Now that the season is over, and we're in the midst of a frantic coaching hunt, I thought I'd share my ideas on what I think the Bears should do this offseason to help them return to the playoffs.
Hire Rick "Rico" Dennison. Jay Cutler and Marshall had a Probowl year under him, and he has had a lot of success with the Texans. I've read a few articles saying that, if hired, he would promote Jeremy Bates to OC, which might lessen the learning curve for the new offense. Those two worked well together in Denver, and I think Jay Cutler would thrive under that offense. Matt Forte could be a great fit in a zone-blocking rushing offense.
Another plus of Dennison's hiring is that there's a good chance that if he is hired, he would keep Rod Marinelli and the defensive scheme in place. Our scheme has been very successful, and I think most of us here would like it to remain the same. Also, doing this would hopefully entice Urlacher to stay one more year.
I think the Bears roster is pretty solid for the most part. But it still needs improvement. These are the positions that need to be improved this offseason.
1. LG - Who would you like the Bears' left guard to be? A. Chris Spencer B. Chilo Rachal C. James Brown D. None of the above. Exactly. This is the part of our line that was terrible all year, and it is our most pressing need. J'marcus Webb showed enough improvement in the second half of the season to warrant a start in 2013, and I think that a top notch guard would do wonders for his development.
2. TE - Man, Kellen Davis is just terrible. You can see the frustration in Cutler's eyes increase every time he walks back to the huddle after a Kellen Davis dropped pass. Matt Spaeth is good enough, but is not worth the 2.4 million cap hit. And Kyle Adams is just non-existent in the offense. If I were Emery, I would cut all 3 and revamp the position completely.
Could be improved:
3. C - Garza is getting old and isn't great.
4. LB (Need would be glaring if Urlacher leaves/retires, but for the sake of this article I'm going to assume he stays, because I'm hoping he does).
Icing on the cake:
5. Nickel Corner
1. Andy Levitre - The consensus among the league at this point is that Andy Levitre will not return to the Bills next season. The Bills do not have enough cap space to resign him and Jarius Byrd. Phil Emery hinted at fixing the line via free agency in his press conference, and Levitre would by far be the best option. He's one of the best guards in the league, and he's only 26.
2. Dustin Keller - Keller isn't an elite tight end, but he is one of the better tight ends in the league. On Dec 28th he said, "I don't feel anything, to be honest. There's been no signs to show me that there's a possibility of me coming back. Nobody's said anything. So we'll see." He seems unhappy in New York in the midst of the Sanchez era, and I think he'd listen if the Bears gave him a call. He could be had for cheaper because of his down year and injury, maybe around 3 - 4 million a year (just a rough estimate). He's a good blocker and could take over Matt Spaeth's role, but with better hands.
1st Round - Tyler Eifert - Eifert is, in my opinion, the best TE in the draft. If Keller is brought in to fill Spaeth's role, we still need a true, middle-of-the-field threat. Eifert would bring back a dimension to our offense we haven't had since Greg Olsen.
2nd Round - Best Center Available - It would incredible if Barrett Jones could fall to the second round, as interior lineman have a tendency to be undervalued on draft day. If Jones does fall, Emery should pull a move similar to the Alshon Trade Up, and sacrifice a 5th round pick for our center for the next 10 years. If not, we need to draft the next best guy (Khaled Holmes maybe?) Garza will be 34 at the start of next season, and he's certainly not the greatest lineman in the world. We should keep him next season for depth and to start the season to fill in for Lance Louis while he recovers from ACL surgery, but let him walk as a free agent after this year.
4th Round - Tyrann Mathieu - DJ Moore was a liability in coverage this year, and Kelvin Hayden and Zachary Bowman certainly weren't anything to celebrate. All 3 are going to be free agents come March. I would keep Bowman for his special teams play and keep Hayden for depth, but the position should still be improved. I go to LSU and witnessed The Honey Badger's ball-hawking skills first-hand. I get goosebumps thinking of how many fumbles would be forced with him and Tillman playing together. He can also take over for Hester on returns if he does decide to retire.
5th, 6th, 7th Round - BPA with an emphasis on linebacker and speed receiver - At this point in the draft, our major needs have been filled aside from linebacker. I think that we should hit linebacker in the first round of the 2014 draft if Urlacher stays this year, as an elite heir to the face of the franchise probably won't be found in the later rounds. And with Hester threatening retirement and Johnny Knox's future uncertain, we could possibly be lacking a deep threat to stretch the field. We should look for these 2 positions in the later rounds and hope for a gem to emerge.
Side Note: Of Course if Urlacher does decide to retire, this could change the draft immensely. Manti Te'o, Alec Ogletree, and Kevin Minter could all be in play for round 1. That would kind of kill this mock...
FINAL ROSTER/ DEPTH CHART
(I based number of players for each position on last year's roster)
WR - Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, (Training camp battle for final 2 roster spots between Johnny Knox, Eric Weems, Joe Anderson, Terrance Tolliver, and any other drafted receivers)
TE - Tyler Eifert, Dustin Keller, Evan Rodriguez (Training camp battle for 4th spot)
LT - JWebb Nation
LG - Andy Levitre, James Brown
C - (2nd round Draft Pick)
RG - Lance Louis, Roberto Garza (Garza as starting guard until Louis is healthy)
CB - Charles Tillman, Kelvin Hayden
Nickel Corner - Tyrann Mathieu
DE - Corey Wootten, Israel Idonije
DT - Stephen Paea, Matt Toeina
K - Robbie Gould
P - Adam Podlesh
LS - Patrick Mannelly
This is my dream scenario of our offseason. But what do you think? Any chance any of this happens?