Jesse’s turn today:
As is the consensus, though the Bears slightly exceeded the expectations of the majority of the fans the end result of the season is still a disappointment. We all know what some of the biggest reasons were for the Bears not making the playoffs so there’s no need to go through all that again. Exit 2008 Chicago Bears, enter 2009 Chicago Bears. This upcoming offseason should differ drastically from last year’s “rewarding our own players” philosophy. The Bears have many vital needs and those needs simply aren’t gonna get any better through “rewarding” their own players (Not that any of them deserve it anyway).
What follows, is, in my opinion, some of the biggest issues that the Bears are gonna have to address during the offseason:
- A legit #1 receiver: While Devin Hester made strides as a receiver this past season, he IS NOT a legitimate #1 wide receiver at the moment and it is unrealistic to think he will be one by the time next season approaches. Yes, he is the Bears #1 receiver but that is by default; there was no one else to step up during the season. Brandon Lloyd appeared to get off to a good start but got hurt and seemed to get placed in the doghouse and was not the same player when he returned. Marty Booker was horrible. I would just say that Rashied Davis was OK, and Earl Bennett spent about as much time on the sideline as the gatorade cooler.
I’m not sure how the upcoming crop of receivers is shaping up in the 2009 draft, and I’m not sure if there will be any viable options in free agency, but without question, this position HAS to be upgraded and I would say it’s our #1 priority going into the offseason.
- Offensive Line: While the O-Line was better than expected, it’s still an area of concern. Olin Kreutz and John Tait are getting up there in age and both are showing signs of wear. The Bears need to draft or sign some young talent to refresh that line.
- Defensive Line: The Bears need to do a better job of generating a pass rush. Tommie Harris looked lost for a good portion of the season til he stepped up his game in the last few contests. I thought Alex Brown had a decent season whereas Adewale Ogunleye seemed to regress from a strong season a year ago. Dusty Dvoracek is a monster when he plays. I just hope he can manage to play a full season next year. Israel Idonije, Anthony Adams and Marcus Harrison were OK in their limited roles.
I definitely think one of our early draft picks should be used on a young DT/DE, even if it’s simply to create some competition amongst the D-Line members.
- Quarterback: I think the jury is still out on Kyle Orton. While I personally don’t consider him a “franchise quarterback” (and I wish people, specifically the media, would stop using that term so freely) I do think it’s possible that he can become a serviceable starter for the Bears. The first half of the season Orton was pretty decent, but in the second half he obviously struggled. How much of that can be attributed to the ankle injury? Or is it possible it was a combination of that and maybe teams were figuring out how to gameplan against him? Only time will tell and he is the unquestioned starter heading into the 2009 season.
I’m not opposed to drafting a QB. Next year is a make or break year for Orton so I think it would be a good idea to have the protection should Orton not succeed. Plus you can have another young guy to compete alongside Caleb Hanie.
In addition, the Bears are gonna have some decisions to make regarding these players:
- Mike Brown: I like Mike Brown. The guy is tough as hell, and I admire him for having the guts to come back after injury after injury cause he has a desire that most other people lack. Sadly, however, I think it’s time to part ways with him, though I would be happy if does indeed return. It’s similar to the Chicago Cubs and Kerry Wood. Brown managed to stay fairly healthy for most of the season but there were still flare ups here and there. And I just don’t think the Bears should continue taking chances with him. If he does go, he would have been the most respected Bear to put on a uniform in a while.
- Nathan Vasher: Vasher has been injury plagued for the last two seasons. In addition, he’s seemed to take a step back after signing his extension. I would give him one more chance, but if it turns out to be more or less the same as the past two years, then he’s toast.
- Mark Anderson: Another guy who is on thin ice. I might be wrong (if I am, please somebody correct me) but I believe he only notched 1 sack this season. 1 sack? this coming from a guy who had 12 two seasons ago. Hell, that 1 sack makes his 5 from last season seem like a good year. Just like Vasher, he’s got one more season to prove himself, otherwise it’ll be his career with the Bears that will be getting sacked.
All in all, I’d say that it’s. The Bears have their work cut out for them and as Lovie likes to put it, they should “get off the bus running” into the offseason.