There is never a guarantee for success in pro football, but there are some signs that the Chicago Bears just might be pointed in the right direction.
Michael Ola move showcases investment towards controlling trenches
Obviously on a day the Blackhawks are fighting for their playoff lives, nobody would pay much attention when the Chicago Bears claim an offensive lineman name Michael Ola off waivers from Miami. The 27-year old is a former CFL player who spent time under Bears coach Marc Trestman with the Montreal Alouette. The move isn’t expected to do more than improve the depth of the offensive line, but it perfectly represents the commitment Phil Emery and the coaches are making to getting better in the trenches, offensively and defensively. Since the off-season began the team has added a total of ten new faces to both lines via free agency and the draft. Considering they already brought in Charles Leno Jr. and Ryan Groy to bolster the offensive line, Ola really wasn’t needed. Yet by adding him it is a clear message from the team that they will do what it takes to get control of the line of scrimmage, given its clear importance to winning.
Shea McClellin and Tim Jennings shifts show an eye for logic
Another thing about the new Bears regime that is becoming appreciated is a simple dash of common sense. Under Lovie Smith many were skeptical about the moves of putting Tim Jennings, who stands just 5’8″ at outside cornerback while sliding former 1st round pick Shea McClellin, who was considered too light and lacking strength to defensive end. Jennings clearly overplayed his position, reaching two Pro Bowls but still had his problems with matchups. McClellin meanwhile floundered at end. Just through the first couple of practices in 2014 there are signs that the new coaching staff is less about maintaining the system and more about finding the matchups. Jennings was moved inside to nickel corner where his speed, quickness and intelligence would thrive while his size would also be less of a burden. At the same time they shifted McClellin out of the end spot to strong side linebacker where his speed and athleticism are more of a factor than his bulk. Does it guarantee results? No. Still, it is putting two players in their most natural positions to succeed.
Jay Cutler and Mel Tucker retention prove faith in continuity
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect that the Chicago Bears have embraced is continuity. Most teams would not have retained Jay Cutler with a seven-year, $126 million deal after playing just nine games and throwing 19 touchdowns to 14 interceptions in 2013. The same can be said for defensive coordinator Mel Tucker who watched his defense become the laughing stock of the league, giving up a record-breaking number of rushing yards and finishing with the fewest sacks as well. Instead of just starting fresh, the Bears chose to stay the course, trusting in continuity and skill rather than heading back to square one. History has shown this type of think to yield results in the long-term, which is exactly what the Bears are hoping for.