The Bears enter this off season with many more questions than answers. The main issue I have is trying to figure out what kind of team they are actually trying to be. There is no clear pattern or cohesiveness on either side of the ball. Granted, injuries have played a significant role in that, but still, there was always this lingering question cloud over what they were actually up to even when healthy.
Some key things the team needs to consider are :
* Alshon Jeffery, WR - there is no doubt in my mind Jeffrery is a legitimate #1 NFL WR. Yes, he has had an injury bug, but when he is on the field, he is a game changer. If the Bears let him test free agency, he won't be back because I doubt the Bears will would match the highest offer he gets and I do not believe Jeffery will be giving the Bears a home town discount. So the Bears need to act decisively to keep him in the fold. If thet means the Franchise Tag as they work on a longer deal, so be it. Just don't let him out of town. The fact Kevin White is proving to be as fragile as glass makes having Jeffery locked up even more important IMO.
* The Quarterback - I think Cutler's time as a Bear is over. I am simply tired of the drama and the unrealized potential. He has top 5 talent that he manages to turn into middle of the pack results. And even though he is the most talented QB who would be a free agent if the Bears cut him loose, that doesn't mean he would be the best QB on that list.
Several of the Chicago mediouts are clamoring for Tony Romo, and I find this utterly ridiculous. The Bears have so many holes to fill they are not just a QB swap away from playoff harmony and success. Romo's injury history is comparable to Cutler's, but Romo's is made more of a question mark with the fact he broke his back. I suspect his best landing spot will be Denver, as they try to capture the magic of signing another damaged goods guy for one final hurrah as they did with Peyton Manning and his broken neck.
So Cutler gone, no Romo, so who? Draft the guy. Draft a guy to work with and build around. The Bears haven't done that in seemingly forever. And though this might be considered a weak QB draft class, there are options available. Trade down if it makes them more comfortable drafting a QB lower than the 3rd overall pick. But draft a QB. Hell, maybe even 2. Of the guys available, Deshaun Watson is my favorite to be the guy the Bears build with.
* The Defense - where to start. The secondary is atrocious and the definite weakest link I think. Fortunately, there looks to be some genuine quality that is going to be available in free agency, and I think the Bears need to pony up some cash to nab at least one of those guys. My target would be Eric Berry of the Chiefs who has said flat out he won't play under the franchise tag. So Kansas City has to either lock him up with a long term deal or dangle him for others. If he is made available, the Bears need to pounce.
Kyle Fuller is a big troubling question mark. Is he healthy? Does he even want to play? I was disappointed the Bears drafted him rather than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but didn't consider it a wasted pick because I had watched Fuller in college and thought he was a legitimate selection (though I thought Dix was much better and at a greater position of need). Since then Dix has gone on to become an anchor in the goddam Packers secondary while Fuller has done very little as a Bear. Fuller needs to show something, anything, in training camp that he is worth the time of day or the Bears simply need to admit they made a mistake and let him be somebody else's problem.
I think the front 7, if back healthy, will be solid, though replacing Pernell McPhee should probably be a consideration. He is good when healthy, but he is fat and aging so probably won't stay healthy.
* Everything else - the draft and free agency need to reap results for the Bears this year. I know that is the goal every year, but this is a Bears team that has a nice small core of really good younger players who simply need help around them. I am hoping even as I type this they are hard at work at Halas Hall figuring out ways to do just that. But they need to figure out what they are doing before getting the players to do it. No more signing people for positions they won't have. DE Jared Allen signed and then being moved to OLB failed miserably because he didn't have the skill set to be an outside linebacker. So why the hell did they sign him? They can't do any more bullshit like that. Don't care who the big name guy is if he plays at a position the Bears don't use.
* Looking ahead - the muddled mess that is the current Bears team will take a season or 2 to be formed into something else. Draft their QB of the future and then build towards that future. If it turns out they are better than the expected 7-9 during the process, so much the better. 2017 is when the building blocks need to be put in place. 2018 is when we should see the expected and desired results.
Please Bears - don't continue screwing the pooch.
Weekly picks -
2016 Regular Season Total = 152-102-2
2016 Playoffs Total = 8-3
That was certainly an entertaining Super Bowl. Many thought it was over at halftime, but the Falcons unfortunately could not figure out how to play with a lead and close the deal. The Patriots gave them ample opportunity to do so, but the Falcons were not up to the task. And giving Brady and friends multiple chances to come back is a guaranteed failed strategy, as Atlanta found out.
Congrats to the Patriots. That was one helluva comeback.