Are the Bears in Trouble in 2010?

I came across Doug Banks’ most recent post on SI.com’s Inside the NFL on the eight most likely teams headed for trouble in 2010.  You guessed it – he ranks the Bears as the #2 most likely to flop in the upcoming season.  Others on the list include the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Cleveland and Oakland.

Is this Lovie and Jerry's last stand?

No huge surprises on the list, but let’s see why he thinks the Bears are in trouble:

REASON TO WORRY: Honest question: When’s the last time a true make-or-break year went the right way for a team? I suppose you could say Dallas and Wade Phillips fit the bill last season, although almost every year feels like it’s Super Bowl-or-bust for the Cowboys. But that’s what embattled head coach Lovie Smith, general manager Jerry Angelo and the Bears are up against in 2010: Win enough to shoo the wolves away from their doors, or close out their Windy City tenures with a fourth consecutive non-playoff season. Working under that kind of pressure rarely brings the best out of anyone, or results in smiles and backslaps all around.

As if that’s not enough of an omen, the Bears went out and dominated early in free agency this year, signing the likes of Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor. There’s not really a long track record of pace-setting free-agent success leading to on-field success in the same year — a lesson teams like Washington, Oakland and Denver have learned the hard way.

I’ve been outspoken as anyone to call out the Bears in my belief that they’re in for a rough ride in 2010, but Banks post makes ZERO sense.  He says the Bears won’t succeed because the collective backs of the braintrust are against the wall.  And then he punctuates that by adding that key additions Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor  won’t help because of past history of other teams not having success with big offseason spending sprees???  Talk about flimsy arguments.  I think he reasons not to panic seem to make a little more sense:

REASON NOT TO PANIC: The Bears (7-9) weren’t bad from start to finish last season. They started 3-1, and finished 3-2. It was that 1-6 stretch in the middle that killed Smith’s team. On paper, Peppers, Taylor and offensive coordinator Mike Martz are all upgrades at their positions. And Year 2 of the Jay Cutler era can’t possibly be as much of a rollercoaster ride.

If he wants to point to signs of why the Bears could be in trouble next season, there is no shortage of questions:

  • The Bears have yet to address one of 2009′s biggest question – the offensive line.  Alan Faneca came and went and the draft brought little more than a 6-8 project.
  • Despite what Mike Martz thinks, the Bears wide receiving group is questionable until proven otherwise.
  • Tommie Harris.  If he isn’t more like the Tommie of 2006, Lovie’s Cover-2 falls apart quickly.
  • Can Brian Urlacher come back as good as new?
  • Who is going to hold down the other defensive end spot opposite Julius Peppers?

What questions do you have about the 2010 Bears that point to trouble?    Or do you think they’ve addressed their biggest questions and the Bears will be a surprise team in 2010?

Topics: 2010 Season, Chicago Bears, Doug Banks, Sports Illustrated, Teams In Trouble

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  • Mark Campbell

    Just having Urlacher back can’t be underestimated. He’s one of those players that make everyone better including Cutler. Peppers can be dominate and the Bears filled in nicely with other acquisitions. The defense is going to be markedly better. The wildcard is still Cutler who has proven anything yet except a strong tendency to throw interceptions. By the way …..GO BRONCOS!!!

    • Jones

      have fun w/ mcdoogles and tebow……sorry bra not seeing much out of denver this year

    • Boomer

      Hey Mark – shouldn’t you be out growing a neck beard somewhere? Either that or standing in line somewhere to get a Tebow jersey?

  • City

    On the positive side:

    1) Ron Turner’s gone. He may have been the worst at in-game adjustments to ever hold the post of OC.
    2) Martz’s offense, is a “rhythmn” offense, meaning 3-5 steps and let it fly. This should help the O line compensate a bit.
    3) A healthy (?) Forte and Chester give us a legitimate improvement in the running game.
    4) Urlacher’s leadership was missed last year just from being a veteran MLB who can audible and make D adjustments on the fly.

