The final installment of Andrew Dannehy’s optimistic training camp preview.
#2 Vic Fangio.
There has been so much talk about the offense, but it doesn’t matter unless the Bears get their defense figured out. Fangio isn’t a miracle worker. He’s also not Mel Tucker. The difference between the two can’t be overstated.
We’ve seen teams take huge jumps in the standings by adding new defensive coordinators. Just last year, the Vikings went from having the worst scoring defense in the league to the 11th-best because of Mike Zimmer. We’ve seen similar results from the likes of Wade Phillips and Dom Capers and Fangio himself helped the 49ers go from middle of the pack to elite.
The Bears secondary is still a disaster — at least Chris Conte is gone — but their front seven should be pretty good. All the talk about changing schemes is stupid. Fangio is a good coach who will find a way to make it work. He did last year in San Francisco when most of his talented players were on the sideline.
They won’t be elite next year, but don’t be surprised if they jump into the top-20, that really should be enough for them to win more games than they lose.
#1 The Relationship Between the Coach & QB.
The Bears have a good coach and a good quarterback. Teams with both almost always end up being good.
Fox isn’t Belichick and Cutler isn’t Brady, but they’re both good and have proven as much over a long period of time. When Fox has had a capable quarterback, his teams have been pretty good.
When Fox had Jake Delhomme and Peyton Manning, his team’s won over 64 percent of their games. Before Delhomme’s final season with Carolina — in which he went 4-7 as a starter — the Panthers had won 62 percent of his starts. The Bears won won about 61 percent of Cutler’s starts with Lovie Smith, including 67.5 percent in Lovie’s last three years.
That alone would indicate the Bears are going to be AT LEAST 7-9, which has been close to the most optimistic projection for them. Add in the other factors and you could easily see them win two more games and go 9-7 or even 10-6. And, who knows, if everything goes right, we could see a 12-4 team.
Editor’s Note: The Bears are not going 12-4.
Back to reality, if Cutler plays like he has throughout his career and Fox does the kind of job he has done in two previous steps, the Bears are going to be pretty good.
Of course, everything could go wrong — it seemed to last year — and the Bears could be a disaster. But camp is just starting and there are five reasons to think the Bears are going to end up being pretty good.