CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 2: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears hands off the ball to Matt Forte #21 during a game against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field on October 2, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
If you're still disappointed with the way the Bears season ended, you're not alone. There are still Bears fans around Chicagoland who are wearing their Bears gear, eating bonbons, and sadly paging through game programs, repeating,"Why? Why couldn't Jay Cutler stay healthy? Why did Matt Forte have to get hurt, too? And Johnny Knox? WHY?" Or maybe that's just me.
No matter if you've moved on or not, the Bears season ended in a disappointing manner. There was such promise, but a shallow team ended any playoff hopes. Theoretically, when the Bears regain their health, they will also regain their ability to win. However, health is not enough. They need to upgrade the team to make sure a disaster like the 2011 season does not happen again.
Jettisoning Jerry Angelo and Mike Martz was a good start. Here are five more things they could do to upgrade the team:
1. Upgrade the receiving corps. Not having capable people to catch Cutler's passes makes Cutler a bit of a waste. Johnny Knox can sometimes get downfield. Earl Bennett is a great third-down wideout. Devin Hester is hit or miss, and really should be concentrating on special teams. Roy Williams was a bust. The Bears need a no. 1 man to reliably catch Cutler's passes in any situation.
2. Make a commitment to Matt Forte. Yep, he slowed at the end of the season and was injured, but Forte was a reliable offensive threat. Not only do the Bears need to sign him to the contract he deserves, but they also need to give him a reliable back-up so that Forte doesn't have to run himself into the ground.
3. Figure out the safety position. Want to know the last time the Bears didn't draft a safety? 2003, when they drafted Charles Tillman. Safety was extra confused this year, as Chris Harris was cut, Brandon Merriweather did not work out, and Major Wright was injured. With Cover-2, safeties have an important role, but the Bears don't have a cohesve strategy behind staffing this position.
4. Develop back-ups. The depth problem was front and center this season as injuries on offense sent the Bears into a tailspin. Caleb Hanie has not grown into a reliable option. Kahlil Bell impressed, but was inconsistent. The team needs to look at the Packers and how they have reloaded players, and learn something about how to have players in lplace to deal with adversity.
5. Trust Jay Cutler. The Bears brought him to Chicago to be a franchise quarterback. He has skill and experience, but somehow still wasn't empowered to call audibles. By now, he knows the team. He knows the plays. He can read defenses. He should be able to change the play at the line of scrimmage.