It’s no secret at this point. The most glaring need that the Chicago Bears need to address this offseason is their offensive line.
You can copy and paste the 2 sentences above into a description of the Bears heading into last offseason. And in 2010… And in 2009…
You get my point.
Unfortunately for Jay Cutler, he had to get dragged to the turf 148 times over the past 4 seasons for anybody with the appropriate power to notice.
I have full confidence in GM Phil Emery that he will shore up the offensive line in some fashion in the coming months. It may be through the draft, it may be through free agency. Hell, it may be through both seeing how many holes there are to plug up front.
But if there’s one thing Emery has shown to the fans since he’s been here, it’s that if there is a need, it will be addressed promptly and properly.
Wide receiver problems? Let’s steal Brandon Marshall from the Dolphins. Need an offensive minded head coach? Let’s bring in upwards of a dozen guys, mostly noted offensive geniuses, and have a replacement picked within 3 weeks of the season ending. Welcome to Chicago, Marc Trestman.
The man gets the job done, especially when it comes to fixing a top priority.
With news breaking early Wednesday morning that the Bears have chosen Trestman, expect other coaching voids to be filled in a domino effect. We’ve already seen former Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator named to the same position for the Bears, who recently lost Dave Toub to the Kansas City Chiefs. Early indications have Rod Marinelli remaining as the Defensive Coordinator, and Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer has been tabbed as the Offensive Coordinator.
When the dust settles, expect Emery to work very closely with Trestman and his staff to start constructing a plan to enhance the offensive line.
But hidden beneath the obvious needs, what other areas on the roster does the front office need to improve this offseason?
Linebackers aren’t included on this list for lack of effort or production. The core group is simply fighting an uphill battle against Father Time.
We may have seen Brian Urlacher’s last game in a Bears uniform in their week 17 victory in Minnesota. Urlacher, who is now 34 and a free agent, ranked 5th on the team in tackles with 53 despite struggling with various injuries all season long. It’s still unclear whether the Bears will bring him back on a short term deal.
Lance Briggs isn’t getting any younger either. At 32, he led the Bears with 73 tackles and tossed in 2 interceptions and 1.5 sacks to boot. But how long can we expect this Pro Bowl-caliber output from Briggs?
The most pressing issue will be to fill Urlacher’s shoes, which is a nearly impossible duty to ask of anyone. But outside of Briggs, the depth at linebacker is far short of spectacular.
Nick Roach is better suited as an outside linebacker. Geno Hayes and J.T. Thomas provide able bodies when the starters need a rest, but they’re not starter material. Neither are Dom DeCiccio or Blake Costanzo, who are mostly special teams contributors.
The Bears should look to find Urlacher’s replacement in the draft. That way, he can learn from Lance Briggs in the few years he has left.
Greg Olsen, why have we forsaken you!? Ever since he was essentially run out of town by Mike Martz for not “fitting in to the offensive scheme”, the tight end position for the Bears has become a black hole in terms of production. Thanks Mike.
A pass catching tight end like Olsen would’ve been a perfect addition to this evolving Bears offense, one that finally seems like it’s moving into the 21st century and incorporating a passing attack.
As intimidating as their sheer size may make them, Matt Spaeth and Kellen Davis just aren’t cutting it in the passing game. You can add Kyle Adams and Evan Rodriguez to that list too. Together, those four have combined for 51 receptions, 524 yards, and only 8 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
Marc Trestman will bring in a more dynamic, West Coast style offense to Chicago. If he has a shiny new toy to play with at tight end, that will make the playbook even deeper, not to mention give Cutler a reliable safety valve in the passing game not named Marshall.
Slot Wide Receiver
This might sound nit-picky, but almost every elite offense has a go-to weapon in the slot.
I’m sorry, but the “Devin Hester as a receiver” experiment simply hasn’t panned out. He’s learned the hard way that running pass patterns and catching lasers from Jay Cutler isn’t as easy as making defenders miss in the open field on kickoff returns. With a total of 6 touchdowns and barely over 1000 yards receiving over the last three seasons, it’s time to move on.
Brandon Marshall is as elite as they come, and Alshon Jeffery will grow into a legitimate #2 option as time goes on. But the Bears don’t have much to look forward to in the slot.
There’s a ton of talent to be had in free agency: Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, Victor Cruz, Ted Ginn, Danny Amendola, etc. I’m not sure if the Bears are willing to (or will have enough) to spend on a top-flight guy, but Amendola would look mighty fine in navy and orange if you asked me.
Covering up one or more of these secondary needs this offseason could have the Bears playing on Sundays next January and February instead of watching from their couches at home.
Which do you think is the Bears most pressing need to fill outside of the offensive line?