The Bears need a change this offseason, and not just from Lovie Smith, but from the same stale formula they've been failing with for over 25 years.
Following Sunday's 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers the writing seems to be on the wall for Bears head coach Lovie Smith. Either the Bears win their final two games of the season, get some help from outside sources and make the playoffs, or Lovie Smith's time as Papa Bear will be coming to an end. If the Bears are going to replace Lovie, it's important that they don't fall into the same pattern they have over the years of hiring a defensive-minded coach.
The NFL is forever changing, and the Bears are about to change.
Brian Urlacher may be on his way to Canton, but he's also much closer to arriving there as his career winds down. Players like Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers are all on the wrong side of 30 as well. It's obvious that this team's Super Bowl window is not just closing, but may have already closed. It began closing last season when Jay Cutler and Matt Forte both went down with injuries to lead to the unravelling of the 2011 season and Russell Wilson slammed it shut earlier this month.
So if the Bears are going to get rid of Lovie, it's time to blow it up. Change everything. Take everything we've ever known about the Bears -- the Monsters of the Midway, Bear Weather, getting off the bus running -- and throw it all out the window. Reinvent this franchise and bring it to the 21st century.
And if you want to do that there's only one man the Bears should even consider hiring. No, it's not Sean Payton. This coach isn't even in the NFL, and he can be found in the Pacific Northwest.
That man is Oregon's Chip Kelly.
During his four seasons at Oregon Kelly has helped transform Oregon into a national title contender. His teams have gone 45-7 in his four seasons, and they've lit up scoreboards with stunning regularity. In fact, his Ducks have averaged 44.9 points per game during his tenure, and they do so with an innovative, lightning-quick offense. And the Bears wouldn't have to abandon the run game under Kelly either. It just wouldn't be the "three yards and a cloud of dust" style they're used to.
In Kelly's four seasons at Oregon the Ducks have never finished lower than sixth in the nation in rushing, averaging around 300 yards rushing per game the last three seasons. They do this with an up-tempo offense the likes of which just haven't been seen in the NFL.
And before you dismiss this as some kind of gimmick -- which the NFL always does -- you should realize that a lot of these college offensive "gimmicks" already proliferate the NFL game and are thriving. Teams like the Packers, Saints and Patriots are all running some version of a Spread or Air Raid offense in the NFL. And look at the latest class of quarterbacks who have entered the league and found success. Yes, Andrew Luck is more your typical NFL quarterback, but even he has great speed and can use his legs when needed. Then there's Cam Newton, Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson.
Whether you realize it or not, the college game is beginning to take over the NFL game. This sport is forever evolving. There was a time when the forward pass was a "college gimmick" too.
It's time for the Bears to get ahead of the curve. To be the trendsetter.
And they can do that with Chip Kelly.
Now, Sean Payton is an understandable candidate for the gig, and if Payton ended up coming to Chicago, you would not hear a complaint from me. The problem is it's not likely Payton will come to Chicago. It's more of a pipe dream.
However, there have been plenty of rumors that Kelly is looking to make the jump to the NFL. In fact, he nearly took the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason before getting cold feet and deciding to stay at Oregon. And the whispers that Kelly is considering making the jump to the professional game have only persisted this season as Oregon continued to baffle defenses and compete for a national championship.
The Bears should offer him the chance to do just that.
It's been over a quarter of a century since the Bears last won a Super Bowl, and it's because they've followed the same stale formula for success that entire time. You can't bring back the 85 Bears defense, but you can invent the 2013 Bears offense.
At least, Chip Kelly can.