It's no secret that Chicago has always had a philosophy of being a physical team. From the early years, when Halas would make his players wear extra padding to look bigger and intimidate opposing players, to the '85 Bears wrecking ball of a defense, to the current day team, the Bears have a tradition of succeeding by being nastier than everyone else. Chicago has maintained that mentality through the years on defense.
But taking a look at the offense, we lack that mentality. Sure, we have a few tough SOB's but we can kind of show our soft side against physical defenses like Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland and Denver. So I'm going to go through a run down and see how we can improve at each position, offensively.
I think we're pretty good here. Not only is Jay Cutler a tough dude, he's also a damn good quarterback. His toughness was questioned during the NFC Championship last year, but I think the assortment of hits the guy takes during nearly every play justifies one little instance.
We had a pretty good running game this year, motored for the most part by Matt Forte. We brought in Marion Barber to be the smash of Forte's dash, which has had mixed results. He didn't impress me too much, so I wouldn't be opposed to bringing in...
Jason Snelling. He's a bigger back that has surprising speed and great hands. He's elusive, fast and versatile enough that he doesn't give away the playcall when he goes in for Forte, either.
Cedric Benson. Know what, I'm just gonna straight up skip this.
Chris Polk. He's got everything you want in a back. Size, good speed, great blocker, physical but not too physical running style, great cuts, and great ball carrier vision. He'll be available later in the draft but not too much later.
Trent Richardson. I don't see or like us drafting Trent, but it is a possibility if Forte leaves. He's a big, powerful runner with breakaway speed that really would look good in a Bears uniform (in a totally non-sexual way, of course).
Doug Martin. Martin is a physical specimen. He's fairly big, stocky, but is also sort of lean looking and very athletic and fast. He has had an ok career in Boise State's pass-happy offense, but I think his potential is yet to be unlocked.
Mike Tolbert. Being a Kansas City resident and Chiefs/Bears fan, I see this guy twice a year. He's a little bowling ball with thick, tree trunk thighs who really becomes a pain in the ass after a while. His low center of gravity, leg drive, upper body strength and misleading elusiveness really makes him a match-up nightmare for defenses to attempt to tackle. Hit him high, either slide off or get shoved off. Hit him low and you'll bounce off of his powerful legs.
Peyton Hillis. He's one of the hardest running HB's in the league... when he's healthy (I mean, look at his arms. Who would want to try to tackle him?). The Browns have shown a renewed interest in him after a good finale to an otherwise pitiful season. If they do drop him, I could honestly see him coming here. He's shown a lot of potential and could become a Bear next year. Not to mention he's a great blocker and receiver and can actually play fullback as well. Which brings me to...
Tyler Clutts did a pretty decent job this year. It was largely an unrecognized job, rarely touching the ball, basically a guard in the backfield. He's ok, but we could definitely do better.
Owen Schmitt. Not only is he one of the best fullbacks in the league, he's one of the most physical NFL players. Ever. He was silently going to work in Philly's backfield, blasting open holes for NFC rushing leader LeSean McCoy. He's a crazy and violent blocker and runner who throws his whole body into his hits. He'll dive into a hole with his shoulder pads down and just explode into a linebacker, and I've seen him take out a few defenders for a few plays. He was known as one of the best runners in the league in college but has yet to get the chance in the NFL. He'll be a cheap option that could upgrade our running game significantly and is also a pretty good receiver out of the backfield.
Le'Ron McClain. He was under-utilized in KC (yet still very effective). He is a great runner and receiver who did the most with what he was given. He got the ball and he really got some hard-fought yards. He was a major component in KC's win over our hated Green Bay Packers, he picked up a key first down on the ground in the last 2 minutes and mauled Charles Woodson on Jackie Battle's 14-yard run that sealed the game. He did very well when Haley left and Romeo gave him a chance with some screens and handoffs, and we could use someone with his versatility.
