Chicago Bears: An Offseason of Change
The Bears, for the second year in a row, have completely imploded. Blame it on injuries, blame it on coaching, blame it on age and fatigue. None of it matters individually, it matters collectively.
The Bears were a smoke and mirrors team all year. They rode the defense to a great start. But when your offense is inept, not even a great defense can save you all the time.
Two years in a row now we've seen our Bears completely fall apart in the second half of the season. This off season something needs to be done.
We need to take advantage of the years we have left with the stellar guys we have nearing the end of their careers...or at least the more productive years of their careers. We need changes and they must be swift and decisive.
Devin Hester has been a wonderful, exciting part of the Chicago Bears for seven years. (Well, let's say five years.)
In his first few years in the league, he was arguably the most dangerous man in football. He could change a game on any return. Teams would short kick, giving the Bears great field position. Teams would punt out of bounds - not the easiest thing to do - again, giving the Bears better than normal field position. He affected the kicking game like no man in the history of the NFL.
In recent years, the Bears have tried to get him more involved in the offense to utilize his quickness and speed more on the offensive side of the ball.
Why is it that the Green Bay Packers can draft a guy, Randall Cobb, in the second round, like Hester, and turn him into a serious threat on offense?
With all of this said, Hester must be traded in the off season. The return would be debatable. In terms of draft picks, I've heard everything from a second rounder to a more reasonable 4th and 5th.
The offensive line has been a weakness for us for too long now. Having given up our '09 and '10 first round draft picks as well as our third round pick in '09 for Jay Cutler, we need to protect him and give him the time to be the All-Pro quarterback he can be.
Health has been a huge issue for the Bears the past couple of years. When Cutler went down last year, the offense completely fell apart.
This year, Alshon Jeffrey and Earl Bennett have pretty much played on and off again. I'm starting to wonder if they are in fact the same person. We never see them on the field at the same time.
This off season the Bears need to tell Brandon Marshall, Jeffrey, Bennett, Matt Forte, Robbie Gould, Brian Urlacher and Cutler to sit down, put their feet up and do nothing. We need them rested and ready. All of them need to be on the field.
We need all of our weapons if we're going to take the division back from the Packers. (And make no mistake, the Lions will not be as bad next year as their were this year.)
Hire an Offensive Coordinator
I am a Mike Tice fan. I think he did a nice job with the offensive line this year considering the pieces he had to work with. When we look at the Alabama's of the world with jealousy, there's a problem. If we had Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker, we would have had a far better year.
I'd love to see him run the offensive line... and that's it. I would actually be fine with him taking over the Special Teams coaching duties from Dave Toub, too.
Toub has done a nice job, but the last couple of years the Bears haven't been that good that he's irreplaceable. Tice could easily take this on as well and has the creativity to make it interesting.
The Bears need an offensive coordinator with a mind for offense. Someone who is going to look at our weapons and find a way to get them the ball where they can be dangerous.
Could we steal Justin Fuente from Memphis or David Yost who just stepped down from his Offensive Coordinator position with Missouri? I think either one would bring some youthful energy and new play calling abilities.
With much sadness we must admit that the Bears are getting older. While JerMichael Finley's comment was stupid and ridiculous, it's not completely out of this world. The Bears are a far better team with Brian Urlacher on the field. But he's also an old 34 with 12 years of NFL battering under his belt. We can't rely on him to be an every down linebacker for too much longer.
As a group, our linebackers aren't young. Lance Briggs is 32. Next in line are Blake Costanzo, Nick Roach...28 and 27 respectively, more importantly, neither of them strikes fear in the hearts of opponents.
Geno Hayes has yet to prove that he's an every down guy. He certainly could grown into that guy, but he needs to do it now.
Tim Jennings has stepped up quite nicely this year, but whether this is the new Jennings or a flash in the pan remains to be seen...and he'll be 29 in a week.
Charles Tillman is having a career year. He is simply a beast. But, he's 31.
The only place where we have young talent is on the defensive line. With time I think McClellin could be a poor man's Clay Matthews. Stephen Paea has talent, Henry Melton and Corey Wooten have both shown serious ability.
Instead of going after a safety, per usual, the Bears need to draft a young linebacker late as well as a dynamic corner back - someone who has all the skills but not yet the coaching or opposition to showcase their skills - someone like Charles Tillman, drafted out of Louisiana Lafayette, or Chris Carr who went un-drafted. In 2010, five of the starting CB's for the playoff teams were un-drafted players.
Our scouts need to do their job and find more of these guys.
Obviously these slides are in no particular order. They are simply changes we need to make.
Our offensive line is a travesty. Chris Williams - first round pick in 2008 was waived. Gabe Carimi - first round pick in 2010 received a healthy benching this past week against Green Bay.
Our track record of drafting offensive lineman is awful. Where is Keith Van Horne when you need him? Not to mention, Bortz, Hilgenberg, Covert and Thayer?
Cutler has to have time to throw the ball. Not everyone can create separation like Brandon Marshall. Most guys actually need some space to catch the ball.
Forte needs the line to open some holes. He can't rely on getting to the outside every time.
Our 2013 draft should consist of picks of O lineman, a CB and a LB or two who can contribute on special teams right away. No safety, no running backs, and no WRs. Our WR corp is solid. We just need them to be healthy.
Don't fire Lovie. There is a lot of talk about his dismissal. This is simply not the answer. Our O-Line is in disarray and our defense is old.
The guys love Lovie and want to play hard for him. We need this camaraderie. We don't need such an important part of the team being new when so many guys could be gone over the next two years. Next year would become a lost year.
Give the guy one more year to field a healthy team for the whole year. A year with a revamped offensive line.