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Why the 2014 Chicago Bears Are All About Setting the Stage for the 2015 Edition

| July 30th, 2014

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NFL fans have the patience of my orange boy cat (named Bear, pictured above) once he knows his wet food has been moved from the can to the plate. There’s a lot of walking in circles. His sweet-tempered meow morphs into a more desperate, restless MEOORRRRE. He is so hungry for a taste of what he knows is so close he is unable to control himself.

Telling an NFL fan training camp and the preseason are meaningless is the equivalent of placing Bear’s plate on the ground and then holding him ten feet away. Telling them what I’m about to tell them, that 2014 is but a stepping stone to the mountaintop, will elicit more than a MEOORRRRE. It’ll end with my blogging hands scratched until blood is drawn.

2013’s edition of the Chicago Bears established a new direction under the leadership of Marc Trestman and excommunicated the old direction (Lovie) and leadership (Urlacher). It was only an 8-8 campaign but for a fan base desperate for big league offense it left even the most pessimistic fan with a firm understanding the arrow is pointed in the correct direction.

2013, coupled with Emery’s 2012 offseason, were the first step in what Pat Riley calls  “the innocent climb.” Here is a publisher’s summary of that notion:

The innocent climb is the surge that occurs within a team as they are accomplishing more because of the synergy that occurs within a team. Innocence means understanding that the team comes first and being carried along by that; being naive means being ignorant. Innocence doesn’t mean being naive. Teamwork and all of its benefits happen when everyone puts the team first. innocence comes when the leader believes in something and puts him or herself out to accomplish that.

Climbing innocently began with the establishment of this new direction and the building of a new identity. But something funny happened on the way to Soldier Field. Trestman and Emery were successful at a more rapid rate than expected and produced a championship-caliber offense in the first year of this new program.

Now, the defense.

All of the excitement surrounding the 2014 season needs to be tempered with the following: the Bears are coming off the worst defensive season in the history of their organization. And rarely does a true championship contender have so many questions on one side of the ball in August.

Can the Bears young linebackers evolve?

Are the rookie defensive tackles ready to make an impact?

If one of the starting corners goes down, can rookie Kyle Fuller fill the void?

These are all important questions but if the answers are no to each the season does not drift down the drain.

Do the Bears have a professional safety on their roster?

Is there enough pass rush?

Aye, here’s the rub and one of the primary reasons I believe the Bears are another off season away from being true title contenders. The Bears can compensate for their lack of talent at safety with a dynamic pass rush but without that pass rush the defense will be exposed over the top continually.

Lamarr Houston is a serious upgrade but only has 16 sacks through four seasons. Jared Allen is one of the most dynamic pass rushers of the modern era and was ruthless in December of last year but he’ll still be a 32 year-old defensive end when the Bills roll into town. Ratliff and Collins? McClellin off the edge? Maybe.

What put the Seattle Seahawks over the edge in 2013 was their stockpiling of edge rushers that spring. They put the finishing touches on the sport’s best defense. The Bears have only just laid  their second coat of paint.

The Bears defense needs to take strides this season. Go from bottom of the barrel to middle of the barrel. Develop a few young players. Get into the postseason and perhaps win a postseason game.

Most important, the Bears need to make clear the targets for Phil Emery this coming offseason. Because March and beyond will not be about rebuilding a unit. It will be a about finishing a champion.

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  • 505 Bears

    Last!!!

  • MB30SD

    nice pussy jeff

    (I had to right? It had to be me didn’t it?)

  • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

    The 2015 edition? The one without Briggs, Peanut, D.J. Williams, and possibly Ratliff and all our current safeties? The team that will pay Alshon like A.J. Green so that we have little cap room leftover. That edition?

    • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

      That’s not even counting another year of wear-and-tear on Forte, Bmarsh, and the vets OR the inevitable injuries.
      Carpe Diem. biatches! 2014 SB or Bust!

      • For your consideration….

        we have the horses right fucking now. This is the year.

        • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

          That’s what I’m talking about. We just need to withstand the first half of the season like 300 against the mighty Persian empire, then in the 2nd half, attack like Patton’s 3rd and ride the momentum all the way to glory.
          For all we know, Cutler can get injuried next off-season doing some kamasutra maneuver on his hot milf.

          • Chris O

            MEOORRRRE!

            Jeff, you were right.

          • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

            There’s NO guarantee the 2015 Bears are going to be superior to the 2014 Bears. This isn’t Madden in Franchise where you can disable the injuries.
            Harbaugh, Carrol, Sean Payton, Billichick, etc showed a team can turn around and make a run for the SB in a season. And this team was historically bad on D because of a rash of injuries, new D-cord, retired Lach, etc.
            No reason we can’t win it this year. A defense can improve a lot in the course of even ONE season. Look at the Cards last year.

