Chicago Bears Philosophy: Winds of Change are Blowing in the Windy City


Jan 17, 2013; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery (right) introduces new head coach Marc Trestman during a press conference at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever an organization changes the top leadership, you can bet said organization will see a shift in philosophy. For the football nerds in the world, philosophy is the “why” you do what you do and is a product of your belief system. These beliefs and philosophies manifest themselves in principles, or statements of will and being and ultimately manifest in a way that shape actions.

To demonstrate what I am talking about, take a look at various actions and statements from the Angelo, Smith era. We saw the “Rex is our quarterback” movement. We saw the ‘You can never have enough Defensive Lineman” philosophy manifest itself in a way that resulted in Defensive Linemen were valued, but not offensive lineman. Angelo often traded down and picked up late round picks, indicating that he preferred quantity over quality.

After fielding a top defense for years, Angelo finally succumbed to the notion that this is a quarterback driven league. His belief in harmony and continuity in the locker room prevented the Bears from playing for Drew Brees in the draft and in free agency. Later, when confronted with the opportunity to acquire Kurt Warner, the Bears would not open up the competition for the QB position and Warner went to the Cardinals. The Bears had their opportunity to snag Aaron Rodgers too as he inexplicably fell from a potential top 5 pick sitting in the red room only to fall to the Packers. I remember yelling at the TV that day “Rex is our Quarterback” and a few other choice expletives that I can not write down here.  That was 2005 and we had Rex Grossman and Thomas Jones…so we selected Cedric Benson, not Aaron Rodgers. The rest is history.

So what will Emery bring that is different? I hear in his words, purpose not ego. I see in his actions a sense of urgency, not a wait and see mentality. He has one draft under his belt and inked the first #1 Wide Receiver the Bears had since…well since forever. Emery terminated a coach who finished 10-6 after squandering a fast start and easy first half schedule. The Emery love-fest will end abruptly if he misfires with Trestman, but my money is on his choice; he did not misfire. He just hit the bullseye.  Of course, only time will tell as it always does.

I see in Trestman a football nerd. Emery is a football nerd. I am a football nerd and I know one when I see one. Emery will have to surround Trestman with talent. Trestman will have to call plays that work. He will also have to sustain the defense at a level that allows the offense to outscore the opponent most of the time and VIOLA, the Bears will return to relevance in the post season festivities.  I will look for a noticeable shift in allocation of resources to include top draft picks, free agents, contract extensions for existing players as well as coaches.  If Lovie made a fatal mistake, it was his inability to create continuity at the offensive coordinator level.  Emery will have no such trouble on offense as his coach will be calling the plays.

I began watching the Bears in earnest in 1975, Walter Payton’s rookie year.  In the years that followed, I had moments of hope for an offense that was not offensive but those moments were fleeting at best.  I truly thought Tice would unlock Cutler’s potential and he failed miserably.  Tice, like Martz before him, thought if he called explosive plays he would get explosive results.  Well I guess there was an explosion of sorts resulting from Tice’s monumental backfire.

I think Emery and Trestman understand that explosive plays are an effect, not a cause.  Like playing Chess…get your opponent reacting to you, play a move further ahead than your opponent, get him off-balance and strike.  Explosive offense comes from calling plays that work, getting the defense off-balance and guessing and then the explosive plays come.  I think Emery gets that…and because he gets it, I believe it to be highly likely that Trestman gets it too.

Is 2013 the year of the Bear?