Out With The Old Sticking With The Youth: Bears Ready For Action-Packed Off Season

Brown downs Favre

Newsflash – Just Two of Many Moves to Come: The Chicago Bears parted ways with their overpaid, underachieving veteran WR Mushin Muhammad while rewarding two-way (balanced) DE Alex Brown with a two-year extension. Both moves sound good to me and were the “right” decisions to be made. Brown is a young defensive lineman that can rush the passer and defend against the run. It’s key for the Bears to keep him on their DL because they had a hard time stopping the run this past season and they need all the support they can get, holding on to Brown is one smart move in the right direction in what seems to be a long off-season with more questions arising then answers to be found in Chicago.

OL Help On The Way, Changes Expected: I expect lots of changes because it seems like the Bears have many issues/needs to address via free agency and the draft. Look for them to pursue All-Pro OG Alan Faneca (Pittsburgh Steelers) heavily and find some firepower Drafy Day with one of their first two picks (RB/WR/QB).

The offensive line is their biggest concern and a major need because without an upgrade on the line, this squad will not be able to run (see: ’07 rushing totals) and protect the QB. They need some maulers up-front in the trenches to succeed like every team does and they need some youth to replace an already old line. Take into consideration you have needs at the three skilled positions along with the line, Chicago may be the one team this off-season to make the most noise, shaking their roster whether it be for better or for worse. I think most Bears fans agree with me on this one – GM Jerry Angelo will make sure this team is “roaring” and back to top form in ’08.

WR Update, No Shocker – Team still has hope in Mark Bradley: It was highly expected that the Bears would let go of Muhammad rather than pay him a $500,000 roster bonus due March 4. He also was scheduled to make $1.6 million next season with a salary-cap hit worth $3.3 million. With the emerging playmaking wideout Bernard Berrian anticipated to leave the Windy City via free-agency, the Bears could enter the off-season without both starting wide receivers. If the Bears are looking for another veteran possession receiver (110 first downs in his prime during ’01-’02), recently cut Miami WR Marty Booker could be the help the Bears need, as he has shown some interest in reuniting back to his old stomping grounds, where he was a third round selection out of little-known Lousiana Monroe in ’99. Booker put up back-to-back season totals of 100 and 97 catches in ’01 and ’02, piling up over 1,000 yards each year to go along with 14 TD’s.

With this being said, I wouldn’t mind Booker coming back to team up with the very-talented, yet always injured Mark Bradley. Though he has been unreliable, moving up in a role as starter could ignite his career and put him back on-track to being the WR the Bears envisioned his as when they drafted him in the 2nd round of ’05 from Oklahoma. Remember this was the same situation Berrain was in heading into ’06, and he turned in good performances that past two seasons, so I know Bradley can be just as good if not better.

Looking at the Situation: Add more playing time and familiarity with the offense for the “Windy City Flyer” aka Devin Hester, the TE tandem of Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark, bringing a pair of red zone threats to the table, along with Rashied Davis in the slot, a productive receiver who has made big catches (Week 3 – ’06 @ Minn, GW TD, Week 15 ’06 – OT vs. Tampa, and Playoffs vs. Seattle in OT) when called upon, and you have quite enough ammunition and weaponry to make things happen in Chicago and help carry the burden on offense for whoever is under center for the Bears in ’08 (another huge question and story in it’s self). Will this be the winning formula and the ingredients to a successful aerial attack for Lovie Smith’s gang or will Bears faithful have a remix of last season’s debacle? Berrian may stay, but chances are he will be gone, and Chicago has to do something about it to improve their 3 & out happy-offense (you know the routine) in order to get back to Postseason play.

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