Chicago Bears: 5 Things to Instantly Change the Landscape of the NFC Central
The Chicago Bears are oh so close to being a solid contender in the NFC for the next couple of years. (After Urlacher retires, Tillman loses a step and Briggs leaves, we'll have to see just where they stand.)
The window is shrinking unless the Bears get some new young blood in soon—very soon. The team needs young guys to play with the veterans noted above—to learn how to play Bear football.
There are a few things they can do right now that will instantly transform them from a good NFC team to a Super Bowl contender.
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This is a long shot. This would also be a shot across the bow. It's a twofold move—it would completely change the passing game and negate the uber need for a big time wideout.
It would also hurt the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rogers and their juggernaut offense.
Kellen Davis is not the TE of our future. He's just not that good. Trading Greg Olsen was one of the dumbest moves the Bears have made in recent memory, and they have made quite a few.
If we can't wrangle Finely from Green Bay—he has stated that he likes being in Green Bay according to Packers News, then that there is far less trouble to get into. So, it may be tough to get him to leave.
If this move fails, get Olsen back. He and Cutler are friends and Olsen understands Cutler.
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It's no secret that Briggs isn't happy. His contract has become a distraction. Does he want to be in Chicago? Does he want to play second fiddle to Urlacher his whole career?
I think not.
Briggs value is high. Trade him now and give Nick Roach a solid shot at starting.
Trade Briggs to the Cleveland Browns for Peyton Hillis. Remember Alstott and Dunn? Forte and Hillis would be a new, more athletic version of that duo. This would allow the Bears to release Marion Barber. Kahlil Bell is more than capable of taking the third down snaps and backing up Forte.
Forte has proven he has great hands. With Hillis in the backfield, they would be able to spread Forte out wide with a LB covering him—a mismatch every time.
This move is a great salary match, too.
First-Round Draft Pick
Don't waste the pick. The Bears can't afford a miss this year. But they can afford a Curtis Enis, Michael Haynes, Cedric Benson, Marc Columbo, David Terrell, Cade McNown, Stan Thomas, potentially Chris Williams, kind of draft.
They need a solid starter.
The Bears cannot draft Michael Floyd.
This guy was arrested twice for underage consumption. He was arrested in May of 2011 for drunk driving, according to ESPN, and he was twice above the legal limit.
This was not a guy who went out, had a couple of beers, thought he was fine and got popped. This was a guy on a mission with total disregard for human safety—his own or the people whose lives he may have affected—which sadly, is more often the case with drunk drivers.
Floyd is simply not a safe enough pick. His upside is minimal. He drops passes and disappeared in some of Notre Dame's biggest games—see USC and Florida State for a couple of examples.
Either the Bears trade up or hope someone falls. I would love to see Luke Kuechly fall to the Bears. He would instantly bolster the linebacking corp. Alshon Jeffrey is another one who could fall that would change the Bears in year one.
If not Kuechly or Jeffrey, I think it's a safe bet that Mark Barron falls to the Bears.
He's a solid ball hawk and a great tackler. We need safety help. Green Bay and Detroit have two of the best passing attacks in the NFL. Barron comes from a winning program where maximum effort is expected.
Tweak the Offense
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Jay Cutler needs to play out of the shotgun more often. He's got good feet and he can get out from under center well enough...if he had a better line. With the line being suspect, we have to get him in the shotgun.
The extra second could mean the world.
I sincerely hope, with Mike Martz gone—not a moment too soon, but years late in my opinion—that the Tice and Bates institute some changes. Tice's knowledge of the line and Bates knowledge of Cutler's abilities and limitations should make this a no-brainer.
The extra second Cutler could get in the pocket would mean a substantial reduction in hits and sacks. Less hits and sacks means less chance of Cutler getting hurt. We've all seen what happens when the Bears don't have Cutler under center.
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I love Devin Hester. I am talking man crush, love Devin Hester.
He is an unbelievable weapon. He the greatest kick returner in the history of the NFL—bar none.
With that said, the Bears cannot pay a guy this much money to return kicks. They cannot have him disgruntled on the sidelines because he's not getting enough reps on the offensive side of the ball. He needs to prove that he has the hands and the route running ability to be a solid weapon.
If he can't prove this in the offseason workouts, the Bears trade him to the Houston Texans. Get him out of the Central and out of the NFC so he can only come back to bite in the Super Bowl.
Work out a sign and trade with the Texans for Mario Williams. The Bears will take Daniel Manning back in the trade, too.
Williams is a stud and the Texans cannot afford him. Just imagine what Peppers and Williams could do to opposing offensive lines.
Knox and Manning can handle the kick return duties without a huge drop off. (I actually like Manning on kickoff returns a lot.)
Should We Wait for the Welcome from Mr. Rourke and Tattoo?
The Packers are going to be good. Very good. The Lions are going to be better, perhaps joining the top tier of NFL teams.
If the Bears could somehow make these changes—it's not impossible, just imagine...
Cutler would have Earl Bennett, Alshon Jeffrey, Johnny Knox and Jermichael Finley to throw to and by doing it out of the shotgun with more regularity, he would have more time.
Out of the backfield the Bears would have Hillis and Forte. This would instantly be the best backfield in the NFL.
The defensive line would be bookended by Peppers and Williams. They would terrorize opposing offenses and take some pressure off the cornerbacks and safeties.
If the Bears want to win, they need to go all in. The window is shrinking and the Packers and Lions aren't going anywhere. The Vikings won't be 3-13 next year.
They need to be bold. They need to make a strong move. They need a shot across the bow.