As a believer in the idea that you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been, I found this graphic to be very interesting:
Ryan Pace's 4-year roster overhaul, in one image pic.twitter.com/MGpMn02eMm
— Johnathan Wood (@Johnathan_Wood1) May 2, 2018
Let’s briefly discuss what stands out the most from this two-column graphic.
The only remaining Bears starters from the 2014 team are right guard Kyle Long and cornerback Kyle Fulle. It’s also worth pointing out that Alshon Jeffery and Matt Slauson are the only starters of note who are still in the league and starting for another team. And if you look at the rest of the 2014 column, you’ll see a healthy chunk of players who aren’t in the league any more – with recently retired Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, Jared Allen, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman being the most notable here.
On the other side of the graphic, you’ll note that Sam Acho is the only Bears projected starter who is 30 or older. And for what it’s worth, he could conceivably moved into a reserve role by Aaron Lynch or even Kylie Fitts. Compare that with the 2014 Bears, who had nine starters who were 30 or older.
The column on the left represents the end of an era of Bears football, one that needed a makeover sooner, rather than later. On the right, you’ll see what real change looks like as opposed to a roster patch-up.
- The most significant change is at quarterback, where the Bears hope Mitch Trubisky erases the many disappointing memories of the Jay Cutler era. And the biggest difference between the start of the Trubisky era when compared to the Cutler times is how the Bears have built around Trubisky from the get-go.
- ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson highlights how the Bears focused their offseason on building around the quarterback they believe will be their franchise leader for years to come by moving away from old thinking and stepping into a modern state of mind. But there is so much more that has gone to it beyond player signings and coaches coming-and-going.
- The most notable thing GM Ryan Pace has done in turning over the roster is adding an influx of young players. The average age of the skill position players Trubisky will be handing the ball off to or targeting is 24.2, while the average age of the linemen blocking for him is 26. Trubisky himself is 24, so this unit should grow together moving forward.
- Building around the quarterback isn’t limited to acquiring offensive talent. What Chicago has done to build its defense will go a long way toward helping Trubisky become the player the Bears expect him to be for the franchise. It’s a group featuring 13 expected contributors who will be 28 or younger this season, and nine of those players have at least two years of starting experience under their belt. A good young defense is expected to do its part in holding things down, especially if the offense falls on hard times as it goes about establishing its footing.
- We should also note how the evolution in the quarterback room has changed as Trubisky goes to make the jump from Year 1 to Year 2. Mark Sanchez was brought into be a de facto extra quarterbacks coach who helped provide a smooth transition into the pros and understand what it takes to make it in the NFL. Having moved past that phase, the reserve quarterbacks who were signed this offseason (Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray) are responsible for helping Trubisky understand the offense he’ll be responsible for orchestrating. All these little things are adding up to what will hopefully be a big leap forward for the organization, led by its quarterback.
- And to think, it starts with a coach who is a branch off a successful coaching tree with his arrow pointing up. Sure, Matt Nagy is unproven. Every head coach has to have a first gig at some point, but not every one has the lengthy background under a leader as successful as Andy Reid.
- It’s evident what Nagy’s plan is moving forward and what kind of players are needed to make it a success. Versatility and speed are vital. Passion and obsession are buzzwords, but also keys to getting everyone pulling from the same side of the rope and working toward one goal. There was divergent thought during the Pace-Fox era. There was the old-school, run-first mindset Fox has carried since his time as a head coach for the Carolina Panthers against the train of thought Pace brought with him from New Orleans, which presented more of a pass-happy option on offense. There doesn’t seem to be that split in opinion right now, as Pace appears to be building something that both he and his head coach seem to agree is in the best interests of the franchise moving forward. I suppose this could be helpful in the grand scheme of things.
- To be clear, this isn’t the first time Pace is building a team in the image of its head coach. Pace tried to match things up with what had been John Fox’s M.O. over the course of his career. The Bears were rebuilding, but doing so with short-term solutions who provided a veteran presence and know-how.
- I’m not sure a move from 2017 signifies that more than the Mike Glennon signing. Glennon was the anti-Cutler when he arrived in Chicago, sporting a small turnover rate and a risk calculus that limited his exposure to the kinds of mistakes his much-maligned predecessor made. Of course, Glennon turned into a turnover machine upon arrival, which led to Trubisky’s insertion into the starting lineup. And the rest, as they say, is history.
- If you’re celebrating today, do so respectfully and responsibly:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 5, 2018