Lovie Smith, Reggie Wayne highlight best offseason decisions
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|Lovie Smith has the Chicago Bears playing excellent defense and tied for first place in the NFC North at 4-1. |
There is no offseason in the NFL. The moves that are made in the draft, during the free-agency period and in regard to the coaching tree will shape a team's season.
In this edition of The Schein Nine, I've highlighted nine offseason moves -- including some that were hotly debated and controversial at the time they were made -- that have affected the course of the 2012 campaign in a very positive way.
#1. Chicago Bears say goodbye to Jerry Angelo, keep Lovie Smith
I'm usually against the idea of bringing in a new general manager with the stipulation that the incumbent coach is untouchable. But while Angelo had to go after a bevy of bad offseasons, Smith is a very good coach who has won a lot of games in Chicago. He needed help with personnel and he needed a new offensive coordinator.
Enter Phil Emery as the Bears' new general manager, who brilliantly traded for Miami Dolphins receiverBrandon Marshall and drafted defensive end Shea McClellin and receiver Alshon Jeffery. Enter Mike Tice, who was actually promoted from within to replace the overmatched and pass-happy Mike Martz as the Bears' offensive coordinator.
By keeping Smith, Emery allowed the defense, which had been built around Smith's Tampa 2 scheme, to stay together.
Cornerback Tim Jennings explained on SiriusXM Blitz how everyone has rallied around Smith, how the defensive players love playing for the coach.
And the unit is producing results.
Jennings is putting together an All-Pro-caliber season. LinebackerLance Briggs has returned an interception for a touchdown in consecutive weeks. Guys like defensive tackle Henry Melton and safety Major Wright have stepped up.
Here's what's scary about the Bears, whom I picked to make the playoffs in the preseason: They can only get better, and linebacker Brian Urlacher and running back Matt Forte can only get healthier.
Quarterback Jay Cutler might befuddle with his demeanor, but his play has been solid. The Bears are legit and a true force in the NFC.
The Emery-Smith combination has worked.