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Bears Wed Nov 12 2014

Bears Should Shuffle Roster with Season All but Lost

Chicago BearsThe focus for the Bears has to be on the future. A second consecutive embarrassing loss in which they gave up more than 50 points has ended any playoff consideration in an NFC that would even see the Packers miss the postseason if it started today.

Losing to Green Bay like the Bears did on Sunday Night Football should have made heads roll -- though maybe not Marc Trestman's because there isn't an obvious replacement in the house. Mel Tucker should've been let go in his own right, and Joe DeCamallis hasn't earned any sort of interim promotion either. Aaron Kromer was 2-4 with a loaded Saints team in 2004, and it would probably cause problems if you jumped quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh up ahead of Kromer.

If the coaches aren't going to change, then the players should. No, Jay Cutler isn't getting benched. He's played terrible football this season because of numerous factors, a major one being questionable coaching and play calling. An example: the Bears have dialed up just 68 play action passes this season, good for 20th in the NFL. This is despite having one of the best running backs in the league. Of those 68 dropbacks, Cutler has been able to throw 67 passes, meaning he's been sacked or scrambled just once on those plays. Miss those quick slants that moved the ball quickly and efficiently last year? Me too, but Cutler's financially linked to the Bears for two more full seasons. That boat has already set sail.

So what can the team do to better prepare themselves for next season? Here are some personnel changes the team should make to see what they might have on their roster already.

Flip Kyle Long and Jordan Mills

Phil Emery and Trestman talked during the bye week about moving Mills to left guard to replace the injured Matt Slauson, and using Michael Ola out at right tackle. That idea lasted exactly one practice. Why? Nobody knows. Mills has been one of the worst offensive tackles in the league since he started from day one last season, and there has been zero improvement. Julius Peppers lit him up on the Bears opening series on Sunday to stuff Matt Forte's first rushing attempt, and it didn't get any better.

Long was drafted in the first round not because of how he performed in college, but because of his raw potential to be a monster on the offensive line. He made the Pro Bowl as rookie, though he probably didn't deserve that high praise. The long term plan to move him to tackle is really the only thing that makes sense based on his draft position. If he was picked to stay at guard, it was another terrible selection by Emery because the resource could've been better spent elsewhere. It makes complete sense to not only see how Long can do on the edge, but to see if Mills is serviceable inside. If he's not, he's someone you can cut bait with during the offseason and not be any worse for the wear.

Get Ka'Deem Carey more snaps

Carey has been in on just 71 plays this season, compared to 565 for Forte. It's not only to preserve Forte for next season (nobody predicted the Cowboys competing this year, so bouncing back for a good year in 2015 isn't out of the question for the Bears), but also to see what you have in your fourth-round pick. Forte will be in the final year of his contract next season, and anything more than a short-term extension is probably out of the question because of his age and mileage. Carey needs reps to learn the NFL game, and in case Forte were to ever get hurt, you wouldn't want to lean even more heavily on your quarterback because of who's standing behind him.

Bench Shea McClellin for Christian Jones

Pro Football Focus gave McClellin his highest grade of the year against the Packers -- entirely due to his play against the run. That being said, I've seen more than enough of McClellin to put him on the bench. Pass defending at the strongside linebacker position is an absolute must, and McClellin bites on pretty much all play action fakes.

Jones has graded out solidly the entire season, and did a nice job against Atlanta starting at the strong side. He also started at weak side against New England, but I think his size is best suited for mauling tight ends on a consistent basis. He was an undrafted rookie that many people were talking about as someone who could've easily gone higher had it not been for his red flags off the field. Giving him an extended look when the pressure is off is the best thing they can do.

Play Brock Vereen at safety

See a trend here? Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy both have expiring contracts, and neither have done anything to prove they should remain starters. Conte has played OK, but he's got too many injury issues to count on long-term. Vereen hasn't seen a ton of field time, and it's in the best interest of the team to see if he's got the necessary skills to play safety consistently in the NFL. The only thing to worry about here is that you might not have good enough coaches to put him in the right positions to make plays.

Put Jon Bostic on the weak side

Yes, that means benching Lance Briggs or have him play middle linebacker for a few weeks. It's pretty clear that Briggs is in his last year playing for the Bears. He doesn't seem to get along great with the coaching staff, has completely tuned them out, and may be done playing football altogether when his contract is up after week 17. He's still a pretty decent player, but I don't think he'll get offered the amount of money he thinks he's worth -- plus you have to consider he's missed a lot of time due to injuries the past two seasons. Father Time remains undefeated.

Bostic has been playing on the strong side if McClellin has been out in base packages, and middle linebacker in the nickel. But many people think he'd succeed even more on the weak side. He's done quite well this season, and has improved drastically from being sprung into the starting lineup as a rookie with an overmatched position coach (later fired). See what he can do in the position he might be targeted to play next season right now instead of experimenting in games that matter at the beginning of 2015.

 
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Richard Ott / November 12, 2014 1:51 PM

I am with you on the thought that they should do it now as opposed to 2015 when it counts.

Alec / November 12, 2014 5:50 PM

I agree with you on the play calling. I am not trying to defend Cutler, but the Bears coaches call CRAZY plays. They try to do home run plays instead of dink and dunk which makes Peyton, and Brady successful. I don't care if you are Joe Montana, if you call the same plays Joe would look bad too! Let Cutler gives the ball to the play-makers. I saw Jay at Denver and I thought he was best on play action, boot legs etc.

The biggest concern for me is this. The Defense. It is horrible! I don't have an answer, but whatever they are doing now the Bears need to scrap that!

Was Tucker good before he came to the Bears? I don't think so?? Not a fan of someone losing their job but there needs to be some change in something!

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