The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the Chicago Bears
Music to listen to: They Say by Common ft. Kanye West
These are the artists I had to choose from. Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Alison Krauss, house music, polka, Styx, Chicago, Cheap Trick, Mudvayne, Fall Out Boy, Ministry, Smashing Pumpkins, Ministry, Eddie Vedder, Tom Morello of Rage, Adam Jones from Tool, Kanye West, Common, Twista, R. Kelly and Lupe Fiasco.
That was a frickin hard choice. I went with the Chicago duo.
Current State: Since facing the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl in 2006, the Bears are 23-25 with no playoff appearances and only one winning season.
Chicago tried to change this with the acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler last offseason but the squad finished 7-9 and he had a substandard season and threw an NFL-high 26 interceptions. This offseason, the Bears acquired defensive end Julius Peppers in hopes that this will improve the defense.
All of these are desperate moves by a franchise that clearly sees two of its main rivals, Minnesota and Green Bay become better than it and positive growth in Detroit.
Furthermore, head coach Lovie Smith needs a big season to retain his job as well as general manager Jerry Angelo. Things have gotten so desperate that the Bears have hired Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator. How his offense will work in the cold weather of Chicago with an inaccurate quarterback like Cutler will be a sight to see.
Biggest Offseason Change: The biggest additions arguably of any team to its personnel and coaching staff.
Peppers physically is one of the most talented players in the NFL. He will help solidify the front seven of the Bears who also hope to get a healthy Brian Urlacher back from a broken wrist that caused the linebacker to miss most of the 2009 season.
However, Peppers also has shown major inconsistency in his play and that was before he signed his major contract. The hope is that he will be motivated by financial security and contract incentives.
Martz will try to fix a broken offense with an undisciplined quarterback, a good running back, bad offensive line and weak receivers. Martz has worked with quarterbacks such as Kurt Warner, Mark Bulger, Jeff Garcia and others who’s accuracy and timing were their strengths. Cutler doesn’t have any of that. Running back Matt Forte will be a nice tool for him to work with but the receivers aren’t even on the same playing level as Martz’s old crew in St. Louis.
Plus, one has to question how well the offense will work outside of the dome stadiums where it had its most success in St. Louis and Detroit.
Uniform Grade: They have had the same uniforms forever and no one complains, so all must be well. Don’t wear those orange jerseys again though. Grade: B
Best Player: The Bears have some good players but many of them are either on the decline or coming off injury like Urlacher, Tommy Harris or Forte.
A case can be made for Lance Briggs because he makes a lot of Pro Bowls and has a big name but that doesn’t impress me as much. Devin Hester has this title for a moment but since he’s become a full-time receiver, his return skills have become mortal.
I’ll still say that its Cutler but last season wasn’t the impression you want to leave on your career.
Most Important Player: I’ve been harping on Cutler enough so I’ll say this one is Urlacher.
The defense wasn’t terrible last season but wasn’t up to the Bears standards. If Urlacher can return to his form than Chicago has a chance to have a winning record in 2010.
Best Case: Martz’s offense works well for Chicago and the defense finds its health. Seven wins.
Worst Case: Cutler stills shows a lack of discipline and throws more than 20 interceptions. Forte’s knee isn’t fully healthy. Peppers continues his inconsistent play. Last place in the NFC North.
Coaching: I addressed Lovie Smith and his situation above.
First memory of team: I always respected Mike Singletary. When other linebackers and defensive players would get compared to my favorite football player growing up, Lawrence Taylor, I would get mad accept when it came to Singletary.
Also, they have gotten annoying over the years, more the fans than the actual players, but the 1985 Bears were beasts.
Schedule: The Bears will have to deal with Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota in the division.
The home games are against Seattle, Washington, Philadelphia, New England and the New York Jets. The away games are at Dallas, the New York Giants, Carolina, Buffalo and Miami.
City Nicknames: The Windy City is good. Chi-town is OK. I don’t like Second City.
Fantasy Focus: I would take a flyer on Forte.
Overall Outlook: The Bears may be a surprise tea in the NFL but I just don’t see it. There are too many adjustments that must be made on offense and reliance on the health of top players on defense for the team to succeed.
Final Record: 5-11
Gridiron Blitz 2010 Season Previews: