Dec 28, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive tackle Zack Martin (70) blocks against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the second half of the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankees Stadium. Notre Dame Fighting Irish won the game 29-16. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Bears Defense Still Needs Work, But Draft Should Include Offense Too


Listening to the Jared Allen presser today reminded me just how much better the Chicago Bears are on paper than they were when the 2013 season came to a painful, and abrupt end against Green bay at Soldier field . The work Bears General Manager Phil Emery has done this off-season along with Bears financial guru ( VP of Football Admin/General Counsel ) Cliff Stein has been nothing short of remarkable. Together they hatched out a plan, and executed it to perfection. Emery in scouting and recruiting, and Stein in figuring out how to organize the cap to pay for all the players they acquired. So the fact that the Bears have re-signed, and added some impact players via free agency the drafting of defense isn’t so urgent. Of course that doesn’t mean they should stop adding on defense. They still need to build good young depth, and get that pipeline stocked with playmakers, but the same is true of the offense too.

January 24, 2014; Ko

All you have to do is look to last season on the other side of the ball to see what happens when your depth isn’t up to par. The Bears have two fantastic wide receivers, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and perhaps an up and comer in Marquess Wilson, but three wide receivers getting a ton of targets, and taking a pounding season after season is sure to produce a recipe for disaster. On top of it Wilson isn’t remotely proven yet. It would not hurt getting one of these big, strong, fast, athletic, and smart wide outs to add to the stable of stud thoroughbreds you have now.

You can say the same for the offensive line. They improved the protection, but that was more on other factors like the system, athletic Quarterbacks to move in the pocket, and a strong interior unit allowing Jay Cutler, and Josh McCown, to step up to avoid outside pressure from the ends. Also they had a smart receiving group making quick reads, and running l sharp routes so that the ball could come out of the quarterbacks hand quickly. Both tackle spots were not exactly lock down walls of protection. They both could be upgraded.

Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod (74) against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Bears 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Jermon Bushrod is still getting his guaranteed money from his signing last off-season so he’s staying put, but Jordan Mills is not, nor should he be, a lock for anything. There are some very good tackles in this draft that can easily win the starting right tackle job from Mills in training camp. Mills should not be given up on by any means, but he should have competition and earn that job.

Roberto Garza is not going to be around very much longer. Serious consideration should be given to drafting his eventual successor at some point in this draft. Many feel Kyle Long is going to be the eventual long term Left tackle once Bushrod either leaves, or perhaps gets kicked inside maybe as early as next off-season, so a decision needs to be made on who takes that right guard spot should Long be moved. Perhaps former un-drafted back up out of Troy James Brown challenges for a starting spot somewhere along the line, but the fact still remains there still is a need to add Offensive linemen at every level for both upgrades, and depth.

Forte is an extremely valuable piece that helps the offensive system the Bears have created go. His value as a do it all back allows the Bears to be deceptive in the way they do things, because they don’t tip off plays with packages, and substitutions. You hear Emery talk about wanting versatility, and the Bears don’t have many one trick ponies on the offensive side. It’s exactly what the Bears are trying to build on the defensive side. In order to maintain this philosophy, and maintain the advantage of secrecy It’s time to get a back to groom to spell Forte, and extend his career, as well as to have his replacement when it’s time for him to move on. This draft is loaded with quality backs. It would be a shame if the Bears didn’t take advantage of this talent pool.

Dec 28, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels tight end Eric Ebron (85) runs after a catch during the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina defeated Cincinnati 39-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Having another Tight end in this offense seems almost gluttonous, but there’s no such thing as too many weapons. Emery always speaks of wanting dynamic football players, and if the most dynamic player on the board is a tight end in whatever round including the first it’s his responsibility to grab him, and be true to his philosophy on building through the draft. And that’s get the most explosive dynamic athletes available.

I know everyone is focused on defense, defense, defense, and with good reason. The Bears were absolutely manhandled by offenses, The best teams in the league including the Super Bowl winner had excellent defensive units, and this draft is loaded with defensive firepower. However, as I pointed out the same holds true for the offense. You can never have too much firepower. On both sides of the ball.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Chicago Bears Favorite Featured Jermon Bushrod Jordan Mills

  • Sinclair Phos

    Well written Johnny. And fortunately the new regime understands there are two sides to the football. They still have a bit of a mess to clean up, but last year when the focus was on the offense, they still managed to add some pieces to the defense. This year while the focus is absolutely defense, I do believe given the additions made during free agency, they have a lot of flexibility in the draft, and we will see some solid picks on both sides of the football! Bear Down

    • Johnny Hatelak

      Thanks Sinclair. That’s what well rounded organizations do. They pay attention the the whole picture. I really am confident in the progressive minded approach of the top decision makers of the Bears organization for the first time in a long time.

