Thankfully, last year's gone and evaporated into dust, so unless you've put the entirety of the Bears' 2014 season on DVR (and really, why would you?), you'll never have to watch another down of last year's 5-11 squad. Which is all well and good, but the Bears' new front office and coaching staff have to figure out how to put a winner on the field in a fairly expedient fashion.
That being said, the pieces currently on the field may be more ready to win than many think. But there's a lot that still has to go right next year (and the remainder of the offseason).
1) Offensive Depth
Offensively, the Bears have as strong a trio of playmaking starters as any in the NFL. Brandon Marshall may have been traded to the Jets for a fifth-rounder (along with a seventh), but Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett are still around. Behind them, however, are a series of question marks. Marquess Wilson was supposed to be last year's number three, but a broken clavicle sidelined him for the first half of the year. I'm not sure anyone knows where Ka'Deem Carey is. Dante Rosario has a little more ability than Kellen Davis. And the offensive line put together a rough campaign last year between injuries and line shuffle (although Kyle Long's second Pro Bowl nod bodes well).
That being said, Eddie Royal should go a decent way to stabilizing the wide receiver corps, especially if the Bears add another in the draft. Then unless you're a big believer in Jimmy Clausen or David Fales, there's not a lot of depth behind Jay Cutler.
2) Defensive Transition
Transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 one season after adding Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, and Willie Young won't be easy, and the team may be lacking truly experienced 3-4 defensive linemen, but they have some players with potential, especially after the signing of 3-4 Swiss Army Knife Pernell McPhee. Shea McClellin's best fit may be a 3-4 rush linebacker. Christian Jones may take another step forward. Pass rushers Cornelius Washington and David Bass may be fighting for spots, and Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene may be looking for fits too.
How those pieces fit together in the 3-4 is another matter, and the Bears could have their pick of some high-draft rush linebackers and defensive linemen. Vic Fangio will have to get creative, but that's his specialty. It's a possibility for quick improvement; it's also a possibility this could take a year or two. McPhee doesn't fill in everything, but it's another toy for Fangio to work with.
Antrell Rolle is a big get for a safety unit and defensive backfield that was missing a lot of stabilization. There are some players in the unit with potential, including last year's first round pick Kyle Fuller, but a unit giving Demontre Hurst and Al Louis-Jean a lot of playing time at that young stage of their careers just isn't working out well. They'll come back to camp with a little more experience, but Rolle should help solidify the backside and give the youngsters a little more room to make plays. Behind Rolle, Ryan Mundy is still around for another year, and Brock Vereen has a year under his belt, but can the Bears add another player with potential once Mundy's contract expires?
For someone that was initially very high on the Marc Trestman hiring, it didn't take too long for me to sour on Trestman (as many others did). If Fox, Fangio and Adam Gase can get players to buy in quickly, that could make a difference in and of itself.
It's a pretty bleak picture initially, but there is some cause for optimism, especially in some of the starters. In order for the Bears to contend, they have to nail the draft and cash in on an lot of inherent coaching improvement. But it is possible.
How quickly do you think the Bears can right the ship?