Another in the series….thanks for all the contributions!
A few notes of optimism. I’ve been listening to the Bears 2008 “postmortem” on the Score all day, reading similar comments here at CBH, and it’d be redundant to add to the chorus of problems this team faces heading into 2009. So here’s a few things I feel actually bode well for next season:
1) The Hester and Manning move. Hester vastly improved as a wide out during the 2008 season. And Manning was almost as electrifying a return man as Hester had once been. I believe Hester will become a true “number one” receiver next season and Manning will claim a standing as the league’s most dangerous return man. So, best case scenario, we’ve traded down from the greatest return man of all time to arguably the best return man in the league today, and picked up a legitimate three-down touchdown threat as compensation. That’s a trade I’ll make every time. This may be the only move by this coaching staff we’ll be calling “genius” in the final analysis.
2) The Kicking game. Gould’s glaring weakness this season was in special situations: squib kicks, pooch kicks, and the lone onside attempt, which looked absolutely horrendous against Houston. These things can all be polished. Addressing them now and in the preseason will make the Bears otherwise stellar kicking game even better. Sure, Gould’s inability to kick the 50 yard field goal is frustrating. But when your punting game consistently pins the other team inside its own 10 yard line in those situations, it’s a frustration we can live with in exchange for his “golden” leg at 40 odd yards out and in.
3)¬† Number 22. Dude, this kid was just a rookie!
So there it is. I realize number one might be a bit controversial, and it’s a move many people bemoaned throughout the season (myself included). But like I said, I’m thinking optimistically, and honestly don’t think my “best case scenario” in that regard is too much a stretch from reality. We’ll see.