The Chicago Bears surprised many people with the success they had in the 2010 season. With a top-five defense and an offense that was feast or famine, the Bears made it all the way to the NFC Championship game for the first time since their Super Bowl run in 2006.
Many things went the Bears way last season, starting with their fellow NFC North division members. The Packers suffered a lot of injuries, including a stretch with Aaron Rogers out of the lineup. The Minnesota Vikings had a letdown year, and the Bears got a little help from the NFL rulebook in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions.
The NFC North will be among the most competitive divisions next season. The Bears cannot afford to stand pat. In the draft, the Bears weren't flashy, but did address some needs.
By drafting OT Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin, they gave some much needed help to the offensive line. With the selection of DT Stephen Paea (he of the mighty 49 bench presses fame), the Bears got a capable replacement for departed DT Tommie Harris.
The next stage in this offseason is free agency. No one knows for sure when it will begin, but when it does the Bears need to be active. The Bears could use help at receiver, defensive line, offensive line, linebacker and in the secondary.
The following are the six offseason moves the Bears should do to win the Super Bowl next season. Feel free to comment if you agree or don't agree. All Bears fans want to watch the Bears finish what they started last season!
The Bears have a need for a tall, quality receiver. If that receiver happens to be a legitimate number one receiver as well, who am I to argue?
The Bears were able to get production out of their receiving corps, but no one seemed to step up into that number one role. Johnny Knox almost had a 1,000 yard season and Devin Hester showed improved hands. However, the Bears are still in need of a more consistent playmaker.
Plaxico Burress is that playmaker and he could be had at a discounted rate. He would compliment the other receivers on the Bears roster very well and give Jay Cutler the tall, athletic receiver he hasn't had since his time in Denver with Brandon Marshall.
Burress would be another target in the red zone for Cutler and would make the offense more dynamic, not to mention Burress is an outstanding run blocker for his position. I could see Burress as a 1,000 yard pass catcher and double-digit TD maker with Chicago.
The Bears do have a tall receiver on the roster in Andy Fantuz, but he is an unknown quantity in the NFL. Signed from the CFL in February, he could learn from having a receiver on the roster like Burress.
The Bears should also make a move to re-sign WR Rashied Davis. He has performed when called upon as a receiver, but more importantly, he is an absolute stud on special teams. The Bears cannot afford to lose a player who contributes in two phases of the game.
Re-signing Olin Kreutz to anchor the Bears at center is of paramount importance. Kreutz is one of the mainstays in the Bears locker room, and the unquestioned leader of the offensive line. He has the longest tenure with the team.
Kreutz brings toughness and understanding of the game to that offensive line. He is in charge of all the line calls. He is essentially the quarterback up front. Losing Kreutz would be a serious blow to the Chicago Bears. They should not let that happen.
Even with the re-signing of Kreutz and the drafting of Carimi the Bears should go out and get more help. This time it should be at offensive guard. The help would come in the form of former Oakland Raider, Robert Gallery.
At 6'7", 325 lbs, he has the size that Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice covets. He is an excellent run blocker, and moves pretty well for a man of that size. Couple him with the addition of Carimi and an offensive line that proved to be a weakness last year could turn into a strength this year.
This would allow HB Matt Forte to possibly improve on his impressive yards from scrimmage totals of last year becoming an even bigger headache for opposing coaches. This would take some pressure off of Cutler and keep him off his back.
With Gallery on the roster, that would give the Bears flexibility with Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale. Either one could start at the other guard spot or become the third tackle, also called the swing tackle.
Julius Peppers headlined the Bears resurgent defensive line last season. Peppers was able to generate pressure on the opposing quarterback while freeing up teammates like Isreal Idonije to do the same. This was one of the most successful units last year.
The Bears parted ways with Tommie Harris and drafted Stephen Paea in the second round of the draft. In addition to Peppers, Idonijie, and Paea, the Bears have Matt Toeaina, Henry Melton and promising second year DE, Corey Wootton. They still need to beef up this unit. The defensive scheme the Bears run relies heavily on quarterback pressure generated from the front four.
First, the Bears should re-sign DT Anthony Adams. He can play the three technique and the nose tackle position. He is far better suited to the nose tackle position and I see him starting there alongside rookie Stephen Paea.
Anthony Adams has been in the league for eight years and knows the Bears system. He has been productive with them and should continue that trend. He'd be an excellent mentor to Paea.
The Bears should target DE Ray Edwards from the Minnesota Vikings. Edwards had eight sacks last year and would be an outstanding addition to the Bears defensive line.
With Peppers, Idonije, Wootton and Edwards in the rotation at defensive end the Bears would have the best depth at the position in the entire league. Defensive line play keys the success for this defense and would go a long way in getting that elusive Lombardi trophy.
At linebacker, the Bears have two of the best in Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Those two don't leave much room for the third linebacker to rack up statistics, but it is still important to have a competent starter there and depth at the position.
The Bears should re-sign both linebackers Pisa Tinoisamoa and Nick Roach. They are both familiar with the system and could both start at that third linebacker position. Whoever doesn't start will provide depth. Both linebackers are outstanding in coverage and solid tacklers. The Bears shouldn't take any chances on the open market at the linebacker position.
Another move the Bears should make for special teams and depth purposes is to pick up LB Jamar Williams. He was with the Bears until they traded him to the Panthers to reacquire safety Chris Harris.
Well, the Bears should reacquire Williams. He is familiar with the system and the Bears should welcome him back, essentially making it look like the Panthers just traded Harris to the Bears for free last year.
There are some concerns with the Bears secondary. Charles Tillman had a solid season and Tim Jennings surprised with his play at times, but the Bears still have concerns.
Zach Bowman didn't play up to par and lost his job to Jennings. D.J. Moore showed progress this year with his best game against the Cowboys. He recorded two turnovers in that game. With the Bears moving Tillman to the number two cornerback spot I think the Bears are in the market for a number one cornerback.
The Bears should target CB Carlos Rogers from the Washington Redskins. He would be the perfect player for this system. He covers well and is an outstanding tackler. His signing would allow the other cornerbacks on the roster to compete for the nickle and special teams position.
This would really solidify the Bears secondary. A cornerback tandem of Carlos Rogers and Charles Tillman would not be taken lightly.
Safety is also a concern for the Bears. They selected Chris Conte in the third round. He won't be a day one starter. That leads us to our next move.
The Bears should re-sign Daniel Manning. It would keep continuity at the safety positions with Chris Harris at the other safety spot. Manning is very athletic and knows the system. The Bears would do well to re-sign this important piece of the defense.
With these moves, the Bears would have a powerhouse of a team. They would definitely be better able to compete for the Lombardi trophy next year!