Create a team identity and stick to it
The Chicago Bears have ping-ponged between wanting to be an explosive offense team and a hard-nosed defensive team over the past decade.
Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi pointed out on 670 the Score that the Bears are suffering from an identity crisis.
"“They’ve lost their identity in terms of ‘here’s who we are and what we represent as a football team.’ They’ve gotten away from it. You often thought of with (Mike) Ditka, with all the great defenses, as a defensive team that would run the ball and play tough. Well, that’s not who they are now. That’s not who they are. They lead the league in sacks. They’ve given up over a zillion yards in sacks. They had their first 200-yard passing the game last week. They’re trying to be a finesse team that really isn’t a finesse team. I think at the end of the day, that’s the core. I think Ted Phillips and (George) McCaskey have to sit down and say, ‘This is the kind of football team we want, this is who we are.’ And the general manager has to fill in those blanks and go from there.”"
The Ravens have never suffered from a lack of identity. They are a tough, physical team that runs the ball, gets big plays off play-action passes and bootlegs, and plays great defense–this current defense might not be the best example.
Baltimore drafts and signs free agents to this identity. They have been magnificent at knowing when to let players walk away and bring in the next man to fill that spot.
The metrics say pass, pass, pass to score points and gain big yards. The Ravens have found a way through their identity to still get chunk plays and score points. In the past ten seasons, only once did Baltimore finish in the bottom 10 in both yards and points.
The Bears do not need to go back to the days of Walter Payton to the right, Walter Payton to left, Walter Payton up the middle, punt, and hope the defense dominates to win games.
The Bears can make a decision to be a team that will be physical in the trenches on both sides, run the ball, and get chunk plays out of play-action and rolling out the quarterback. It has been working for Baltimore and even the Tennessee Titans are getting success leaning on that identity.
Justin Fields is at his best when the pocket moves. Fields can throw a great deep ball and running the ball opens up play-action which can give Fields the chance to make big throws. Run a few pass-run options plays and screens to add to getting big plays. I feel like I am describing another team that does that, oh that is right, it is the Ravens and how they use Lamar Jackson.
The Ravens are not the perfect franchise. There was the Ray Rice scandal, they have had their fair share of draft busts, and also lost a playoff game to Tim Tebow.
They have built a model that gives them chances at the playoffs and hopes of Super Bowls. The Ravens have had stability in the front office and on the sidelines. The Bears are in constant upheaval.
The Bears can mirror the Ravens in one more way–transition ownership like the Ravens did a decade ago, but that is wishful thinking.