In the 2010 season, the Bears did a bit better than people expected them to. Part of that was due to the teams ability to know their weaknesses and adjust their game plans to help overcome their weaknesses.
However the Bears can still try to address these needs coming into the 2011 season. They have already let a few players leave the team, and more are likely to be gone once free agency starts. The core of what made the Bears great in 2010 will still be intact, but addressing these needs will help the Bears overcome the problems they’ve had in the past and let them continue to be an elite NFL team.
A good argument could be made for the Bears having the worst offensive line in the league in 2010. At the two tackle spots, the Bears have Frank Omiyale and 2010 7th round pick J’Marcus Webb who were ranked two of the worst four offensive tackles in the league. Their top tackle backup from last year Kevin Shaffer was cut, leaving the Bears no depth at this position. Ideally both players can be replaced in the starting lineup come 2011.
As we get closer to the middle of the line, the situation gets better but not by much. Their center for a number of years Olin Kreutz has regressed in recent years. He will turn 34 prior to the start of the season and based on his play this season it wouldn’t be a wise decision to pay him a lot of money to return.
This leaves a projected starting lineup of Chris Williams at left guard, Roberto Garza at center and Edwin Williams at right guard. The best of the group was Edwin Williams who started three games and played above average in them so he should get a chance to start full time. In his second season as a starter, former first round pick Chris Williams hasn’t played very well but will likely be given another chance.
The last player on the line Roberto Garza is 32, a below average run blocker and an even worse pass blocker. The top backup behind those five is 2009 7th round pick Lance Lewis who played slightly below average in his chances. The Bears need at least two new starters as well as a lot of depth to replenish this position and help their offense out.
In 2010, Julius Peppers had a huge effect on the defense. While he and Idonije make a good pair of defensive ends there is much more of a question to what will happen in the middle of the Bears line. The defensive tackle spots last year consisted of a rotation with Matt Toeaina, Anthony Adams, Tommie Harris and Henry Melton. The four players combined had 51 stops in the regular season, which was just one more than Kyle Williams had in Buffalo alone.
All four players had negative ratings in both stopping the run and rushing the passer. The top two were Matt Toeaina and Tommie Harris who were both just a little below average in stopping the run, while Anthony Adams and Henry Melton were a lot lower. The Bears decided to give up on Tommie Harris while Anthony Adams is turning 31 before the season and is a free agent.
The Bears will likely still want to rotate their interior linemen in 2011, and right now just have Toeaina and Melton to rotate with. Of the two Toeaina is a better run stopper and Melton better pass rusher, so the Bears likely want to find both a player who is good against the run and another against the pass to insert into their rotation to bolster the line from its lackluster play in 2010.
At one linebacker spot will be Lance Briggs which is to no one’s surprise. The Bears other starter in 2010 was Pisa Tinoisamoa who is a free agent and doesn’t look like he will be returning to Chicago. This currently leaves Nick Roach and Brian Iwuh to fight for the other starting position.
In the chances Roach has been given over the years he has looked like an above average player. In both 2008 and 2010 his numbers were all a little above average and in 2009 when he took over as the middle linebacker he was good at stopping the run and as a pass rusher but bad in coverage. His competition Iwuh has been very good at stopping the run, but hasn’t been given nearly the chance that Roach has received.
While ether player would likely be an above average for the defense, the Bears are looking to be the best defense in the league and having an upgrade here would help. Even if they can’t find someone to beat our Roach and Iwuh, they will need depth at this position if there is an injury in order to replace Tinoisamoa’s spot on the depth chart.