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Grading Every Chicago Bears Starter's 2013 Regular Season » The Chicago Bears were sent on early vacation after a crushing loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The Bears finished with an 8-8 record in what is considered an underachieving season.  Changes to the roster will come, but before the Bears can move forward they must evaluate the team. The ... Packers vs. Bears: Takeaways from Chicago's 33-28 Loss to Green Bay » The NFC North division crown and a trip to the playoffs were laid out before them, but the Chicago Bears could not capitalize and lost to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 33-28 on Sunday afternoon. The offense sputtered in the first half but was able to stay in check due to the defense. Unfortuna... Jay Cutler More Than Deserves to Be Bears' QB of the Future » The disappointment of once again falling short of the postseason should not cloud the decision-making process that lies ahead of the Chicago Bears on soon-to-be free agent quarterback Jay Cutler.  While the Bears were unable to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Week 17, Cutle... Referee Error Aids Green Bay Packers in Win over Chicago Bears » The Green Bay Packers, now NFC North champs and playoff bound after their 33-28 win over the Chicago Bears, converted on fourth down three times on their final drive, culminating with a 48-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb on 4th-and-8. However, one of those fourth-down con... Packers vs. Bears: Final Game Grades and Analysis for Chicago » Aaron Rodgers throws a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb to eliminate the Chicago Bears from playoff contention.     Final Score Green Bay Packers: 33 Chicago Bears: 28 Final Analysis for the Chicago Bears Passing Offense: Jay Cutler did everything he could to keep his team in t...
Saturday, 25 October 2014
Chicago Bears News
Why Jay Cutler Is Still the Quarterback to Take Chicago Bears Forward
Monday, 30 December 2013 06:23    PDF Print E-mail

The Chicago Bears may not have won the NFC North, but they had a rather promising season in 2013. They came within reach of a playoff berth but fell short to the Green Bay Packers on a last-minute touchdown. Still, it's clear the Marc Trestman era is off to a good start, and that pretty much all begins with their quarterback, Jay Cutler

The Bears got off to a hot start in 2013, largely because of Cutler. They began their season at 4-2, and Cutler was phenomenal during that stretch. He had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 12-to-3 and also averaged a 97.2 passer rating in that time.

What made this more impressive is that these weren't against fluff teams, they were against the likes of New Orleans and Cincinnati. Cutler was having one of the better seasons of his career until he got injured and things began to spiral.

Josh McCown played well in his place, but it was clear he was never the franchise quarterback they needed. Cutler's last few games this season weren't astounding performances by any means, but showed enough for the Bears to believe in him. Cutler is set to become a free agent, and it will be imperative for Chicago to re-sign the veteran gunslinger.

In fact, they don't have much of a choice.

Now, Cutler is no Peyton Manning, but he's the best available option for the Bears. There's no telling whether or not McCown will be able to replicate his numbers from before, and the Bears don't have a high enough pick in the draft to select a guy worth starting from day one. This is a franchise that, if not for some Aaron Rodgers magic, would be in the playoffs; starting over with a rookie just doesn't make any sense.

Besides that, Cutler knows the system better than anyone they'd get off the street and already has chemistry with his receivers. Let's also not forget it's just his first year under Marc Trestman and there's still a ton of room to grow, although he's already done a pretty good job of picking things up.

Cutler even has the support of his fellow players.

2013 was Cutler's most efficient season as a quarterback (89.2 rating) and foreshadows a bright future, so why not give him another shot to quarterback this team? I understand Chicago's trepidation with signing Cutler to a long-term, big-money deal, but they could probably work out some sort of mutually beneficial and economically smart contract.

Worst comes to worst and they can't figure a long-term deal, then slapping on the franchise tag would provide a buffer for them through the 2014 season to get things figured out. The bottom line is that the Bears need Cutler in order to keep up what they have going on.

