Offense, offense, offense. Such was the prediction for the Chicago Bears this offseason. However, to the fans' dismay, it has been a very disappointing offseason to say the least.
The Bears' offense has been holding Chicago back from being a dominant force in the National Football League for a while now. Since 2005 the Bears offense has averaged 23rd in YPG, while their defense has averaged 11th place in YPG.
The biggest issue facing the Bears is their offensive line. Everybody expected the Bears to make some sort of move this offseason to patch up some of the wounds. Jerry Angelo decided to cut two starting linemen: Ruben Brown and Fred Miller from the team, but has failed to find replacements.
All hope for a winning season seemed to disappear when Bernard Berrian left the organization for the Minnesota Vikings and a six year, $42 million contract and $16 million in guaranteed money. However, hope was reinstated when Lance Briggs was re-signed with a six year, $36 million contract and $13 million in guaranteed money.
The Bears clearly have offensive line issues and it's disappointing that they haven't made any improvements yet. The offensive line position that really needs to be fixed is guard. Alan Faneca was the top runner for offensive linemen (particularly guard) and the Bears were not fortunate enough to grab him, but that's not a problem considering how much he went for.
However, what is disappointing is letting someone of Jake Scott's status go. The Bears' problem is that they are not willing to give up a nice contract, but what they do not realize is that they aren't going to get all-star players without doing so.
Another guard that would have been nice to pick up would have been Justin Smiley from San Francisco, however he was sent east to Miami. San Francisco also has another guard, Larry Allen, in free agency, but he has said he wants to stay in the Bay Area. Although money could take Larry Allen anywhere, his age is a concern, and if he is signed he will only be a short term fix.
The tackle position was expected to be the only offensive line issue heading into the draft; however, as of now it seems the guard position may be with it. That is a huge problem for the Chicago Bears. They need a running back on top of their offensive line issues. Cedric Benson hasn't turned out the way anyone expected, averaging 3.4 YPC isn't going to get the job done on a run-first team.
Many believe the Bears may draft Rashard Mendenhall with the 14th overall pick, but the men that will block for him is still a huge question mark. The draft this year has a nice selection of tackles which is headed off by Jake Long out of Michigan. Other tackles that are drawing attention for themselves is Chris Williams, Sam Baker, Ryan Clady, Jeff Otah, and Gosder Cherilus. One of those players will most likely be dressed in a Bears uniform next season.
Bernard Berrian packed his bags for the Minnesota Vikings, which wasn't the best choice for him. He stated that his return to Chicago would depend on who would be quarterbacking the team next year. Well, he left for a team that has very shaky quarterback play from Tarvaris Jackson.
Not that Chicago's QB situation is amazing, but Rex Grossman vs. Tarvaris Jackson...ends with Rex Grossman. The team also let Muhsin Muhammad leave, and their replacement was Marty Booker. Marty Booker has worn a Bears uniform before and performed quite nicely in it; however, his playing days are numbered as he enters his 10th season.
They also brought in Brandon Lloyd and to say the least, he is quite unproven. The Bears will certainly address the receiver position sometime in the draft, the third round seems to be the best time for them, and drafting someone along the lines of Eddie Royal would fit them nicely.
Re-signing Lance Briggs is the only bright part to the Bears wasted offseason. Drastic changes to the offensive line need to begin promptly if they have any hope of an offense in 2008.
Much media attention has been directed towards the two major lightening poles on the Chicago Bears: Rex Grossman and Cedric Benson, but it is no wonder they struggle with what is called an offensive line in front of them. The Bears must make some fancy moves on draft day if they want any hope of making the playoffs next season.
Even though their defense struggled last season, finishing 28th in YPG, they had many injuries that slowed them down. The 2008 Chicago Bears will have a strong defense, but as the season progresses they will have some glitches because they will be unable to get off the field due to their offense's traditional three and outs.