          • Chris O

            Barring injury, this should be a very competitive year, I agree. I happen to think the job Emery did this off season on the defense will work wonders. Check my comment history, even during last season I was commenting on here that I thought Emery had done a fine job on KC’s defense before coming here, and that this off season would see him rebuilding this defense.

            You remember, when this whole Blog was saying that they had no faith in Emery’s ability to draft defense?

            I just thought it was funny that the response Jeff predicted happened so quickly.

          • For your consideration….

            Jeff’s assertion that the “primary task” of the 2014 Bears is to prep for a title run NEXT year is lunacy. No one thinks like that when this many pieces are in place. This is not theo Epstein rebuilding the shitball cubs. This is the league where ANY top 15 team can win it any year.

          • For your consideration….

            Chris, BLEEEEOOWWW MEEEEE!

          • MB30SD

            hahahahaha

          • Guest

            And you guys wonder why most readers of this blog avoid commenting….

          • For your consideration….

            Lol, don’t be lame.

          • MB30SD

            So fucking lame. Boo fucking hoo

          • Shady

            Jericho.

          • Cormonster

            What does this Jericho line mean? Been seeing it a lot lately.

          • Shady
          • For your consideration….

            makes me laugh every single time…as he stands there amongst the shockwave.

          • For your consideration….

            as I stand amongst the written carnage….

          • MB30SD

            Waaaaaah.

            Sniff

            Smfh

          • CanadaBear

            Really? Nothing personal but grow a pair. It’s just comments. It’s not like someone’s going to stop by your place and bitch slap you.

          • MB30SD

            I’d like to.

            Hahahaha

          • CanadaBear

            I always try to be nice to newbies. I know you usually put them through a little initiation period. I don’t get being afraid to post. If you’re not an ass and bring a little something to the party, most of the regs will be nice to you. If you come on guns blazin’, well you get what you get. Hell one new poster almost got a date with Irish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Sactowns#1

            DOOOOOOOOON”T CAAAAAAAARE!

      • Trac

        Don’t forget salary cap and FA.

  • For your consideration….

    12-4 , fuck errbody. I don’t subscribe to the notion that this season is some sort of stepping stone. This season is the only season that we need to worry about right now. For about half of the teams in the league the Conference Championship and therefore a shot at the big fucking show is an actual reality this year. Some key injuries to the team or a rival can mean the difference between 9-7 and staying at home or 10-6 and getting into the playoffs….and everyone know that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE PLAYOFFS.
    This particular season…and pretty much every season is about staying healthy. We have the guns to win this year. We have the pieces to win this year. No team is stacked. The Seahawks offense is fucking disgraceful. The Packers D can’t stop anyone. The Panthers emptied their WR shelves and will be abject dogshit. The Saints are one Jimmy Graham knee bruise away from 8-8. Broncos? No Peyton, not getting above 4 wins. You see, no team is perfect but a team that can dominate one side of the ball and be above average on the other side has every chance in the world to win the Super Bowl. This is the year.

    • bearsfantillend

      got to disagree with the Saints being a Graham knee bruise away form 8-8. Yes he is a monster in the red zone, but pretty sure Brees can produce without him. and Ryan’s defence is pretty damn good, top 5 in most categories last year, and they added Byrd on the backend to help out.

    • Sactowns#1

      I’m with you in spirit, I’m just not sure my logical side agrees. I’ll hedge and say 11-5 and a Super Bowl win. Like they say, you gotta get hot at the right time. Niners week 2 for the opening of their new stadium is rough. That stretch of Falcons, Panthers, Pats and Pack mid season is rough. But if we can stay healthy and our D is clicking weeks 11-17 could see da Bears really gaining a head of steam into the post season.
      BTW if you sign is as “Guest” I really could care less what you have to say. Take 30 seconds and make a frigin profile so I can at least know which future opinions to discount.

  • For your consideration….

    Emery will keep the Bears relevant throughout the years but now is the time to strike. We’ll all have Ebola by 2015 anyway.

  • MB30SD
    • SC Dave

      Assuming it’s Cutler…. let’s see…

      Hah! Of course.

  • CanadaBear

    Jeff is probably correct but I’m all in this year. Every year is a new chance.

  • Shady

    Please never quote Pat Riley or “the innocent climb” again. It’s some kindergarten shit and everyone on this blog is now dumber for having read it.

    • MB30SD

      or post pics of cats?

