Positions Chicago Bears Need to Address in Off-season
Chicago Bears Off-season Needs
Even after a 10-6 record, the Chicago Bears still fell short of making the playoffs this past season. Not only wasn’t this record good enough to make the postseason, but it also wasn’t good enough to keep their head coach in the Windy City. As a result, the Bears’ front office virtually cleaned house and brought in a totally new coaching staff.
A fast 7-1 start in 2012 was overshadowed by a meltdown in the second half of the season once challenged by playoff-caliber teams. Solving the riddle of how to stay consistent for an entire season is what Chicago will be faced with when exploring free agency and the upcoming draft.
With the birth of a new era on the horizon, the Bears will have plenty of things to consider as far as building a team that will complement the approach of their new coaches.
Many positions need to be addressed this upcoming off-season. Defensively, much doesn’t need to be changed, but more youth is greatly needed for the eventual end of the most glorified position of the Bears’ storied history. On the offensive side of the ball, getting the proper personnel to further enhance the passing game is what’s needed to get the offense where it needs to be.
This off-season will probably be the most important one in a very long time for the Bears. Improving on a season where Chicago was four games over .500, and doing this under new leadership would prove to be a challenge. Many bold decisions have been made, only to have more bold decisions to come.
Here are the positions that the Bears need to focus on in order to become a championship contending team in 2013.
The offensive front of the Bears has been the weakest part of their team for several years. Even though they paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher in two of the past three years, the offensive line has consistently surrendered a large amount of sacks. This has led to a sporadic passing attack that has kept Chicago from becoming an elite team in the NFC.
The Bears should definitely look at revamping the O-line through free agency and this year’s draft. The most important position that needs to be addressed along the front five is left tackle. J’Marcus Webb is arguably the worst left tackle in the league. Replacing Webb with just about anyone would be considered an upgrade. Quarterback Jay Cutler will feel more comfortable knowing that his blindside will be better protected.
Looking at the offensive success of some teams in the league, they all have one thing in common, a productive tight end. This is something that the Bears’ offense has lacked for several years. Tight end Kellen Davis has only accumulated 37 receptions for 435 receiving yards in the past two seasons. The only positive is the seven touchdowns he hauled in during that span.
Davis has primarily been used as a blocker to help in pass protection. However, his lack of production when given the opportunity to contribute to the passing game has limited Chicago’s weapons in their aerial attack. An athletic, pass catching tight is what the Bears need to help take attention away from All-Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Unfortunately, Johnny Knox won’t be returning to give Chicago a deep threat in the passing game. The same could possibly be said for Devin Hester. There still could be a chance for Hester wanting to get a “fresh start” somewhere else. Regardless of whether Hester wants to stay in Chicago, his skills as a wide receiver are limited and he should be used strictly just for special teams.
Another reliable receiver that could be used primarily in the slot, in addition to help from the tight end position, will help eliminate double-teams on Brandon Marshall, and could help Alshon Jeffery flourish in his second season with the Bears.
It’s plain to see that the face of the Bears’ franchise is in the twilight of his amazing career. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is a free agent, and could potentially be with another team for the 2013 season. The 13-year veteran missed the last four games of the 2012 regular season with a hamstring injury, and said that he will be willing to give the Bears a hometown discount when negotiating a new contract.
Personally, I feel that Urlacher will finish his career in the Windy City. Even in the event that he stays in Chicago, the Bears still need to draft a middle linebacker for the future. Being groomed by one of the best to ever play the position will greatly benefit the Bears’ defense for years to come.
The Bears have three defensive linemen that are free agents, but the most important one is defensive tackle Henry Melton. The production of Melton has been very vital to the success of Chicago’s pass rush from the defensive front. Melton is coming off his first Pro Bowl season, and is considered one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league.
Negotiating a new deal for Melton should be top priority before the draft. If Melton isn’t re-signed, the Bears’ pass rush could decline significantly for the 2013 season, which will put more pressure on the linebackers and the defensive backs in their Cover-2 scheme.
There is no doubt that quarterback Jay Cutler will be the number-one guy under center for the Bears next season. However, whom Chicago has in line in case Cutler goes down is a bit sketchy. There is a possibility that backup quarterback Jason Campbell could end up elsewhere next season, which will leave the Bears without a proven number-two signal caller.
Free agency is definitely where Chicago should look in filling this hole. I believe that Chase Daniel will be an ideal fit for the Bears, especially since he’s worked with their new offensive coordinator over the past four seasons.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google