The Bears quest to narrow the gap between themselves and the Green Bay Packers in particular, IDd by none other then Chairman George McCaskey immediately after last season, may be getting easier without the Bears doing anything.
The Packers may be doing a significant share of the work.
The best and least expensive way to overtake the Packers is for Green Bay to start slipping, which is what some assessments believe was exposed during the playoffs by the New York Giants.
The growing spat between the team and Jermichael Finley over whether Finley is a tight end or wide receiver (he says the latter) is straining relations with someone viewed as an Aaron Rodgers go-to guy. Franchise tags are never popular and if Finley is tagged at the far-cheaper tight-end figure of about 5.5 million, he will be Unhappy No. 1.
Unhappy No. 2 already is center Scott Wells, a linchpin in Rodgers protection but who is at odds with the team over his value heading into unrestricted free agency. Bob McGinn, one of the top NFL writers and a longtime sage covering the Packers for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, flat states that the best guess is that the Packers will be playing with a new center next season."
Significant? This is a reigning Pro Bowl center at issue here.
Bob went into greater detail in January looking at the decline and fall of the Green Bay defense over last season, and the main target was GM Ted Thompson, the chief architect of what was a Super Bowl winner in 2010 and expected to be at least a finalist in 2011.
A garish contract for an overrated A.J. Hawk, letting underrated defensive end Cullen Jenkins escape to Philadelphia, and a succession of fall-offs in performance conspired to make the Packers very beatable on defense, which they werent in 2010.
Case in point: Kahlil Bell ran for 121 yards and Josh McCown passed for 242 when the Bears went to Lambeau on Christmas Day.
And defensive coordinator Dom Capers lost his 3-4 genius label.
"Some of those who coordinated and coached offenses against Green Bay this season pointed out that Capers fire-zone scheme wasnt exactly hard to figure out, either, Bob wrote.
(Somewhere Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli are smiling.)
The Bears wont wait for the Packers to back all the way up to the division. But its happening.