For Chicago Bears fans there is only one coach; nobody will ever live up to Ditka status. Because of this, coaches are not usually well revered in the city, and there will never be anyone quite like Ditka. The Bears cook and staff today is headed by what some might say to be the complete opposite of Ditka, mild-mannered, even keeled, and confident Lovie Smith. To a defensive minded team like the Bears, Lovie Smith is the perfect coach.
Smith has been coaching at the college and professional level since 1983 and is known as a great defensive coach. While coaching with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under Tony Dungy, Smith helped develop the famed Tampa 2 Defense. It was his defensive prowess as a coach that has led to him rising the ranks from a linebacker coach with the Buccaneers to a variety of other coaching experiences ranging from defensive coordinator to head coach.
After helping to greatly improve a struggling St. Louis Rams defense in his time with the lands, the Bears hired Smith because they needed a defensive minded coach who could help turn the Bears defense around. He was able to do this in less than one year and the defense that he built was the same one that carried the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006.
His even keel attitude has drawn criticism, especially when it came to the performance of quarterback Rex Grossman. But it cannot be ignored that on the defensive side of the ball there just isn't a better head coach in the NFC North.
Over the last five years, the Chicago Bears defense has been one of the toughest in the entire NFL. The man behind the eighth ranked defense in the NFL is Bob Babich. Babich has been a key component to the Bears defense since Smith took over as coach in 2004 when he was hired as their linebacker coach. His superior coaching of the Bears linebacker corps led to him being named assistant head coach in 2006.
In February of 2007, Babich was named defensive coordinator. the success of the defense and the linebacker corps since his hiring speak for themselves. The Bears defense was ranked fourth in the league last season against the run, and with the second team since the 1970 season to hold an opponent under one yard per carry twice in one season. Babich's defensive scheme relies heavily on team takeaways, something the Bears have become quite adept at over the years.
Since Babich took over five years ago, the Bears have 172 takeaways, which is the most of any team over that span. for a team like the bears, the defensive coordinator just may be the most important member of the coaching staff.
Another key member of the Bears coaching staff has been special teams coordinator Dave Taub. for many teams, special teams is something that is in the background and can sometimes lead to victories, but when a team has a lackluster offense like the Bears have had, special teams is one of the most important parts of an offensive attack.
Taub began his professional career in 2001, after coaching at the college level for 15 seasons. During this time he was primarily a strength and conditioning coach as well as coaching the Missouri defensive line from 1998 to 2003. His first stint as a special teams coach was with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2001 to 2003. The unit that he coached helped earn Philadelphia Eagles special teams coordinator John Harbaugh the special teams coach of the year award in 2003.
With the Bears, Taub made an immediate impact building one of the best kick coverage units in the NFL and helped develop former Bears running back Adrian Peterson into the leading special teams tackler in the 2008 season. The Bears have been in the top 10 in kick coverage as well as the top 10 in special-teams yardage and touchdowns since his arrival.
Under Taub, the Bears established and then tied the league record for longest play in NFL history in 2005 and 2006 when Nathan Vasher returned a missed field goal for a 108 yard touchdown.
The following season, Devin Hester scored a 108 yard touchdown on the same exact play. In 2006 and 2007 the bears special teams unit was ranked number one. This was thanks to Devin Hester's 11 kick returns for touchdowns in his first two seasons. To go along with that, Taub helped kicker Robbie Gould become the first kicker in Bears history to have back to back 85% field-goal percentage seasons.
This season, the Bears offense will take any more leading role in the success of the Bears as a team thanks to the trade that brought Jay Cutler to Chicago. The man who is responsible for helping the offense improve with Cutler is offensive coordinator Ron Turner.
Turner has been responsible for many of the Bears top 10 offenses over his long career that began in 1993. After serving as head coach for the University of Illinois football team for eight years, he returned to the Bears as the offensive coordinator in 2005. He was the man responsible for the Bears 15th-ranked offense in the 2006 season in which the Bears went to the Super Bowl.
Even with the Bears lack of a consistent quarterback over the years, Ron Turner has produced one of the most productive passing games in the NFL. Last season, the Bears ranked first in offensive points while ranking second in the NFL. The Bears passing offense has now recorded over 3000 yards for the third consecutive season, which is the first time 1997-1999 that this has happened.
Turner has not only revitalized the Bears passing game, but he has also been a key ingredient in the development of Bears running back Matt Forte who set franchise rookie records in rushing yards, yards from scrimmage, and receptions. With the addition of Jay Cutler, it looks as though Turner will finally have a downfield option in an offense that has heavily relied on rushing and screen passes during his stint as offensive coordinator.
Overall, the Bears coaching staff has come out of an impressive pedigree coaching under some of the best head coaches in the history of the game, as well as coaching in some of the most prestigious university institutions in the country.
The experience and success of these coaches are what helped the Bears get to the Super Bowl in 2006. With the experience and success of these coaches and the addition of Jay Cutler to the Bears, look for the team to have a great season in 2009.