About three months ago, I wrote a blog entitled How can the Bears fix their glitches? I did my best to tell the Bears what they can do to make themselves a better team in 2008 and beyond (in my completely unprofessional opinion, of course). Well the draft is done and the teams have had their rookie mini-camps, so I thought I'd take a look at how the Bears are doing according to... ME! ;)
Below you'll find my original blog text in italics, with new comments thrown in between the different points. In this first section, I cropped the original text for the sake of the gentle readers' sanity.
1. Draft offensive linemen and develop them. Specifically, try to snag one of those highly touted LTs coming out this year and move John Tait back to RT. Fred Miller needs to retire or something...
The Bears procured four rookie offensive lineman, and added a number of young guards to their roster outside of the draft. It looks like the Bears are forgoing the quick fix of free agency and are looking to add youth to their roster on the O-line.
2. Draft a RB in the middle rounds and develop him. Dump Cedric Benson, and procure a free agent RB to compete for the starting job next season...
The Bears drafted Matt Forte in the 2nd round, and they've obviously had enough of Cedric "not only am I a joke on the field, but now I'm going to be a distraction off the field too" Benson. With that big fat price tag, they're looking to move on without him.
3. Draft or procure a possession WR, and let Berrian get overpaid somewhere else... In addition, the Bears have been paying entirely too much money to Mushin Muhammed, who has never produced at the level the Bears hoped he would. It's time to renegotiate with Moose...
Wide receivers drafted or signed: Marty Booker, Brandon Lloyd, Earl Bennett, Marcus Monk, Curtis Hamilton. Berrian is gone, Muhammad is gone.
4. Let Rex go...
Griese is gone. Grossman is still in Chicago. Ah well, it sounds like the Bears had good reasons to trade Griese back to Tampa Bay.
5. Bolster the safety positions...
The Bears drafted Craig Steltz. I'm guessing with the release of Adam Archuleta, they'll be signing someone else too.
6. Dump Darwin Walker or renegotiate his contract... Invite those late season additions at DT back to training camp next year...
Darwin Walker is gone, and it looks like there will be a group of younger players vying for the nose tackle position in training camp.
Score: 5 for 6. This section was tough to grade, but the only obvious difference is Grossman sticking around for one more year, so I gave the Bears a break! ;)
Sneaky Pete's generic drafts for the Bears
Round 1: The best LT available. Actual pick: Chris Williams, LT, Vanderbilt.
Round 2: QB or RB. Matt Forte, RB, Tulane.
Round 3: QB or RB. Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt.
Round 3: WR. Marcus Harrison, DT, Arkansas.
Round 4: SS. Craig Steltz, S, LSU.
Round 5: Best OL available. Zack Bowman, CB, Nebraska. Kellen Davis, TE, Michigan State.
Round 6: LB. No pick in round 6.
Round 7: CB. Five picks in round 7, no CBs... :(
Score: 3 for 6. We'll just toss the sixth round out... ;)
Sneaky Pete's generic free-agent acquisitions for the Bears
Tailback - Cedric Benson is a joke. As of 5/8/08: No free agents have been signed yet.
Offensive Guard - Ruben Brown is getting very old... As of 5/8/08: The Bears added a bunch of OGs to their roster outside of the draft.
Free Safety/Strong Safety - Mike Brown can't be relied on to stay on the field for the entire season. As of 5/8/08: No free agents have been signed yet.
Defensive Tackle - The Bears need depth and experience at this position. A moderately priced veteran would be nice. The Bears added Babatunde Oshinowo from the Browns practice squad to their roster. Not what I expected or wanted, but he is a DT...
Score: 2 for 4, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Bears picked up another safety via free agency before the season starts. As for a running back, I wouldn't expect the Bears to sign another one barring a season-ending injury to Forte, Peterson, or Wolfe.
Sneaky Pete's cuts/free agent departures
Adam Archuleta - He can't play the game any more. As of 5/8/08: Released.
Cedric Benson - He obviously has no real desire to play football, so the Bears should grant him his wish. Who else would want this fool anyway? As of 5/8/08: As they said on WSCR 670 AM, "He's got one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel."
Bernard Berrian - He will command a ton of cash since he's the best FA receiver this offseason. He's a good receiver, but he's not worth the cash he's going to get somewhere else. With so many needs at other offensive positions, the Bears should (begrudgingly) let him go make his money with another team. As of 5/8/08: Berrian left via free agency to the Vikings.
Lance Briggs - Jamar Williams is ready to fill Briggs' role as a starter. It would be a shame to let Briggs go, but the Bears need to save their pennies to bolster the offense. As of 5/8/08: Briggs has been re-signed.
Rex Grossman - He needs a fresh start, and so do the Bears. As of 5/8/08: The Bears dumped Brian Griese instead. Interesting move, but I heard Griese was a locker room cancer and Grossman is not, by all accounts.
Ricky Manning Jr. - He's making a bit too much money for not being able to step into the back-up CB role. He was NO help when Nate Vasher went down last season. As of 5/8/08: Manning is still on the roster, but I don't think he will last with the competition he'll get in training camp unless they try to move him to safety.
Fred Miller - Watching this guy play RT was like watching a one-legged cat bury turds on a frozen pond. In the dictionary under "futility" it reads, "See Fred Miller in pass protection." As of 5/8/08: Released.
Terrance Metcalf - Another OL draft bust for the Bears. As of 5/8/08: Metcalf will be released if he doesn't win the starting job in training camp, trust me. He is getting paid WAY too much money to sit on the bench for as long as he has.
Score: 3 for 8, but the polls haven't closed yet. I fully expect the Bears to go 6 for 8 in this category, as Benson, Manning Jr., and Metcalf will be cut or released in the name of the almighty salary cap...
Current overall score: 13 for 24 = 54%.
I think the Bears will hit 70% by the start of the 2008 season. What has impressed me is that Jerry Angelo seems to be building for the future as well as the present. He's doing the best with what he has, and he's been smart about who's been available in the draft and free-agency. Angelo seems to have learned that building the entire O-line (besides the center) via free agency is BAD. I think he knows Grossman isn't the QB of the future, but he also knows there is NO ONE BETTER OUT THERE RIGHT NOW and has decided to be patient. I think that's a smart move.