After assessing the Bears at the bye week, I've got a few things I want to see the Bears work on and a couple things that bother me, so no time like the present!
1) The Bears Should Not Trade Everything Not Bolted Down And Then Some
This makes me chuckle. With the trade deadline extended to Week 8, teams get a clearer picture of where they stand and where they should be heading as the year wears on, and a team that could be falling out of it could stand to benefit from trading for picks. The Bears are not in this position.
First, the Bears are not out of the playoff hunt - they're at 4-3 with nine to play, meaning a cap at 13 wins. I'm not going to deny that 8-8 could be in the cards eventually, but that's not the point. The point is, even with the injuries mounting, the Bears still have four wins and are still in the mix of the division. Even if the Bears lose all the games while Jay Cutler is out, they still have plenty of shots to win games going forward. A temporary derailment doesn't really mean the end of the season.
But even if it did, a lot of the names thrown around are names that have no trade value whatsoever. In order to make a trade deadline trade worth it, the player going back needs to have value. And even then, you're probably not getting that player's full trade value at this point. Shea McClellin has no value. Julius Peppers has no value. Those may be specific examples, but overall, there's just no way to get full value for anything, and with where the Bears are now, I don't see trade deadline trades being very beneficial or game-changing for the Bears.
2) Defensive Line Play Must Improve
I think at this point in the year, the line is what it is - we can call it bad. And it really goes to show how important a defensive line is to the Bears (and defense in general), and maybe goes to show why Jerry Angelo loved his high-round defensive line draft picks. Or maybe that's because the ones he took didn't work out - chicken or the egg. But that's a tangent for another time.
The point is the defensive line just hasn't performed well enough to help out the back seven, shutting down gaps and getting after the passer to reduce the amount of time they have to cover.
We had a nice piece posted earlier about Mel Tucker, and while I don't think he's the sole problem, I'm not sure he's the solution at this point having seen his defense in action. But I do think a majority of the problems are personnel execution, especially with the defensive line.
3) Josh McCown's Show
The offense won't be as good without Jay Cutler, that much is certain. But if McCown can keep the offense afloat (and maybe the defense comes through for a game or two) and the team gets a win or two, they enter a winnable stretch of games when Cutler returns, which makes the McCown stretch here that much more important in a tight NFC North. And I don't think I'd read anything deeper into McCown's performance than that. It wouldn't really be an indictment of Jay Cutler if McCown performed well, nor some fantastic praising of the Marc Trestman offense, and if McCown doesn't perform well, remember that above all, he's still a backup quarterback. He mans the helm for a three-game stretch (or until Cutler comes back, if Brandon Marshall is to be believed), one that is quite critical to the Bears' success upcoming.
Between the injuries to Jay Cutler, Henry Melton, Lance Briggs, Nate Collins, D.J. Williams, and periodic injuries to Charles Tillman, Martellus Bennett and Brandon Marshall, not to mention Brandon Meriweather attempting to run into everything in sight without repercussion, the Bears have had injury problems since about week three after heading into the year completely healthy on the 53-man roster. And the bye week is at least a week to recover from injuries without playing a game, so there's that.
Long story short, there are plenty of problems that won't merely be solved by the bye week, but really, it doesn't come at a bad time for the team. We'll have to see how the backups and rookies perform next week and the weeks to come.