Anyone who isn’t living under a rock knows that he Bears lost to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game 21 to 14. What is clear is that every Bears fan right now feels a combination of anger, frustration and resentment as to how a seemingly magical season ended. The game was a debacle of near epic proportions as starting Quarterback Jay Cutler was sidelined with an injury yet the game was nearly turned around by the heroics of third-string QB Caleb Hanie.
The question now for everybody is how to pick up the pieces and try to get the team back on track once again for another playoff run in 2011.
Guys they should keep:
Jay Cutler- there is no doubt in my mind that Jay just needs more time to fit in with Mike Martz’s complex schemes on the offense. Yes, he had a terrible game against the Packers but it wasn’t completely his fault; his offensive line was downright offensive in protecting him and his receivers weren’t much help either. What Jay needs would be a QB coach who can mentor him in addition to Martz. Perhaps his old buddy Jeremy Bates (who was recently fired by Seattle) could help?
Caleb Hanie- even though he probably didn’t take any practice snaps with the first team since October, Hanie proved that he can play in the NFL with a near comeback against the Packers. One of the greatest mysteries this season is why Caleb was even relegated to third string when he shows so much promise. Mobile and with good accuracy, Hanie is a perfect backup for Cutler and it would be extremely stupid to get rid of him.
Olin Kreutz- the 13-year veteran center is probably the only guy keeping the offensive line together and he should stay for at least one more season as they rebuild. Being the unquestioned leader of this group makes Olin extremely valuable.
J’Marcus Webb- considering that it is only his rookie season, Webb shows promise as a young tackle and perhaps may blossom into a legitimate offensive lineman. Give him another year and let’s see how he does.
Kellen Davis- showed promise as a streaking tight end during the playoff contest against Seattle, Davis has the raw talent to be a potential superstar, assuming Martz decides to use tight ends in his scheme.
Greg Olsen- if they were to get rid of Olsen, Jay would lose his best buddy on the team and might go through an even worse meltdown than during the championship game. Just kidding. Olsen has the size, speed and catching ability and should be kept.
Guys they need to get rid of:
Todd Collins- how this man even wears an NFL uniform is a complete mystery to me. He. Needs. To. Go. Now.
Chris Williams- after being a bust at tackle he gets shifted to a guard and promptly gets pushed back 10 yards into his own quarterback during the game against the Redskins. After missing most of his rookie season with a back problem (which our GM Jerry Angelo was well aware of but drafted him in the first round anyway), it’s quite apparent that he has BUST written all over him.
Brandon Manumaleuna- although Jerry Angelo clearly scored in acquiring Julius Peppers in free agency, his other two choices were clearly disappointments. While Chester Taylor still has some use as a back up to Matt Forte, Brandon clearly cannot block anybody even though he was hired for that very purpose.
Tommie Harris- even though he was playing as if his life depended on it in the last few games, its not enough to keep this overpriced has-been. The Bears will be better off with young defensive tackles Matt Toeaina and Marcus Harrison.
Lovie Smith- should the Bears extend Lovie’s contract since next season might be his last? I would say wait and see if he can bring the team back into the playoffs in 2011. If he does then by all means extend his contract. But if he doesn’t then it’s time for a new direction.
Jerry Angelo- his drafts have clearly been subpar and is the main reason the team has gone on a free agent spending spree in the last two seasons. I would say give him one final chance with this year’s draft. But if he doesn’t draft at least two offensive linemen in the first three rounds then he should be promptly given the boot for being blind to the needs of the team.
Mike Martz- despite being driven out of town last year, Ron Turner’s previous offensive numbers (ranked 23rd overall in 2009) were better than this year’s under the new regime of Mike Martz, which has the 30th ranked offense in the entire league. While stats can be deceiving (this year’s win-loss record and playoff run is clearly superior), Martz needs to get the handle on his schemes and must show a definite improvement next season or he should be given the boot as well.