JpPresser: Bears have questions to answer this offseason

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Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22), high fives a fan, as he walks off the field, following his team's 24-20 loss to the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field, in Chicago, on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)

Joni Mitchell said it best, “That you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.” The Bears season has come and gone. Coming into this season, Bears fans didn’t know what to expect from this team under 1st year head coach John Fox. The Bears made us laugh at times and also made us want to throw anything near us at the TV. With all that being said, the Bears had a chance to end the season with back to back wins as they hosted the Lions at Soldier Field on Sunday. They fought till the end, but they could not overcome the turnovers to stay out of the bottom of the NFC North, falling to the Lions 24-20. Let’s take a look at some of my takeaways and thoughts about this ball club as the Bears 2015 season comes to an end.

 

  1. Jay Cutler will be your starting QB next season. Living in Chicago and talking about the Bears there is not a day that goes by that Cutler’s name doesn’t come up in discussion. Some people can’t stand him and think the Bears won’t turn the corner until he is gone and some think once he has a healthy offensive core around him he can do great things. No matter how you look at it, just know that he will be around for another year. The Bears can select a QB of the future in this upcoming draft, but i’m not sure there is a QB of the future is in this years draft. I’ve been one of the biggest Cutler haters out there over the years, but I have to say he played pretty well in 2015. With looking at the skill position players he was working with week in and week out, it’s impressive the job he did. Let’s keep it real, at some point the Bears will have to find a replacement for Cutler because he is 32 years old and not getting any younger, but he will be under center in 2016.

 

  1. Biggest draft need are? Looking at the Bears roster as it stands, this team has so many areas of need. There is not a day that goes by that I’m talking to a Bears fan about what direction the team goes in the 2016 draft. To me the answer is easy…pass rusher. Last off season the Bears acquired Pernell McPhee from the Ravens and was super effective when he was healthy this season. The Bears need to bolster up the opposite side of McPhee first thing in this upcoming draft. Watching the 1st year of Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense, I understand more of what he is trying to do and the two outside linebackers are key to the success. The Bears would end the season with 35 sacks. That is 4 less than they had last season under Mel Tucker.

  1. Will Matt Forte be back? The funny thing about football is the stigma that a running back is over the hill at age 30. Most of the time it’s true, but for a guy like Forte, he is an exception to the rule. This guy trains harder than most people I’ve ever met that has played this game. Throughout his career he has never been a guy that has taken big hits because of how the Bears used him in the running game, his running style and his role in the passing game. I understand Forte’s thinking on this one. He feels like he has more in the tank and you can bet there is a team out there that thinks that as well. The Bears seem to have their succession plan in place with Jeremy Langford. Is he the future for this team? I think he can be, but the question that will have to be answered is can he be as durable as number 22? The guy only missed 8 games in his 8 years here in Chicago. One thing that can’t be denied is that Forte has been the second most productive tailback in franchise history behind my dad. That right there says enough about what he has meant to this team and the City of Chicago.

 

  1. To pay or not to pay Alshon Jeffery? One of the biggest issues the Bears had coming into this season was could Jeffery be the number one wideout for this organization. I was fairly confident that he could be, but could he stay healthy enough for us to witness his greatness that we kept seeing glimpses of. The guy has posted back to back 1,000 yard season, but in his 4 season in the league he has missed 13 games. One thing that was evident this season was when he wasn’t on the football field the bears struggled on offense. It’s very hard to replace a big tall receiver that can glide and take the top off a defense. Also, he was a big part of the Bears success in the red zone. He finished the season with 54 catches for 807 yards and 4 touchdowns in only 9 games played. The NFL is not only about what have you done for me lately, but also about never taking a day off. The Bears should be and have to be concerned about backing up the brinks truck to his house. The smart thing to do is use the franchise tag on Jeffrey, which will keep him around for another season. The Bears just have to tell him “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

 

  1. Adam Gase’s time in Chicago could be coming to an end. The best thing that happened to Jay Cutler this season was Gase. Gase was instrumental in the progression of Cutler and found ways to bring out the best in him without having a bunch of high powered weapons around him. Before the season started i thought it would be a long shot if Gase would be here after the 2015 season and now I’m starting to see I was probably right. Reading the sports sites and talking with NFL personnel that I know, there are three teams expected to pursue Gase aggressively after the season. The Eagles, Browns and Dolphins could all be in the race for the young and forward thinking coordinator. I can’t be mad at him for leaving, anyone that has been around football understands that every coach wants to be the man at least once in their coaching career. Gase has worked his butt off and if he takes one of those jobs I will shake his hand and say thank you for your time here in Chicago. The one thing I won’t be able to get over is the what if factor.

 

The Bears season has come and gone ladies and gentlemen. Even though there was no post-season to play for, guys on this team were playing to stay out of the cellar in the NFC North, but also you had guys playing for jobs. Not just for this organization, but the other 31 teams that will also be looking at film. This year we have experienced many ups and down, but there was one thing that was a glaring fact. This team has shown a lot of heart and toughness this season under 1st year head coach John Fox. Those were traits that this team has been missing since Lovie Smith was the man in charge. This team has a bunch of holes to fill and they can’t all be taken care of in this upcoming draft. As Bears fans we will have to trust Ryan Pace and John Fox over the next two drafts and also in free agency. The roster from this year is going to look so different when the bears head into training camp.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and what Pace and Fox are trying to build is going to take time. Time that I think they will get from the McCaskey’s. The future is trending up for this ball club, I truly believe it, but staying focused on the process is going to be the challenging part. Till next season Bears fans. #BearDown

@PaytonSun

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