      • Shady

        +1 ‘Cause the internet doesn’t have enough fucking cats already. (Sorry Tobi)

  • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait
    • Shady

      I’ve had worse beats. One-outers by river rats. But that’s poker.

      • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

        Worse beats than pocket aces with a $Mil buy in?
        “I’ll see your cat, and raise you one weenie dog…”

        • MB30SD

          awwwww… aaaaaaddy!!!

          ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡☆☆☆☆♡♡♡♡

          • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

            I picture all this going on in some smoky Vietnamese backroom

        • Shady

          Well played.

      • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

        Didn’t Conte cost Big Mike $30K? In the words of Dennis Miller, “Ouch, babe.”

        • Shady

          Technically he only lost $1, but yes, that game was fucking brutal. Hopefully the Bears use it to fuel their 2014 campaign where each week should feel like Packer week.

  • MB30SD

    what you ALL need to know about ebolacalypse 2014.

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/27/world/ebola-virus-explainer/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

    • Shady

      Wouldn’t it just be Ebocalypse? Oh, and LINK PLEASE.

      • MB30SD

        already changed both before you posted… ass.

    • AlbertInTucson

      When they guy sent their to deal with it COMES DOWN with it, I am more than a bit concerned. Ebola. In case you needed ANOTHER reason for securing our borders.

  • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait
    • For your consideration….

      lot’s of Safeties competing for jobs this offseason.

    • GPLDAN

      It would appear this is the manifestation of the NFL axiom: Safeties matter less.

      Lovie spent season after season shuffling safeties around, I know we wanted to see an end to that, but we went and got Fuller as a shutdown corner. Corners matter, corners you go and spent draft picks or FA $ for, safeties you just go and get from the leftovers in the draft and the FA pool.

      This seems to be the story. We spent our picks on DTs to prevent getting gashed for the big runs and generate pressure. You have 5 seconds most plays, if you break down from there, safeties are just clean up.

      This seems to be a trend or at least a working trade-off that some GMs have. Certainly the Seahawks showed a part of the game that becomes true when your safeties punish the middle zones badly. But it’s icing on the cake, it’s where you build LAST, not first.

      • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

        I thought that was the trend for years, unitl the last few years where Safeties like Byrd are now getting paid. Berry and Earl Thomas are gonna get paid. Supposedly, it’s to combat the TEs, but I guess like everything else, there’s competing theories on this in the NFL.
        Some go the Lovie route “just put a body back there”, others go the Ravens/Steelers route where they make their S a central part of the attack.
        4-3s in general don’t need studly safeties, while 3-4s tend to value them more because they are asked to do a bit of everything.

        • MB30SD

          earl thomas and cam chancellor. enough said. Gotta have two studs back there at some point.

          • For your consideration….

            D line pressure is like midgets and salt, it makes everything better

      • AlbertInTucson

        If you give the other guy 5 seconds, you’re toast.

  • Shady

    The Black Unicorn AKA Black Santa is hilarious.

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-training-camps/0ap1000000371531/Irvin-breaks-down-Bears-receivers

    This group, along with Cutty and Forte, will once again keep D-Coordinators up at night.

    • MB30SD

      he is the funniest man in the NFL. He really is so so funny.

  • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

    I can retort Jeff’s entire argument by simply refraining Agent Moulder:

    I want to believe.

  • MB30SD

    this can’t be real… it just… can’t

    http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/blogs/Mark-Davis-Oakland-move.final.jpg

    (yes, I’ve seen him before, I just can’t believe it every time)

  • AlbertInTucson

    Seems pretty early to say “Wait ’til next year”.

  • Ososfan

    Haha awesome article! I have also believed the smae thing! I remember I posted a while back regarding this same idea and mentioning the draft and Yall didn’t “want to bite.”, I agree, one more off-season and the Bears should be contenders for a couple of years. Can’t wait!

  • Trac

    I can see this thread being applicable to Lovie’s Bucs this year but the Bears? Nay I say, “Championship game or bust” should be the battle cry for the season.

    • MB30SD

      Lovie… Hee hee.

      Mmmmmmmmm… biiiiltoooong. Can’t wait for that shipment. Doused in your sweet sweet tears of vanquish.

      • Trac

        Either way, to the victor goes the spoils. I shall be victorious!

        • MB30SD

          we shall see my mainjes… we shall see

  • http://thebeargarden.blogspot.com/ Perno

    Disagree with this post, this year is ripe for the picking. Next year and all these players will not be quite as good as they are this year: Tillman, Marshall, and Briggs. Every NFL team has a weakness due to the salary cap, this year ours is at safety. As long as the offense improves (pretty much a slam dunk, barring injuries) and the defense is mediocre (huge question mark), this could be the year.

