Bears’ Albatross: The Talent Gap

If I didn’t outright say it, in my posts prior to the Lions game, I was alluding to my belief that if the 2011 season goes downhill, I believe the Bears are in full rebuilding mode.  Without a vast overhaul of the roster, not only is there no more hope for 2011, but also no more hope until the team is rebuilt, plain and simple.

After the game, in his 670 the Score Blog, Dan Bernstein went right ahead and said that this is the beginning of the end.  Also on Monday veteran NFL writer Mike Mulligan recommended the Bears trade Jay Cutler, because it looks like the team will not be in position to utilize him the correct way until his career is over.

I wrote after the game on Monday that I have no faith that Jerry Angelo is going to draft the Bears back to dominance.  It has been rumored over the past 18 months was that the reason Angelo brought in former Seahawks executive Tim Ruskell is to set Ruskell up to replace Angelo in a few years.  This should not make us feel good Bears fans, as today noted how Ruskell decimated the talent base in Seattle.  Great stuff.

I continue to lament the fact that Ted Thompson in Green Bay took a 4-12 team in 2005 and has built a potential dynasty, and I have just one brief exercise for Bears fans to consider.

The following are Green Bay’s players under the age of 30 that are core playmakers, not including special teamers.  Bold indicates Pro Bowlers and italics indicate the player is signed long term:

Aaron Rodgers

Greg Jennings

James Jones

Jordy Nelson

Brian Bulaga

Josh Sitton

James Starks

Jermichael Finley

B.J. Raji

Clay Matthews

Tramon Williams

Morgan Burnett

Ryan Grant

Randall Cobb

Nick Collins

Now let’s look at the Chicago Bears’ core playmakers under the age of 30:

Jay Cutler

Matt Forte

Gabe Carimi

So there you have it.  The Bears have massive holes to fill and/or veteran players to replace over the next few years at ALL positions other than quarterback and one offensive tackle position.

Anyone out there that thinks Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell’s track record indicates they will be able to do it?  Didn’t think so.

Angelo and Lovie Smith’s contracts both run through the end of the 2013 season.  While we will most likely have a new offensive coordinator and entirely new system for the players to learn in 2012, Smith’s defense will be the same.  We know that with the proper players performing highly, Smith’s defense can be dominant (see 2005, 2006, 2010).  With poor or underachieving talent, it can be abysmal (2004, 07-09, 2011).  So barring Angelo and Ruskell hitting on player after player in the draft, we have two more seasons after 2011 to watch the Bears comically regress before rebuilding will begin in earnest.

And since Cutler is signed through 2013 as well, indeed his time in Chicago will be wasted.  If his offensive line and Mike Martz’ incompetent play calling doesn’t get him killed before then.

16 Responses to “Bears’ Albatross: The Talent Gap”

  1. This looks a lot like a post I made a week or so ago…

  2. Rob, that’s right, I did see your comment-swear I haven’t looked at that since last week. I’ll read yours again. I think this is a pretty common thread in Bears’ fan’s minds currently…

  3. If you have Cobb in there then you have to include Knox, and also Ryan Grant would probably have a hard time starting on any other team as he is not even mediocre…but all in all I get your point. I mean, look at just the Pro Bowlers under 30 vs the Bears Pro Bowlers under 30. There’s a big discrepancy, and this team is going to be screwed at some point in the near future.

  4. All, see Rob’s comments on the post He did discuss Bears vs Packers first-round success. The answer is the same, we’re not in the same league now unless you all think J’Marcus Webb is going to end up like Bryan Bulaga, Major Wright will be a Morgan Burnett, Tim Jennings will equal Tramon Williams. @Perno, I see your point. But I guess since it is universally agreed that the Bears’ wideouts are a full crop of #3′s, I don’t think the Bears have any game-changers at the position. And remember I’m not counting special teams, obviously Hester is a Hall of Fame returner. But those in and of themselves do not win championships.

  5. IF Johnny Knox were our #3 receiver behind Issac Bruce and Torry Holt in 1999, then absolutely he’d be a game-changer!

  6. I’m not ready for 3-5 years of “suck”.

  7. Makes you feel for a guy like Urlacher. Been the face of the franchise for the last 10 years and has given every ounce of effort during that time. I put him right up there with Bill George, Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary in our great history of middle linebackers. Had he won a Super Bowl back in ’06, it probably would have cemented his place in the HOF. Now, who knows? He’s gonna spend the last few years of his career playing on a real sh*tty team. Briggs, Hester, Forte, Cutler…what’s going to happen to those guys? I highly doubt they’ll be here by the time we get this thing turned around. Sad…

  8. I don’t know if anyone has been following my comparisons to the 1992 season, but they keep coming. Today Smith is alluding to lineup changes; in mid-1992 Ditka did the same thing. And Singletary announced after the season started that it would be his last…probably partly because he knew how the team needed to be rebuilt. Now we have Urlacher at the end of his career, having to endure rebuilding if he sticks around. I don’t know who else remembers ’92 as I do, but there are so many parallels in my opinion. But I know we won’t be getting any new regimes next year.

