Rozner: Coaching could elevate Chicago Bears out of mediocrity

  • Bears head coach John Fox works the sidelines during the Miami Dolphins vs. the Chicago Bears game Thursday in Chicago.

      Bears head coach John Fox works the sidelines during the Miami Dolphins vs. the Chicago Bears game Thursday in Chicago. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/27/2015 10:08 AM

It says much about the 2015 Bears that Jay Cutler is celebrated as having grown leaps and bounds when he doesn't throw the ball to the wrong jersey.

Welcome, officially, to diminished expectations.

 

Coming off a 5-11 season, the Bears look very much like a 5-11 team through two exhibition games.

The offense is bad on third down and in the red zone, which should sound very familiar, and at the moment their only competent receiver is a 5-foot-10, 29-year-old -- Eddie Royal -- whose best season came seven years ago as a rookie in Denver when Cutler was on the other end of the throw.

The running game is on schedule to be proficient, as John Fox has promised, and it will have to be to keep the defense off the field and give Cutler a chance to keep his head above water.

The offensive line is a work in progress with no right tackle and a left tackle struggling again.

The best player on the team remains Kyle Long, a superstar in the making who seems destined for a move to tackle, and in a development year it's fair to wonder why the Bears are even waiting to make a move that feels inevitable.

Defensively, the Bears promised a more aggressive and physical posture and that's already been the case, but from a talent standpoint they're in trouble, which also has a familiar ring to it.

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And even if they get more from the front seven than expected, the backfield came in with questions and so far has offered few answers.

Last year's No. 1 pick, Kyle Fuller, needs to be a star and last season's awful second half hasn't been erased by some ugly exhibition play. Fuller was supposed to be a shutdown corner, but he looked bad against the Colts and teams are starting to target him.

Still, it wouldn't be surprising if the new coaching staff needed time to evaluate the Bears' talent -- or lack thereof -- before making decisions, a process that could easily take four or five games into the regular season.

But what's already apparent about Fox and his staff is they won't be afraid to make changes if they don't like what they see. Some of that will be slowed by a lack of options, but with changes at tackle and safety, Fox has displayed a quick trigger.

That's a very pleasant change from the previous regime, which exhibited little ability to judge talent and no stomach for bold decisions.

That change in philosophy -- in and of itself -- could elevate the Bears by a game or two, and at the outside perhaps even three in 2015.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Bears have a professional coaching staff, which doesn't sound like a big deal on the surface, but peel away the reeking layers from last season and it's a very big deal.

The Bears have a long way to go before they're competitive again, but the process will move faster with a staff capable of evaluating and -- wait for it -- coaching.

Yes, these guys can coach. The Bears have two of the best coordinators in the game -- though they may only be here a year -- and it was easy to see the difference from just one exhibition game to the next.

They adjust quickly and they teach with a passion, completely necessary for advancing the roster in a league in which no team has all it needs and the difference between 6-10 and 10-6 is paper thin.

The record won't be much of a concern this season, or at least it shouldn't be. The Bears trail every team in the division in terms of talent and they have no better than the third-best quarterback, perhaps even fourth.

They have miles to travel before they can think about a serious chance in the postseason again, but where they won't lack is in the coaching department.

That's not everything, but considering how they bottomed out last year, it's much more than just something.

It's a beginning.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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