The 2013 offseason has been a very critical one for the Chicago Bears. While the NFC North looks to be getting tougher by the year, each offseason move is important for the franchise.
The offseason started with the firing of head coach Lovie Smith after nine seasons with the Bears. It continued with the team discovering the key needs on both offense and defense, and featured a little bit of criticism with the release of Brian Urlacher.
The Bears did make an important move as they hired Marc Trestman to be their new head coach. The former CFL coach brings a new offense to the Bears as the team looks to improve its offensive mindset.
With all of the movement in the offseason by the Bears, one thing that stands out to me is the fact the Bears are addressing the needs they have on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
The NFL free agency period and NFL Draft is where the Bears have really stood out this offseason. We don’t know if it’s the right players, or how they will turn out, but the Bears are certainly making the effort to fix what needs to be fixed.
The moves all started with the NFL free agency period, where the Bears made an immediate impact by signing tight end Martellus Bennett. Last season the Bears were a disaster at the tight end position, as they ranked near the bottom of the league in every tight end stat. After the release of Kellen Davis, much to the joy of Bears fans, Bennett now gives the Bears a big target for Cutler down the field and in the red zone. The move is defiantly an upgrade from what they were last season.
After the signing of Bennett, the Bears focused on the offensive line, which has been a kink in their offense for several seasons. They brought in two time Pro Bowl player Jermon Bushrod from New Orleans add more protection to Jay Cutler, and solidify the offensive line. Within hours of free agency open, the Bears already left their mark.
Adding to the free agency signings was linebacker D.J. Williams who signed with the Bears after spending nine seasons with the Denver Broncos. Williams was singed to a one-year contract, and looks to help fill the void at linebacker.
In his second year as general manager, Phil Emery has made moves to put the Bears in a better position to win. While the verdict is out on his draft results, Emery has made a splash in free agency as well as trading for Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall. Emery gives Bears fans hope for the future, where as previous years it’s been nothing but a bleak future for Bears fans.
Emery continues to build in the area that’s most key to a success of a franchise: The NFL Draft.
With major needs on both the offensive line as well as the defense, Emery targeted this draft as a way to fix those.
Holding the 20th pick in this year’s draft, many predicted the Bears would go a popular route in drafting linebacker Manti Te’o. That was not the case however as Emery and the Bears front office shocked many people taking offensive lineman Kyle Long from Oregon.
While many might say Long was a reach with the 20th overall pick, Emery addressed a key need and showed he wants to protect his franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler, who the Bears look like will try and lock up after his contract expires this year.
The Bears went with offense on two other picks in the draft, as they drafted offensive tackle Jordan Mills (Louisiana Tech) with the 30th pick in the fifth round as well as receiver Marquess Wilson (Washington State) with their last pick in the draft. Wilson is the most intriguing pick of the Bears draft, as he posses third round talent but fell in the draft due to character concerns as he departed Washington State his senior year. Wilson could be an absolute steal for the Bears and work the slot receiver position, giving Cutler another weapon.
One major concern this offseason was finding linebackers to replace starters Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach. The Bears didn’t surprise anyone by taking three linebackers in the draft, trying to fill that void quickly.
Using their second, fourth and sixth round picks on linebackers proves the Bears are looking ahead to the future, trying to rebuild a key position through the draft. All three linebackers can provide value to the Bears defense, and even make an impact in the immediate future.
With a division that features offensive players like Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings, bulking up your defense for the future is a smart move on the side of the Bears. If you want to compete in this division, you must stop the high-powered offenses that it features.
While some of you may be frustrated with the way the Bears drafted, what they did during free agency and the draft is what is right for them. They are simply addressing the biggest needs on their team, and trying to do it the right way.
Only time will tell if these picks turn out to be key players. Sure the picks could turn out to be complete busts and this draft could be a disaster. But what you have to like what Emery is trying to do.
Remember, the foundation is always the key.