  • CanadaBear

    We’ve all seen these clips a million times. Count me in for a million and one. My two heroes growing up in Iowa.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk35vPHDtAQ

  • Paul Stuart

    There are interesting and valid points about this years team in this article. But it has the fair reek of someone admonishing himself not to hope for more. Hedging his emotional investment for fear of disappointment. I often question myself as to my interest in this and other sports. My emotional involvement often seems merely a hangover from the perspective of a British child who started watching this game in virtual isolation. Who started supporting The Bears when he saw the 85 defence take the field for a game early in that unforgettable season. Maybe I saw that they were the winning bandwagon. Maybe I saw that they were fucking intense and liked that. Maybe I saw that they had character as well as characters. Maybe I just liked the uniforms. Maybe it was Walter who could be as humble a human as he was a hard…Really fucking hard runner. When I fell asleep late in SBXX (you forgive that in a child) my brother woke me up to tell me they’d won. I said “I know they did”

    It’s not really all that relevant, when we pour over these hobbies and passions to the degree of forecasting the future over speculative bits of info and fantasy trending mode and the like. I treat these fan sites like the morning papers, because “real” newspapers are equally speculative about much more consequential subject matter and I can’t stand their taste in my brain. So this seems appropriate for a self indulgence. A balance of perspective in a bespoke community or culture. A normality lacking in the rest of my world. Then I think about something else the rest of the time. During the season I go from shouting at the screen when the front line (used to) fail miserably all the way over to thinking no more of it than star trek or some other soap operatic vicarious indulgence.
    Other times I’m on the fence…You know that uncomfortable feeling when Hester took it to the house in Miami? …My celebration was cut short in an instant seeing people this ecstatic way too early in the game …premature distraction of success etc..similar to training camp hoopla I suppose.

    So even though I wrestle with the bloated hedonism and expectation of many sports fans, I still am one myself, no matter how cynical.

    Why?

    Because my internet radio went down during the 2001 game with the 49ers for a very important few minutes. When it came back on the commentators couldn’t even speak coherently, rather like…

    “Oh listen to them Artoo, they’re dying!!!”

    So it just doesn’t matter if it looks a bit unlikely that given Sunday or season. I thought even I would fill some space with some text. Just to say it’s kind of sweeter if it does start out unlikely. That’s what this article reminded me of. Maybe it was designed to.

    • Shady

      Very well written, insightful and self-aware comment Paul. Please do us a favor and post more often.

      • MB30SD

        sycophant

        • Shady

          Trying to encourage the new blood to stick around, not kiss ass. I figured I’d get in before you had a chance to haze him. Fucking read that shit man, he’s contributed more in his one post than you have all month (ice water is on the table).

          • MB30SD

            First, I was just kidding

            Second, that hurt. I still have feelings.

            third, I still love you… and your little dog too. (AKA, you’re still ma bitch)

          • Paul Stuart

            Appreciate it dude, seriously. You too MB… You all made me wanna pipe up any how.

      • Paul Stuart

        Cheers Shady, I shall spout some more here and there I’m sure.

  • MB30SD
  • FQD1911

    I agree with most of this.

    • MB30SD

      FQ!!!!!!

  • Trac

    For any of you poor bastards that gets a poison Ivy rash, have no fear.

    Yesterday the itch was so bad that somehow I was inspired to take a scorching hot shower out of desperation. I turned the temp on the water as hot as I could stand it and blasted the infected areas for 10 mins. Wa la, sweet relief. Also, after I dried off, I rubbed head and shoulders shampoo into the rash (country boy remedy). Presto, no itch for two days.

    I was so amazed at the relief this gave me that I played a hunch and googled hot water poison Ivy and came across numerous successful testimonials of other schmucks that got poison ivy and did this. I’m free, free at last!

    • CanadaBear

      Haven’t had it in years. I’m OK with that. Glad you got some relief.

  • CanadaBear

    Irish come on back, we miss you. Even though your fave Terrance Tolliver was waived, we still have plenty to talk about.

  • TheBigCheesy

    I will never get tired of these delusional fanboy narratives

    • http://www.upitpuppet.com/ evantonio

      Hi Cheesy! How is your summer going? Been to any good BBQs? Get some quality time down at the shore? I myself have been having a pretty nice summer. There’ve been visits to the mountains, trips to the lake, and even a midnight tour of the Greenwood Cemetery! Yes sir, it’s been a fun one.

      Anyway, I hope all is well with you. See you soon!

      • AlbertInTucson

        Why do you feed it?

        • For your consideration….

