Sunday, February 17, 2008

Team Needs: Chicago Bears

1. Offensive Tackle
It won't matter who the Bears quarterback is if they can't protect him. Left tackle John Tait, 33, played adequately in 2007 but is clearly on the downside of his career and would benefit from a move to right tackle. Last year's starter at right tackle, Fred Miller, is 35, played poorly last year, and should be released, or at least asked to take a significant pay cut. Backup John St. Clair turns 30 this summer and hasn't played well when given the chance to start.

2. Quarterback
The struggles of Rex Grossman have been well documented. According to DPAR & DVOA, Grossman, Brian Griese, and Kyle Orton are basically triplets.

3. Wide Receiver
The best of the bunch, Bernard Berrian, is a free agent. Soon to turn 35, Muhsin Muhammad's career is winding down. Although part of it can be attributed to the poor quarterback play, the Bears didn't get the production they had hoped for when the signed Muhammad in 2005; they better not still be hoping for it. Rashied Davis failed to improve on the potential he showed in 2006, while 2005 second-rounder Mark Bradley had his most disappointing season in a career that has seen him catch only 38 passes.

4. Running Back
After three seasons it sure looks like 2005 fourth overall pick Cedric Benson is a bust. Adrian Peterson is a competent, all-purpose backup, but not as good when he starts for stretches at a time. The diminutive Garrett Wolfe is a scat back who needs to get the ball out in space in order to have success.

5. Left Guard
36-year-old former All-Pro Ruben Brown spent the last half of the year on IR and will be a free agent. Terrence Metcalf stepped in when Brown went down, but he didn't play well and was benched in favor of tackle John St. Clair. The Bears might have their starter on the roster already in 2007 fourth-rounder Josh Beekman, but he only saw action in one game last season and it might be too early to count on him.

6. Strong Safety
Adam Archuleta was no better in Chicago than he was in D.C., while Brandon McGowan was little better than Archuleta. If the Bears stand pat at this position, 2007 fifth-rounder Kevin Payne might have the inside track for the starting job.

7. and 8. Linebacker
Weakside backer Lance Briggs and reserve/special team standout Brendon Ayanbadejo are free agents, with the untested Jamar Williams the likely replacement for Briggs. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is coming off of neck surgery, which was probably minor and could leave his neck stronger for next season, but the Bears aren't releasing the details. Strongside backer Hunter Hillenmeyer is solid but not spectacular. Unless Briggs is re-signed, the Bears need to add depth at all three spots.

9. Defensive Tackle
Tommie Harris remains one of the league's best, but Darwin Walker is a likely cap cut after being outplayed by the Bears' other 2007 free agent defensive tackle, Anthony Adams. 2006 third-rounder Dusty Dvoracek has played only one game in two years because of injuries, but had won the starting nose tackle job going into last season. The Bears could be all set here, but because of the question marks and the importance of the position, a quality backup or prospect should be acquired.

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