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Free agency hath come and gone, bringing several new pieces and seeing modern Bears legend Brian Urlacher exit stage left. The draft arrived like a meteoroid crashing into New York City, if the entirety of the media spent three months debating every single inch of the meteoroid's frame. ("This meteoroid is a downhill thumper".) Over the final weekend of April the Bears added six new players to the spring roster and, in what might be considered a rare occurrence, one gets the sense Bears fans expect each of the players selected to do more than just make the 2013 roster. They expect the six players to make an immediate impact.
Maybe they will. Maybe they won't. I'm not sure it matters much whether Cornelius Washington gets on the field or Marquess Wilson gets on the roster. The 2013 Chicago Bears season and beyond will defined by the hiring of Marc Trestman as head coach and his developing relationship with Jay Cutler.
This is the mark of the current NFL. Coaches. Quarterbacks. And while that may seem obvious to most intelligent football fans, it has not been obvious to the folks at Halas Hall in recent years. The Chicago Bears franchise has been defined by a successful lineage historically at two positions: running back and middle linebacker. And no positions have become devalued more in the modern game than running back and middle linebacker. In 2009 then General Manager Jerry Angelo went out and made a bold move for the quarterback. In 2013 now General Manager Phil Emery is attempting to pair him with the coach.
Reports out of the early organized activities were promising. No more deep drops into a frightening pocket. Less time for the quarterback to dodge defenders while hoping a receiver breaks free. Quick drops. Quick looks. Quick throws. While most people were enamored with the minutiae of the OTAs, I was a bit overwhelmed by the larger theme seeming to emerge. The Bears. The Chicago Bears. The Chicago football Bears now have a discernible offensive system. And it's been an awful long time (the T Formation?) since that was true.
(Seriously, though. Can you tell me what the Bears offense WAS under Tice or Martz or Turner or Shea or Shoop or any of the last ten offensive coordinators?)
There are two pivotal questions facing the Bears this coming campaign.
- Will Jay Cutler buy into the Trestman system? All reports to this point have been positive but its easy to "buy into things" in the spring. The relationship between Cutler and Trestman will not be clearly on display until this summer in Bourbonnais.
- Can Jay Cutler execute the Trestman system? It requires discipline. It requires focus. And it requires an all-encompassing knowledge of what the other ten men on the offense are doing/supposed to be doing on every single play. If Cutler executes this offense he'll have the best season of his career. If he struggles, it will look like those little kids on the Boardwalk trying to land the rubber frogs on the plastic lily pads. Haphazard. Messy. Hopeless.
If Cutler and Trestman hit - in the classroom and on the field - the Bears don't just have an opportunity to compete for the title this coming season. They have the opportunity to compete for the next 5-7 years. That's why Marc Trestman, not any of the free agents or rookie draft selections, was the most important acquisition of the 2013 offseason.