Changing of the guard

For any other team in the NFL, 10-6 would constitute a good season. The Washington Redskins, the Minnesota Vikings, the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals all had what could be considered fantastic years. The Chicago Bears shared the same record; however, unlike the other teams, their season was far from fantastic.

Starting 8-1 after the first nine weeks, the Bears proceeded to slide themselves out of the playoffs, losing key games at key moments. They lost five of their next eight games, two of which were divisional games, which are life or death in the tough NFC North.

Questions about how this could happen were on the mind of all Bears fans as they watched the Vikings demolish the Packers to get in the playoffs and to keep the Bears out. The Bears front office acted swiftly, firing head coach Lovie Smith about head coach Lovie Smith about a week later.

But why would they fire a coach who only had three losing seasons in his eight years of coaching? John Oremus, a DePaul sophomore and football enthusiast, believes that it’s because Lovie Smith put his focus in the wrong places.

“Gone are the days when a team could win a Super Bowl, let alone a conference or playoff berth, without a sound offensive unit. To put the old phrase to rest, defense no longer wins championships,” said Oremus.

Many of the Bears’ points came from a defense that set an NFL record for most turnovers returned for touchdowns through seven games. They were also one pick-six away from the NFL record set by the San Diego Chargers in 1961.

However, the record-breaking defense was countered by one of the blandest offenses in the league. Jay Cutler threw 67 percent of his passes to Brandon Marshall, which made it easy for teams to shut down the Bears’ entire pass attack just by double-teaming him. Newly signed Matt Forte had a very subpar year, and the offensive line was dreadful at times, unable to clear much space for the running back. A great defense shouldn’t be forced to be on the field for most of the game because the offense can’t get the job done.

It should be very clear to Chicago after this season that the Bears need their offense corrected, and that realization is also very clear in the Bears coaching candidates.

Even though the Bears have pretty much called everyone in the nation to ask for their interest in the head coaching position, General Manager Phil Emery realizes which direction he wants the team to go in. The big names so far are Marc Trestman, a coach in the Canadian Football League; Todd Clements, the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers; and Mike McCoy, who was the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos.

The focus on finding someone with an offensive mindset is something Oremus also agrees with in his thoughts of whom the head coach should be. He also suggested the Bears get a coach like Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden who are tough and are “both Super Bowl winners [who can] satisfy the fans that criticized Lovie’s perceived softness or go with an offensive prodigy.”

Regardless of who will be chosen, the Bears need to find someone who can realize the importance of a high-powered offense, someone who can recognize when something isn’t working (i.e. the Devin Hester wide receiver experiment). They need a head coach who will be a bit harder on the team in order to prevent slumps that continuously cripple the Bears.

The coaching search is narrowing down quickly, so Bears fans should keep their eyes on the Internet, because even though the coaches’ names may not resonate, this is undoubtedly Emery’s most important move yet.