The Chicago Bears looked like legitimate Super Bowl contenders through the first half of last season, and by the end of the year, they were major pretenders. The Bears won 10 games and still missed out on the playoffs, but the cupboard is not bare in Chicago. This is a perennially tough team, but they are going through yet another transition. Jay Cutler has driven Mike Martz out of town, and now because of the underachieving in Chi-town, Lovie Smith has been fired. Whether or not you agree with that move is another post entirely.
Marc Trestman was hired from the CFL to help the Bears get back to the Grey Cup. Okay, okay, enough joking. This is a Bears team that could be losing Mr. Bears, a.k.a. Brian Ulracher, and they have a bunch of needs on the defensive front as well. Here are my top overall needs for the Bears, in no particular order.
1. Offensive Line
Even though there is no order to my list of needs for the Bears, this is by far the most glaring. They can’t keep Jay Cutler upright, and haven’t been able to since he got to Chicago. The Bears, as a result, ranked 29th in the NFL in passing last season, and Jay Cutler had his worst year as a pro in my opinion. The Bears’ O-line at least has one first round pick on it, but last year they passed on stud guard David DeCastro for Shea McClellin. That was a no-brainer pick, and the Bears opted for a DE instead. While McClellin was solid as a rookie, he didn’t help the Bears’ offensive line at all.
This is a team with needs everywhere along the offensive line except right tackle, which is the spot currently being manned by former first round pick Gabe Carimi, who needs to pick up his play considerably.
2. Defensive Line
The Bears could be losing Henry Melton, Israel Idonije, and Amobi Okoye, or potentially a combination of those guys. Julius Peppers is entering his 12th NFL season, and is not getting any younger even though he is still a force up front. The Bears will look to upgrade their depth on the defensive line this offseason.
3. Inside Linebacker
If Brian Urlacher leaves, it will be a tragedy for Bears fans. #54 will go down in Chicago Bears lore as one of the greatest players not only in Bears history, but in NFL history. He is a local legend, and it would be a mistake to let him go even though his athletic ability is not what it once was. Still, the door has been left open for his departure. He has had some bad injuries in recent years, and the Bears may decide to part ways. If they do, ILB becomes a VERY pressing need.
4. Wide Receiver
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have the two starting spots locked down theoretically, but the Bears need more targets offensively. Devin Hester is not a legitimate NFL receiver, and Johnny Knox may have played his last down in the NFL. His injury was gruesome. Earl Bennett has been unable to produce consistently in the NFL, and only had 29 catches last season.
5. Tight End
The Bears’ talent at this position is an embarrassment. They made a huge mistake trading away Greg Olson to the Panthers, where he has been a solid player. Last year, the Bears were getting just over an average of one reception per game from their top receiving TE, Kellen Davis. It wouldn’t shock me to see Chicago use a first or second round pick at this position.
6. Outside Linebacker
Nick Roach and Geno Hayes are unrestricted free agents, and unlike years past, the Bears don’t really have much depth behind them. They should look to take some potential starters at linebacker in the middle rounds, and maybe pick up a stop-gap in free agency.