Coaching dominoes elsewhere can affect Bears

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Coaching dominoes elsewhere can affect Bears

The Indianapolis Colts firing of coach Jim Caldwell, like the St. Louis Rams dispatching Steve Spagnuolo and Jacksonville replacing Jack Del Rio, sends at least three significant ripples through the Bears 2012 schedule.

New coaches figured very prominently in the Bears 2011 season. Their hope is that 2012 wont see a repeat.

Caldwell was let go in the wake of the Colts recently hiring Ryan Grigson as general manager to replace Bill Polian. The future of quarterback Peyton Manning remains the question it has been since his neck issues began, and a change at the top both on and off the field says change.

Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen wasnt going anywhere as long as Caldwell remained in place. But now he is likely to be job-hunting, and he has worked with Lovie Smith in the past at Tampa Bay.

Jeff Fisher taking over in St. Louis instantly makes the Rams a better team from the one that has had three different head coaches over the past five years, producing a total of 15 victories.

The Jaguars replaced Del Rio with Mike Mularkey, previously offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. Mularkey had an undistinguished run as head coach in Buffalo from 2004-2005.

The Bears fared well enough against some new head coaches in 2011, defeating Carolina (Ron Rivera) and Minnesota twice (Leslie Frazier).

But their season also came apart against newbies losses to the Oakland Raiders and since-fired Hue Jackson, and the Denver Broncos under John Fox, the seasons most devastating single defeat.

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Sometimes the passage of time makes things a little sweeter.
 
Josh Sitton had been selected to three Pro Bowls while a member of the Green Bay Packers. At the end of training camp last year, the Packers abruptly released Sitton.
 
On Monday, Sitton was named to his fourth Pro Bowl, replacing former Green Bay teammate T.J. Lang. At age 30, this Pro Bowl was special.
 
"It's a great honor, always a goal of mine every year," Sitton said via conference call. "It's an honor to me and to the guys I play with, the guys helping me along...
 
"I would say just the age thing, the older you get, the more you appreciate them. You can't play at a high level in this game so the whole age thing makes it even more special."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
 
When the Bears were forced to go into Week 1 of the 2015 season with a shuffled offensive line, the situation wasn't ideal; Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long moving to right tackle as a hurried fill when neither Charles Leno nor Jordan Mills were an answer.
 
The 2016 season also began with an unexpected and significant shuffle, but this time with one that immediately bumped up the quality of the line. GM Ryan Pace moved quickly to sign Sitton after his release by the Green Bay Packers, a step that bumped rookie Cody Whitehair from guard to center, where he earned All-Rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers Association of America.
 
"It was challenging for sure," Sitton said. "It was something I haven't had to do for quite some time but it was stimulating being thrown in and needing to learn the offense in four or five days."
 
Sitton, who signed a three-year contract worth as much as $21 million with $10 million guaranteed, joins rookie running back Jordan Howard as the two Bears scheduled to play in the Pro Bowl. He started 12 of 13 games in 2016, missing time with an ankle injury but being a strong presence in a line that ranked No. 8 in sack percentage while getting Howard to a franchise-record 1,313 rushing yards even with a rookie center and a group that never played a game together before Week 1 in Houston against the Texans.
 
"I think we can only get better, now that we'll have an offseason together," Sitton said. "We'll see what we can do."