For the second part of my series on the Bears road to the Lombardi we visit the offensive side of the ball. The Bears showed flashes of greatness and flashes of the pathetic group that relied on defensive and special team points to win games. A brief look back:
Jay Cutler was brought into Chicago to be the franchise QB but his first season had more downs than ups. Cutler forced the situation numerous times and his abilities and the scheme didn't seem to match. Hence, in comes Mike Martz. Martz has a gunslinger mentality and the hopes were that it would match-up to Cutler's gunslinger abilities.
After Cutler was nearly carried home from New York in a body bag some changes had to be made, and some were. The offensive line stabilized somewhat, Martz found the pages of the playbook that had running plays and the team started to roll. However, the truth came out in the last two games against the Packers. There really wasn't enough substance to be great.
Here is how Jerry Angelo should approach it.
Starting at QB. Make sure Cutler and Martz work together all off-season to implement the entire playbook. The Bears could only get one phase or another to work in games in 2010. They must be able to run the ball, hit the short passes and stretch the defense. Look at the Packers. As much as it pains me to say it, they have the ability to call what they need when they want.
The Bears must be able to move the ball as they need. Caleb Hanie has proved to be a worthy backup. I must apologize to him for releasing him on Madden. You have proved me wrong Caleb, i will be giving you the Madden love from now on. Todd Collins, I hope you have a good career in broadcasting or whatever you do with your daily life after now. Bring in a young guy to start learning the ropes.
At the running back position, Matt Forte is the real deal. I don't have much more than that. Chester Taylor didn't live up to what I saw him bringing to the table. He showed signs at the end of the season, hopefully next year will be better.
The man I want to focus on is Harvey Unga. Unga has the ability to add a power run game that the Bears lacked in 2010. How many third or fourth and short plays did the Bears get stuffed on? The Bears lacked the ability to move the pile forward. The o-line didn't help matters much, but sometimes the back needs to push ahead.
Greg Olsen finally had a breakout game. I think Kellen Davis can be a bigger threat in the passing game and with Manumaleuna and Clark fair to good in the blocking department the TE position is where it can be. Not many complaints there.
I think the progress of the receivers was a nice surprise. Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashodu need to improve as much as they did this past off season and Devin Hester needs to be able supply a big play here and there. The biggest need is for the front office to find another Tom Waddle.
To be Tom Waddle you must be willing and able to have the following job description: Come in on third and seven, run as crossing pattern, make the catch while getting the snot knocked out of you, stagger to the bench, hit some smelling sauce and be ready for the next one. I see a lack of a true blue collar man who can get the job done like Waddle did, maybe they don't make them like that anymore.
Lastly, the offensive line. We must find some help here. In order for the playbook to be opened up, the line must be able to block accordingly. They could not protect for a seven-step drop. They could not block to pickup short yardage on the run, or for anything up the middle for that matter. Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza are getting long in the tooth. Roberto had a very solid year, but I don't know if he can do it again.
Olin is starting the downhill slide. Chris Williams is still learning the guard position, and I'm not sold on that being a fit for him. Big Frank Omiyale was very serviceable at tackle, but may be better suited on the right side. The biggest surprise had to be J'Marcus Webb. I thought he did a great job for being a late round pick. With a full offseason of first team reps, he can be a solid member for years to come.
The problems are obvious, but the solutions are not so easy. With the CBA still hanging over our heads, who knows what free agency will give us, and how well has that route worked for us in the past? Hopefully we can draft a couple of solid young men in the draft that will work their way into the line-up as Webb did. I think an option may be to look to the CFL or Arena League to try to fill some voids.
An offensive lineman, Ma'Sun Palauni played for the Rush last season and he may be one to take a look at, and I'm sure there are more. If we can't get a starter via free agency we need to look at all options, the O-line MUST improve.