Tillman (11th season), Lance Briggs (11th season), Julius Peppers (12th season), Tim Jennings (8th season), and DJ Wiliams (8th season) all as starters. You definitely do not see as much age on a defense as you do in Chicago. Particularly their core stars in Tillman, Peppers, and Briggs who are all in double digit years in the NFL. Longevity has never been a friend to NFL players and you have to believe at least one or two of these players is going to hit the backside of their talent this season.
The Bears will have a lot of decisions to make this offseason, and they’ll likely be just as tough as to how Urlacher’s ended. Baltimore made headlines the way it handled its championship defense and let them go via free agency. Their defense played solid in 2013 but was not elite at all. The key word for the Ravens is that they were opportunistic, but they gave up their fair share of points. As Ray Lewis said often, Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense was the reason the Ravens got as far as they did.
Bears fans be ready to embrace a down year in terms of defense.