Jacob Hester. Another one of those great college bruisers turned fullback in the NFL. He is a surprisingly explosive little mutt with a knack for picking up short-yardage first downs or TD's.
Chad Diehl. This guy's a brute. You watch him play at Clemson and find yourself with your jaw wide open. Linebackers see him lining up in his stance and come tearing straight towards them and just drop in fear. He's a massive back with a nasty streak, and is widely regarded as the hardest hitter and worker on the Clemson Tigers.
It's no secret we need some help here. Jay gets the job done but it can't be easy. We have a bunch of receivers who are faster than light but can't catch a cold. We need a big-bodied receiver with a mean streak who will bully corners and really take advantage of his size.
Dwayne Bowe. Somehow, Dwayne keeps coming up with great numbers despite having shitty QB's. He's easily the one of the best if not the very best after-the-run receivers in the league, and always shakes off the first hit. He dishes out some big crackback blocks, too and was a big reason for KC's rushing success last year to the outside. Physical DB's try to bump him off his route and just bounce off or get tossed to the side. He's got a knack for getting open in the endzone, and is perhaps the best redzone WR not named Calvin Johnson Jr. in the NFL. His hands are kind of streaky but they can be downright ridiculous sometimes, for good and bad.
Marques Colston. Colston oftentimes gets overshadowed because of the guy who throws the ball to him. But he is an underrated player who really does a lot for Brees. He shows great footwork and hands along with a strong upper body and intelligence that let him manipulate and trick a defender into getting burned. Great receiver.
Plaxico Burress. Say what you want about Plaxico, he can be a damn good receiver. His incredible height and girth make him a problem for the miniscule little DB's that populate this league and is a big target in the endzone.
Alshon Jeffrey. A tall and lean receiver with a knack for the endzone. His catching ability is second-to-none and a little unknown fact is that he is very, very good about holding up his blocks while the play continues.
Really, we probably have the most physyical group of TE's in the league. They're all exceptional blockers, all could be considered H-backs, and all are bruising runners with the ball in their hands. I especially like what I see from Kellen Davis. I think his size and great hands are a good combination for eventually having a breakout season. I was afraid when Greg Olsen left because Cutler wouldn't have his security blanket anymore, but Davis has done fairly good in my eyes. I see Pro Bowls in his future.
Spaeth is a great blocker, too. He's basically a tackle without too much catching ability, but that's why we grabbed him. I think our TE's blocking ability is our biggest achievement. They're massive, 270 pound receivers who are good blockers and Davis really knows how to put a lick on someone. Like this...
This is the first place you look when you want to see if an offense is physical or not. And I think that Chicago has one of the most outright PHYSICAL lines in the league. However, that's probably to try and make up for the lack of any real talent. Don't get me wrong, on a good day, when this line is good and aggressive, they're pretty rough on those poor NFL defenders. I've seen our O-linemen really abuse some defensive lineman and linebackers just for intimidation's sake. An instance like this...
And I'd much rather see that as opposed to this...
When this offensive line is working together and playing on a nasty streak, they are still shitty pass-protectors but are a brutal run-blocking clinic.
Just my observations of some of our current O-linemen...
J'Marcus Webb. Shouldn't ever be playing LT. He's a good run-blocker, one of the physical specimens up front, but his slow feet and over slow movement make him a joke to elite pass-rushers like Jared Allen. I could potentially see him playing RT or maybe even guard, but left tackle is a no-go.
Chris Williams. I like his quickness and long arms, but in this blocking scheme you've got to be able to really push someone a little bigger than you back, something Chris fails to do. He's a great pulling guard and amazing on screens, but his just straight up run-blocking needs work.
Roberto Garza. He had a decent year and I could see him sticking around at center for a year or two longer.
Chris Spencer. I personally am not a big fan of him at guard. He's a good backup center/guard, but I'd like to give Lance Louis/FA/draft pick the spot here. He's not piss-poor or anything, but still just meh.
