On ESPN 1000 with Waddle and Silvy Super Bowl winning coach and current Fox Sports NFL analys Brian Billick chimed in with his take on the Bears for 2009.
Billick speaking of the Bears touches on the defensive problems the Bears have had the past two years. He was overall pretty satisfied with the play of the QB last year. However he noted that the Bears are a team that is designed to succeed based on how well the defense plays.
Billick stepped in and stated “I think you can make a fair case that the difficulties for the Bears was not the quarterback position. Kyle Orton did a nice job. I did the Atlanta, Chicago game where he did a nice job bringing back the Bears the length of the field. It just turned out that Matt Ryan had one better drive after that to win the game.”
Billick’s point in the Atlanta game points directly to the Bears’ short comings on defense. Zero pass rush was generated by the front four in that game and it was essentially that way throughout the season. The Bears did not pressure the QB and their defense suffered majorly as a result.
Billick followed up with “From my perspective having seen the Bears play two times (in 2008). That is the number one issue for them, iscan they get back to playing the level of to go with the philosophy that they want to have.”
“They’re certainly capable of it and Lovie Smith stepping back in and calling the defense adds a better element to it. But it also puts Lovie at a greater risk (in terms of him being solely responsible for the success of the defense in 2009).
The crew led by fill in host Jeff Dickerson who does duty as the ESPN 1000 radio beat broadcaster for the Bears then shifted gears to the next obvious weak point in the offense, the wide receivers.
This obviously is an issue that will be beat to death through camp and until the Bears prove themselves able to compete at a high level and win games with this group of receivers.
It’s not so much the tired argument can Devin Hester be successful as a number one, and after that only Rashied Davis has an NFL reception in his career. The main focus will be can the Bears win in spite of their receivers. The production will be there, to what level we don’t know.
What we do know is there will be production and success and failures. However will the ultimate take on the season won’t be the production from the receivers if the Bears go to the playoffs, win the division and play deep into January. The Bears were one game away from the playoffs last year with a lousy group of receivers anyway. So can they muster two more wins with this crop and Jay Cutler going forward?
Billick’s take “I think that he has some choices, that’s probably as good and as deep of a tight end trio as there is in the league. And the end of the day you’re looking to get that 90-plus catches from your go to guy. You’d like to be in that 70 range with your number two, and whatever it is whether it’s your tight end whether it’s your third receiver your running back be in that 40 to 50 (receptions) range.
Well the Bears have the potential with that trio of tight ends that they have, that can be your go to guy to a certain degree. Particularly when you’re talking about the speed that a Devin Hester presents stretching the field on the outside. Could they use bona fide legitimate number one receiver? Sure. But I think they have the parts in place to use that tight end in a way that not a lot of other teams in the league can’t. You’ve got the speed with Hester. Plus you have the young running back coming off the season that he had. Forte had a great season coming out of the backfield he gives you the potential to put up a lot of numbers coming out of the back field. Could they use the number one receiver? Yes but I think they have enough weapons surrounding Jay Cutler and that there will be enough there to support him. A lot of other teams in the league at the end of the day are looking for that number one receiver that the Bears don’t have.”
Billick went on to further discuss what Hester means to the Bears. Stating analysis along the lines of should Hester held out of punt return duties if he’s a true number one receiver.
There is that debate and it’s a fair debate but at the end of the day he’s a valuable part of the return game. Sure we’ll hold our breath each and every time Hester is back there fielding a punt, but it’s an element of the return game that has made the Bears highly successful.
Billick talked very long and on strong point about what the Bears have on offense in the way of pass catching potential. Most people overlook the fact that Greg Olsen could be the number one receiver in this offense. Tight ends have done that before, plus with speed Hester has it opens up things underneath for the tight ends even more. Billick’s analysis is coming from a former head coach and a former offensive coordinator that had success. You could almost hear him salivating at the thought of what it would be like to be in the position to set up the Bears’ offense with the weapons they have. Hester’s speed, Olsen’s unlimited potential at tight end plus the franchise quarterback with the rifle of an arm that Jay Cutler brings to the table. There’s enough out there in the passing game for the Bears to win a lot of football games.