 

*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference*

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Chicago Bears Need to Fire Defensive Coodinator Mel Tucker
Monday, 30 December 2013 06:23    PDF Print E-mail

The Chicago Bears season is over, and so should Mel Tucker's stint as the team's defensive coordinator.

The Bears season ended thanks to a blown coverage by a player who probably shouldn't have been on the field in the first place. It was just one more mistake by the worst defense in the history of the franchise. The guy in charge of that defense has no business being back next season.

Tucker chose to bring a blitz and relied on safety Chris Conte to do his job and not get beat deep. Conte blew the coverage because Conte regularly blows coverages. By Week 17, it was one of the few things you could count on with the defense.

This is not to absolve Conte of all blame. Of course he has to do his job and not let someone run right by him when he doesn't have help over the top. He also missed an interception that should've sealed the game. He messes up regularly; it is who he is.

Yet he was never benched, not even for a single snap. In fact, Tucker didn't bench a single player for performance reasons all season.

A good coach doesn't keep asking players to do what they're incapable of.

It would be hard to say Anthony Walters isn't an upgrade. We'll never know because Tucker never bothered to try to find out. It's hard to see how Walters could have been worse.

Conte is just an example of players Tucker stuck with for no good reason. 

There's no good reason Shea McClellin should've been playing over David Bass. McClellin isn't capable of holding up against the run. It was proven week after week. Yet Tucker kept starting him, and the Bears kept getting gashed on the ground.

They had injuries, but this isn't the first time a Bears team has had injuries. They're also not the only NFL team to suffer injuries. Yet that is the excuse Tucker has been given.

Lovie Smith had years with injuries.

In 2009 they had two starting linebackers—including Brian Urlacher— miss at least 14 games. Up front they started Anthony Adams and Marcus Harrison at defensive tackle next to a washed-up Tommie Harris with washed-up defensive ends Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown. Al Afalava started 13 games at safety that season, Kevin Payne added five starts and Josh Bullocks got four. Zackary Bowman was the corner opposite Charles Tillman.

That defense gave up 375 points and was ranked 21st in scoring. A worse roster, but much better results.

The Bears had injuries last season. Urlacher was gimpy at the beginning and missed the last few games. Henry Melton missed a couple games, Tim Jennings missed a couple games and Julius Peppers played the whole season with plantar fasciitis.

Yet they were arguably the best defense in the league. How did they drop so far so fast?

Nobody expected the Bears to still be a dominant unit with the number of injuries they had. However, there's no reason they should've been as bad as they were. They were as bad as they possibly could've been.

It isn't as if they were good before injuries destroyed their lineup. Through four games, the Bears gave up 28.5 points per game, 23.2 if you subtract the scores by the opposing defenses and special teams. 

Prior to the season, the argument was that Tucker's defenses always stunk because the players he had always stunk. How is that possible? Isn't he involved in the draft process? Shouldn't a good coach get more out of his players? It can't be argued that Tucker does that.

If one guy is always coaching bad defenses, it can't be that the players are always bad. Terry Shea had injuries and bad players in his first years as the Bears offensive coordinator in 2004, but that doesn't mean he was a bad coordinator.

Perhaps the biggest indictment of Tucker is that the Bears defense got worse as the season progressed.

Injuries were the excuse used, yet when Lance Briggs came back in Week 16, they gave up 449 rushing yards and 80 points in their last two games. They also added Jeremiah Ratliff during the season but saw no improvement.

Blown coverages and missed tackles are staples of a Tucker-led defense.

Perhaps an even more inexplicable play came on Jarrett Boykin's fumble return for a touchdown. Julius Peppers forced a fumble and the ball sat on the ground for awhile, yet no Bears player made an attempt to pick it up.

James Anderson looked at it and walked right by the loose ball. Boykin then picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown. 

Maybe the players should know to pick that ball up, but maybe it should be coached to the point where it's a habit? Under Smith, the Bears never let a ball lay on the ground—something one of his former players noted.

