As I have analyzed multiple times since the Bears regular season ended with a loss to the Green Bay Packers, the offense is finally in a top tier position. Matt Forte accumulated over 1,500 total yards from scrimmage, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery posted over 1,400 total yards apiece, and no matter the signal caller, the Bears were capable of controlling a game offensively. A game plan by Marc Trestman and the hard work of Phil Emery have given Chicago Fans a whole new breed of “Monsters of the Midway”.
However, for the first time in, well ever, the once vaunted defense of the Chicago Bears took a horrific turn after a stellar 2012 campaign. Stars like Julius Peppers seemed to have no motivation for attacking the opposing quarterback. Draft picks Jon Bostic, Khaseem Green, and Shea McClellin failed to show any growth, and lets not even bring up Brandon Hardin (third round pick 2012 draft). At this point I’m simply regurgitating information that everyone who watches the Bears should know, and has more than likely already digested (mostly in the fetal position). Without knowing what will happen defensively, scheme wise, all anyone can do at this point is speculate what will happen at each position on the defense. So until information about those possible changes becomes more concrete, I will stay away from those positions. So for the next few weeks I will look at the offense, position by position.
The most sought after star player on every single NFL team is the quarterback. Finding a signal caller is about as easy as logarithmic equations (at least in my world). However the Bears believe they have a guy that can take them to the promised land after handing Jay Cutler a big seven year $127 million contract, however it could be a great move for the Bears. Cutler would be 37 at the end of the deal if all pans out like Emery is planning. After three years the deal starts to depreciate just like a car. If Cutler doesn’t make the grade after three years the Bears can cut ties without many repercussions. Not only that, securing Cutler means Emery has time to draft and groom the next passer in Chicago.
Regardless of how long Cutler is in Chicago, it allows the rookie time develop and learn Trestman’s system. Continuity is what breeds success in the NFL. Time to develop and assimilate into a system can only benefit a young QB and Cutler alike. Cutler and many of the the other offensive players have stated that Trestman’s offense is a cerebral playbook that requires understanding multiple positions. If that’s the case then Emery will get at least two years to find the next guy before Cutler’s next evaluation (three years). Cutler was easily the best free agent available, and with so many needs on defense, Emery made the right decision for the franchise’s short term future and securing the ability to fix a defense in shambles.
Evaluating Cutler is something I think every Chicagoan will have an opinion on. Here are the things that I think he needs to really get worked out. Progression, progression, progression, the one thing that made Josh McCown so successful with this offense is he went through his reads faster than electricity. The flip side of that is Cutler’s affinity for Brandon Marshall (could you blame him). He simply relies on Brandon too much, it’s hard not to when you have such a deep trust and a chemistry that is completely intangible, but defenses will key into these things. What will really make Cutler dangerous is spreading the ball out more. It will open the field and allow him to get the ball out quicker.
He tends to hold onto the ball too long hoping for something down field when it’s just not there. Trestman’s offense is about getting the ball out quicker and making reads not just down field but to the safety valves in place. His scheme has tons of outlets and with a guy like Matt Forte on the field, that’s a good thing. I don’t think its a trust issue with Cutler and his guys anymore, back when Devin Hester was a receiver, I understand his lack of trusting other guys. I do think he needs to rework his mind a bit and that will come with time. I would like to see more play action, Cutler is one of my favorite passers out of the pocket, he has deceptive quickness and is elusive even in the pocket. People tend to forget that, but I think more play action would benefit this team. Forte will keep defenses on their heels and really pull pressure off Cutler. When they least expect it, the field will be open for the receivers.
Outside of Cutler the Bears have a great backup. McCown is starting caliber. He could find himself a great free agency deal starting elsewhere (mostly as a short term stop gap); however he has expressed his desire to stay in Chicago even if he is the backup to Cutler. “My heart is in Chicago, and that is where I want to be” reported by ESPN. The question is, what will his price be? If the Bears can get him for two years at $1 million a year, I would be ecstatic to see him return. He would be a great insurance policy that the Bears and Cutler would enjoy having around. He likes the system, but more importantly understands it and clearly knows how to execute it. After McCown I don’t see the Bears carrying another quarterback on the roster, nor drafting one till at least next year. The defense needs an infusion of youth and talent from the draft and free agency. As far as I’m concerned, besides another tight end or a speedy receiver/punt return specialist, the Bears have no offensive needs.