It was another tough season for the Chicago Bears as they finished 5-11, last place in the NFC North Division and had one of their franchise’s worst offensive and defensive squads statistically. Changes needed to be made from the head coach and general manager to some of the players on the field.
On paper, many of the changes are giving some Chicago fans some positive hope.
Graphic via zimbio
It’s one thing when the Bears have an offense that struggles, but having one of the worst defenses in the NFL and in the history of the franchise costed Marc Trestman his job as the head coach. The termination brought about hiring the more experienced John Fox, who was coaching for Denver – where he had a Super Bowl appearance two years ago and four straight AFC West Division titles.
Fox also had a Super Bowl appearance during his tenure with the Carolina Panthers in 2005. But that wasn’t the only coaching addition that made Bears fans excited as they were able to hire Vic Fangio as the Bears new defensive coordinator. He previously helped turnaround a struggling San Francisco offense in his first year in 2011 – the 49ers created a league leading 35 turnovers.
The 49ers also had successful seasons with three straight appearances in the NFC Championship from 2011-2013.
Other coaching additions include Sam Garnes (defensive backs), Dave Magazu (offensive line), Derius Swinton II (assistant special teams), Ed Donatell (defensive backs) and Bo Hardegree (offensive assistant). All were moves executed by new general manager Ryan Pace.
First-round draft pick Kevin White from West Virginia is expected to make an immediate impact on an offensive unit that ranked 23rd in scoring and 21st in offensive yards. The six-foot-three Mountaineer had 109 catches for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014 before declaring for the NFL Draft. He’s also expected to help fill the void left behind with the departure of Brandon Marshall. Some NFL prognosticators are predicting White’s rookie season will include more than 1,000 yards in what should be an improved offense.
Chicago also drafted defensive tackle Eddie Goldman from Florida State in the second round – a player who might be a great fit for the newly designed 3-4 defense and was a great selection considering several draft experts slated him a projected first-round player. Goldman should play the nose tackle position thanks to his frame that includes some quickness off the snap.
In 2014, Goldman collected 35 tackles and four sacks while forcing one fumble through all 14 games with the Seminoles.
Another defensive draft pick some are high on is free safety Adrian Amos from Penn State, a fifth-round choice who could come in as a favorite to earn a starting job in Week One – a six-foot defensive back who is known for range and defending passes thrown in his direction. In fact, the QB rating when passes were thrown to his coverage area was 13.0 – the lowest in college football last season.
A lot of experts are also liking Chicago’s selection of running back Jeremy Langford in the fourth round after rushing for 1,522 yards and 22 touchdowns in his senior season with the Michigan State Spartans. And while there’s love for running backs in John Fox’s system – a successful team would need depth at running back.
In addition to drafting White, the Bears were able to sign veteran receiver Eddie Royal who was coming off a 778-yard season with the San Diego Chargers with seven touchdowns to create a potentially strong receiving corps with Alshon Jeffrey and White. The offense also received offensive guard Vladimir Ducasse – who played in Minnesota in 2014.
On defense, one of the key additions was safety Antrel Rolle – with a career 799 tackles and 26 interceptions over a 10-year career – to help boost Chicago’s secondary that was the team’s weakest group last season. Linebackers Mason Foster, Sam Acho and Pernell McPhee will also help establish depth in the four-linebacker defensive set that Fox hopes will bring back the Bears’ classic “Monsters of the Midway” moniker.
Other key additions include defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, safety Malcolm Bronson and cornerback Alan Ball.
These new Bears will get some early tests during the preseason, starting with an August 13 home game against the Miami Dolphins before going on the road to face the star quarterback Andrew Luck and the high-octane Indianapolis Colts on August 22. Andrew Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals will host the Bears on August 29 before Chicago goes back to Soldier Field to face the Cleveland Browns on September 3.
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