The lockout has vast and broad reaching effects, as well we all know. The idea that this will have more effects on some teams than on others has been breached before, as has the idea that the Bears will be one of the teams on the higher end of the suffering chart. But why? Follow me to the clearing at the end of the jump and we'll take a look at a couple of reasons why with every day that passes in this lockout, the Bears chances of repeating as division champs grow a bit smaller.
Around the boards and around the web, you can find speculation that the Bears will suffer in the second year of Martz's system more and more as the lockout wears on. I completely agree with this sentiment, and for more reasons than are being broached.
First, there is the obvious reason that the Bears are in the second year of learning in one of the most complex offenses in the league. The second year is usually when the biggest strides of improvement are made. In the first year of a system, players are generally learning the basics of the plan and usually under somewhat simplified conditions. That second year is where the intricacies at ironed out. And the majority of this comes in training camp and at workouts. Learning can be had during weekly practices, but at a diminished rate, considering that teams have to implement specific game plans for specific opponents, leaving less time to work on the finer points of the system. This leaves the Bears spinning their wheels in stasis mode from last year.
But maybe more importantly, rookies and free agents signings will have far less time to integrate themselves into the system. This isn't exactly a new concept, either. But there is an angle to this that I think hasn't been touched on that will cause more problems in Chicago than many expect.
The problem is that, even though Chicago won the division and made the NFC Championship game with the roster it had last year, they are perceived by many, including a large portion of their own fan base, as being incapable of repeating without some infusion of new talent to shore up their weaknesses. I understand the thought process, and getting better through the draft and free agency is a must for any team. But this year, that infusion of talent could end up being Chicago's bane if this lockout continues too long. These players aren't going to have time to learn the system or get up to NFL speed. Yet, the desire to plug in these players is going to be difficult not to heed, even if their lack of familiarity or readiness cancels out the raw talent benefits provided by these new talents.
Will Gabe Carimi and Stephen Paea, not to mention any FAs the team bring in, be an upgrade if they don't know what they are doing on the field? And will the coaching staff have the wisdom to refrain from putting them out there immediately if they aren't ready, even in the face of certain backlash and enormous pressure by the media and fans?
Honestly, I think this could end up affecting this team far more than many realize, given the level of need and inadequacy perceived. Let's hear what you think!