There was a popular refrain sung on social media about midway through the 2014 season, denigrating General Manager of Christmas Past Phil Emery for building a fantasy team on offense. The connotation of this accusation seemed to be that the Bears offense was a collection of talented individuals who somehow did not work as a unit. The string quartet brought together two brilliant violins, a heartbreaking cellist and virtuoso violist but their performance lacked cohesion.
Now, unless fantasy football has changed drastically since I last played (Marshall Faulk won me a fantasy title in my last year involved), the object of the game is production. Productive players equal fantasy points equal victories equal a nice pile of cash men can hide from their wives to use at strip clubs with oddly vague names like Sensations.
Only Chicago Bears fans, who’ve had maybe six great skill players in the organization’s history, could wage the complaint “We’ve got too many productive players on offense!”
Phil Emery made mistakes as Bears GM, most notably hiring the worst head coach in team history.
But Emery deserves nothing but praise for this assemblage of offensive talent. The Bears, the damn Chicago Bears, have two top receivers, a top tight end and two top guards. (Yes, Matt Slauson is a top guard. His absence was THE major factor in the offensive line’s decline in 2015.) The team also has one of the league’s finest backs and a productive quarterback. 2013’s offensive production was not an aberration or anomaly. It was the proper output from one of the league’s most talented units.
2014 was the aberration. Both receivers struggled with injury. The play caller and quarterback were not only on different pages but reading books in different languages. The offensive line that played sixteen games the year previous never managed to find the field at the same time. Everything that could go wrong, including a backstabbing turncoat coordinator, did.
Enter Adam Gase.
Reports surfaced after Gase’s interviews in Jacksonville and Baltimore that while those organizations were quite impressed with him, they were also well aware Gase is one decent season away from becoming a head coach. This is how coaches like Greg Olson and Marc Trestman hang around. The head coach has no fear either man will leave them at year’s end. For non-offensive minded head coaches, turnover at the offensive coordinator position can be a fatal flaw. (See: Smith, Lovie)
The Bears job was the perfect match. Why?
For one, John Fox does not have to worry about continuity. There is a chance barring a LANDMARK turnaround, Cutler, Marshall and Forte will not be on this Bears roster beyond the coming season. If Gase leaves the Bears at the end of the 2015 calendar year, Fox can either promote rising star Dowell Loggains from within or find a new voice to pair with what will be a young offensive nucleus. Remember, the Bears will not be running a Gase or Loggains or anybody else offense. They will be running a John Fox offense.
Second, Chicago presents for Gase the best opportunity to fulfill his higher aspirations. In Chicago he takes over a talented yet wildly underachieving unit. The Bears failed to crack the top 20 in just about any offensive category of import. Gase knows if he can climb the rankings, as he should with this collection of players, and perhaps cut down the quarterback’s mistakes, every team with an opening will be knocking on his door come 2016.
There was another popular refrain sung by Bears fans, this one prior to the start of the dismal 2015 campaign. “If the Bears can be a middle of the road defense, their offense should be able to carry them into the playoffs.” With Fox and Vic Fangio in place, expecting the Bears to be significantly better on the defensive side is not a pipe dream. The question that will define the competitive level of the 2015 season? Is Adam Gase the offensive mind the league has made him out to be? If he is, dare we think it, the Bears should be a pretty good team.