The Indianapolis Colts firing of coach Jim Caldwell, like the St. Louis Rams dispatching Steve Spagnuolo and Jacksonville replacing Jack Del Rio, sends at least three significant ripples through the Bears 2012 schedule.
New coaches figured very prominently in the Bears 2011 season. Their hope is that 2012 wont see a repeat.
Caldwell was let go in the wake of the Colts recently hiring Ryan Grigson as general manager to replace Bill Polian. The future of quarterback Peyton Manning remains the question it has been since his neck issues began, and a change at the top both on and off the field says change.
Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen wasnt going anywhere as long as Caldwell remained in place. But now he is likely to be job-hunting, and he has worked with Lovie Smith in the past at Tampa Bay.
Jeff Fisher taking over in St. Louis instantly makes the Rams a better team from the one that has had three different head coaches over the past five years, producing a total of 15 victories.
The Jaguars replaced Del Rio with Mike Mularkey, previously offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. Mularkey had an undistinguished run as head coach in Buffalo from 2004-2005.
The Bears fared well enough against some new head coaches in 2011, defeating Carolina (Ron Rivera) and Minnesota twice (Leslie Frazier).
But their season also came apart against newbies losses to the Oakland Raiders and since-fired Hue Jackson, and the Denver Broncos under John Fox, the seasons most devastating single defeat.
Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21.
Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.
All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.
The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players.
The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.
The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.
Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons.
Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.
Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.
CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.
The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.
It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.
We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.