A year ago today, the Chicago Bears held a press conference declaring that they valued continuity, but also wanted drastic changes. As crazy as that sounded at the time, that’s exactly what happened.
In 2009 the Bears were 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the third straight season since making it to the Super Bowl. In 2010, the Bears were 11-5, won the NFC North title and earned the second-seed in the NFC Playoffs. And did they did all of that with a team and coaching staff that many didn’t think could win more than six games.
Earlier this season, Lance Briggs said that the biggest change that Lovie Smith made this season was not changing. And the decision not to change their head coach may have turned out better than the Bears could have expected.
We’ll never know for sure whether or not Lovie kept his job because Jerry Angelo truly believed he was still the right coach for the Bears, or if the McCaskey family didn’t want to pay Lovie not to coach the Bears.
What ever the reason, it appears as if the right decision was made. There were both continuity and drastic change from the Bears’ 2010 season.
The continuity came in the form of the Bears’ approach and the players belief in their head coach. As ardent as critics were that Lovie needed to be fired after last season, the players showed unwavering support for Lovie and his schemes. His defense has returned to an elite level, and despite early season struggles, the offense had a 1,000-yard rusher, in Matt Forte, and has done what they needed to win games.
The drastic change came in the form of high profile names being added to the organization. The Bears hired former head coaches Mike Martz and Mike Tice to help run the offense. They also added a big splash in free agency when they signed Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna to big contracts. While Peppers remains the only one to live up to his billing, his performance has also made the biggest impact, of anyone, on the team’s overall record.
Let’s hope that the continuity and drastic changes continue into the playoffs. The continuity of winning and belief in the system, and a drastic change in the form of doing something the organization hasn’t done since January 26, 1986.