The Bears have needs. Many needs. So I’ve decided to apply a point value to those needs. 0 points would mean the Bears have absolutely no need to address this position during free agency. 10 points would mean the Bears are in trouble come 2016 if they don’t make a significant move. Here are the rankings, with a single sentence of rationale for each.
9.2 Defensive Line
Yes, Eddie Goldman looked like a long-term contributor for the Bears up front, but this unit was the least explosive on the entirety of the roster in 2015.
8.3 Inside Linebacker
McClellin, Timu and Anderson each had moments last season but the Bears need a true run-stuffing thumper in the middle of their defense.
8.1 Offensive Line
With so much talent available in the middle of the line (Mack, Boone, Incognito) the Bears would be doing their run game in 2016 a tremendous disservice by entering the season with so many question marks along the line.
8.0 Tight End
If Martellus Bennett is truly headed out the door (as the whole world is reporting) the Bears not only need to sign Zach Miller but also pair him with another player to threaten the middle of the field.
Here are five thoughts on the Bears possible approach.
(1) Go get Eric Weddle. Why?
(2) The Bears targeted Pernell McPhee quickly a year ago and landed their man. Would they do so again? Yes. Because adding Malik Jackson to their defensive line will turn around their poor rush defense almost immediately. There’s concern, of course, because paying defensive linemen has bitten several clubs in the ass. But you have to spend all that cap space somewhere, don’t you?
(3) The Bears should go into 2016 with Charles Leno and Kyle Long as their starting tackles. Both showed enough a year ago to warrant another season at those positions. But don’t be surprised if they look to free agency for a tough presence in the middle of the line. Is Alex Boone a great guard? No. But he’s got some badass in him. And he shouldn’t be too expensive.
Nothing depresses me more than the idea of sitting in front of my computer all day, waiting for the Bears to do something so I can cobble together some barely-developed thoughts in column form. That’s what the draft is for. Instead I will be commenting on the whole of NFL free agency at DaBearsBlog’s Twitter feed. As always you can see that feed on the right rail of this page or follow me on Twitter by CLICKING HERE.
Of the three high profile defensive ends on the open NFL market, Lamarr Houston was the best fit for the Chicago Bears. Neither he nor the two Michaels (Bennett, Johnson) are elite edge rushers who’ll draw double teams on every down. But Houston is smart, gets off blocks and displays tremendous discipline; he is one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the game.
The Bears could fix their pass rush all they wanted. It wouldn’t matter if they continued being one of the worst run defenses in the history of recorded time.
From Brad Biggs:
…Houston plays the run very well, he’s durable (hasn’t missed a game in four seasons) and has the flexibility to shift around on the line. There is a good chance the Bears will slide him inside in the nickel package, which is probably what the plan was for Bennett. He’s athletic enough to see time at the three technique tackle position, if needed.
Versatility is great but production is better and that is what Emery is counting on. The reality is Houston, who will turn 27 in June, offers more bang for the buck than a 34-year-old Peppers and probably more than Jared Allen or DeMarcus Ware, both soon to turn 32.
Remember this, desperate Bears fans: it ain’t all getting fixed in twenty-four hours. Houston doesn’t solve their woes along the defensive line. But he solves one of them.
The Bears need help on defense and help is available (Houston, Mitchell, a plethora of safeties). The Bears don’t need much help on offense but dynamic weapons are available (Darren Sproles). Julius Peppers is still on the club. Darrelle Revis may be the most desirable free agent defender in years.
For my moment-to-moment commentary on free agency as the day progresses, check my Twitter feed on the right rail or follow me on Twitter by CLICKING HERE. If the Bears make any significant moves, we’ll address the move here.
One thing to remember: no reporter has been ahead of Phil Emery yet so take everything you’ve read with a massive grain of salt.
I don’t think Josh McCown is going to sign a contract to be a backup quarterback anywhere else in the league. Rumors of his drawing interest from the Jets in New Jersey make little sense as McCown would struggle mightily to throw the ball in the swirling Meadowlands winds. (These winds are actually more difficult to throw in than those of Soldier Field.)
I think Phil Emery legitimately wants Charles Tillman to return to Chicago but wants him to do so on a team-friendly 1-2 year deal. But if rumors are true and Darrelle Revis may be dealt out of Tampa in the coming weeks, Tillman would make a lot of sense as a de facto coach for the Bucs, bringing his patented punch to a second state.
I think Pat Mannelly ends up coming back for a final season in Chicago and Roberto Garza ultimately does the same. But if the Bears end up giving Taylor Boggs a shot in the middle of the offensive line and bring in Jeremy Cain on a full-time basis, I think the difference will be negligible at best.
Are these important players at important positions? Sure. But they are not the types of decisions that make or break an NFL campaign. The decisions Emery makes at defensive tackle might be. And those decisions start at home.
I promised to re-post some of the better comments to the previous approach. I’m doing that today. W
We start, because why not, with gpldan channeling his inner Mamet for a dose of well-timed dramatic comedy in reaction to the recent news that Shea McClellin is moving to linebacker:
Fans: He’d make a good linebacker
Bears: He’s NOT A LINEBACKER
Fans: He’s not a very good DE
Bears: He needs to get better but he will
Fans: Ok, he sucks
Bears: He doesn’t suck
Fans: Alex Brown blames him for all the containment issues
Bears: Football is a team sport
Fans: Ok, but maybe he could take Urlacher’s spot
Bears: He’s NOT A LINEBACKER
Bears: Ok, well maybe we’ll look at things, and he could be a Sam.
Fans: He’d be better at that
Bears: Shut up
Bears: Ok, he’s a Sam
Fans: He’s a bust, that’s what he is.
I’m not ready to jump on the bust bandwagon just yet (Bust Bandwagon, by the way, is my favorite porn western.) But the time is rapidly approaching. Here are some more fan responses.