Bears have to revamp offensive line or risk bad future

By Kevin Olsen

These days it has become a theme to start thinking about the next year with Chicago sports teams. This time it has hit the Chicago Bears. With their most recent defeat against the New York Giants, the Bears have fallen to 5-7 and are a long shot at best to make the playoffs following their Super Bowl season a year ago.

They will most likely have to finish 4-0 to have any kind of reasonable chance of making the playoffs, which is unlikely because they have failed to win consecutive games the entire season. It is now time to start preparing for how to improve this team for next year.

It is easy to point at the quarterback and running back positions as the reasons the Bears are a shell of the team they were a year ago. This team needs a lot of revamping all over the field and, most importantly, on that aging offensive line that got really old, really fast.

While I am off the bandwagon of the now-injured Cedric Benson, I feel he still may not have received a legitimate chance to show what he can do. The last two seasons, it was evident Benson was making strides before regressing this year. The offensive line simply has not created any holes for him to run through.

If the Bears are not able to properly repair the offensive line, then they will seriously have to consider going with another running back.

This will have to be Adrian Peterson or an acquisition via the draft or a trade. This needs to be a top priority behind fixing that offensive line.

Then, of course, there is the curse of the quarterback position.

Whether it was Rex Grossman or Brian Griese, the quarterback did not perform well behind the O-line.

Grossman played pretty well against the Giants, except the offensive line let New York pressure and sack Rex all day.

But with people criticizing Grossman’s inconsistent play, his days could be numbered in Chicago because his contract expires following this season. It has also become apparent Griese is not a temporary or long-term solution, playing just as poorly as Rex for most of the season. This leaves very similar options to their running back situation.

They can either sign Grossman to a one-year deal or trade or sign another quarterback.

If they sign Grossman to another year, they can draft a quarterback to groom behind Grossman.

This year’s draft will be stocked with NFL-caliber quarterbacks.

While most Bears fans would probably agree their best option would be to take a shot at getting Donovan McNabb, that might prove to be harder than expected. I believe that Grossman has shown enough maturity since being reinserted into the starting lineup to garner a new contract when the season concludes. They should then target someone like Andre’ Woodson or Matt Ryan in the draft to back up and learn behind Grossman.

They also have the talent to move into the starting spot if Grossman wavers again like he did at the beginning of this season. The Bears also need to find more targets for whoever their quarterback will be. Bernard Berrian has showed flashes of being a number one receiver in the past month, but his asking price might be too high for what the Bears will offer.

Muhsin Muhammad is clearly past his prime, and Mark Bradley has never quite come out of his shell in his inconsistent career.

Greg Olsen is nice at tight end, but the Bears will have to be looking for another big-play wide receiver in the offseason.

It is quite a tall order to possibly replace quarterback, running back and wide receiver, but these positions need to at least be addressed in order to make the best decisions. I would almost leave the defense alone except looking for safeties and more depth in the secondary.

The front seven is still very talented and there have been crippling injuries to key players this season. If the secondary improves and the defense gets healthy, they should be close to an elite defense again.

Whether the team can be elite again may simply depend on whether or not the Bears can block next season.

If they can’t protect the quarterback or open holes for the running game, this team will struggle at making a playoff push next season as well.

Kevin Olsen is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]