The answers have come one by one. The replacement for Lovie Smith, his coordinators and staff. Whether the Bears were even pursuing anyone in free agency, before finding out exactly how aggressive Phil Emery was by addressing two needs. Would they have enough money left for two starting linebackers, a nickel cornerback and a backup quarterback? Not to mention more offensive linemen. Do they even really want Brian Urlacher?
A handful of those roster questions have begun to be answered with the departures of Urlacher and Nick Roach. Both were in the middle of a top-10 defense--one the leader, if older and not as physically effective after injuries and 13 seasons of wear and tear; The other one steady, serviceable, smart, and perhaps overlooked to a degree.
With word that the Bears have reached terms with D.J. Williams to fill one of those vacancies presents more questions. Cheaper and younger (30)? Yes. But Williams' best season was six years ago, and he's gone down a slippery slope since. There have been driving-while-impaired issues. Urine sample swapping issues. Is Williams the better choice than the stability of Urlacher and/or Roach, even if it required some financial juggling? Williams no doubt has something to prove after Denver decided he wasn't worth $6 million. Can he prove it positively? And how will he fit into a group that swore by Urlacher, and to a lesser extent, Roach?
It's another move that provides the general manager more options about a month away from the draft, and there are certain to be more moves between now and then. Emery and Marc Trestman are definitely the new men in charge, but how does that sit with a very veteran group on the defensive side that was extremely loyal to Urlacher? It would seem there would be veteran candidates who could step into a leadership role, but do Lance Briggs or Charles Tillman or Julius Peppers want that?
Non-field offseason workouts begin a week from Monday at Halas Hall, followed by a minicamp. Trestman wrote a book a few years back about the importance of building relationships, and April's going to become a pretty important month for these Bears. Yes, there's proof he was able to make believers out of his players in Montreal, where hungry players in the CFL were paid a fraction of what their NFL counterparts make at their jobs, and where egos are a little different. From establishing a good coach/student relationship to get the best out of Jay Cutler, to keeping everyone in harmony after the "this is a business" departure of the face of the franchise that probably felt like a December wind whipping through Soldier Field, relationships matter.
Some observers might call it a breath of fresh air. They're definitely winds of change, and it's going to be a fascinating process observing whether it pushes the Bears up or down.