  9. Who plays the role of Dave Wannstedt (had to look up how to spell that) in this scenario? Or do we think Lovie sticks around somehow?

    I have backed Angelo for longer than most but I think I’m done with him now. There’s just too little talent on this team to justify his continuing to lead the team. The only question I have is whether management/ownership would fire him and who they would replace him with. I have a notion that the higher-ups in the Bears value some things (loyalty, honor, commitment to a strong defense) as or more highly than just plain winning. Which is nice to say, but I think it can lead to awful outcomes (see Lions in the 2000s; everyone always say that Ford is absolutely loyal to his guys). It kind of makes me envy the Redskins a bit–at least with Snyder, you know what his thoughts and goals are.

    Bleah, this is depressing. Whatever. I hope in our next coaching search we at least look at an offensive guy. You know who was an offensive guy? DITKA! You can have an offensive guy as a Bears head coach folks!

  10. “I’m not ready for 3-5 years of “suck”.”

    Then stay single.

  11. Roy, if your comparisons to 1992 are correct, they are going to win their next two games and go into the bye week at 4-3. So, at least we have that to look forward to… Can you tell how excited I am???

  12. @Kenneth-I don’t think there’s any possibility of a “regime change” prior to the 2012 season-NONE. You’re right, the McCaskeys have always shown more loyalty than may be deserved. Yesterday Mike Florio (profootballtalk) did a video segment stating that he thinks the possibility does exist that with a horrible season (like 5 wins or less) Lovie could get canned, but he thinks Angelo would get the chance to hire another coach. And invariably, continue to draft mediocre players.
    @JDM-Yes, I’m thrilled too. Actually the Bears could beat Minnesota and Tampa to go to 4-3. With everything that has happened in the first 5 weeks, I don’t think that’s likely though.

  13. I seriously don’t see the point in firing Lovie if you are not going to fire Angelo, too. I’m not against firing Lovie, and I don’t really care if he is the coach or not. We’ve seen his defenses work when the players execute it properly. However, no one wins without talent, and that’s what the problem is. What you should do is hire a new GM and let him decide if he wants to bring in a new coach. Then again, maybe I’m asking too much…

  14. Bernstein and Mulligan are just echoing what we all feel for the rest of the season. I understand players are getting old, but to take such a dip from last season … I like to believe the injuries to Carimi and Bennett must of have had a snowball effect on the whole offense. As for the defense, they’re reminding me of 2009 when we kept entering the record books week after week, except this time it’s not opponent passer ratings, but plain yards allowed.

  15. Horrible. Frustrating. As a fan, what do we do to get our message to the McCaskey family? Start a petition? Create a Facebook page? Start wearing bags over our heads to the games?… sigh. So putting our own GM hats on, who would we get to replace Angelo (trying to put the Ruskell thought out of my mind)? One thought is that the Bears “braintrust” does something unheard of: go get a big name head coach and offer them full GM control as well. Would love to see Cowher or Fischer in Chicago. The ’85 ties that Fischer has would be an added nostalgic bonus (and I’d think it would be very possible he’d get some former Bears on his staff as well). Assuming that won’t happen, where do the good GM’s come from? I’d have to guess that former scouts make that most logical path to that role. Why not look at some of the cadillac personnel staffs around the league? Go get the top young talent from the Patriots staff, or better yet, steal someone from the Packers staff! Offering a well regarded top-flight scout that role (with the assumed raise in pay) would have to be an attractive enough offer to lure the right candidate. I just have no idea who those top candidates would be… Roy? Any thoughts here?

    Oh, and if the Bears should lose to the Vikings this Sunday night (very possible), please feel free to fire Lovie and Martz (neither scenario likely) immediately and promote Tice to OC and Toub to interim HC (special teams coaches have a history of making great head coaches, and there isn’t anybody in the league better than Toub!).

  16. I caught the tail end of a segment on Waddle and Silverman today regarding this topic. With a new chairman in place, if things continue to go south, Waddle doesn’t think the current status quo will continue. We will see about that. I would think Waddle would know something most of us don’t know. Angelo has been a trainwreck/PR disaster since the draft. Just his actions this year doesn’t justify keeping him around, let alone the previous five.

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