Decades of history say the Chicago Bears don't gear their plans around offense. Then again, with Pro Bowl talents like Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, has the time finally come for a change in philosophy?
Brandon Marshall still doesn't cover up offensive line needs
The one thing every Chicago fan screamed for the front office to do since bringing Cutler in was find him a number one wide receiver. It took three years and a new general manager but the Bears at last fulfilled that wish by trading for three-time Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall. His history with Cutler and large body are exactly what the Bears need. With him on the field, defenses will have to adjust, opening holes for running back Matt Forte. So should Jay Cutler be happy? On paper the answer is obvious, but Chicago Bears fans can't afford to forget their quarterback is still playing behind an offensive line that has allowed the most sacks in the league over a two-year span. Head coach Lovie Smith says the team has talent in that group, just not health. He's content to not spend too much money upgrading the line in free agency, leaving some to wonder if Chicago might invest a high draft pick instead. Mock drafts and expert analysis say otherwise.
Age of defenders like Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher clarify draft needs
Injury was a problem for the offensive line, but it is also young and flexible. The same isn't said for the Bears stalwart defense. For years, Chicago has won games leaning on its ability to stop other offenses but things have reached a crossroads. All four Pro Bowl players on the Bears defense, including leaders Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher, are over the age of 30. In life, it's an age still considered young but in NFL football it's a dangerous marker for a player to pass. Chicago fans know they can't rely on the defense forever, unless the front office puts their focus on adding young talent soon. That could clarify why the team spent all of its free agency money on offense and special teams. Most experts now think the Bears sit placed perfectly to spend at least two of their first three draft picks on defense. A general agreement says a defensive end to put across from Peppers. A few outsiders think a cornerback is the better choice, but arguments to that include experts seeing the 2012 draft as corner rich. So the Bears could afford to wait until the second or third round. No matter how the arguments fall it still seems like Chicago aims at infusing youth back into their ripened defense.
It's hard to fault the Chicago Bears for their strategy. They got Brandon Marshall to go along with Matt Forte and Jay Cutler. This gives their offense one of the best cores in football. While many fans hope they seek another top lineman, experts think the NFL draft will go heavy on defense to take pressure off older stars like Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher. It's not a perfect plan, but no one can know if it's the right one until the season begins.