I don't believe that it is fair for us as Bears fans to be judging Kyle Orton on his play this year. The bears have nothing, let me repeat that, nothing on offense other then Matt Forte and the tight ends. They have a makeshift offensive line and a receiving core that wouldn't be good on a high school team. I believe that Kyle Orton can be a successful QB in this league and there are a few things the bears NEED to do before they can properly evaluate Orton.
I don't think it is legitimate for us to expect the bears to fill every hole this year, so here is what I propose:
Continue to improve along the offensive line. Chris Williams should be the starting LT next year and if he can play like some of the other tackles in his draft class he will be an immediate upgrade at the most important position on the offensive line. At the LG position I'm looking for an open competition between guys the bears already have, mainly, Josh Beekman, Terrence Metcalf, Dan Buenning, John St. Clair and possibly a mid-round draft pick. Between those guys you should be able to find a solid guard to play next to Williams. Despite his declining play, I believe in Olin Kreutz will remain our starting Center, his leadership abilities make him a valuable player on this team and I believe with more talent around him his decline won't seem so drastic. Roberto Garza will remain the starting RG next year, he isn't spectacular but he is solid and he is still a player the bears can rely on. RT is where the Bears need to make a splash with a player outside of the current roster, John Tait is gone. Marc Colombo and Jordon Gross would both be very solid options and the Bears should do everything possible to sign one of those two players. I also fully expect them to use one of their first three picks on a young offensive lineman to throw into the mix. These moves will allow the Bears offensive line to make a large jump and will help ensure that Matt Forte avoids a soph. slump.
The second and most glaring hole on the Bears roster is the WR position. There are only three players on the Bears that I would bring back for the 2009 season, Devin Hester, Brandon Lloyd, and Earl Bennett. If Marty Booker wants to keep playing football I would also consider bringing him back because he will be very cheap and still has the ability to make some catches and would be a very solid fourth or fifth option. Due to his draft position Earl Bennet will be on the roster, even though the coaching staff obviously has almost no confidence in him. The Bears have also committed to Devin Hester and I expect him to continue to be a major part of the offense. I would bring back Brandon Lloyd because he will be another cheap option and can make some amazing catches and big plays. The problem with Brandon Lloyd is that the Bears came into the season relying on him to play well, I think that he can be a surprisingly good third of fourth option for the Bears, but, he can't be relied on to perform every Sunday. The remaining guys on the roster should be cut out right, Rashied Davis is not an NFL WR, Mike Haas and Brandon Ridaeu have had their chance the past few years and the coaching staff obviously has not seen anything to justify putting them on the field, they can be brought back only as depth on the practice squad. This leaves us with three maybe four WR's coming back, leaving us one or two open spots for WR's outside the current roster. First off, the bears will spend a first or second round pick on a WR no matter what they do with FA's or Trades. Here is what I propose, Anquan Boldin, the bears will have to trade their first round pick in order to get him, and they should do so without hesitation. This would leave them a second round pick for another WR to throw into the mix. If they are unable to trade for Anquan Boldin then they HAVE to sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh and use their first round pick on a WR. This gives the Bears a legitimate offensive threat at the WR position and will help open things up for Devin Hester. They would also have two high potential early draft picks in Earl Bennet and their 2009 FIRST DAY SELECTION. Plus, one or two veterans who can still play, but shouldn't be relied as number on targes, in Brandon Lloyd and Marty Booker. The addition of a legit number one WR (Boldin or Housh) will do a great deal for the offense as a unit. Devin Hester will no longer be the focal point of the offensive, which in my opinion will make him more of a threat and will allow him to stretch the field and take advantage or more single coverage. The middle of the field will be more open for Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark to continue to make plays, they will also find themselves covered by more LB's and Safeties. The threat of a legit passing game will also open up more holes for Matt Forte and if one or two of the remaining three or four WR's (Bennett, Booker, Loyld and a first day draft pick) can be counted on to step up and make some plays as the third or fourth WR option the Bears will have a much improved offense.
In closing our offense should look something like this:
QB - Kyle Orton
RB - Matt Forte
FB - Jason McKie
WR - Boldin or Houshmandzadeh, Earl Bennett, Marty Booker (Maybe)
WR - Devin Hester, 2009 First or Second Round Draft Pick, Brandon Lloyd
TE - Greg Olsen & Desmond Clark
LT - Chris Williams
LG - Beekman or St. Clair or Buenning or Metcalf or 2009 Draft Pick
C - Olin Kruetz
RG - Roberto Garza
RT - Jordon Gross or Marc Colombo or 2009 First Day Draft Pick
I think after next if we are still questioning Kyle Orton's ability then and only then should we start to look for his replacement. I think it is completely unfair to judge him based on what he has done this year because of the lack of reliable players around him. Like I mentioned earlier, I think it is unreasonable for us to believe that the Bears will address all of their holes, but, if they plug the holes I mentioned I think they will be a much better offense next year and it will give us a much more accurate picture of who Kyle Orton is as a QB.