How much can change?

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How much can change?

One of the strongest points GM Phil Emery made this week was that the new head coach would need to be someone capable of working with talent in place, at least for a year. The assumption was that he was referring to the defense, not going to a 3-4 built around wide-bodies when the roster is built for speed and a 4-3.

(Four of the top five scoring defenses and four of the top six yardage units are 4-3s so why change that anyway?)

More intriguing, however, given that the biggest single reason for the coaching change was the offense, is what might be done on that side of the ball.

Jay Cutler chafed under Ron Turners iteration of the West Coast system. He eventually soured on Mike Martzs more vertical system. And Mike Tices approach allowed Cutler to play catch with Brandon Marshall but nothing else really worked.

Next?

As long as we score points and have balance, Emery told CSNChicago.com. Looking at all of the rankings, Green Bay wins because of the guy they have on the trigger Aaron Rodgers, and theyre 66-percent pass. That works for them.

What I want is a candidate who convinces me on whats going to work for us.

Could the Bears adapt their offensive personnel, for instance, to the scheme of someone like Houstons Rick Dennison, who used zone blocking under Alex Gibbs in Denver (with Cutler as his quarterback) and Houston?

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Using Houston as the template, the Bears may be too big (i.e., not quick enough) to fit a zone-blocking mold. The Texans biggest lineman is Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown at 320; JMarcus Webb is 333. Houston center Chris Myers is 290; Roberto Garza is 310. Right guard Lance Louis is 320 (although very mobile); Houstons guards are 307and 303.

If Emery and the new coach want to make changes, are the free agents there? ESPN draft maven Mel Kiper posits that there are five tackles worth first-round picks in the draft. One should be there at No. 20, but a fit for a new scheme?
Ego-lite

One thing conspicuous in its absence during Phil Emerys Q&A session on Tuesday was ego. Emery has strong ideas and perspectives, which doesnt remotely guarantee that hiring someone with no head coaching experience will be the right move.

But Plato once remarked, the surest way to lose truth is to believe that one already wholly possess it (and no, he didnt say it to me; I read it). I was less impressed with Emerys supposed candor than how little puffy-chesting he did. If you think you have all the answers, thats the surest sign that you dont, and Emery tend toward the self-effacing rather than self-important.

What that suggests is that he has a clear notion of what works and what doesnt, things like who makes roster calls. And if a candidate can convince Emery of an approach head coach as his own offensive coordinator, for instance Emery may not agree but hell listen.

Did he really say that?

Keep a casual on how relations go between the defense and certain members of the Bears offense. Not because of the way 2012 played out; members of the defense blame themselves for letting Seattle go on those last two drives, for instance.

But Phil Emery was very explicit about the two main reasons for firing Lovie Smith: One was failing to make the playoffs and the second, related directly to that, was the failure to resolve problems on offense.

So the defense loses two men held in the highest regard both professionally and personally Smith and Rod Marinelli because the guys on the other side of the ball couldnt get it done.

Yet there was Jay Cutler on Monday being sorry Smith was out but also suggesting that, Change isnt always a bad thing. Sometimes, it can be good.

He probably shouldnt try selling that at the other end of the locker room anytime soon. And if change can be a good thing, with Cutler having gone through four coordinators in five years and a gaggle of quarterback coaches (three in Chicago alone, including a second spin with Jeremy Bates), then

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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."