Breaking bad: analyzing the Bears for 2015

Yeah. It’s that bad. The 2014 season essentially ended with a loss to the Lions up in Detroit on Thanksgiving day. It started out so good, but even me–ever the optimist, held my breath as the Bears frittered an 11 point lead, and the season, away. I can’t even go on Draft Watch™* properly, because I know they will win 2-3 of their last four games. We can though break down the current roster and see what they have going for 2015.

It really depends on who stays in upper management. I feel pretty safe in saying GM Phil Emery will stay, and rightfully so. He put all his chips in the Cutler/Trestman play and lost. To coin a phrase from Texas Hold’em–chip and a chair. Maybe there is a rebuy. For now we will go under the premise that Emery is there. The Trestman thing is a little cloudier. I’m not sure the Bears would fire the head coach with 2 years left. I don’t see how they keep both Trestman and Cutler. One of the two have to go. Trestman is the cheaper of the two, unless they can find a trade partner. I have some wild scenarios on this, if you would like a fun read.

Offense: Phil Emery has done a nice job rebuilding the offensive line. He went out and got a couple NFL quality wide receivers.

QB: Jay Cutler, Jimmy Claussen, David Fales. Will we see Claussen or Fales in the remainder of 2014? We really should. The Bears 5-7 record isn’t all on Jay, but at this point, he’s not helping them. This will be their biggest question going forward.

RB: Matt Forte, Ka’Deem Carey- Forte is solid as they come, possibly a hall of famer. What frustrates me is he’s underused. Even as he is among the top in yards of scrimmage year in and year out. The offense should run through Forte. Period. Carey is okay as a backup. They need another runner in the mold of Forte, maybe with more speed, who can play special teams as well.

WR: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Marquees Wilson, Josh Morgan- It’s as solid as a WR corps as you will find–when healthy. Problem is, Wilson goes down day 1 with a broken collar bone in training camp, Marshall and Alshon get hurt in the first game of the season. Kudos for them for gutting out the season to this point. Marshall is a leader and invaluable to Alshon and possibly Wilson who both train with him in the off-season. They need a speed guy. They can get one in the draft.

TE: Martellus Bennett, Dante Rosario, Zach Miller. Martellus Bennett is a stud at the Tight End position. Momentary lapses of focus aside, this guy is a warrior who displays his athleticism every time he gets the ball. That said, they could use a solid backup. Rosario has shown flashes and Miller had a tremendous camp–until he got injured.

Offensive line: Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slaussen, Roberto Garza, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, Brian De la Puente, Michael Ola,- The starting unit is pretty solid. Bushrod is in the back end of his career. Mills is having a down year as he fights through a foot injury. Ola and De La Puente are nice backups, not sure you want either starting. I’ve been wanting the Bears to draft a center for the last 2-3 years. Garza is good veteran but his best years are behind him. They need to get a center and tackle at the minimum and possibly groom another guard.

Defensive line: Jared Allen, Willie Young, Jeremiah Ratliff, Steven Paea, Lamarr Houston, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, David Bass- This unit is solid when Ratliff and Allen are healthy. Houston was a monumental disappointment in both ability and attitude. Paea is a good player but that seems to be when Ratliff is eating 2 blockers. They need another edge rusher with speed. The two rookie tackles have made plays at times. I would bring Paea back but only if they can get him at their price.

Linebacker: Lance Briggs, DJ Williams, Shea McClellin, Jon Bostic, Kaseem Green, Christian Jones, Darryl Sharpton- By far, the one unit that has been the least effective or consistent. Better than last year, but last year was record setting bad. Bostic may someday be great at the weak-side spot. Christian Jones shows flashes. They need a middle linebacker at minimum.

CB: Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Kyle Fuller, Al Louis-Jean, Demontre Hurst- I think the cornerbacks have been pretty good for the most part. The biggest problem seems to be blown coverages. I don’t know if that’s coming from communication, lack of ability/focus or scheme. That being said, they need another CB. Demontre Hurst and Al Louis-Jean seem like up and comers.

Safety: Ryan Mundy, Chris Conte, Brock Vereen, Danny McCray- The safeties have been the most scrutinized unit since training camp. Sometimes well deserved. McCray seems solid. Conte is athletic and makes plays, but is having trouble staying healthy. McCray is a decent backup and special teams player. Vereen has seemed lost at times in coverage and whiffing on tackles. The Bears need at least one safety, if not two.

Special Teams: Robbie Gould, Pat O’Donnel, Sherrick McManis, Demontre Hurst- The special teams unit has had it’s moments. In year two of the campaign, special teams coach Joe DeCamillis has shown why he garners the criticism he does. I have no idea if it’s a roster issue or what but I think the Bears would be wise to part ways.

Coaching staff: Head coach Marc Trestman may have shot himself in the foot when he campaigned for or was forced into keeping Cutler as his QB. Jay shows many good qualities including toughness, athleticism and a strong arm. I’m not sure Trestman will get the chance to groom another QB with the Bears. You can debate if he deserves it or not. I think he proved what he could do when he inserted Josh McCown into the starting job last season. That said, at times his play calling, clock management and leadership seem questionable. Not sure the entire team has bought into what he is selling.

Offensive line coach/coordinator Aaron Cromer has to be given credit for the success of the line, especially when they haven’t been the healthiest this year. The one knock I think they have is their run blocking.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has been under fire since the record setting bad defense last year. In his defense, he has been playing with a sub-NFL quality linebacking corps for most of the season. Shea McClellin has been forced on him. DJ Williams is just a guy. Briggs has been injured most of 2014 and Charles Tillman has been gone since week 2. I think the one certainty is Tucker will be fired after the season ends. Justified or not. Rex Ryan could be the new coordinator if he is interested.

Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis is probably out, and I can’t really make a case for him to stay. Not being able to find a kick returner is particularly baffling. Blocking has been bad. They have to be one of the most penalized units in the NFL.

The most troubling thing for me is, I don’t see how you keep Trestman and Cutler together and I don’t see how you bring in yet another coach to work with him. Hopefully Bears fans will get some answers in these last 4 games of the season.

*Draft Watch™- The time in a season when it becomes obvious they are not going to make the playoffs.

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