What’s the story?
All good things must come to an end. That was the case in Chicago this past offseason, with the release of winning head coach Lovie Smith and beloved linebacker Brian Urlacher, who played his entire 13-year career with the Bears. With lots of significant changes to account for, this season may be more of a learning curve than it is a shot straight to the top of the NFC North.
Leader and commander:
New head coach Marc Trestman spent the past four years as a very successful head coach in the Canadian Football League. And even though he hasn’t coached in the NFL for nearly a decade, he was a coach with eight different NFL teams over the course of 17 years. It’ll be interesting to see how all of that experience in both the NFL and CFL works itself into his first NFL head coaching job.
New kid on the block:
First round pick Kyle Long, who has a long history of NFL in his blood. His father, Howie Long, is a Hall of Fame defensive end who spent his entire career with the Raiders. His older brother Chris is a defensive end for the Rams. Kyle decided to go on the other side of the line. He’s an offensive guard, and the Bears are hoping that he’ll have the same type of illustrious career as the rest of his family has had. They need all of the help they can get along the offensive line.
Last year was…
…worse than it seemed. 10-6 is a good enough record to compete for first in most divisions. But in the NFC North, it was only good enough for third, and resulted in Lovie Smith’s firing.
There is reason for optimism in Chicago despite the sweeping changes. They are currently ranked 13th, which makes them second in the rankings of NFC North teams (behind the Packers and in front of the Vikings and Lions). Another 10-6 season under a new head coach with a new system might be a stretch for the Bears, but it also might be good enough for second in the NFC North and a potential wildcard spot in the playoffs.