    On the negative side:

    1) Lovie is still the worst at in-game Defensive adjustments and Marinelli has never done it before
    2) Alex Brown’s absence will be felt
    3) Cover-2 is too easy for elite QB’s to destroy
    4) everything else you said above!

    And, on top of that, that last four games on the schedule are going to break a lot of Bears fans’ hearts.

    City

    • Boomer

      City,

      Good points as always. I agree, Ron Turner’s predictable run, run, pass, punt offense will not be missed.

      Not sure I totally agree with your comments about Martz’s offense. As I understand, there are a lot more 7-step drops, which could spell disaster for JC.

      I think the running game has the potential to be top-notch, but it will come back to the O-line questions.

      Urlacher’s presence should be a plus, especially with adjustments and pre-snap reads. My hope is that he still enough in the tank to be dominant.

      Last but not least, you’re right – the last 4 games could drive us all to jump off a bridge.

      BEAR DOWN!!!

  • Bill

    Don Banks lives in Minny and is a career Bears basher. Guy’s a douche.

  • Jerry

    Criticize the Bears for doing nothing-criticize them for doing something. When you have a job writing for a print/internet publication you just write something. Banks wrote something. The Bears tried to make something happen. Time will tell.

  • The real Jay

    This is a win win for the bears. I’ll be shocked if they don’t win at least 10 games. If not then Lovie is probably gone. Win win. I’m a supporter of Lovie, but I have to agree that he has had to many chances. I still think he a good coach but this year is it. Period.

  • West Coast Bear

    As was the case with Mike Brown, losing Alex and Adewale’s leadership and play will hurt and negate the addition of Peppers. But the real fault is in the Retreat 2 scheme that Lovie is stuck on. With no proven coverage corners and all the time to throw against a soft zone, we’ll get picked apart again. So much is said about the scheme’s “success” in the red zone…. it’s because as the field shortens, there is only so far your d can bail out at the snap.

    Yeah Martz will improvise, but City should know that he expects his qb to take DEEPER drops and a reshuffled Oline with the same talent is a liability. Taylor adds some dimension to the gig and Cutler should be better, but football is simple and we simply don’t block well.

    It’s too bad we can’t return to an attacking style of play defensively, this passive “allow the catch and close on the receiver” crap is over.

    Tampa succeeded with this scheme because of three reasons. A young Sapp, Lynch, and Brooks…. hall of fame type players. Does Harris, Urlacher and Harris really inspire that same confidence? Not any more.

    I hope I’m wrong, but the big picture is we desperately need new management top to bottom. Maybe one more lost season will deliver us from all the friends of Lovie.

  • Mr. Pickles

    Last time a make or break season went the right way? 2007. Tom Coughlin basically had to beg for another chance with the Giants and turned it into a Superbowl win. Not that I think da Bears are Superbowl bound but 2nd most likely to flop is a little ridiculous. While the Bears franchise deserves most, if not all, the criticism it gets drawing a parallel to Washington/Oakland/McDaniels is another absurd argument.

    • Boomer

      Pickles – you know what other season I recalled? The 2001 Bears when Jerry Angelo came on board and was desperate to launch Dick Jauron and bring in his buddy Nick Saban. The Bears went 13-3 and Jauron got a short-lived extension.

      • West Coast Bear

        That was a miracle season Boomer, how many “walk off” game winning td’s did Mike Brown have?

        I think Philly cleaned our clocks in Soldier to end that “playoff run”.

        That’s what I fear this year…. good enough to save dumping contracts while Jerry trades our next draft away on some knee jerk reaction.

        • City

          You know what I remember from that playoff game against the Eagles… Mike Brown getting knocked out cold in mid-air…

        • Boomer

          I think that’s the point of a “backs against the wall” season – that things happen against the odds. I am not overly optimistic that will be the case this year; just sayin’.

          BTW – you know what gets lost in the back-to-back Mike Brown walkoffs? The Hail Mary that Bears scored just to force OT in that Cleveland game. I was at that game with my guy Decon and we were about to leave, but refused to give up hope and were rewarded with a very memorable finish!

          • West Coast Bear

            Your reward became an albatross when Jauron was rescued from his execution.

