Thursday, August 02, 2007

Preseason Viewing Guide

This could be one of the most entertaining seasons ever! With the exception of McKie and Hillenmeyer, the entire starting line-up could realistically make the Pro-bowl. It won't happen, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't.

Grossman's second year could be every bit as good as his sophomore year at Florida. It sounds like he fixed his irksome tendency to run backwards and throw against his body every fourth play or so, and all game every fourth game or so. And even if he didn't, Kyle Orton spent the entire offseason turning into an NFL quality backup. With shotgun back in and 10 wins under his belt already, the passing game seems in pretty good hands. My only question is, if Chris Leak plays well enough that he can't be hidden on the practice squad for a year will the Bears hold four quarterbacks or are Griese's days numbered?

Benson is ready for at least 1500 yards—probably more like 1800 if he gets the bulk of the carries, and if Ron Turner doesn't start to think that it's too fun to throw to the ridiculous receiving corps below and totally stop running around week 9. Peterson has always shown potential and will be a sufficient backup, and I'm seriously excited about seeing Wolfe and/or Hester in the backfield.

Berrian could be the best deep threat in the NFL. Hester might be better at Reggie Bush than Reggie Bush. Davis plays the slot very well and is a better sixth option than most teams have. Bradley's back in the exact same situation as last year and Muhammed is now barely mentioned as the sure-handed, wily vet who will probably do most of his damage on third down and in the end zone. The question here will be the fates of Hass, Ball and James, all of whom I'm excited about watching during preseason.

Olsen and Clark will prove unstoppable.

The only real concern for this season is the lack of depth and age of the OLine: if Tait goes down or if two of the starters get hurt the Bears will be vulnerable, but otherwise the Chargers, Eagles and Broncos games should be the only possible blemishes.

The defense should be back to their Craig Krenzel-Kyle Orton days of domination. Lovie's scheme is simple and relies on speed and athletecism more than brains. The Bears have a ton of the first two and just enough of the last, with probably one of the fastest rosters ever.

Tommie Harris is back. Walker is an upgrade at Nose, and Dvoracek and Adams are upgrades from Scott and Boone. Idonije is great depth. Garray and Bazuin better get healthy quick or they're likely to get cut or put on IR respectively.

The linebackers are great, everyone knows this, and Williams and Okwo will both be more than adequate cover by midseason.

And the defensive backfield fits Lovie perfectly with Archuleta back in his system and McGowan, Manning and Payne much more athletic reserves than Harris, Worrell and Johnson were. The interesting question will be if Wesley stays ahead of McBride and Graham.

All around there is enough depth to lose two starters from each group and still have at least two pro-bowlers on the field.

The kickers are great. The returners are just as good. But the preseason fun will be watching Leak, Hass and Ball try to earn roster spots based on position play against both Ayanbadejo's, Wilson, Wesley, Graham and McBride working to make the team primarily on special teams.


micah james said...

While I'm hot I wanted to point out that I can basically see into Angelo's mind as well as Harry could see Voldemort's, before that whole sacrificing himself to kill the bit of ol' Vold that was in him thing. I 'effin nailed my post-season thoughts.

Marcus said...

I still think that Leak would have to be pretty much incredible for them to think about cutting Griese. From what I've heard about camp so far, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Orton at No. 2 by the start of the season, and if Orton is suddenly a serviceable backup who's obviously got a long career of backing up ahead of him, there's not really a need for Leak anywhere. And Angelo and Turner and Lovie all seem to like to have at least one old guy hanging around on the quarterback bench. Who knows why... But the only reason I'd see Angelo signing Leak would be to get an extra later round pick out of him in a trade, which would require him showing some capacity at backup, which he's not going to do with Orton in the way and sober. I think they'll sign him to the practice squad and cut their losses if he gets picked up by another team.

If Griese gets knocked down to No. 3, I doubt they'd cut him until next year, and only if Grossman has a steady season or some other old guy wants to hang out on their bench for cheaper.