      • Sinclair Phos

        A proactive approach in stead of a reactive approach is ALWAYS a better strategy. It is always easier to prevent a fire than it is to fight one!

        • Johnny Hatelak

          Nicely stated as usual Sinclair.

  • Erik Lambert

    Emery does this every year. He uses free agency not just to improve the roster but also to gain as much draft flexibility as humanly possible. Nobody likes to be dialed in on one position. They want to have the option of going where they want rather than where they have to. I’ve said from the beginning if the Bears can get a couple of really good defensive additions in the 1st and 2nd round, they did enough in free agency to warrant going offense in the 3rd, perhaps for a center or a running back. Emery made that possible with his additions up front and by bringing back Peanut and T.J.

    • Johnathan Wood

      they still need three players from this draft-CB, S, and DT-who will be starters by 2015. On offense, every starter but Garza will be back in 2015.

      So IMO the top 3 picks should be those 3 positions, and then you go BPA pretty much anywhere with your last 4.

      • Erik Lambert

        In a perfect world you are absolutely right, JW but remember the board doesn’t always cooperate that way. What if there isn’t a safety or DT worth a 3rd round pick but there is a RB or C that is good enough to be a 2nd round pick. To me you have to go with the better talent, even if it doesn’t instantly help your defense.

        • Johnathan Wood

          this is true, but DT and CB are both pretty deep in this years’ class, so it is highly likely there will be a player there in round 3 worthy of that pick.

          But if you see outstanding value somewhere else, by all means go for it.

          • Erik Lambert

            You’re probably right, I’m just saying don’t let a great value slip away if the board isn’t in your favor defensively.

          • Johnny Hatelak

            Great points Jonathan. The depth of this draft also allows Emery the flexibility to pull the trigger on some offensive players. There are still needs here as well. I’m not convinced the Bears have backup running back covered yet. To me that is a absolute need the Bears need to address in this draft. Same goes for number two TE. Maybe an H-back type to play that flex role. I’m also not convinced RT or even LT for that matter is settled. Certainly not at the back up positions.

          • Johnathan Wood

            Jermon Bushrod’s contract dictates that he is the starting LT. He was perfectly fine in that role last year too.

            Mills was supposed to sit behind Webb for a year and start this year, but earned the job a year early and played well. Now he gets an offseason to work with Kromer, the best OL coach in the NFL who has made a career of turning guys like Mills into good players.

            The only OL need is for depth (and that need is all but gone if Britton is re-signed) and a center to take over for Garza in 2015. I expect a late-round pick like Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard to come in round 5 or 6.

          • Johnny Hatelak

            Well Jonathan I ave to disagree with you there. The offense functioned well around them. They both do a good job run blocking but struggle pass blocking. This is Bushrods 2nd year of performing badly. PFF rated him extremely critically, and from what my eyes gleamed he was very porous in pass pro. Mills was a disaster at RT in pass protection against he lesser pass rushers. His feet are not quick enough. By my evaluations he projects better at guard. The only reasons both tackles didn’t give up a ton of sacks is because of the quarterbacks athleticism to move in the pocket, and the interior linemen giving them a clean pocket to step into not to mention the improvement of the WR’s to make quick accurate reads and get in and out of their breaks properly to give the QB’s a target to throw to before the rush gets to em. Oh and than thee’s the quicker passing game with shorter drops and a lot more shotgun. Bot tackle spots could be upgraded. However I agree busrod stays at LT this season because of salary, but another year like the last two I expect a change for the 2015 season.

    • Johnny Hatelak

      I wouldn’t completely discount offense with the 1st pick. Of course that would depend on what defensive players are still on the board and what offensive player dropped. For example if Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan fell or Sammy Watkins as remote as that possibility is. It’s unlikely that the value would be that overwhelming at 14th overall to take offense, but certainly isn’t the case at 51 overall. The goal is to stock the team with all pro type talent no matter what side of the ball it is. As far as I’m concerned I’m fairly convinced both the starters, and the depth on defense is sufficient enough to be dangerous if not spectacular, so you can afford to go offensive if an absolute stud is there.