Baby Steps

It's easy to get excited about what the Bears have done this off-season, but what is the most important thing in Lovie Smith's first year? Developing the crop of young talent he has at his disposal or sitting them in an attempt to win right away.

For the first time in a long time it actually seems like the Bears have a plan for the future. GM Jerry Angelo went out and hired his coach in Lovie Smith. Since then, the two have worked together to surround Smith with the talent he needs to run his schemes.

Adding speed has been the obvious mantra especially on defense. Every defender the Bears took in the draft was among the fastest at their position. Even the two big guys Tommie Harris and Terry Johnson ran in the 4.7 range.

Harris and Johnson should start from day one. It took Dick Jauron losing three straight games last year to put Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs on the field.

It's going to be hard for the Bears to jump to the top of the league in year one of the Smith era. Remember when John Fox took over the Panthers they were 1-15 the year before. In his first season Carolina went 7-9 and then 11-5 in year two on their way to a Super Bowl run.

In a perfect world Smith's vision comes to fruition this year and the Bears win the NFC North, get into the playoffs and who knows what could happen.

Although with at least 13 new starters from the opening day a year ago lineup, chemistry could slow the process.

Not to mention depending on a quarterback that has started just three games. Rex Grossman has the talent to lead the Bears to a Super Bowl someday. However picking up a complex new offense will take time.

That's something Dick Jauron ran out of and Smith deserves. It would be easy to just say the Bears can be this year's Panthers, but it takes conviction to stay the course. If Harris, Johnson, and Grossman develop faster then expected you're a year ahead of schedule.

There are other questions that need to be answered through the course of the year. Can Michael Haynes and Alex Brown get to the quarterback? Who will protect Grossman's blindside? Is Thomas Jones the answer at running back? Do the Bears have another receiver on the roster beside Marty Booker?

Winning more games would be nice initially, but if it comes at retarding the development of young players then that would be a heavy price to pay. It's not about having a good year it's about winning a Super Bowl. The Bears are on the right track, but don't sacrifice a few more victories over getting the future of this franchise on the field in preparation for a return to the postseason and beyond.

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