Latest posts by Raphael Haynes (see all)
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Like a bad dream that you couldn’t wake up from, the two seasons that the Chicago Bears just endured has finally ended. A knock on the door or someone letting something heavy slip through their hands and drop on the floor does the trick and wake the Bears fans up from the horrific nightmare. But the knock on the door is opportunity and the heavy object is John Fox which slipped through John Elway’s hand and fell right on our soil to stop the unbearable dream.
The 2012 season brought heartache and anguishing pain to fans that was tired of starting out sizzling only to cool off enough to miss the playoffs. Fans had enough of Lovie Smith’s predictable defense and not enough offense that sustained the team to mediocrity for many years. Making the playoffs only three times out of his nine year tenure had the city of Chicago fed up. The new general manager Phil Emery thought a change should happen and tried to make a genius pick by hiring the former CFL coach, offensive guru Marc Trestman.
Trestman came in the first year and toted the Bears offense toward the top of the NFL averaging 27.8 points per game (second in the NFL) which should have had fans excited. The major problem was the Bears defense allowed a ridiculous 29.9 ppg and in 2014 a whopping 27.6. Not only that, Emery forced Brian Urlacher, one of the best linebackers Chicago put on the field, to retire with his “bogus” antics toward the future Hall Of Famer. Oh yeah, almost forgot to add that Mel Tucker was responsible for the pathetic play on the field along with the players who seemed to quit.
So now we enter the present as the Bears has transformed their identity back to a familiar look. Ryan Pace, the eager and determined GM made his first impression a great impression by hiring a defensive minded coach in John Fox. Fox, a two-time conference champion, has proven himself as a defensive specialist but also a very good coach. As Fox took over as head coach for the Carolina Panthers in 2002, he took a 1-15 team and led them to six more wins and the next year to the Super Bowl. His first year as the Denver Broncos head coach in 2011, he took a 4-12 team and progressed to 8-8 winning an AFC Wildcard game that year. Two years later, another Super Bowl.
Fox brings stability and toughness to a once soft and fragile team. He also brings over one of the most coveted defensive coordinators in the game today in Vic Fangio. Fangio, who took over as the defensive of coach in 2011 for the San Francisco 49ers, upgraded that defense from a 16th ranked scoring defense in 2010 to being ranked 2nd twice, 5th and 10th ( 2014 season where Patrick Willis missed 10 games, Aldon Smith missed 9 games and Novorrow Bowman missed the entire season) in scoring during his stint with the 49ers. Together the two defensive gurus bring promise to a city that felt lied to during the Trestman era.
To make sure the promise is kept, the Bears in free agency signed 12 defensive players (not including Ray McDonald) highlighted by Antrel Rolle (New York Giants), Pernell McPhee (Baltimore Ravens) and Mason Foster (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). They also drafted talented defensive tackle Eddie Goldman out of Florida St. and the versatile safety Adrian Amos out of Penn St; With Lamarr Houston coming back healthy, Jared Allen, Kyle Fuller, Tim Jennings, Wille Young and Jeremiah Ratliff added to the mix, Fox and Fangio have a lot of toys to play with.
Fangio brings his 3-4 defensive schemes that haunted offensive coordinators since 2011. The ball hawking defense that annihilated teams in the past seems to be a training camp away. Fangio’s 49ers defense ranked in the top 10 three out of the four years including #1 in 2011 his first year there. For the last couple of years, Bears fans have felt like the road team while at Soldier Field watching an unfamiliar (offensive) team but with Fox, Fangio, the defensive additions and the excitement floating through Bears nation, home feels like home and the nightmare seems like a distant memory.