This offseason for the Chicago Bears has been like a roller coaster at Six Flags Great America: full of crazy scary dips, turns, loops and speeds reserved for stunt men. First, the Bears and the club’s GM, Phil Emery, relieved Lovie Smith of his coaching duties after a “disappointing” 10-6 season in which Chicago didn’t reach the playoffs. Second, after what many may consider an extensive coaching search, the organization ordained Marc Trestman the clubs 17th head coach.
With a new a coach in place and the Bears being aggressive in the free agency market picking up left tackle Jermon Bushrod, right guard Matt Slauson and tight end Martellus Bennett, the club seems to have taken the offensive side of the ball serious for what seems like the first time in the organization’s storied history. On paper, these signings would assure that the Bears starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, is assured a fighting chance to not only lead the ball club back into the playoffs, but much like Joe Flacco, play his way into elite statics as well as a lucrative contract.
Although the Bears appear to be on the right track with the bodies they added to the team, I’d be remiss if some of the team’s key loses were not addressed as well; simple and plain, Brian Urlacher. After 12 seasons with team, Urlacher may very well suit up for another squad in the 2013 season. Many pundits and experts believed that Urlacher lost a step and that his best days were behind him. Those that believe that the Bears are better off without the eight-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro and 2005 Defensive Player of the Year, might be right in terms of his value and production on the field; however, his intangibles and locker room presence might be what the team, and defensive unit as a whole, will miss.
That’s not to say that the loss of Urlacher will result in a miserable season, nor am I saying that Urlacher is (was) the key ingredient to a Bears-Superbowl run; however, I point to Ray Lewis‘ final season with the Baltimore Ravens. Much like Urlacher, Lewis last season was thought to be a few steps slower and he didn’t quite have the intimidation factor that served him well through his 17-year career. Nevertheless, one would be hard pressed to say that Lewis wasn’t the heart of that Ravens team and his inspiration helped will and guide Baltimore to a second Superbowl Championship.
The season is still a few months away and with free agency still in full swing, there’s a possible that the Bears might decide to bring Urlacher back (even in a non-starters capacity) as a way to honor Urlacher’s past brilliance as well as a means to keep locker room cohesion. Never know, Urlacher might be that missing piece for Superbowl supremacy.