Now that the NFL Draft is over (it is over, isn’t it?), and the free agent season is almost over, the Chicago Bears still have holes in their depth chart. Their secondary was decimated by injuries last season and the Bears have done little to improve the weak part of their team.
The retirement of OT John Tait has left a few question marks on the O-Line, and the perpetual lack of talent at the WR position is always bothersome to Bears fans. The Bears also have depth issues at QB, RB, and although they have the best LB core in the NFL, there is very little depth after the starters.
Although the QB position is not the Bears biggest problem, Bears GM Jerry Angelo made solving that problem his top priority this offseason. Kyle Orton was not the reason the Bears did not make the playoffs, but Jay Cutler is the reason why this team will be back on top of the division next season.
Cutler will make up for the Bears lack of talent on offense, as he will hit wide-open receivers and be consistent, unlike any QB in Bears history, but there still remains work to be done if the Bears want to contend.
The Bears secondary was dreadful last season and management has not made it their top priority this offseason. Angelo wanted to solve the QB problem, and did, but their secondary remains pathetic.
Charles Tillman is a good player and will maintain his high level of play for another few years, but after him, there are very few positives in the Chicago secondary.
Nathan Vasher has been hampered by injuries the last two seasons (he has played in 12 games in two seasons) and his future remains in jeopardy, as backup Corey Graham came on strong last season. The Bears have three viable options at CB, but Tillman and Vasher have struggled to stay healthy and the lack of depth may come back to haunt the Bears as it did last season.
The Bears safeties are terrible. Danieal Manning is a special teams ace (he has supplanted Hester on kickoff returns), and Kevin Payne refuses to guard anyone. Both are big plays waiting to happen for the opposition, and both are expected to start next season.
Bears management did make some under-the-radar moves this offseason to upgrade their depth in the secondary. By upgrading their depth, they did not upgrade their talent level. They acquired Josh Bullocks, who is awful, and Glenn Earl, who has not played in two seasons. Clearly, the secondary is not a top priority for the Bears this offseason and will likely be a top priority in 2010’s offseason.
The Bears' offensive line has undergone an almost complete overhaul. Gone are starters LT John Tait (retirement) G Terrence Metcalf (still a free agent), and RT John St. Clair (Cleveland Browns via free agency). The team had to make filling the holes on the offensive line a priority, otherwise Cutler would be on his back and in the hospital more than in the end zone.
They added future Hall of Fame LT Orlando Pace and two other versatile linemen, Kevin Shaffer (RT) and Frank Omiyale (T/G). All three players will improve the talent and depth on the Bears offensive line and management definitely upgraded on the offensive line.
The lack of playmakers on the Bears roster will frustrate any QB, especially a brash one like Jay Cutler. The Bears WRs are by far the worst core in the NFL and some college teams have better targets. Their No. 1 WR is Devin Hester, a legitimate big play WR with game breaking ability, but he has been inconsistent.
Hester came on strong by the end of the year and should assert himself as more than a viable option by mid-season. Greg Olsen and Dez Clark should also make plenty of plays, as they both will be top targets of Cutler.
RB Matt Forte led the team in catches last season (ugh!), and after Hester, the Bears are well below average at the WR position. If it was not for the Bears, I do not know if Rashied Davis would be on an NFL team and Earl Bennett (2008 3rd round pick) did not catch one ball last season.
Davis will go into the season as the Bears No. 2 WR and Bennett the No. 3. The Bears drafted Juaquin Iglesias in the third round this year and expect big things from him in the future. He may play a lot this season or he may not—nobody really knows as of now.
The Bears have a mediocre secondary, pathetic WRs, a new offensive line, and very little depth behind their stars (Cutler, LBs, Forte, Tommie Harris). It is amazing that this team should win around 10 games this season, contend for the division crown, and make some noise in the playoffs.
Just wait until they actually get some talent on the field.
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