The new look Chicago Bears have some explaining to do this year after an abysmal 7-9 season that saw the team miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year since losing to the Colts in the 2006 Super Bowl.
Questions remain for the 2010-2011 version of the Chicago Bears and rightly so.
After a whirlwind off season that saw the signings that filled the void at two vital positions, as well as some other key off season moves, the Chicago Bears must live up to the hype.
Newly acquired Julius Peppers, who signed a six-year, $91 million contract, is expected to create a formidable defensive-end combo with Mark Anderson despite losing Alex Brown because of the move.
Peppers wasn’t the only notable signing, as the Bears bolstered their backfield with the addition of former Minnesota running back Chester Taylor. Taylor is a solid addition because it gives the Bears offense another weapon to pair up with third year running back Matt Forte.
The off season additions didn’t stop there however, as Bears management went out and got a new offensive coordinator to bring all the pieces together. Offensive guru Mike Martz will now be in charge of getting the Bears to play mistake free football, something quarterback Jay Cutler and teammates struggled to do only a season ago.
With so much activity taking place in the off season, it’s hard to believe that the Bears can’t be a contender in the NFC. Sure, a lot of things need to fall into place, but Chicago shouldn’t be discounted after an atrocious 2009-2010 campaign.
Martz and Cutler have formed a new found friendship, hopefully yielding more offensive production for Cutler than what we saw from him during his first season center in Chicago. Cutler struggled in ’09 due to poor communication between teammates and a ton of interceptions. The first year Bears quarterback led the league with 26 interceptions, throwing five during a crucial mid-season matchup against the San Francisco 49er’s. Cutler finished the season strong however, throwing for 549 yards, 8 touchdowns, and only one interception in the team’s last two games.
Coaches and fans alike hope that Cutler’s performance at the end of last season will carry over into this season, but nothing is guaranteed.
Despite the sexy off season moves the Chicago Bears made, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Wide receiver Devin Hester must fill the void at wide receiver, after having struggled at the position for the past three seasons. Brian Urlacher returns from a wrist injury that kept him out action for the entire season, but will he be the same productive force Bears fans have seen for so many years? Will the new look coaching staff, which includes Martz and former Vikings head coach Mike Tice, help the players adjust to compete at a whole new level?
Questions abound remain for the 2010-2011 version of the Chicago Bears, but one thing is certain: the team must improve upon their 7-9 record from a year ago, plain and simple.