Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Bears Have Replaced Just About Everyone

There will be a lot of offseason moves to write about for the Green Bay Packers, especially in regards to their free agents. But it's been a really surprising past couple of weeks for the Chicago Bears, who are coming off a disastrous 2014 season. This tweet sums up my thoughts.
This all got started a couple weeks ago when they hired GM Ryan Pace. His real test will come in the draft, but recruiting an impressive collection of experienced coaches who were in demand is a great start. Even if it turns out that he isn't a star in the draft evaluation process, their former GM struck out in the 2014 draft, so the organization had to try someone else.

John Fox is obviously a head coach who's had a lot of success in Carolina and Denver, and to bring along his OC Adam Gase, who was rumored for nearly every head coaching vacancy, is a major bonus. They don't get to bring Peyton Manning with them, but they were successful in Denver before Manning came to town. Fox and Gase are probably bringing a smash mouth style of football to Chicago which doesn't require a great passing quarterback either. However, that style doesn't seem to fit their current personnel, so a lot of changes might be coming soon except they probably won't eat $15.5 million guaranteed for Jay Cutler in 2015. Plus he's probably untradeable (he did get beat out by Jimmy Clausen last season).

On the other hand, there are reasons why Fox was allowed to leave Denver. And he's not exactly the best in-game manager.

Since Fox is best known as a defensive coach, I was surprised to see former 49ers DC Vic Fangio hired to the same position in Chicago. He didn't get the HC job with the 49ers so it should be expected that he's leaving the bay area, but he must have had other opportunities. A star DC isn't going to transform a defense if they don't have good players on the field, and the Bears are starving for talent on defense, but I can't imagine a better candidate at DC for the Bears than Fangio.

As an interesting side note, they also hired former Packer DC Ed Donatell to coach the defensive backs. Welcome back to the NFC North.

Overall, this is a much stronger group of coaches than I expected the Bears to hire. That doesn't always translate to success on the field. But bringing stability after a chaotic 2014 season will be a big relief for them and it might be a sign the Bears will be better sooner rather than later.

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