Sure, we are still months away from the regular season starting, but hey, rosters are basically set and it may be time to start looking at the Chicago Bears chances for this season.
The Bears have been one of the more active teams over this past offseason, a characteristic not usually seen in the Bears, who have traditionally relied on the Draft to find their gems.
Lets take a look at their offseason.
Jay Cutler: This one is the obvious big addition that absolutely needs to be talked about. The Bears, after decades of futility at the quarterback position, have finally taken a chance on a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Sure, Cutler is known for throwing a lot of interceptions, but if you look at the other quarterbacks that have "lead" the Bears, Cutler is the love-child of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Frank Omiyale: Omiyale is an offensive lineman who played for the Carolina Panthers last season.
Although there isn't much hype around this five-year veteran, he seems like a player in the mold of a John St. Claire, only with more potential. Like Claire, Omiyale can play any of the five offensive line positions.
Orlando Pace: Although Pace has a few miles on him, he is still one of the better tackles in the history of the NFL.
Although he may not be playing at the level he once played, he is still a player who will get better and his guidance to last year's first round pick Chris Williams could be invaluable.
John Tait: Although he was never a Pro Bowler, he was a serviceable lineman which, for the Bears, means that he was one of their better linemen.
The retirement of Tait leaves an opening at the tackle position, which will likely be filled by Pace.
Mike Brown: Although Brown had been almost invisible due to injuries in recent years, when he was on the field, he was a general and brought a whole new swagger to the defense.
Analyzing the Draft
Jarron Gilbert: Gilbert is a defensive lineman out of San Jose State. Although he wasn't going against top competition week in and week out, he took what was given to him and dominated.
Juaquin Iglesias: Iglesias was Sam Bradford's main target at Oklahoma, where he was their top receiver for the past two years.
Although Iglesias doesn't have blazing speed, he will be a good compliment to Devin Hester, and he should be able to snag a few balls from Cutler.
Draft Grade: B+ The Bears decided to look at this draft from a different perspective than they have in recent years. They went away from their defense first strategy of the past few years and instead, drafted for need.
They were very smart in their picks, finding somebody to take the pressure off Tommie Harris and finding somebody with hands to compliment Hester's deep threat.
I think that the Bears did a great job of filling need, and although they still have no clear-cut top receiver, they found role players who will come in and play right away.
What can you expect from the Bears next season?
The Bears went for need all offseason, and they did so without losing any of their key players from the past.
Although Brown's locker room presence is gone, he can be replaced with new veterans and hungry young gun-slingers.
The addition of a Pro Bowl quarterback is a huge milestone for the Bears, and barring a complete loss of ability by Cutler, he will be the best man leading the Bears in decades.
And despite no major changes on defense, I expect better from them this season. With a new quarterback and more potent offense, expect players like Brian Urlacher be more able to keep pushing all 60 minutes.
I think that the Bears have started to fix their problems, but I don't see them as a complete team just yet. Until they find a marquee receiver, they won't be able to make it to the next level.
I am going to put them at 9-7 this season, with an extremely bright future.
I'm Joe W.