The Bears finished this season ranked 29th in yards allowed and 30th in scoring defense. It was the fourth time in six seasons that a defense called by Tucker has finished in the bottom 10 in scoring defense. The only years Tucker has coached a defense that finished in the top half of the league in scoring defense, he was under head coaches with defensive backgrounds. 

For comparison's sake, Dom Capers has had that happen just five times in 20 seasons as a defensive coordinator and head coach, and he took over two expansion franchises.

The first warning sign may have been when Tucker arrived in Chicago and decided to stick with the Bears' previous scheme and terminology. I understand the "don't fix what isn't broken" philosophy, but a good coach should have confidence in what he does and how he does it. 

The simple fact is Tucker isn't good at his job and never has been. The Bears will be best off moving on to someone who can build a defense from scratch. That is what they need right now, and there's no reason to think Tucker is capable of getting them back to respectability.

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NFL Draft Picks Who Would Be Instant Starters for the Chicago Bears
Written by Chicago Sporting    Monday, 22 April 2013 00:00    PDF Print E-mail

With the Senior Bowl in the books and the Super Bowl coming up, it's time to focus on the NFL draft. The Bears hold the 20th overall pick in the first round and could go in a number of different directions. 

General manager Phil Emery has a reputation for evaluating talent at a high level, selecting the best player available and the best player who fits his football team. With that in mind, they may not necessarily go the direction of left tackle like many assume. 

Based on where the Bears are drafting, there are a handful of players who may be on the board at that time who can come in and not only start right away but be a valuable contributor to the team.

Here are five guys from five different positions who can start next season on the Bears. 

Begin Slideshow


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Chicago Bears Must Decide Whether to Keep Brian Urlacher
Sunday, 03 February 2013 21:03    PDF Print E-mail

The Chicago Bears have a history of great linebackers over the years—Dick Butkus, Clyde "Bulldog" Turner, Bill George and Mike Singletary to name a few. And for more than a decade, Chicago fans have witnessed another great linebacker, with Brian Urlacher leading a resurgence of the Monsters of the Midway.

On Tuesday, Urlacher, who is entering his 14th season in the NFL, said during an interview on the Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN 1000 in Chicago that he wants to play in Chicago and is willing to take a pay cut because of his age (via ESPN). But there is a chance that he could find himself on the free-agent market.

Urlacher will be 35 when the 2013 season kicks off, and health has been an issue over the last three seasons. He was hampered with a knee injury for a good portion of last season, but still managed 68 tackles and one interception. In addition, Urlacher's 2009 season ended after the season opener in Green Bay when he suffered a broken wrist.

If healthy, many fans believe that Urlacher should be able to retire as a Chicago Bear.

One of the biggest concerns with Urlacher's situation is his salary. He made $7.5 million in 2012 and it would be hard to give him that kind of salary again with the recent injuries.

 

Urlacher has also lost a bit of speed when covering running backs. He can still deliver a good hit and provide good coverage, but he is on the decline from when he was a first round draft pick in 2000.

Chicago needs to have a veteran core at the linebacker position as they look to develop for the future with general manager Phil Emery and new head coach Marc Trestman. But the future cannot rely on Urlacher and Lance Briggs, who will enter his 11th season next year. And it's not known if the Bears are planning to resign Nick Roach, who will enter his sixth season.

There have been talks about rookie Shea McClellin being moved into the middle linebacker position to replace Urlacher. If that's the case, I think the Bears should try to sign Urlacher for at least one or two more seasons and help ease the transition of McClellin from defensive end.

Or, keep Urlacher to help develop a rookie from the upcoming draft in April.

Either way, if the Bears can get a good enough discount for Urlacher, it would be a plus for the future development of the team and to continue building towards immediate success.

