It seems that the Chicago Bears will be testing an experiment this fall. And the experiment could have long-term implications for the future of the franchise. No, it’s not Devin Hester playing quarterback in a Wildcat offense. It’s more subtle than that.
Actually, the Bears will be running two experiments: one for the offense and another for the defense. The franchise will try to prove that they have they have the right players on defense but had the wrong defensive coaches and schemes last season.
On offense, the team will prove that they had the right offensive coaching staff and schemes but lacked the proper players to execute the playbook.
A little bit of tweaking is all that’s necessary for the team to win the division and make the playoffs this season - and on an annual basis.
During the offseason, Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo added the offensive pieces needed to run Ron Turner’s entire playbook. When Angelo traded for Denver quarterback Jay Cutler, he brought in the Pro Bowl player the Bears stabilize the quarterback position.
With a strong and accurate passing arm, the ability to scramble and lengthen plays, and the size and bulk to be durable, the former Denver quarterback has the potential to be the team’s leader for the next decade.
In Orlando Pace, Angelo brought in another player needed to stabilize the offense. A Super Bowl champion, seven-time pro bowl selection, and 12-year veteran, Pace will protect Cutler’s blindside and further anchor the Bears’ offensive line.
Olin Kreutz, a six-time pro-bowler and 11-year veteran, has been the only offensive player that started in every game for the last eight years.
Those players, combined with second-year running back Matt Forte, should give Turner have the talent to improve upon last season’s 23-point-per-game average and 296-yards-per-game average, according to NFL statistics.
The Bears offense was tied for 14th in points per game last season. The New Orleans Saints offense was first in scoring in the NFL, with nearly 29 points per game and 410-yards-per-game average last year.
Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith changed his entire defensive coaching staff in January. Smith fired defensive line coach Brick Haley, linebackers coach Lloyd Lee and defensive backs Coach Steve Wilks after the Bears defense fell to 21st overall and ranked near the bottom in overall pass defense in 2008.
For the 2009 season, Rod Marinelli will coach the defensive line. Jon Hoke will manage the defensive backs.
Babich will return to handling the Bears linebackers. And Smith will develop the nickel back position and split defensive coordinator duties with Babich.
Smith and Marinelli will split head coaching responsibilities, Smith said.
In terms of defensive talent, Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo added a few lower-round draft choices and speculative free-agents. Angelo’s roster additions will need proper coaching to become valuable starters this fall.
Third-round draft choice Jarron Gilbert, an athletic defensive lineman from San Jose State, and undersized corner back D.J. Moore, a fourth-round selection, are considered the main coaches’ projects in 2009.
With all the time spent analyzing players – the draft and free-agency—it’s time to consider the Bears coaches and what will be a hands-on approach for the 2009 season.