Chicago Bears Finally Have Offensive Expectations

Kent McDillContributor IMay 7, 2009

LAKE FOREST, IL - APRIL 3:  Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, quarterback Jay Cutler and head coach Lovie Smith are all smiles after introducing Cutler as their new quarterback during a press conference on April 3, 2009 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Jim Prisching/Getty Images)

For most NFL teams, the acquisition of a star player through trade or free agency usually invites comparisons to other great players in the team's history at that position.

When the Chicago Bears acquired quarterback Jay Cutler through one of the most significant trades in team history, there was no one in recent memory to use for comparison.

The sad and well-known fact is that the Bears have not had a high-quality star quarterback in his prime since the days of Sid Luckman, and those days go back almost 60 years.

So Bears fans have a brand new toy. It's like giving an iPod to a man who still uses the original Walkman.

The acquisition of Cutler has made Bears fans believe they will finally have a high-class offense to watch on Sunday. The passing game will finally offer a nice counter-punch to the running attack led by RB Matt Forte.

But reality strikes as soon as fans look over the team's receiving corps. After the 2009 draft, the Bears still had one of the weakest receiving groups in the NFL.

Among the veteran receivers on the team, the No. 1 scoring threat is kick return specialist Devin Hester, converted to a full-time receiver from a defensive back last season to mixed results. Of course, he was receiving passes from Kyle Orton, and Cutler may be better suited at getting Hester the ball deep utilizing his speed.

But the general consensus is that Hester would be no better than a No. 3 receiver on most teams; the fly guy, deep threat that teams like to have, but not the possession receiver or over the middle threat that most teams believe they must have to succeed.

The Bears drafted three wide receivers in hopes of stockpiling talent and finding a diamond in the rough. Otherwise, they are stuck with Rashied Davis, Earl Bennett, Brandon Rideau, and a couple of low level free agents to serve as targets for Cutler.

But wait! The Bears' offense is better with Cutler, and there is still that stellar defense to keep them in games while the offense finds itself.

Unfortunately, the defense isn't what it once was just three short years ago when it played in the Super Bowl following the 2006 season.

The numbers speak for themselves: 16th in points allowed, 21st in yards allowed, 30th in passing yards in 2008.

The defense is no longer stout, and it is sliding.

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is on the downside of his career, defensive tackle Tommie Harris can't stay healthy enough to ever practice, defensive end Mark Anderson has completely disappeared, and the superstar safeties Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher have slipped as well, Vasher to the point of losing his starting gig.

No one in the organization is saying anything about this being a rebuilding year for the defense, although that is exactly what is happening, piece by piece. Unfortunately, the new pieces have yet to show they are of the same high quality as the old pieces were, so the defensive lineup remains much the same as it was in 2006.

Expectations are for a better 2009 than the 9-7 record from 2008, but those expectations are built entirely upon the acquisition of one man. Jay Cutler is the first franchise quarterback the Bears have had in three generations, and he arrives with the task of pulling the Bears up by himself.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.