I've been holding onto this thought during the Bears' winning streak, and despite the loss last week to the Raiders on the road, we're still right in the mix for the playoffs. So while most prognosticators saw the Bears fading back from the elite to the mediocre this year, the Bears instead are left with a chance to still do some damage barring two things: Hanie does enough to help the team win enough to get to the playoffs, and Cutler comes back for a playoff run. So, does this (so far) successful season mean its time to give Angelo some credit for this team? Hold off on the vitriol for a moment and hit the jump.
The Chicago Bears' fanbase is justifiably teetering between annoyance and hatred when it comes to any Jerry Angelo move. We're not going to go back and analyze his history of dubious draft picks or free agent moves to give credence to these feelings, because his track record is undeniably sketchy at best, or downright putrid at worst. And while its worth mentioning that we as fans crave the best player available be added at almost every turn (Asomugha, Mankins) regardless of the plausibility of such a move, we also want to see moves that are obviously progressing our team's chances for success, rather than dubious or downright laughable ones (hello Frank). However, we are going to look at this offseasons moves at a glance, and you can determine for yourself whether you give Jelly any, all, or no credit for the Bears' year thus far.
The ironic thing about this offseason's moves has to be that the two pickups the majority of us lauded as solid - the Carimi and Paea picks - have had a relatively minor impact this year. Carimi's out for the year after suffering a dislocated kneecap in week two, while Paea has only played in six games this year, registering six tackles and one safety sack. On the flip side, Jerry's "what the truck" draft pick Chris Conte was elevated into the starting lineup early in the season and has played solidly next to Major Wright (another Jerry pick possibly/finally coming into his own).
While the rest of the Bears' draft hasn't provided
much anything in terms of on-the-field impact (Enderle and JT Thomas), Dane Sanzenbacher has been a pleasant surprise as a quality possession receiver for depth purposes this year (yes, he's not a stud, but he's better than the laundry list of guys we've had as #4-#5 wideouts, especially from a potential/early production standpoint).
We decried the Olin Kreutz situation, and the lack of addition to a terrible O-line, but bringing back Edwin Williams, adding Spencer, and sliding over Garza has worked. The Olsen trade was divisive, but it did bring back a high third round pick and help the team remake the position with Spaeth and Davis as true block-first, catch-second tight ends. We wanted a top-end wide receiver, and instead got Roy Williams. Disappointing? Yes, but we do have a big receiving option now to go with our treasure trove of second-tier wideouts.
Speaking of free agency, Marion Barber has been everything we wanted Chester Taylor to be, Tyler Clutts has been a pleasant surprise, and Sam Hurd brought some talent to a gutted special teams group. Adam Podlesh isn't Brad Maynard, he's been better (only two touchbacks, 40.7 yards net), and while Gholston didn't make it through preseason, Amobi Okoye's been an occasional cog on the D-line wheel.
We brought back Corey Graham, who has been huge in both the return coverage aspect and while filling in for D.J. Moore, shuttled away last year's best safety (Chris Harris) while adding the merry head hunter, and have survived with almost no linebacker and defensive end depth to speak of. And even if you go the "Spaeth and Barber only negate the turrible Taylor and Manu signings" route, at least management made those corrections.
So, just looking at this offseason's moves and how they have affected the Bears' season thus far, where do you stand on the Jerry Angelo Pat on the Back scale?