The subject of Bears leadership would be tiresome if it were not so precipitous. The lack of leaders and leadership, from the huddle on up, was not the reason the Bears of the past two seasons were abysmal. But the absence of them ensured that once the wobbling started, on offense, defense and special teams, no one was possessed of the talent/personality combination to arrest the slide.
Ironically, the tidal wave of new faces and personalities may actually be contributing to the emergence of an internal cohesion, particularly on defense, so dramatically lacking since the exit of Brian Urlacher and injury truncated seasons for Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman in particular.
The stream of new players, coupled with the change to a new scheme, coaching staff and departures of longtime fixtures, means that the vast majority of players aren’t trying to fit in an established locker room and systems as they have been for more than a decade.
Consider it like the first day of high school for freshmen.
“It’s a little different coming from where you’ve been around guys for four years,” said linebacker Pernell McPhee, a transplant from the Baltimore Ravens. “You know everybody’s attitudes, personalities.
“Coming to a new team, you’ve got to feel things out, see who’s the leader, who’s not, figure out which guys you can sit down with and learn the game. But right now we’ve got a great group of guys. We talk to each other.”
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That’s the real key. Minicamps and practices in shorts do not reveal a great deal but the interplay among players on the sideline is striking. McPhee has sought out Jared Allen on matters of pass rush. Notably perhaps, Allen has sought out McPhee on intricacies of the hybrid rusher/linebacker role that McPhee has played but which is new for Allen.
“You know Pernell the other day gave me a tip,” Allen said. “I thought, ‘Oh that makes so much sense,’ and things kind of clicked and then…it kind of slowed down for me.”