I alluded to this in an earlier post, but I want to get this thought down. Sorry about the length...
As a life-long Chicagoan and Bear fan, I have been (naturally) extremely skeptical of the franchise's ability to develop, implement and maintain a philosophy/mode of operation that produces positive results. Yesterday, however, I realized that a lot of my thoughts on current and recent Bear players demands that I alter or at least reconsider that view.
Risking all credibility, I will paraphrase Jerry Krause and say that I believe that organizations, not players, win championships. One critical caveat to this belief is my thought that at some positions a team needs top-shelf players to win. I consider these players/members of the organization "core" guys without which it is impossible to take a team to the summit. That said, I will trade "star power" for team unity and sense of purpose any day of the week. To me, teams like the Pats, Red Wings (that hurts to write), Cardinals and Spurs exemplify this ideal. These teams have certain guys that allow them to compete with the elite talent-wise, but they definitely rely on leadership and common goals to fill the gaps where other positions may not be up to snuff. I think it may be time to think of the Bears as one of these teams (or at least on the path).
Consider that during most of our lifetimes (I am 33) we have not seen a consistent winner until now (mid 80's excepted and that team was, essentially, created by Papa Bear in that the Coach and GM were handpicked by George and the players were a reflection of their superiors). McCaskey, lacking any knowledge of the game or how an organization is to be run in this or any era, basically threw darts at the draft board and made personnel and coaching decisions based on the old boys' network and indefensible rationalizations. Finally, even his mother realized what a putz he was and replaced him. Although I am no Ted Phillips apologist, I think it is possible that this move truly signaled a new era for the beloved.
If we take Urlacher, Mike Brown (possibly to be replaced by Tommie Harris), Lovie and Angelo as our core guys I think we can make an argument that the Bears have laid the foundation to be an elite organization. I have my doubts sometimes, but Lovie wins games. Angelo, for all of his mistakes, has provided the team with a very nice O-Line and D-Line (part of the sound fundamental philosophy previously lacking). He also built the team on the otion that defense and running the ball wins championships (ditto). Urlacher is all-world despite his critics and Mike Brown was a big-time playmaker and leader. With these pieces in place (cue Wanny), you can fill the other holes with serviceable, knowledgable and team-oriented guys. The fact that we have guys like Mark Anderson and D. Manning in the pipeline is not only exciting, but it is a testament to a wise organizational outlook.
This thought occurred to me when I was critiquing guys like Briggs and T. Jones...the only way guys like that get overrated is if they are part of a sound system. I know some of you will jump up and down about calling T. Jones and Briggs overrated, but I am a frim believer that those guys are both products of the system. Put differently, they are replaceable. The key now is for the team to realize that is the case and get value for these guys that will alllow them to contiue to replenish the system. That is what the great teams do and despite my better judgment I will now give the Bears the benefit of the doubt.