Bear-ly Working: How to Fix the Chicago Bears
So I’ve been picking on the Cleveland Show a lot recently, and mostly because of Cleveland Brown. But I’ve also mentioned Tim the walking, talking Bear. And today, let’s all take a moment to remember poor Tim the Bear. We’ve had many examples of how a Bear can be successful. For instance, Paddington Bear not only did well for himself in London, but he also had a multi-million dollar live action movie. And Tim? Well, he’s just a telemarketer for the local cable company.
Well, there’s no more Cleveland Show and there’s no more Tim the Bear (except for the rare cameo on the Family Guy), and many have said “Oh well, he really wasn’t that interesting anyway.” Well, the Chicago Bears might be in the same situation.
At the beginning of 2014, there were lofty expectations for the Bears and second year coach/quarterback whisperer Marc Trestman. Everyone had visions of an unstoppable offense fueled by a gunslinging quarterback in Jay Cutler alongside the dynamic group of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett. Unfortunately, everyone forgot about the defense.
Obtaining Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen on defense turned out being more of the blind leading the blind. In 2014, Chicago’s defense allowed 377.1 yards and a whopping 27.6 points per game, good for 3rd and 2nd worst in the NFL. When paired with an underachieving offense which eventually started Jimmy Clausen at quarterback (and trust me, coming from Notre Dame, I’m a big Jimmy Clausen fan, so when I say this was a low point, trust me, it was most definitely a low point), the Bears team that had so much potential at the beginning of the year, finished the year a complete disaster. Sort of like poor Tim the Bear and the Cleveland Show. OK, I promise, no more bashing on Cleveland. The show, not the team. I’m still all about bashing on the team.
Now that the Trestman experiment is done, and with John Fox as the new head coach, the Bears have a chance to become the Monsters of the Midway again. Fox’s resume include successfully reinvented and reinvigorated defenses in Carolina and Denver, no easy feat. Fox’s defense-minded planning allowed the Panthers to reach the top eight in yards allowed four times, including a No. 2 finish in 2002, his first year there, and a No. 3 finish in 2005. In 2014, Fox’s Broncos defense allowed only 305.2 yards per game, good for 3rd best in the NFL. The pedigree is nice, and certainly goes a long way to solving the problem, but the Bears may be a particularly difficult project due to the fact that there are gaps everywhere from the line to the secondary. But there is one area in particular that will need significant attention.
Is that a Linebacker, or you just happy to see me?
Lance Briggs wanted out of the Emery/Trestman show, but with Fox in charge and new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio coming over from San Francisco and moving the Bears (presumably) to a 3-4 defense, Briggs is now willing to stay a Bear. He’s getting up there at 35, but he’s still one of the top linebackers in the league and should be signed. If nothing else, at least we know he won’t be going over the Packers anytime soon:
No. RT @Packerboy16 @LanceBriggs Would you ever think about coming and playing for a team with the history and tradition like the #Packers!
— Lance Briggs (@LanceBriggs) February 6, 2015
As for other linebackers, D.J. Williams had trouble staying healthy and wasn’t terrific when he was on the field. It’s questionable whether he’ll be back. Jon Bostic was fine filling in at the MIKE spot and certainly can be part of the answer as the starting middle linebacker, and Christian Jones, an undrafted free agent signed last year, ended the year strong leading the Bears in tackles for the last couple games of the season.
Although a good start, that certainly won’t be enough. A free agent acquisition, like Brandon Spikes, assuming he doesn’t go back to Buffalo, would be a nice veteran addition. And if the Bears build their defense in the first round of the draft, as they should, I like Dante Fowler of Florida as the target. He can play an edge rushing defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, which is exactly what I think the Bears defense need. Todd McShay of ESPN has Fowler going to the Saints at 13 in his current mock, but I think what he said about him makes better sense for the Bears:
“Fowler has the versatility and relentlessness that [the Saints are] looking for. He isn’t an elite athlete but has good flexibility, violent hands and efficient counter moves as a pass-rusher, and he has experience playing multiple spots among the D-line, as well as outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment.”
Versatility in a new defense would be a huge benefit and adding some pass-rush pressure is key to bringing back the Bears defense we’ve known for years.
It’s about time we bring back the defense in Chicago. Something that Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher can be proud off. And if we do, I guarantee even Tim the Bear would be happy about that. And you don’t want Tim the Bear to be sad do you? I didn’t think so.
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