The sun shines a little brighter this year on Halas Hall during a cold Chicago winter. This time last year, GM Phil Emery had just selected his successor to Lovie Smith and there were many doubts whether the guy from Canada could get the job done. First time NFL coach Marc Trestman silenced many of those doubters during the 2013 campaign. Even with his team going a mediocre 8-8, he was able to bring Chicago Bears fans an offense more powerful and fun to watch then ever before. It seemed the sky was the limit for this team on offense.
On the other hand, the defense was abysmal. Injuries to the Bears two starting defensive tackles made the run defense the worst in the NFL. Couple that with the loss of arguably their best defensive player, Lance Briggs, and one of the best pound for pound corners in the league in Charles Tillman, this defense was a disaster. They may have had the second best scoring offense in the league (27.8 ppg) but the defense finished 30th (29.9ppg). As Chicago looks to the offseason, where do they go from here? What does Phil Emery need to do to get his defense and team over the hump?
Release Julius Peppers
The Bears are on the hook for $18.1 million against the cap next season, and after a year where the 34-year-old failed to show up in many games, and showed extreme decline in burst, he left a lot to be desired. Emery should let him walk unless he is willing to restructure the deal and take much less. I still think he could be good, and show signs of great, but I need 12+ sacks to make that money worth it.
Resign Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings
Luckily the Bears have already resigned Jennings, the next is Tillman. The hometown discount that Brian Urlacher was offered should be the one Tillman gets. Nobody shuts down the likes of a Calvin Johnson as good as Tillman does. Pair that with his ability to force turnovers to unsuspecting ball carriers, he’s as important as anyone on the Bears defense. Many around the league believe he might reunite with Lovie Smith in Tampa but I believe he retires a Bear.
Resign Henry Melton
Melton suffered a torn ACL early, and the Bears missed him dearly as they posted a franchise worst in rush defense. The number one free agent defensive tackle on most boards will seek a hefty contract, but even with some troubling off the field incidents, he deserves it.
Move Shea McClellin to LB
I’m a fan of Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker trying out the 3-4 defense in 2014. McClellin showed promise when they moved him to a stand up technique (think Clay Matthews) and I believe he would improve as a pass rusher with a position switch. He is much too small to be effective against the run block, and standing him up will utilize his speed and athleticism.
I feel that my first post for isportsweb should conclude with a prediction. In a Super Bowl where offense meets defense, I believe offense will reign victorious. Broncos 27 Seahawks 21.