The Silver Lining in a Lost Season

Our season is all but lost, but I think that rather than wallow in the sadness and despair of injuries, poor quarterback play and lost opportunities, as some members here seem to like to do :) I thought I would look for some positives that will come out of this season and sustain us through the offseason and being lots and lots of hope for 2012. I will give a nod to the most famous alum of my alma mater, David Letterman, with a Top 5 Reasons Not To Cry After the 2011 Chicago Bears Season....

5) Health. Obviously, this is an easy one. Next year we'll get Cutler back, as well as Forte (hopefully under the franchise tag, or even better, a long-term extension), as well as get guys like Gabe Carimi, Chris Williams (did we ever think we'd miss C-Dub?), Johnny Knox, Major Wright and Pat Mannelly, among others, like special teamers Kyle Adams, Anthony Walters and J.T. Thomas. Maybe Brian Iwuh will even find his way back to our squad, but either way, this team will be healthier on opening day than it is currently.

4) Better draft pick; Let's face it, this is the most basic reason any fanbase can swallow the pill of a bad season, the draft pick. The draft symoblizes so many things for teams; hope, fresh talent, etc. The Bears are looking like they will finish i what I call the NFL "No-Mans Land" where you're outside the playoffs and outside a top 10 draft choice, usually finishing with a record between 7-9 and 9-7. I think the Bears could end up 7-9 or 8-8. The Bears will get a choice somewhere in the mid-teens and this team isn't exactly short on positions it needs help with; OL, DB, WR and the list goes on (do we finally look at drafting some future LB guys?). While these questions remain to be answered and the nearly endless speculation and wishlists will pop up here on WCG right down to draft day '12, it will be nice to have a higher pick and more choices with which to choose. Even if it is JA making that choice...

3) More willing to make a splash in free agency. As my colleague, T.J. Shouse wrote last week, JA will be returning, and that's OK. Angleo has an iffy-at-best drafting record and the team's lack of free agency moves has often been viewed as all down to him. The outsiders viewing the the organization as "cheap" often comes down on JA, whether that is the case or not, we often don't know. However, as Shouse pointed out "He sees that this season was derailed by two key injuries (and affected by a bunch of others), and that the Bears are going to be all-in for next season to be a success. Next year will be a crucial year for success in part because of the age of key defenders, and the likely franchise tag of Forte which provides no long-term security for either player or team" I am most interested in the "all-in" for next year phrase. Angelo might end up begging for looser purse strings to bring in a good, solid O-coordinator that both he AND Lovie approve of (remember, JA publicly distanced himself from the Mike Martz hire at the time) and sign some key free agents; maybe a solid corner, maybe an established WR. Who knows, but I wouldn't be surprised if JA tries to get this team over the top with a couple key cogs for next year in order to establish a legacy. We can hope any way....

2) A new offensive coordinator. As I referenced above, I believe that we will have a new system next year. Moan and groan and bitch about it all you want, but it's probably, unfortunately, the best thing for this team. Martz's system has been a big bust for the most part, an era that will be remembered for sacks and identity crises more than good offensive football. Martz's contract is up at the end of the season and I doubt he'll be back. He'll either get a college coaching job or get the "fall-guy" status for not having Caleb "The Slump" Hanie ready to go. Maybe both but either way Cutler and Co. will have a new play-caller next fall. I bet we'll see a repeat of the 2010 search with Cutler having a bit of a say and with a push for guys well-known around the league. This time, everyone has seen that Lovie had this team in the NFC Championship Game a year ago and they were playoff bound again this year, until the injuries un-did them, so no one will be afraid of the one-and-gone thing the coaching staff had over their head last season.

and the number one reason not to cry after the 2011 Bears season....

1) Easier schedule next year. The Bears had a brutal September this year and had to face the division winners from a year ago in the Eagles and the Seahawks because we won the division last year, plus we played the entire NFC South. Next year we get the NFC West, the AFC South and then [likely] the third place team's from the NFCs South and East, which would be either the Panthers or the Bucs and the Eagles or Redskins. Now we beat both those NFC South teams this year, although Cam Newton will be better in year two, defenses will have a whole 16 games worth of film to study how to slow him down. The Eagles should improve after the fiasco this year and who knows, maybe they'll have a whole new coach, but the Bears always bring their A-game against the Eagles and Vick.

It was pointed out that the Packers had a very easy-looking schedule for a defending champ and a lot of that was because they finished behind us in the division. This year we should end up with the advantage of the third place schedule thanks to the Lions and have a sneaky-easy schedule that will put us in the driver seat for a bounce-back 2012, with a healthy number 6 and 22 in the backfield. Won't that be nice?

So don't fret fellow Bears fans, and remember this as this tough, gut punch of a season comes to an end. There is silver lining in the coffin of the 2011 season.

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