Bears new head coach Marc Trestman is on the clock—he and GM Phil Emery have a year to get the Bears prepared for the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands.
Can they do it?
It seems like a tall order, but Chicago Bear fans are restless since it has been twenty seven years since they have tasted victory. Fans have watched the New York Giants win it four times, Dallas three and New England has grabbed three Super Bowls. The Packers have two Vince Lombardi trophies. Last night they saw Baltimore capture it for a second time. Runner-up San Francisco has won four since Mike Ditka and the Bears beat New England for their only Super Bowl win. And the window of opportunity is closing with several players on defense. So what does Trestman and to a larger extent Phil Emery have to do between now and next February? There are more questions than answers at this point
-They need all sorts of help on the offensive line; it has been a patchwork quilt the way it was assembled the past few years. Have you ever bought your child a Lego set with 400 pieces and lose the instructions? That is how this unit of the Bears seems to be at this point. They have to make decisions on injured guard Lance Louis (free agent), he is their most athletic lineman. Is Gabe Carimi healthy and strong enough to play right tackle? Is Roberto Garza the answer at center or should he move back to guard? Let's not talk about J'Marcus Webb, there has been way too much effort and attention paid to a player that handled the most difficult and demanding position on the line-and he just isn't good enough. I can go on and on about this problem, but the Bears have to solve it with the draft and free agency.
-In order to take on the next bit of business, Jay Cutler, the first area has to be addressed. Cutler has one year left on his contract, he has dealt with so many offensive coordinators and schemes the change will be entertaining to say the least. While Phil Emery calls him a "franchise" quarterback, that was not a label his new coach has given Cutler. Is it a ploy to spur the Bears quarterback or is it the real belief by the new coach? Sometimes when someone is the smartest person in the room (Jay Cutler), you need someone smarter to have the upper hand (Marc Trestman). One of the biggest problems for the Bears has been time management. How many times did we see the Bears QB call a time out due to poor communication? It was apparent that play calling was a big problem and Trestman will be handling that chore. If Jay Cutler could guide the Bears to a Super Bowl win, he would own this town the rest of his life. If he wants proof, just ask anyone from the ’85 team.
-The Bears defense did a great job last season, they were ranked at least in the top 10 in all the defensive categories. However, they are getting long in the tooth and Bears management has a difficult decision to make-what to do with free-agent linebacker Brian Urlacher? His age, his injury issues and what direction the team is going to take with new coordinator Mel Tucker will all weigh in with GM Phil Emery’s decision.
Some other key defensemen that are free agents include, All Pro Henry Melton, Israel Idonjie, Nick Roach, Kelvin Hayden, Geno Hayes, DJ Moore and Nate Collins.
It may be disconcerting that with two starting linebackers and a back-up in that position someone could leave via free agency, but 26-year-old Melton’s loss would be a bigger pill to swallow as his play has progressed on the defensive line.
-There are twenty free agents (two restricted) and the defensive players previously mentioned will have to be sorted out by Emery in March. Following that free agency period, the NFL draft will be April 25th-27th and the Bears have the 20th selection in the first round.
Last year Emery made a huge acquisition when he dealt a pair of third round picks for All Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall-it is easy to say that paid off.
-What to do with some of the current Bears? Already mentioned Brian Urlacher, but will Devin Hester return? Starting tight end Kellen Davis (that should be a no)? And does free agent Jason Campbell merit a return to back up Cutler?
Can the Bears make the Super Bowl next year? You straighten out the offensive line, get a tight end, change a poor offense, get the most out of an aging defense, stay healthy and have a team learn to play under a new coaching staff-with a first time NFL head coach--- possibly.
Circle next February 2nd for the Super Bowl, that should be what the Bears are targeting. We’ll see.