The Chicago Bears. The NFL’s charter franchise. Members of the black and blue division. Monsters of the Midway. A team historically known for its smashmouth running game and hard-hitting defense.
Many Bears fans cherish and idealize this throwback, ‘old school’ perception of the team. However, the Bears of recent could more accurately be described as behind the times, outdated, or archaic.
The NFL has been evolving for years with changes to the way the game is played, called, and coached, and the Bears have been stagnant rather than embracing the modern football revolution.
Listen to enough NFL experts and scouts and you’ll hear the same analysis of the Bears offense. A glaring lack of playmakers, basic, and worst of all, predictable.
Ryan Pace appears to be steering the Bears in the right direction.
The 40-year-old general manager altered the course of the franchise by trading up in last year’s NFL draft to select Mitchell Trubisky. In the modern NFL, the quarterback is the most important position in professional sports, and Pace aggressively pursued the young, athletic, strong-armed Trubisky to lead the Bears back to relevance.
In Trubisky, the Bears appear to have what they need in their signal caller; a quarterback that can stretch defenses with a deep ball, can make quick decisions in the passing game, and can make plays with his mobility not only by running with the ball, but with his impressive ability to throw on the run as well.
While Trubisky certainly has the traits to be great, his biggest downfall last year was the lack of playmakers around him. Pace and the Bears have gone all in addressing this need by adding high-level NFL talent such as Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton to compliment their young core of Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Adam Shaheen, and others.
With legitimate playmakers surrounding the franchise quarterback of the future, the Bears have the tools to employ a modernized NFL offense next season.
And potentially a very dangerous one
Of course, the biggest component of having a modern, intuitive offense in the NFL is the system, and the coach calling the plays.
Enter Matt Nagy
In Nagy, the Bears have finally welcomed a young, up and coming offensive mind into Halas Hall. This should be a very welcome change for Bears fans.
Nagy spent almost a decade working under Andy Reid, who happens to have the most successful coaching tree in today’s NFL. The Bears offense will surely feature several components of what most successful units implement, such as increased use of pre-snap motion, deception, RPO’s, etc.
Nagy described himself and his coaching style as aggressive when he was hired, and recently reiterated this sentiment at the league’s annual owner’s meeting last week in Orlando.
“We’re going to always attack you downfield. We’re going to make sure that you understand you can’t just sit there at 10 to 12 yards and just wait for these intermediate throws to be thrown. We’re going to go downfield, and we’re going to test you. Not every ball is going to be complete, and that’s okay. It’s going to stretch the defense. It’s going to open it up for guys like Jordan and Tarik to be able to do some things in the run game. – Matt Nagy
Running back Jordan Howard feels the difference already when comparing last year’s offensive system to what Nagy brings to the table.
“Last year everyone knew what we were going to do,” Howard said. “They knew what was coming every play. It was easy for them to stop us. Now I feel like we are going to be a lot more creative and keep a defense off balance.”
While the Bears may still be behind the chains in some areas, such as having the worst playing surface in the NFL, or playing in the lowest capacity stadium, the product on the field appears to be heading in the right direction.
There is a lot of uncertainty and variability in the expectations for the team’s success this year, but one thing is for certain – The Bears’ offense will look different, and will be a much more exciting team to watch as they finally embrace the changes that have modernized the NFL revolution.