The Chicago Bears can improve at just about every position on the field, as Data acutely discussed yesterday. They likely need a new center, additional corner, off-ball linebacker help, etc. But to be a consistent playoff team, you need the essentials, and the Bears are seriously lacking in those departments.
[ ] Backup Quarterback
This is the least of the essentials, but still essential. Justin Fields is going to play football the way he plays football, and that style comes with risk. There is risk for every quarterback but even more so for those who can wreck games with their legs. Trevor Siemian is a solid option off the bench but his entrance into a game forces the Bears to alter their style of play and that seems counterproductive. This is not a position where the Bears should spend huge financial resources; you’re more than likely to struggle no matter who your backup quarterback is. But I’d like to see them take a late-round shot in the draft on a running quarterback with arm upside. (Stetson Bennett in the 7th round.) If nothing else, they should never be in a position where someone like Nathan Peterman is starting football games for them.
[ ] Pass Rush
Does this really require explanation on a football (and sometimes cinema) blog? If you can’t rush the passer, you can’t win in the modern NFL. Hell, if you couldn’t rush the passer, you couldn’t win in the old-timey NFL either. A scout friend of mine said this of Alabama’s Will Anderson, “I wouldn’t trade back if there’s a chance I can get this kid. He changes a franchise.” Is that nonsense? Probably. The college-to-NFL projection is conjecture. (I think I am about to coin a term: projecture.) But if Anderson does remind NFL folks of Khalil Mack and Von Miller, that’s a projecture worth the risk.
[ ] Interior Defensive Line
The run defense in Chicago this season was a bit on the pathetic side, and this is a historically a position that can be addressed in free agency, as teams redirect their resources to flashier roster spots. The name you’ll likely hear? D.C. DT Daron Payne. At only 25 years old, and with a load of talent, he fills the prescription. If the Bears wanted to flood the position, they could also look at the underrated Dalvin Tomlinson in New Jersey or Taven Bryan in Cleveland.
[ ] Offensive Tackle
If the Bears decide they want to continue developing Braxton Jones at tackle, left or right, it’s fine. But they cannot enter the 2023 season with a liability at the other tackle position and there is no one on the current roster that can play at the appropriate level. Orlando Brown Jr. is evolving into one hell of a tackle in Kansas City and has ties to Ryan Poles. If the Bears need to overspend to get him, that’s the point of expansive cap space.
[ ] Number One Wide Receiver
The Bears have the makings, quietly, of a decent wide receiving group. Chase Claypool can stretch the field. Darnell Mooney is a reliable slot target. Equanimeous St. Brown is a solid run blocker and can chip in on the outside. But that unit is a bad one without a top talent in the mix and those are acquired via two means: trade and draft. Look at how A.J. Brown changed Philly, Tyreek Hill changed Miami. Look at what J’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson mean to an offense. The Bears are not going to be in the title mix until they find a dynamic, game-changing talent on the outside. Trading back from that top pick should give them ample opportunity to secure one out of the college ranks.