Chicago Bears Training Camp is shaping up to be intriguing in 2013.
Second year Chicago Bears’ general manager Phil Emery is untethered. First year head coach Marc Trestman is untested. Everything seems so shiny and new.
Not only are slates clean, but the entire franchise has an odd "dry-erase-board" ambiance to it due to the overwhelming lack of permanence. Everything is still in the trial-and-error stage. Emery, who has the aura of a general, and Trestman, the mad-scientist, are still trying to find the places where their visions intersect.
For fans, that means something we've never seen before.
Offensively, we'll see something frenetic — an urgency that we've been longing for for years. Defensively, if we're being honest, I don't have the foggiest idea. I guess I expect something of an "if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it" mentality, but also subtle differences philosophically. Less base, more blitzing, perhaps?
What that means for the players, as clean slates often do, is a fresh start.
Short of established superstars like Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman, everybody on this roster has moved their game pieces back to square one. Over the course of the past several months, they've charted new paths toward the 53-man roster, with only a handful of spots essentially guaranteed.
This is the way we knew it was going to be. The departure of Brian Urlacher was a spotlight cast into the dark Chicago sky that things were about to change. Yet, seeing them actually do so still opens eyes.
We warned you a month ago that Gabe Carimi, whose fate was ultimately tied to Jerry Angelo and Mike Tice (both now departed), was venturing out into tenuous territory by electing to skip OTAs. First impressions, as they say, are everything, and Carimi's wasn't becoming of a guy who was willing to start over.
Perhaps he saw the writing on the wall (my writing on the web, even) and did what he could to force his hand.
Evan Rodriguez, on the other hand, was a child in a man's frame — an athlete who piqued our interest, but inevitably couldn't even feign adult behaviors like remorse or reform. And while I'd be the last one to judge someone for making a childish mistake, if you can't recognize how willingly we forgive people who actually make an effort to make amends, then you're a lost cause.
In return for Carimi and Rodriguez, the Bears got a sixth-round pick, a pair of free roster spots and a handful of aspirin.
A year ago, these two were integral pieces of the future of the franchise. One, a potential franchise player at tackle, the other a unique athlete whose versatility could give the offense an opportunity to create intriguing matchups.
Now, we offer them up as cannon fodder.
And if that's not enough to signal change, take a look at the roster. It's closing in on 50% turnover, and it continues to be a fluid situation. It's the middle of June, and in the past four days alone, my inbox has been flooded with PR releases on four terminated contracts and five signings.
What this all establishes is a very clear precedent, and I can't help but coo with excitement for what is shaping up to be the most volcanic Chicago Bears Training Camp that we've seen in years. There's a lot of unknown, but from the clues we've received over the past several months, I expect we'll see some incredibly fiery position battles, some rather high-profile and possibly unexpected personnel moves and, of course, we'll get the chance to unearth some of the philosophical treasures Marc Trestman and Mel Tucker have been hiding from us.
Chicago is starting fresh in 2013, which I'm not sure you can truly say about any football team we've fielded in the past several decades. Sure, we've had new coaches and players before, but it's always been one machination or another of the same thing.
What Marc Trestman and Phil Emery are trying to do seems almost entirely different.
We're still not sure how or why it's different, but starting on July 25, when Chicago Bears Training Camp opens at Olivet Nazarene University, we'll hopefully begin to find out.
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Filed under: Training Camp