With the season at an end, the Bears have come to a serious crossroads where significant questions and gaps need to be filled. The areas where I believe the Bears need to make adjustments include its wide receivers and line offensively, its line and linebackers defensively, and finally its coaching.
Offensively this year, the Bears received a tremendous treat with Kyle Orton stepping up to the plate and delivering; not in Dan Marino or John Elway fashion, but enough times to say "hey, this guy can help us win some tight ballgames." Rex Grossman is finished, though not entirely his fault.
The media played their little games with him and emotionally wrecked the guy to the point where he probably hoped for a season or career-ending injury. So, the Bears need to keep Kyle Orton in the starting role unless they can go out there and get a Donovan McNabb in this off-season. The area where the Bears are really hurting is in its ability to go after and retain quality wide receivers.
When the Bears lost Bernard Berrian I felt that was a big blow to their offensive game. Why, because Bernard Berrian is the prototypical wide receiver a ball club needs in order to compete in big games. I'm sorry, Devin Hester is not a wide receiver. He is a special teams and third down specialist at best, and taking him out of the special teams game the way the Bears did this year hurt them offensively in the end I felt.
Other teams would spend a significant amount of time analyzing special teams play in order to prepare for the Bears, which changed the dynamics of the entire game the past two seasons. The Bears need to go out there and get Plaxico Burress in order to become a passing threat in the league. The Bears line needs to be upgraded too offensively, but let's face it, the Bears never really had that strong of an offensive line.
Defensively, the Bears need to begin the process of fading out the lineman and linebackers who have passed their "prime" and begin going after younger, more agile players that can put the hurt on, yet move to the ball on short passing routes. Where to begin?
Unfortunately, Brian Urlacher is one of the guys on the Bears who is beginning to show signs of aging. I think the Bears may be better off trading him at his point for a younger, yet promising linebacker.
Briggs still has one to two good years left in him, and Hunter Hilenmeyer has been consistent the past three seasons, so I would keep them on board. The defensive line faces similarities with the linebacker position. Alex Brown is past his prime and could be dealt to another team for a solid lineman; offensive or defensive. Ogunleye is still solid, but it seems like he is the only name that even gets mentioned from the line when the Bears get a sack or make a tackle for loss of yards.
Should we remember these players who helped get us to the Super Bowl three seasons ago? Absolutely, but to hold on to them as a memento is wrong, especially when you can still get other quality players for them with the bargaining chip of "Hey, these guys did get us to the Super Bowl three years ago".
Finally, the Bears coaching has not been succinct the last two years. When Ron Rivera left, it seemed like a big part of the Bears success left with him. Lovie Smith is a great guy I have no doubt, but he has become so lax on the field, it would take a dozen Gatorade dumps on his head before he might show some sort of "feeling" out there.
I want to see a coach that gets involved in the game "emotionally" that makes players and fans see that the coach is, like Obama, "fired up and ready to go", which I just haven't seen from Lovie the last couple years. Therefore, I think it may be time for Lovie to go.
If the Bears do decide to make some switches, I think it would be in their best interest to do so in the early off-season, before other teams go after some key players that the Bears could use instead, especially with the bargaining chips the Bears have mentioned earlier in this article. In any case, the 2009 season is sure to be exciting, as it is for any true NFL fan.