Key moves have been made by the Chicago Bears since hiring John Fox this off-season.
Jan 19, 2015; Lake Forest, IL, USA; New Chicago Bears head coach John Fox speaks during a press conference at Mugs Halas Auditorium. (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — After two consecutive non-playoff seasons under Marc Trestman, the Chicago Bears are headed in a different direction under former Denver head coach John Fox. Fox led the Broncos to four straight AFC West titles including a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII. He left Denver with the highest winning percentage in franchise history.
To prepare for the Fox era, the Bears have been somewhat active in the offseason. Offensively, the Bears will return quarterback Jay Cutler and RB Matt Forte as well as a host of receivers. Say what you will about Cutler, but he is still a Top 15 QB, and Forte is one of the most versatile and dependable backs in the league. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Martellus Bennett offer Cutler one of the best receiving duos in the NFL, enough so that Chicago will soon forget that they traded Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets.
Where the Bears really need help is defensively where Chicago will make the transition to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. The San Francisco 49ers were one of the NFL’s best defenses over the last four seasons, and that was because of Fangio. When head coach Jim Harbaugh parted ways with the Niners, Fangio needed to find a new gig. He wasn’t long without a job as Fox and the Bears hired the veteran defensive coordinator just four days after he was released from his contract in San Francisco.
The Bears did sign three-time Pro Bowl safety Antrel Rolle this offseason. The former Giants defensive back signed a three-year deal worth $11.25 million and will be counted on to lead the Bears secondary. The upcoming draft, which begins April 30, will be a key to the success of the Fox era. With the move to the 3-4, the Bears are going to need some quality pass rushing outside linebacker-defensive end types. Chicago may have their eye on Kentucky’s Alvin Dupree or Missouri’s Shane Ray.
Both Ray and Dupree are high on the Bears’ radar as is LSU cornerback Jalen Collins and sleeper Jaquiski Tartt, a safety out of Samford. One thing Fangio and the Bears defense will need is quality cover people in the secondary. The 2015 draft will go a long way in determining the success of a new era in Bears history.