"There's always next year."
A phrase Chicago Bears' fans have come accustomed to for the past three years. A phrase, the Chicago Bears fans don't want to hear next year.
It's make or break time for Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith. The Bears missed the playoffs for the third time since 2006, after a magical Super Bowl run.
Following a superb offseason that was full of key acquisitions, the Bears players and staff are flying sky-high right now.
The question is, will Chicago keep flying into the depths of the best or fail miserably?
Well, Bears' tourists, it's either going to be really good—or really bad.
The 2009 season was full of massive question marks hovering over certain, yet key positions.
Through observations of the ups and downs, here's a checklist of what caused problems in 2009:
- Brian Urlacher’s injury
- A poor secondary performance
- Lack of pass rush
- Inconsistent defensive and offensive line play
- No intensity whatsoever
- Matt Forte’s injury
Well, Urlacher is back. No matter what age he is, the defensive star will bring leadership, passion, and above all become a locker room influence once again.
Charles Tillman is coming off an injury last year, Zackary Bowman is underrated and should be a ball-hawk next season, Major Wright resembles a smaller and skinnier Mike Brown, and the addition of hard-hitting vet Chris Harris should help mightily.
Julius Peppers will demand double-teamage, therefore freeing up the once All-Pro Tommie Harris. Mark Anderson has a quicker first step compared to Adewale Ogunleye or Alex Brown, and should be hungry to prove himself similar to his 2006 performance. If Harris can stay healthy, you're looking at one of the nastiest lines in all of football.
The offensive line is by far the biggest area of concern.
Josh Beekman, a young left guard, deserves the starting spot. He has the ability to run weak-side pitches and pulls with authority.
Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza are two veterans that should pave the way for young tackles Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale.
While the offensive line seemed to gel within the final few games of the 2009 season, they still display concern.
Omiyale looked very sharp in preseason last season, yet failed to produce at left guard. Bears' coach Lovie Smith has stated he shows signs of productivity at his natural right tackle position.
With Matt Forte back from knee and leg damage, everyone wonders if he'll return to his rookie form of quick and intense running.
Martz should assist the young receivers greatly, therefore opening up the pass for Cutler and hopefully holes for Forte.
Come to think of it, the Tulane product should have a more active role in the passing aspect, creating mismatches with linebackers and safeties to utilize his strength—getting in open space with the ball.
In response to the proposed question, the Chicago Bears looked like a very polished and underrated team coming into 2010. There is a great chance of a playoff caliber squad next year.