It goes without saying that the Bears' biggest need will be a new head coach to guide this team going forward. Assuming that is the case, what personnel moves will the Bears need to make in order to improve?
If you asked the fans, I think that, without question, the Bears' most important need is at the wide receiver position. While that is an important need, it is not the most important one.
The Bears have a potential franchise quarterback in rookie Mitch Trubisky. For him to be successful, not only does he have to be surrounded by quality players but a quality coaching staff. A staff that knows how to develop a young quarterback and play to the strength of the personnel but also that he needs to be protected.
I am a firm believer that in order to build a successful team in the NFL, it has to be done from the inside out. By that I mean both the offensive line and defensive line need to be solid before we can start looking at other positions. The defensive line seems to be in good hands. There is a combination of veterans and youth, and it is a group that a team can win with.
The offensive line, on the other hand, needs help. At least one quality starter — and perhaps two — need to be added to the group. The first priority would be right tackle, and then a player who is capable of being a starter either inside or out. I say that because of all the injuries the Bears have had on the offensive line the past few years. Quality depth is a must.
Tight end seems to be in good hands. Dion Sims is never going to be a prolific pass catcher but he is a quality blocker, and that is needed to have a strong run game. Rookie second-round draft pick Adam Shaheen has a bright future. Sure, his numbers for this year aren’t that great, but when you draft a player you are drafting him for what he can be. Shaheen played at the Division II level and never had to block. The jump to the NFL is huge but the natural traits are there. I feel that he will make a big jump in 2018.
I still believe that the wide receiver position is not as bad as it looks. Don’t forget, Cam Meredith will be back next year, and recently acquired Dontrelle Inman looks like a player. Kendall Wright can be a good slot receiver, provided the Bears have a play caller who knows how to call a good game. The depth needs to be improved, and who knows what Markus Wheaton is. He has been injured much of the year, and while he is ready to go now, is he not playing because he lacks talent, or does the coaching staff not believe in him? We will find out a lot more about Wheaton next year. The same can be said about Kevin White, who will be around another year because of his contract.
On defense, I feel the primary needs are outside linebacker and corner. Pernell McPhee cannot be counted on because of his lack of durability. The same can be said about 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd, who has yet to play a full season in his two years here. He is immensely talented but can he be counted on?
Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara — the two starting corners — are both out of contract after this season. One or both have to be re-signed, as both have played solid football this year. Marcus Cooper — the corner with the big contract — has been a disappointment, so at least one quality corner needs to be acquired.
How will the Bears go about acquiring the players at these positions? There are two sources of player acquisition in the NFL — the draft and free agency. At this time it is difficult to say which area of acquisition the Bears will use for each position. Why? The draft is always dominated by underclassmen, and the underclassmen have until mid-January before they have to declare. It will be another five-to-six weeks before we know who is in the draft.
Free agency is similar. It is far too early to know for sure who will or won’t be a free agent. Once we know who will be part of the draft and free agency, we can determine the strengths and weaknesses of each player pool. When that is known, we will get a better idea as to how the Bears will attack both. At that time we will follow this up with some names and ideas.