At the beginning of the year, I predicted that the Bears would win the NFC North and the Bears would finish 11-5. I was way off and many experts are left with pie on their face. What went wrong with the Bears? How could this team possibly have trouble scoring points? What happened to Matt Forte? Is Jay Cutler a turnover machine the next Jim McMahon? Does Lance Briggs love McRibs? I answer these important questions.
When the Bears traded for Jay Cutler, it was the greatest day in Chicago since Michael Jordan was wearing the number #23. You didn’t hear anyone thinking that this was a mistake. You heard things like “Chicago has never had a great quarterback” and “Chicago is a lock to win the NFC North.” You didn’t hear things like, “Chicago still haven’t had a great quarterback” and “Chicago looks just awful out there.” The Bears paid a great price for Cutler and they don’t have a #1 pick for the next couple years to help replenish their aging roster.
Why has Jay Cutler looked so bad this year? It’s easy, he has no one to throw it to. It seemed like he was getting a groove with TE Greg Olson, but defenses made note and stopped that from happening. Cutler had to try and make things happen out there with receivers that can’t get open. It’s as simple as that. Cutler was so used to Brandon Marshall, who could get open in a gaggle of geese, to these receivers that couldn’t get open against Verne Troyer. If the Bears can get a few veteran receivers or maybe even Brandon Marshall, Cutler will go back to his “golden boy” status.
I know it’s not as simple as I’m describing it. The Bears are clealy one-dimensional right now. Cutler has to face seven dropping back in coverage because Matt Forte went from stud rookie to old sophomore in a matter of one off-season. Forte hasn’t really had that one great game to help us forget how mediocre he has been this season. I don’t want to blame him completely, because the offensive line hasn’t given him much to run through. It’s a clear collapse of the entire offense, it’s a hard thing to watch.
I can’t fully blame the offense, because the Bears defense have looked just as pedestrian as the offense this season. You can point to the season-ending injury of Brian Urlacher as a possbile blame for their insufficient play. There’s talk that if the Bears keep Lovie Smith as the head coach, they could strip his defensive play-calling, since he has done for the past few seasons. If you had Urlacher this season, it still wouldn’t helped the pass coverage much. You could see this team start to decline defensively last year, but if you need another excuse for the Bears, the offense has left them with horrible defensive field position.
Here is how you would fix the Chicago Bears. It starts with the head coach. The Bears offense had one good season under Lovie Smith, they went to the Super Bowl that year. They had a reckless quarterback, Rex Grossman, and a stout defense. They still have a reckless quarterback, but not the defense or offensive production to match. You hire a big name ex-coach like Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan to fix everything and give them full control of personnel. You have to get rid of Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator, Ron Turner, as well.
The next step, since you don’t have first-round picks for the next few years, you have to trade a couple pieces to get younger and more athletic. You would have to trade a player like Brian Urlacher for a young left tackle or a high first round pick. You can fix your receiving corps by signing a veteran receiver and using a 2nd-round pick on a possession receiver. You can also get steals in the late rounds to help your secondary. These are steps that need to happen for the Bears to rebuild in a hurry. You have to build your team around Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and Lance Briggs, those are immovable pieces that you can use as building blocks.
If the Bears want to make a change, just do it. Don’t go in the Washington Redskins route and start stripping the head coach of duties. You need to rip the band-aid off in one motion, don’t make it slow and painful. The Bears have a good quarterback and that isn’t something that Chicago fans are used to. A complete change in philosophy needs to happen and it starts with the head coach and trading Brian Urlacher and move this team in a new direction. Sometimes it’s better this way, even if you know that it will hurt.