The 2009 season for the hopeful Chicago Bears fans was nothing beyond a roller coaster.
During the season were many strong points,and of course the let down of low points that made you want to turn the game off and go shrivel up in a corner. None the less, the Bears showed consistency and inconsistency.
Jay Cutler, the "savior" of Chicago, displayed a disappointing season. But that fit the Bears' season. Ending strong in the last couple weeks with 8 touchdown throws, 1 interception, and a sparkling 115.2 passer rating in the final games, the 2008 Pro Bowl electee didn't maintain those numbers. Ending the season with 27 touchdown tosses, 26 throws to the opposing team, 3,666 yards, and a 76.8 passer rating, you might say Cutler will be a bust.
If you actually watched and paid attention throughout the season, half, if not more, of Cutler's interceptions were not actually his fault. Yes, the young QB is a gunslinger, and there will be picks, especially with our offensive unit. 26 interceptions is unacceptable in any stage of football, but this was completely different. We have a young group of receivers. They make mistakes.
Not including the newfound stud of a receiver; Devin Aromashodu, Hester, Knox, and Bennett made mistakes. From stopping their routes, to running the opposite direction they should have when Cutler is under pressure and rolling out of the pocket, (which was mostly all the time, but I'll get to that in a minute) they made rookie mistakes.
Earl Bennett, Cutler's best wide-out in his senior year at college, did not make much mistakes. And while I was impressed with him this season, every receiver on this team needs advice. There were a couple plays where, if the receiver would block, we might have picked up a few crucial yards.
Matt Forte, coming off his astounding rookie season, joined Cutler in the group of "not living up to expectations." After coming off a 1,200+ yard rushing season, and having more than 30 percent of the teams' touches a year ago, Forte excelled in receiving, but not the running aspect of the football. Only having 929 yards this season, Forte was fantasy owners' worst nightmare. Yet again, he wasn't the culprit. Forte sprained an MCL in the beginning of the season. Regardless of what you think, you cannot make cuts or finish off runs with leg problems. That aside, he was always getting hit behind the line of scrimmage. The only good blocker I saw this season was Chris Williams,our 1st round pick in 2008. After being moved to right tackle, he replaced the bust of Orlando Pace at left tackle soon enough,his natural position.
Williams handled the premier pass rusher in the league, the 6-6, 270 pounder. None other than Jared Allen. As I said before, for some odd reason, we turned it on the last two games of the season. Going back to Forte, in season finale, he had a great game and ran extremely hard. Especially with Williams blocking on the left side, where he broke a long run.
Now,switching sides of the ball. The main focus as of now. The DEFENSE. You may say.. "Chicago Bears..bad defense? How does this go into the same sentence?!" Somehow the Bears have left the "Black and blue" division, to go somewhere else. The defense is aging, and without the quarterback of the defense, Brian Urlacher, things were much more tougher.
Granted, Hunter Hillenmeyer did a great job filling in, registering 90 tackles throughout the season, and making plays. Lance Briggs did his usual, being elected to his 5th Pro Bowl in his 7 seasons of stellarness for Chicago while having 118 tackles. The linebacker position is not a worry for the Bears, at least at the moment.
The real problem lies in the secondary, and the line. Adewale Ogunleye didn't have a bad season, similar to Alex Brown. Tommie Harris had a better year by staying injury free in the second half of the season, but to play the Cover-2 scheme effectively, you have to have pressure. With the passing of the 26 year old Gaines Adams, it makes things that much tougher on the Bears.
Adams was a 1st round pick by the Buccaneers in the draft, and seemed destine to have a breakout year. With the coaching of Rod Marrinelli, who knows what he could have been. Mark Anderson is still young and has potential, so if we don't sign Ogunleye back, Anderson, who finished strong, may take over. We need to be more disciplined and bring back the aggressive Bears defense that everyone is used to seeing. Also, Charles "Peanut" Tillman is still a great corner, but is aging. Nathan Vasher used to be a playmaker on defense, but somehow dropped off and wasn't a full time starter on Chicagos' D this year. With doubts of him coming back, D.J. Moore and Zackary Bowman, who was this years starter, will have to be coached well and stay conditioned.
With the injury-prone Mike Brown gone, the safety has been a position of concern for Chicago. While Kevin Payne is solid against the run, and Al Afalava doing good for a 7th round pick rookie, we still need the playmaker that we had in Mike Brown. Danieal Manning being quoted as "one of the most athletic players" Coach Lovie Smith has seen, I would keep him in that role. Manning is very fast, athletic, has very high ups, and pretty good hands for a safety.
So I've come to the conclusion of offseason needs for our Chicago Bears.
Guards: Roberto Garza is aging, and Frank Omiyale will not get the job done. Josh Beekman is a young guard who can run block.
Right Tackle: The future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace will probably retire, and Kevin Shaffer is mediocre. Put Chris Williams as full time left tackle, and find a younger right tackle.
Wide Receiver: I do like our receivers, but it would help out Cutler if he had a tall, physical receiver to go up and snatch the ball. Aromashodu can be that wide out,so I'd focus more on the line.
Safety: Get a good safety in the draft to line up opposing Danieal Manning to make plays and hit hard.
Cornerback: Acquire a shutdown corner who can keep pressure off Tillman to make the Bears coverage better than the past few years.
Defensive Tackle or End: With Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown aging, sign a younger end in the draft or free agency. Also, get an explosive tackle to line up next to Tommie Harris to create a pass rush line.
If the Bears can make these changes, you may find a completely revamped Chicago Bears team opposed to this year. Lets pray that Lovie and Jerry can make their newfound years in Chicago good ones..that is, if they stay longer than this year.