            Man, how bad was John Shoop? Between him and Ron Turner, it’s a miracle we ever scored points.

            Trouble is, that Jauron team had some youth. This one is “built” to win now…… When we traded for Cutler, one priority stood above all else, protection. Can’t make that kind of investment otherwise.

  • James Westbrook

    I teach philosophy and am utterly appalled at the lack of critical thinking on the part of many sportswriters!! Lets analyze the Bear’s potential improvement over last season – based on fact, not conjecture.
    Defensive Upgrades: Peppers, Tinoisamoa, Urlacher, Chris Harris, Wright, Jennings, Idonije, and, maybe, Wooton. Offensive Upgrades: Cutler, All the Young Receivers, Omiyale at his best position – RT, Competition between Asiata, Beekman, Louis, and Webb for the LG spot, Manumaleuna, Taylor. On both sides of the line: Maturing of youngsters under the tutelage of the best set of coaches the Bears have had in a long time. Dedication, Team Spirit, and Conditioning will play a large role!

    • West Coast Bear

      James Westbrook is Larry Mayer’s alias.

    • Boomer

      James – stick to teaching philosophy! You say there is no critical thinking and want to analyze potential improvement using facts. What facts are you using exactly? Is it a “fact” that Urlacher will be better this season? Can you even state a “fact” that Jennings will be any more than a special teams contributor? Is it a fact that Jay Cutler and his young receivers will be better? That all sounds like conjecture to me.

      If you’re banking on improvement at the LG position based on a competition between a couple of guys who couldn’t crack the 53-man roster last season, your philosophy is messed up.

  • cgreen

    I think the Bears will get more pass rush by adding Peppers, a back in Chester Taylor who knows how to get first downs on third down, a most flexible Brandon MaluMaluaena to add with Greg Olsen at tight end, Chris Harris their Super Bowl safety back and an exciting bunch of speedsters to throw to for Jay Cutler who has gotten to know his receivers. I like Mike Martz and love his idea to move Devon Hester to the slot. He will cause a lot of mismatches at that spot. Sure Harris and Urlacher can Pro Bowl players. Even last year the Bears were 3-3 in the division including a win over Minnesota and clearly have added more to their team than the others. I think Bears fans have a lot to be excited about on both sides of the ball and are definitely Playoff Bound. Having said that, Go Dallas!!

  • Sosell Meeamee

    Here’s the big picture….The O line needs to actually show up to play this year….with O. Pace gone they might actually protect somebody or open a hole. One big question mark is Olen Kreutz, he’s getting older and the run game is getting worse.

    The Receivers need to improve both their route running and their improvisation after plays break down.

    Forte needs a hole to hit true, but he also needs to wake up out there and make somebody miss for once.

    Mark Anderson needs to bulk up and show up.

    Cutler needs to wipe that smirk off his face, knock the chip off his shoulder and friggen play football. He can’t through picks on check downs….. come on, your a pro.

    Ultimately the teams lack of success in recent years falls on the shoulders of the front office. Year after year our top draft picks are released, traded or never show up. Grossman, Benson, Colombo, Mark Bradley, Vasher, the list goes on and on remeber David Terrell and Cade McNown? We’re lucky to be 8-8 after a decade of terrible front office moves.

    It would be nice to see the team stick with coaches and coordinators for longer than 4 years so players could reach their full potential. What if Cutler plays like last year will it be Martz fault? The O-line’s? Perhaps. Or maybe its the front office’s fault for not solidifying the O-line or upgrading the receivers and for bringing in a new offensive coordinator with the same puzzle pieces.

    • Boomer

      Great comment Sossell. I am printing a copy and framing it.

  • West Coast Bear

    Yeah Sosell, the issue is in player development as well and your point about turning coaching has another challenge…. what if the Bears falter? A new staff and scheme next year?

    That would mean that Cutler would be in year 3 before we would start something possibly successful. Trading for Jay meant investing in that trade…. Oline help and a new offensive direction. The team is getting older, at least the pro bowl talent and our window to win… as odd as it may read is NOW.

