Friday, April 3, 2009

Bears got a long-term solution, not a quick fix

I want the Bears to play better. I want them to score more points. But simply adding Quarterback Jay Cutler will not achieve those goals. He needs help. He needs better wide receivers. He needs better offensive linemen. He may even need an offensive system that suits him.

All things being equal, Cutler will not make the Bears significantly better than they were with Kyle Orton. Last season, running back Matt Forte led the Bears in catches with 63. Behind him was Tight End Greg Olsen with 54. The Broncos' leading pass catchers were wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal with 104 and 91, respectively.

The stat indicates a difference in philosophy. The Bears are willing to grind a team down with a strong running game and controlled passing and depend on their defense to win games. The Broncos played to outscore an opponent, which requires throwing the ball a lot and down field.

The Bears are not going to line Forte up as a wide receiver all that often. And Olsen isn't fast enough to beat a corner down field. Both indicate an expectation for short passes and long drives. That's not playing to Cutler's strength, his talent or his strong arm.

I think Orton understood his role and how to flourish in it. He knew he couldn't throw the ball 70 yards to hit Devin Hester on a fly pattern. But he was smart enough to know he could make the 15- and 20-yard over the middle. We don't know if Cutler will succeed in that role.

The Bears don't have the personnel to change their offense to suit Cutler's strengths. Now maybe in the future (but not until at least 2011) the Bears will have a high draft pick to get a receiver that allows for a vertical passing game.

The Cutler trade has made rebuilding a long-term project, not a quick fix. The problem is so many Bears fans are expecting results next season. I don't think they're coming this fall.

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