Thought 7. On Offensive Optimism
I started making a chart a few weeks ago. The chart has three columns.
- Column 1 – each position on the roster.
- Column 2 – players who could be part of the team’s plans in 2017.
- Column 3 – players who will be part of the team’s plans in 2017.
(I’ll be sharing this chart over the second half of the season.)
Why did I start doing this? Because I thought it would be important to track the development of younger players and monitor just how many holes the Bears will still need to fill come the end of the calendar year. For instance, a player moving from column 2 to column 3 would show growth; moving in the opposite direction would mean things are going in the wrong direction.
Think about the 2017 Bears on offense.
They have good tailbacks. Jordan Howard is big and physical. Jeremy Langford is shifty and versatile. Ka’Deem Carey is looking like a solid change-of-pace option for either player.
If they re-sign Alshon Jeffery, which they must, their receiving corps will be affordably four-deep. Jeffery, Cam Meredith, Kevin White and Eddie Royal present enough challenges to an opposing defensive coordinator to keep the chains moving most every week. Meredith’s emergence will take pressure of White. (Marquess Wilson will forever be on the horizon and I actually believe Josh Bellamy can play.)
Three fifths of their offensive line is terrific (Sitton, Whitehair, Long). Hroniss Grasu will provide depth inside. It will be surprising if Leno and Massie both anchor the unit a year from now. Zach Miller is a good tight end but they’ll look to improve/add there.
Their biggest question mark could be the quarterback position if they decide to move on from Jay Cutler. But if the Bears don’t identify a franchise quarterback in the draft, would anyone be surprised to see a Cutler/Hoyer/mid-rounder quarterbacks room?
Cutler starts Monday night against the Vikings. He also starts the most important 9-game stretch of his NFL career, auditioning perhaps for both the Bears and various other franchises. If he changes the trajectory of this season, winning say 6 of 9, what happens then?
The question is quarterback in 2017. Can 2016 help provide answers?