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.
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?