The Chicago Bears had many questions concerning the roster and their upcoming 2009 season. The biggest questions are what to expect from Kyle Orton and the quarterback position. Answer: Not much!
Giving Up first round draft picks seemed to be a risky move in the NFL news media, however with rocky history with first-round picks like David Terrell, Cedric Benson, Rex Grossman, and Michael Haynes, to name a few, Bears fans all agree it was a god send and the heavens above heard thousands of fans say "thank god, thank you lord." Jay Cutler was a first round pick (11th) overall in 2006 draft by the Denver Broncos.
In 2008 he enjoyed career highs in passing yards (4,526) and 25 Touchdowns and also celebrated a trip to the pro-bowl. Still, there were more problems than just quarterback on this team for the 2009 season.
Now that the QB position will throw mind blowing numbers, and with a upgraded offensive line, Matt Forte can have an outstanding rushing season. The question is who's going to be able to catch the ball?
Receivers Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and Rashied Davis look to be the core of the receiving squad. Not very productive last year would be a huge understatement for this group; however it’s hard to pin that solely on the receivers with Kyle Orton under center. Tight ends Greg Olson and Desmond Clark will return for the 2009 season and both showed improvement at their respected positions. The Bears also signed veteran tight end Michael Gaines to better the tight end play.
Angelo did as much as he could have with the late picks in the 2009 draft. Wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias is going to have to step onto the field as a rookie, and he was a great value pick where the Bears got him.
The 6', 210 pounder, caught 202 passes for 2,821 yards and 19 touchdowns for Oklahoma, including 10 TD’s as a senior. Hehas the potential to compete for a starting position and could develop to the number 3 receiver quickly.
The bears also added speed with Abilene Christian wide receiver, Johnny Knox. Knox ran the third-fastest time in the fastest 40-yard dash at the scouting combine at 4.34 seconds. The Bears must get better at the wide out positions, and will need a leader to step up and be the primary number one receiver.
The Chicago Bears last season ranked fifth in the league, on third down conversions. That key statistic is very important factor coming in to the 2009 season. It shows the offense is productive in high pressure situations, and they can get the job done when needed.
Also, its important to highlight the Bears showed strength last year in three key statistical categories—yards per rush, turnovers and yards per pass. The Bears running game with Matt Forte will be very productive, and if a receiver with open field skills like, Devin Hester finds his role early in the season, this offense can be very explosive.
The Chicago defense may not have given up the big runs or the big passes last season; however they couldn't get off the field at critical times. The Bears focused defensively on draft day, the goal was to infuse the defense with some young talent, General manager Jerry Angelo did that with draft picks, San Jose State defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert in round three.
The Bears will use Gilbert at defensive tackle behind starter Tommie Harris, who has battled an assortment of injuries the past three seasons. Gilbert made 24 college starts at defensive end and 12 at defensive tackle. The Bears also drafted good players late with, Texas defensive end Henry Melton and Vanderbilt corner-back D.J. Moore in Round 4, Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman in round five and Oregon State safety Al Afalava in round six.
The Bears blitzed more than any team in the league. Most of them run blitzes to help out a defensive front that couldn't stop the run on its own. The Bears succeeded against the run because they stacked an eighth defender in the box, however they struggled stopping the pass because of it.
The defensive front failed to apply adequate pressure to the QB’s. The addition of Gilbert, who made 21 1/2 sacks for San Jose State, including 9 1/2 his senior year, should help correct that problem. Fortunately they didn't give up the deep ball often because that is what the Tampa-2 stops, however hey did get picked apart by short passing attacks.
The Bears do have outstanding special teams play. Kicker Robbie Gould was outstanding last year missing only three field goals. Key players like Israel Idonije, leading the 3 & 4 man wedges, (that is now banned) and Danieal Manning who had the NFC’s highest kickoff return average of 29.7 yards, gives Chicago a huge advantage for the 2009 season.
This season should feature an exciting division race, with the top three teams in the mix. There is a lot to like about each of their division rivals' drafts. The Packers got two potential starters for their new, 3-4 defense and addressed some of their needs on the offensive line.
The Vikings got one of the true playmakers in this draft, a Caterpillar bulldozer at right tackle, and some solid depth to their defense. The Lions added talent from the top of their draft to the very bottom; though, let's face it, they still have a long way to go.
The Bears have a light schedule statistically, however the season kicks off at Green Bay on primetime television and play week two at home against the defending champion Steelers.
The toughest stretch is from week 10 to week 16, they play at San Fransisco on primetime versus former Bear great Mike Singletary, versus the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, at Minnesota, versus Green Bay, at Baltimore and week 16 at home on Monday Night Football against Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. The Bears play six games against the Lions, Packers and Vikings and will take care of business in the NFC North quickly.
The Bears made a statement with the addition of Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler, and a decent draft considering they had no first round pick. Orlando Pace should add improved front protection for the O-line. The defense is younger and quicker and improved on the pass rush. I believe the Bears will get off to a fast start this season, due to the light schedule, and because of the talent level of the players on this team.
I see the Chicago Bears winning NFC North division, and have a viable shot of taking the NFC division title. The Chicago Bears are a top five team in the league for the 2009 season, and will be a strong contender for the Lombardi Trophy.