Posts Tagged ‘Tommy Harris’

A Tip of the “Cap” to the Chicago Bears

March 5th, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NFL Football   1 Comment »

The Monsters of the Midway just got a heck of a lot scarier.

Last season, the Chicago Bears opened up their wallets and made the trade that was supposed to put their franchise over the top. After years of watching Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, et al struggle to complete passes, they dealt Orton and a slew of draft picks to the Denver Broncos to acquire Jay Cutler.

After the oddsmakers jumped all over the place and named the Bears amongst the favorites to go the Super Bowl in the wide open NFC, all they managed to do was go 7-9 and suffer crushing defeat after crushing defeat.

Oh look, Cutler just threw another interception while I was writing that paragraph.

The fact that the Vanderbilt product, who made a cool $22M last season, threw 27 touchdown passes last season was completely irrelevant to Chicago fans. It was the 26 interceptions that really stood out.

Heck, Sexy Rexy could’ve done that.

In all seriousness though, Cutler’s turnover problems were just one of the many freakish things that happened to the Bears in 2009. LB Brian Urlacher suffered a season-ending injury in the first week of the season. RB Matt Forte had a miserable sophomore slump, rushing for just 929 yards and four scores. WR/DB/KR/PR/Popcorn Salesman Devin Hester didn’t score a single special teams touchdown.

If nothing else changed for Chicago from 2009, don’t you think that the 2010 edition of this team would be significantly better?
Last year, the Bears spent a shade over $120M in salaries, which was just $7M shy of the roughly $127M cap. The only significant number that is coming off of the cap from last year to this year was that of Orlando Pace, who made a shade over $5M in 2009.

But thanks to the fact that this will be an uncapped season, it was essentially open season for the Bears to become free agent head hunters.

That’s when the wallet was opened.

Today was the first day of the free agency period, and Chicago wasted no time spending a cool $84.5M in the blink of an eye.
The newest members of the team including former Carolina Panthers DE Julius Peppers and former Minnesota Vikings RB Chester Taylor. In an otherwise largely mediocre free agent class, these two signings were incredible.

In Peppers, the Bears are getting one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL. He racked up 81 sacks with the Panthers before not getting resigned in the offseason, and now he’ll get to team up with one of the best DTs in the league in Tommy Harris as well as one of the best linebacking corps that the league has to offer as well.

There’s a certain #4 right now sitting in on a farm somewhere in Mississippi that has to be looking at that and wondering if he really wants to face that front seven twice this year…

The signing of Taylor will go underappreciated, yet it is quite possibly the more relevant signing. Even though Chicago ranked 17th in total defense and 21st in points allowed in 2009, we knew that the Bears would already be a more dangerous team defensively in ’10 thanks to the return of Urlacher.

What we weren’t so sure of is how good this running game could be. Many think that Forte’s miserable rushing average (3.6 yards per carry) was a large reason for the downfall of Cutler last year.

Chicago knew that it didn’t need a home run hitter as a running back. It just needed someone to lighten the load off of Cutler’s shoulders just a bit.

Taylor’s numbers haven’t been all that impressive for the Vikings since Purple Jesus came to town, but he has still been the epitome of consistency. If Minnesota needed a guy to step in and start, Taylor was available. A good blocker? Check. A third down back? Does 42 catches last season suffice?

For a team that ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing (93.2 yards per game), Taylor should be a perfect fit from a divisional rival.
It’s pretty clear that losing is no longer any option for the Chicago Bears.

For the second straight season, they have gone out and made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason. For the second straight season, they’ll be a favorite in the NFC. For the second straight season, expectations will be incredibly high.

But if for the second straight season, the Bears don’t reach the playoffs and march towards the Super Bowl, HC Lovie Smith is going to have lots of explaining to do.

After all, at least right now, he’s got the best team that money can buy.