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Chicago Bears Could Switch to 3-4 Defense If Henry Melton Walks
Sunday, 03 February 2013 21:03    PDF Print E-mail

Since the Bears hired Mel Tucker as their Defensive Coordinator, they haven't said much about the scheme they would run. While it's widely assumed they will stick with the 4-3 defense Tucker ran in Jacksonville, the scheme should depend on the personnel; and if they lose defensive tackle Henry Melton, it could mean a switch to a 3-4.

In his opening press conference, new head coach Marc Trestman would not comment on what scheme he'd run on offense, noting he would have to view film and find out what the players do best. It seems likely the same will apply for the defense, where Tucker has experience running both 3-4 and 4-3 defenses.

Tucker got his first coaching job at Michigan State with coach Nick Saban, a noted 3-4 defense guru. His first NFL job came on Romeo Crennel's staff in Cleveland, first as the defensive backs coach, then as the defensive coordinator for his 3-4 scheme. 

In the current pass-happy NFL, teams put a premium on pass rushers and Melton is one of the best in the league at rushing from the inside. If the Bears don't put the franchise tag on him, his price could skyrocket; and it's worth questioning how much the Bears would want to pay for him.

Since drafting Shea McClellin in the first round of the 2012 draft, it's been widely speculated that General Manager Phil Emery wants his team to switch to a 3-4 defense, if that's true he certainly won't break the bank for Melton.

If Melton leaves, the Bears are left with few certainties on their defense. Stephen Paea and Matt Toeaina are the only defensive tackles under contract. Both are ideally suited to be nose tackles, although Paea could possibly play the three-technique.

 

It was at one time thought that Julius Peppers wanted to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but it seems unlikely that he still has the speed and quickness to play that position. Still, I have no doubt about Julius Peppers ability to play end in a 3-4 defense. He may not quite have the strength of Houston's J.J. Watt, but he's still a physical freak who has been a dominant run defender over the years. 

If the Bears do make a move to the 3-4, keeping Israel Idonije should be a priority because he seems ideally suited as an end in that scheme.

They also have question marks at linebacker as three of their top four—Brian Urlacher, Nick Roach and Geno Hayes—are unrestricted free agents. A move inside could be best for linebacker, Lance Briggs, and he could be joined by Urlacher or Roach, should they decide to bring one of them back. 

The rush linebacker spot opposite McClellin would be a question mark with Corey Wootton likely being trade bait or used as a situational pass rusher on the defensive line. Rush linebackers are relatively easy to find, at least easier than a pass-rushing defensive tackle to replace Melton.

The Bears secondary should be good, regardless of scheme. They'd still almost certainly like to add a third cornerback, but Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings showed they were capable of playing man coverage last season.

While the switch to the 3-4 could be relatively seamless, it doesn't seem practical for the Bears. As the saying goes: You don't fix what isn't broken. While Tucker has connections to 3-4 gurus Saban and Crennel, both of them are from the Bill Belichick tree, and he switched to a 4-3 after winning five Super Bowls as a coordinator or head coach in the 3-4. Belichick still mixes his defense up, showing some 3-4 looks and that could be where the Bears are headed. They showed glimpses of that last season with their Boise Package. Tucker's ability to be flexible is a big bonus for the Bears.

The Bears have a gem in Melton. Pass rushers of his size and athleticism are hard to find and should be kept. He's improved every year in the league and there's no reason to think that improvement won't continue. Melton has the ability to be a cornerstone for the defense for years to come. Keeping him should be their top offseason priority, if it isn't, bigger changes could be in the works.

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Page 3 of 127

2008 Bears Draft Board

2009 NFL DraftTracker
RD PK (OVR) NAME POS
3 4 (68)  Jarron Gilbert  DT
3 35 (99)  Juaquin Iglesias  WR
4 5 (105)  Henry Melton  DE
4 19 (119)  D.J. Moore  CB
5 4 (140)  Jonny Knox  WR
5 18 (154)  Marcus Freeman  LB
6 17 (190)  Al Afalava  S
7 37 (246)  Lance Louis  TE
7 42 (251)  Derek Kinder  WR