At the start of the offseason, many thought cornerback Charles Tillman would be leaving Chicago and probably end up in Tampa with his old coach, Lovie Smith. Somehow, it did not happen, and Tillman found himself back in Chicago.
In order for a team to get on the right track with a new regime, the players have to buy into the system. Jay Cuter and key members of the offense like Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte bought into Marc Trestman’s offense. Their faith in the offense was rewarded as the offense ranked second in points scored.
The defense was another story.
In nine years under Smith, the defense consistently ranked at or near the top in total defense. Smith was known as a defensive minded coach, and his defensive players loved him.
When Smith got fired even after a 10-6 record,there were some upset Bears in that locker room. A majority of them were on the defense. They were unsure if having a new defensive system would be good for them.
The defense struggled, but that was due mostly to injuries and a lack of depth. The Bears overhauled the defense, giving the coaching staff more flexibility in using personnel.
As one of the veteran leaders on the team, is Tillman buying into the new system?
At his charity bowling, Tillman spoke like a guy who was just resigned to coming back to Chicago, not someone excited about having new teammates and system set up to win a title.
When asked about coming back to the Bears, this is what Tillman said. “If I would have gone to another team it probably would have been Tampa, so… it was just, I dunno, it just didn’t work out the way any of us planned or… so I’m back in Chicago – but that’s not a bad thing either, it’s still a good place. It’s still a good place to be, here.”
Being in Chicago is not a bad thing either? Those words don’t exactly ooze excitement, do they? To actually see how bad his body language was, click here.
Now, I am sure that when Sundays roll around, Tillman will play his hardest. As a leader, however, how can he get the others to buy into the Trestman/Tucker system if he doesn’t feel it himself, or isn’t really interested in it? Also, if he gets hurt again, how hard will he work to get back on the field?
It would be nice to see Tillman play with is natural excitement for being in Chicago, not as a veteran playing out his contract, wishing to be on another team. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a problem.