As we begin a new age, a new decade for the Bears, we have acquired a lot of good players these past two seasons, remaking ourselves into, hopefully, a better team. With the arrival of Jay Cutler, more then anything, was the sign that a new age was upon us. Whether we like him or how he has played, just the fact that he was brought in, at such a cost, is a clear marker of where this team is head, a new powerful offense, and with the signing of Julius Peppers, hopefully the resurgence of our fallen defense. But as I look towards the future, a year in particular stood out as I look over my shoulder, 2005.
In 2005, the Chicago Bears put together one of the best defenses of all time, and for a team known for it's defensive play, this year was special. That year was what many considered the mark for the Bears in years to come. Since 2001, the Bear's hadn't had a winning season, and all the pieces were in place to make this team a defensive powerhouse again. That year, behind one of the most well rounded defenses ever, the Bears lead the league in fewest points allowed, and second in yards, something that hadn't been done in Chicago since 1988. That defense had so many play makers, it was hard for offensive coordinators to know how to plan for the Bears defense. You had 10 players who registered a forced fumble, 8 players with at least one interception, 14 players with a sack, the Defensive Player of the Year, Brian Urlacher, 5 defensive Pro Bowlers, and 3 NFC Defensive Player of the Week awards. This team was just full of defensive talent, and in 2006, the defense continued to dominate. But since then, everything has changed.
Since 2006, the Bears have slowly changed, moved away from being that defensive team, despite the knowledge of how successful it was. Some things happen by accident, the injury to Urlacher these past seasons, others on purpose, and as I look back, it is amazing how far we have fallen, and how much we've let go. A few points I wanted to make:
- Of that years draft class: Benson, Bradley, Orton, Currie, C. Harris, and Wilson, only Chris Harris is still here, and he just returned after leaving. Benson has gone on to find success elsewhere, Bradley and Wilson are now with the Bucks, Currie is now playing in the CFL, Chris Harris after being traded to Carolina, is now here after another trade sent him back. Orton is the starter in Denver now, replacing Cutler. This draft class didn't work out for Chicago in the long run, but it filled needs they had at the time. Imagine what would have happened if we hadn't drafter Orton, ugh, our quarterback situation for the next 4 year would only have been worse, and Benson was our starter during the 2007 season.
- Of that defensive units starters, less then half remain. With the losses of Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, Ian Scott, only Tommie Harris remains from that defensive line. Secondary leaders Mike Brown and Mike Green are gone, and safety Chris Harris left, only just returning. The linebacker is the only position to keep it's starters, but Hunter Hillenmeyer now isn't a lock for the starting outside linebacker. Along with the loss in interception leader Nathan Vasher as well as veteran Jerry Azumah, the Bear secondary is almost a shadow of what it was with only Charles Tillman remaining.
- Of our statistical leaders that season, only Robbie Gould still remains.
- We have had 4 different quarterbacks start since then, Orton, Grossman, Griese, and Cutler.
- Only once have we recorded double digit sack since then, luckily we still have the guy who did it, Mark Anderson in 2006. We also haven't had a season where we had a player have 8 or more interceptions.
- Remaining from our top offensive line is only Olin Kreutz. Garza, who saw limited play has since become a starter.
- Since then we have only been to the playoffs once, the next season, in 2006
Now as I look back, a lot has changed, almost everything, and as I look for a year that we should strive for in recent memory, it would 2005 or 2006. We had an experienced receiver in Muhsin Muhammad, young, skilled players in Bernard Berrian, Justin Gage and Mark Bradley. Now I know this may look negative, but most this is wishful thinking. Now it must be understood I can't blame Orton for how he played that season, he was only a rookie, and if we had the present day Orton during 2005, things would have been a lot better. But now the finale, imagine if we had Jay Cutler in 2005! We had the most dominating defense in decades, a fantastic running game, a strong offensive line, and a good corp of receivers. Put Cutler in that situation and we would have been able to actually win the Super Bowl, we would have beaten Carolina in the Divisional round in 2005, the next 5 years would have been a bit differently.
I know this little trip into the past has been one that hurt a little to me, but now if we can just find some stability that has been lost, we can strive to get back to that physical defense that defines us, we can pound that football, and now we can pass. Lets hope this next decade is one that won't require losing so many key pieces and more of finding them. This next season we are set to rip it up!
So what would 2005 have been like with Jay Cutler?
Worse (8 votes)
About the same 11-5, playoffs, pretty good (13 votes)
Super Bowl appearance but just can't win it (22 votes)
Super Bowl victory, no question (86 votes)
129 total votes