I don't get a lot of chances to talk about how I really feel about the team during the season in these little weekend slots I have. Between spending my Saturdays looking at the pending matchup from a few different angles, my Sundays doing an official preview, recap, and enjoying the game with you guys, digesting what I just watched for Scribbles the following morning, and the early preview on Wednesday, my rantings tend to be more fact-based and matchup-directed. So having hit a bit of a kink in my normal Saturday posting routine, I thought I'd take a little time to give my view of the Bears' franchise through four games of the 2011 season. Follow me past the jump...
I'm not that big a fan of our situation at safety, as you've probably gleaned. I think Major Wright can still develop into a decent safety, but that development has to start at some point. Consider that right now, Chris Harris and Brandon Meriweather are free agents after the end of the season. If both walk, Wright becomes the veteran safety at that spot. It's one thing to be a third-year safety and a starter. It's another thing when that safety hasn't developed just yet like it's hoped he does. At this point, it wouldn't surprise me if the Bears spend a third consecutive third-rounder on a safety in the draft.
I like that we have the ability to run the ball. The meathead in me loves seeing a running back take the hand-off and plow through the hole for a four-yard gain. But I want to see the Bears run the ball when they've got a lead and when it's not what the opponent's looking to stop. And in order to get the lead, and win more games, the Bears will eventually have to be able to throw the ball. With the current personnel, I'm not sure if we have that. I think the Bears have a quarterback and a really good running back. There isn't really a receiver I trust on the roster (possibly Bennett) and the offensive line hasn't met a blitz it didn't like to let through. Maybe Carimi stabilizes the right side, maybe Webb continues to develop at left tackle, and maybe Chris Williams can stay at left guard. Does that mean we pursue a guard or center early in the draft, go after a "bailout" wide receiver, or use our early picks to answer other burgeoning needs like a linebacker or corner?
I think the offensive line will eventually be fine as long as they aren't asked to pass-protect fifty times a game, especially when Carimi returns.
I think if anything, the season to date has shown above all else, the Bears need a dependable receiver. I realize it's the same drum that's been pounded over and over again, but it doesn't look like Roy Williams has anything left, and there's hardly any other receiver on the roster with decent size or the ability to run a route.
While the Bears need additional linebacker depth (as evidenced by moving Winston Venable to linebacker the other day), maybe defensive line is a bigger area of need than we think. Name the last time the Bears had decent pressure on anyone this season. Opposing quarterbacks have gone largely untouched this season, and that prospect scares me. And that leads me to... The Bears have supposedly the best defensive-line coach in the league, and can't get any pressure? One of the best offensive-line coaches in the league, and hardly any protection? One of the best offensive minds in the NFL and we get an offense that barely moves the ball? At what point do we agree the coaches haven't delivered up to their reputations? I know personnel is largely an Angelo problem, but the coaches have to provide results at some point, and the results just aren't there - more often than not, the Bears aren't winning the battle at the line and putting players in positions to succeed.
As far as this season goes, given our level of competition, 2-2 is probably about where the Bears should be, but the coming quarter should give us a clearer picture of what our team is. Not every game is against New Orleans, Atlanta or Green Bay, and the Bears will have a good test here in 4-0 Detroit. After that, though, the Bears face Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Philadelphia - while Minnesota is still winless, Tampa and Philly are possible playoff teams as well. Those games should tell us if there's still hope for the Bears or if it's time to start looking towards next season.
The Bears currently have a lot of questions. I hope some of them are answered as the season progresses.