          Because this year it’s different Al. I’m predicting that we take both. When we do I will keep my mouth shut and be content in my silence because I know that it will be the case and I know why it will be the case. I won’t need to rub it into Cheese’s wound because the idiot sports writers won’t stop bringing it up and that will be enough for me.

          • AlbertInTucson

            Sorry, yes, even BBQs. A troll is a troll.

        • http://www.upitpuppet.com/ evantonio

          am i feeding it by asking about BBQs? I like BBQs. Have you been to any good ones this summer?

      • TheBigCheesy

        it’s been mostly jerking off and crying

        • http://www.upitpuppet.com/ evantonio

          i’d cry too if i were paying julius peppers that amount of money at this point in his career.

          • TheBigCheesy

            You having said that leads me to believe that you’re unaware of the fact that the Bears are paying Julius Peppers over $8 million to play for the Green Bay Packers.

          • http://www.upitpuppet.com/ evantonio

            Believe you me, sister. I am well aware that the Bears still owe him money. But that has nothing to do with the Packers paying him, too.

            For what it’s worth, Jason Bay and Bobby Bonilla were the highest paid OF on the Mets last year. And Bay was playing in Seattle and Bonilla has been retired for over a decade.

          • TheBigCheesy

            Laughing at Bobby Bonilla’s contract never gets old.

    • For your consideration….

      Hi Cheese!!! The countdown to football reality is coming for us all isn’t it. Get your fake packers stock certificate out and put it next to your computer because you’ll either be jacking or crying into it in a very short amount of time.

      • MB30SD

        crying.

        • For your consideration….

          cry-jacking?

          • MB30SD

            the stranger cry-jacking?

      • TheBigCheesy

        can’t I do both?

  • CanadaBear

    My 5 favorite Bears of all-time. Listed in order of preferance; Dick Butkus, Walter Payton, Peanut, Gale Sayers and Iron Mike. Ditka gets most of that nod for his playing days. I’ve never thought he was a great coach but he did win the big one. Not to mention, he’s one of the most vocal Bears fans around.

    • Trac

      If Butkus ain’t at the top of a bears fans list then they’re lovers not fighters. That guy epitomizes grit. Are you feelin me MB?

      • MB30SD

        he’s my jam trac.

      • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

        It’s close. Sweetness epitomized the Bears too.

        • http://t.co/MsJnMxjrmd VeuveClicquot,S’ilVousPlait

          The “all time Joe Anderson Award” would probably be Waddle.

  • Big Mike

    The data says SB winners are 80% more likely to have made the playoffs the prior year. However 5 teams have won the SB without being in the playoffs the year before. 1 of these 5 should have an asterisk. NE missed playoffs in 2002 because Brady was out.

    Since 2000, 5 of 14 teams have won the Super Bowl after missing the playoffs the prior year. In parenthesis is the number of years they had missed the playoffs prior to winning the SB.

    Baltimore- 2000 (5)

    New England – 2001 (2)

    New England – 2003 (1)

    New Orleans – 2009 (2)

    New York Giants – 2011 (2)

    Of the 9 SB winners who were in the playoffs the year prior to winning, here is how many years in a row they were in the playoffs prior to winning and how far they got in each of those years. The most recent prior year is the last entry in the row. WC=lost wild card game, DIV, lost divisional game, CC – lost in Conference Championship

    2002 TB – (3) CC, WC, WC

    2004 NE- (1) SBW
    2005 Pitt – (1) CC

    2006 Ind – (4) WC, CC, DIV, DIV
    2007 NYG – (2) WC, WC
    2008 Pit – (1) WC
    2010 GB – (1) WC
    2012 BAL – (4) CC, DIV, DIV, CC
    2013 Sea – (1) DIV

    • For your consideration….

      exactly. On any given sunday my man…especially when you have Marshall,Jeffery,Bennett, Forte and Cutler.

      • Big Mike

        The data actually supports both arguments. 1) it’s possible. 2) You are far more likely to win a SB if you’ve been in the playoffs the year before.

        The biggest historical trend going against the Bears is that nobody since the 2000 Ravens has missed the playoffs three years in a row and won the SB.

        • For your consideration….

          yeah, but we were a picked up fumble, dropped INT by Conte or Conte not sucking and letting Cobb by him, short of the playoffs, all with the worst D line and rookies LB”s so i’m not too concerned.

          • For your consideration….

            holy shit, I just reminded myself of the ball that fucking passed through Conte’s fucking body for a game ending INT. It fucking passed right through his body. The ball passed within millimeters of his hands and body. That had to happen combined with no one on the entire bears team picking up a strip sack of Rodgers to not go to the playoffs.

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