I particularly liked the fact that Shea admitted he had a tough decision when the Bears called. At Kansas City, where he had excellent results, Shea was well respected by the players and by the coaching staff. He could get things done.
With the Bears, it was more of an unknown situation for him. Shea stated that he took the time to go over the stats of every offensive player with Jerry Angelo to see what the potential was before making a decision. That he felt confident enough in the Bears' ability and decided ultimately to take on this job is a hopeful sign for the future of this team.
Shea is accustomed to a dynamic offense with the Chiefs, just as Lovie Smith has been accustomed to a top defense during his stint with the Rams. The combination of these two fine coaches should bring excellent results. They know what they're looking for and they know how to get the best from their personnel.
I see Shea's approach of using a more a complex offense as being particularly beneficial to players such as Marty Booker, Justin Gage, and Bobby Wade. Shea tends to go for the big play, using formations that most defenses wouldn't expect to see. One of John Shoop's many problems last season was that the opposing defense always knew what he was going to do before he actually did anything. I don't see that happening with Shea in charge.
Shea's first hours at Halas Hall have been spent assessing the Bears offensive squad. He wants the chance to familiarize himself with the ability of each player before deciding who will fit in where. That's both fair and reasonable.
Shea knows where he wants to take the Bears offense, and I see no reason t hat he shouldn't be able to do just that. He is aware that the team as it is now may not be able to execute his schemes, but he has the patience to let things work themselves out. What he will do is to rebuild the team with good schemes and good players. That is what every Bears fan wants to see.
I also like the fact that Shea at one time played quarterback. He recognizes the importance of signing a good quarterback coach and also says that he is planning to work closely with Rex Grossman. Again, all good news.
My pick for quarterback coach as I have said repeatedly all season is Steve DeBerg who has worked with Grossman before. Shea has the respect of coaches in this league and should be able to draw on top talent for positions such as this one. If he can get DeBerg, great. If not, he should be able to find someone who can bring out the best in Rex.
The choice of Shea to run the Bears offense reinforces the fact that hiring Smith was an excellent move. Clearly, Smith has done his research since being hired as head coach. He knows exactly who he wants to bring in. His reputation is such that good personnel are coming in to Halas Hall to be interviewed.
But we're lucky that Shea agreed to come here. Bears management almost blew this chance by low balling Shea on his salary. That's not news to any Chicago sports fan. The McCaskey's have always had the attitude that coaches and players should be thrilled to be asked to work in Chicago. They are notoriously tight with salaries.
Do the McCaskey's really think that the grass is greener here? Sure, the Bears are one of the charter NFL franchises, but times have changed. They are not the top team in the league, as they once were. With the exception of the 1985 team, the Bears haven't been good in years.
Pay these guys what they are worth just to get them in the building. Don't insult top talent with miserly salaries. The money is there. Use it. Then, once they have signed, do everything you can to keep them with the Bears. The only way the team can be a threat again is to have top coaches and players. If that's what is finally starting to happen, wonderful.
The other news that I've been hearing is that Ron Rivera could be returning to Chicago in a coaching capacity. Fantastic. Although offense is my specialty, I do know some things about defense.
Ron was a top player for Buddy Ryan in the 46, one of the most formidable defenses in NFL history. He has been an NFL assistant coach for 5 years now. Ron's smart and he works well with players. There's no reason that he shouldn't be a head coach in this league eventually. If the Bears are able to get him here in Chicago right now, it would be a very positive move.
So far, so good, Bears. You've made excellent choices for two coaching positions. Spend the money, do your homework, and keep it up. Give Lovie the chance to fill his coaching staff with the top talent available. What a great feeling that things are finally going right for a change at Halas Hall.
Mike Pyle played center on the Bears from 1961-69 and since retiring has followed the team closely.