Lance Louis. I really like Lance, and he's shown a lot of potential to me. He likes to get up close and personal and manhandles little guys when he gets the chance (as evidenced in the above clip). His straight-up bully mentality has almost led me to develop a man-crush on the guy and it grows more every day. He has flaws, but I've seen a lot of potential from the league. Also, love it or hate it, he's one of the dirtiest linemen in the league (aside from maybe Harvey Dahl, Tyson Clabo, Richie Incognito, or Leonard Davis). I've seen him finish some blocks into the dirt right at the whistle, and probably a bit after. That's the kind of attitude I want on our line.
And the ever-elusive Gabe Carimi. From what I've seen so far, I like him and think he was a good pick. In Mike Martz' words, he is a "warrior". He's a big, powerful drive blocker who finishes off his blocks with authority. Unfortunately, he got hurt and we can only hope he comes back at 100% next year.
Now, onto the offseason O-line possibilties.
Ben Grubbs. He's a big, strong guard with great mobility and speed. He's got the drive blocking prowess to fit our scheme and the pulling ability to really add something as well. The word I use to describe him is "road-grader".
Louis Vasquez. Like I said before, I'm a Chiefs fan as well and see this guy play twice a year. He's really taken after his mentor Kris Dielman and has become an enforcer on the line, but Dielman was never this big, strong or fast. He had the most bench press reps of any participant at the combine in 2009 (something the Bears love), and really likes to hit people. He's the definition of a mauler, big and strong, nasty and still relatively fast. In other words, he's one bad ombre' (racist)?
Carl Nicks. Nicks is probably the best guard in the league. So he's going to be expensive. He's really the perfect guard. Huge, strong but fast and willing to work. Depsite his massive girth, the Saints oftentimes pull with him and is almost always the guy leading the wall on a screen.
Leonard Davis. I wanted this guy last year. He's a massive, 390-pound guard/tackle who was the 2nd overall pick in 2001. He's probably the best run-blocker in the league and is one of the strongest in league history. He's one of my favorite guards ever, and could be a short-term, pretty cheap backup or potential starter next year.
Kareem McKenzie. Kareem has been pretty good to the Giants, and they have been good right back. He fits their style of offense and is fairly effective, but he's not getting any younger. He could be a fix next year.
David DeCastro. Not much risk taking him. If he's available to us I'd be totally down with him. One of the best guard prospects in years, Ideal size, speed, strength and overall ability to become a Hall of Famer.
Cordy Glenn. Glenn's a monster. A just physically imposing figure. His wide body and powerful arms let him engulf defenders and guide them to where he wants them to go. A truly massive human being.
Kelechi Osemele. Another giant who can play guard or tackle. Despite his size he has very nimble feet and moves surprisingly quick. I'm not one to jump to conclusions but he reminds me a lot of Willie Roaf, who was just recently inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Peter Konz. The best center prospect in this draft by far. Tall, strong, and great at the second level. Spearheaded Wisconsin's always brutal O-line and running game.
Demetrius Bell. Bell is a pass-protecting specialist. He is fast and has a strong intial punch to throw faster pass-rushers off their path. He was mainly known as a PURE pass-blocker up until this year when, before he got injured, he was arguably a top 5 tackle.
Jonathan Martin. One of the elite prospects in the draft who can also play guard. His mobility and natural size make him a good prospect for a good O-line coach to mold. He's a little raw as it stands right now, but had done a bang up job at Stanford.
Mike Adams. I'm not necessarily impressed with him but he deserves a shot. He's got a wide body and long arms that really help in pass-protection, but his height is a detriment in run-blocking because he has problems getting leverage.
Riley Reiff. He's easily the nastiest lineman in this draft. He takes shots at people who are well out of the play, doesn't hesitate to bowl over an off balance defender, and is known to talk a lot of smack, too. A little small and may need to bulk up a bit, but his speed and mobility can let him play guard OR tackle.