January 23rd, 2011 was a day that brought Bears fans more questions than answers.
The Bears lost the NFC Championship game by seven points to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. There should be no shame in this result, and yet there was.
The Bears 2010 season should have provided the Bears fans and the team with a sense of pride and a image of a team moving forward.
2009 saw the Bears bring in Jay Cutler—the Bears first franchise-quality quarterback since Sid Luckman—in arguably the biggest trade of the decade, and possibly the biggest trade in Chicago Bears history, only to see the Bears flounder with the defensive loss of Brian Urlacher and with then-offensive coordinator Ron Turner squandering Cutler's abilities offensively.
The Bears would miss the playoffs with a 7-9 record and the defense would allow the sixth most points in the Chicago Bears 91-year franchise history.
Fast forward to 2010. The Bears, running short on draft picks, made a huge splash in free agency. Carolina DE/monster Julius Peppers was signed, along with mammoth blocking TE Brandon Manumaleuna and respected complimentary back Chester Taylor, on the first day of free agency.
The ejector-seat button was pressed and Ron Turner disappeared from the Bears staff, eventually replaced by former Rams head coach Mike Martz. Lovie Smith also canned himself as the Bears defensive coordinator and promoted defensive line coach and former Lions head coach Rod Marinelli to the spot. In an attempt to tune the ailing offensive line, former Vikings head coach Mike Tice was brought in to coach the offensive trench-minders.
Looking at the end result, these moves seemed to have improved the Bears team. 2010 saw the Bears adding four wins to their record over the previous season, as well as a division championship, a playoff win and an appearance in the NFC Conference Championship Game.
But a more than cursory look reveals that the Bears left serious questions that must be answered following the 2010 season, regardless of it's successes.