    It’s hard to consider yet another lost season, but it’s staring us right in the face. GB will be better this year and Minnesota should be solid no matter what drama queen decides to do. The Liions are on the rise and it feels like we are treading water hoping for a miracle. Anyone know Dick Jauron’s phone number?

  • West Coast Bear

    I don’t live in Chicago, family moved when I was very young so excuse me if this sounds weird…

    The only way to protest ownership/management is to boycott games. As long as you boys pony up huge bucks for cold seats and ridiculous parking, the Mc Caskey family has no urgency… their equity stake alone is enough incentive.

    If all the Bear faithful decided to patronize local establishments televising the game, your MONEY helps the people who need it and sends a message to those who take your loyalty for granted.

    As in our current political environment, Money is turning on humanity. Money has only one goal, MORE. Our only weapon against Money is our money. Patronize the mom and pops, not the multi nationals when you can. That includes the Bears.

    Imagine if Soldier field was half empty in October and NO ONE bought new colored jersey’s for it because the city finally figured out the scam about retro jerseys. That sends a message. As long as you boys line up like sheeps to slaughter and waste your money on an overvalued product that ownership doesn’t care about, they win.

    That’s what makes public financing a private venue (stadium) so obtuse. Wake up sheeple.

  • Darryll

    Surprise!Surprise! The Bears will work with the resources they have and improve upon last year.Tice and Martz’s coaching will make the difference.

    • Windy Cynic

      Replace Tice and Martz with Marinelli and it’s the same line we were fed last year.

      But it does explain why no one gives up on the Cubs and the nickname “Second City”.

  • http://Yahoo Ross scano

    The bears have made a few good choices and a few bad choices. Losing Alex Brown was one of the. Trading a #2 pick for Gains Adam was unfortunate. Counting on a #3 pick Wright, may not be right. Not obtaining a veteran OLG to assist in the development of Chris Williams and providing protection for Cutler is a big mistake. There must be something I do not know about Beekman. I think Tayor will not be as good without Minnasotas OL. They overpaid and now can not afford an OLG??? If they do n ot have a good year blame it on budget restriction that did not make sense. When you have a few poor years and have the revenue the bears have , sometimes you need to spend a little of your profits to keep the fans interested. There is no salary Cap this year.
    Finally the bears have a tough schedule. 8-8 would be a good year, but not enough to compete in their division, where Green Bay and the Viking will be winners. Many things will need to break the bears way, and poor things happen to their competition. Odds are against such a senerio.

  • http://Beargoggles BearsDfense

    My only worry is someone getting hurt. If we can stay healthy just stop and think about it. Peppers , Harris, Urlacher, Briggs coming at you if just the 4 can stay healthy We will be Dallas bound oh and we need to keep Cutler alive

  • http://www.dobox.com/ Bruce

    Here’s the big picture….The O line needs to actually show up to play this year….with O. Pace gone they might actually protect somebody or open a hole. One big question mark is Olen Kreutz, he’s getting older and the run game is getting worse.

    The Receivers need to improve both their route running and their improvisation after plays break down.

    Forte needs a hole to hit true, but he also needs to wake up out there and make somebody miss for once.

    Mark Anderson needs to bulk up and show up.

    Cutler needs to wipe that smirk off his face, knock the chip off his shoulder and friggen play football. He can’t through picks on check downs….. come on, your a pro.

    Ultimately the teams lack of success in recent years falls on the shoulders of the front office. Year after year our top draft picks are released, traded or never show up. Grossman, Benson, Colombo, Mark Bradley, Vasher, the list goes on and on remeber David Terrell and Cade McNown? We’re lucky to be 8-8 after a decade of terrible front office moves.

    It would be nice to see the team stick with coaches and coordinators for longer than 4 years so players could reach their full potential. What if Cutler plays like last year will it be Martz fault? The O-line’s? Perhaps. Or maybe its the front office’s fault for not solidifying the O-line or upgrading the receivers and for bringing in a new offensive coordinator with the same puzzle pieces.