Following an astounding offseason featuring the likes of Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor, Major Wright, and Mike Martz, the Chicago Bears are still considered among the worst in the league.
Regardless of what critics believe, Chicago is a very much improved team.
What were the weaknesses of the 2009 Bears?
-The loss of Brian Urlacher.
-Lack of intensity at the beginning of the season.
-The offensive line.
Brian Urlacher is back, check number 1.
The Bears’ staff seems more upbeat than ever, and the players are anxious to prove themselves. The youthfulness in Chicago’s locker room seems to work in their own favor. Check number 2.
Major Wright should start at free safety. Period. Chicago misses Mike Brown, and Wright is a smaller and skinnier version of Mike Brown. He’s a great tackler and has solid pass coverage. Also, the addition of Chris Harris puts another hard-hitter in the lineup and a veteran safety to complete the chemistry. Check number 3.
Julius Peppers will draw double coverage at defensive end, therefore leaving a hole for the once All-Pro Tommie Harris. Mark Anderson has a quicker initial rush compared to Adewale Ogunleye, and should fare well lining up opposite to Peppers. Check number 4.
Bears’ fans, feel good about your receivers. Every one of them are under 30, have quickness and can hold onto the ball, and can create open space down the middle of the field. Devin Hester should become an open target for Jay Cutler under Martz’s guidance, and you always have Aromashodu, Olsen, and Knox. Not to mention that Earl Bennett is a very good possession receiver.
Now, here’s the problem–the offensive line.
All year long, Matt Forte had defenders in his face right after the snap. Cutler was hurried and Ron Turner barely ran any bootlegs that the Vanderbilt product is accustomed to.
The line should fare decent against opposing defenses, that is, if they live up to their potential.
From tackle to tackle, here’s how the line should look:
Chris Williams (LT) | Josh Beekman (LG) | Olin Kreutz (C) | Roberto Garza (RG) | Frank Omiyale (RT)
Chris Williams is a very good lineman. He looked very polished versus Jared Allen, a premier rusher, in his first start at LT last season–his natural position.
Josh Beekman is underrated, yet not the greatest. The young guard brings talent and the ability to pull to the right side or use weak-side pitches with solid run blocking.
Olin Kreutz is getting older, but is still a good pass blocker and is recovering from injuries.
Roberto Garza has never been amazing, but instead solid. I have no problems with him, but he is aging with Kreutz. Although the Bears shouldn’t move him, their front office should invest in the right guard position through the draft.
Frank Omiyale looked like a great pickup through free agency in the beginning of preseason, but gradually fell off. His run blocking and pass protection decreased at the left guard position, but Lovie Smith feels he should become solid with his natural position.
The line, on paper at least, doesn’t look too bad. It’s either going to be a great success, or enormous failure. Chicago’s team is very polished and underrated, and should show the world that Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith deserve their jobs, but it hangs on the offensive line’s shoulders.