Every new year brings fresh hope, great expectations, and, most of all, a new beginning.
There’s a time-honored tradition when the calendar year turns for people to make their New Year resolutions, which are tasks they are determined to achieve. The most popular of which is to drop the extra pounds they added during the holiday season. Others are more adament about achieving long term goals in their careers or personal life. The fulfillment of these resolutions doesn’t always happen, but it’s important to at least strive toward making them work.
Here’s a look at some of the most prominent members of the Chicago Bears and what each of their New Year resolutions should entail.
Shift the distribution of wealth from the defense to the offense. Currently, all of the team’s money is being allocated to the defense while the offense is shopping from the bargain bin. Angelo’s focus this off-season should be cutting dead weight from the defense and using more money on offensive players such as another quarterback, some wide receivers, and additional help on the offensive line.
Surround himself with adversaries. That might be a little too strong a word, but giving jobs to his close friends — particularly unproven coaches looking for their first stints as coaches — isn’t always the best course of action. It’s usually a good idea to have conflicting opinions on a coaching staff as long as it doesn’t result in serious problems. Having a wide range of ideas and philosophies can help make Lovie — and his entire staff — better and more aware coaches.
Quit calling the fullback dive. Turner has been heavily criticized this season, but when given a good cast to work with, he’s got a good offensive mind. He just needs to run less of the fullback dive up the middle.
Step 1 is to hope he keeps his job. Step 2 is to make his resolution to use less Cover 2 and when he calls blitzes — which he did often this year — call them in the proper situations.
Work on the deep ball. Orton is nowhere near the perfect quarterback — few NFL quarterbacks are. But the one area of his game which needs the most work is his long ball. The inability to accurately connect with his receivers downfield — particularly with a deep threat as fast as Devin Hester — is one of the primary reasons Angelo did not give him a ringing endorsement this week and it will prevent him from having long term security.
Ensure there is no sophomore slump. It’s natural for rookies to hit a wall in their second season in the league, particularly those who have success in their first year. And for running backs who shoulder the load of their offenses, the following season can be a rough one. For the Bears to have success in 2009, it’s imperative Forte works hard in the off-season and conditions his body well.
Quit counting the money and continue learning the position. Hester unfortunately learned the hard way that not everything comes from talent alone. As a standout kick and punt returner in his first two seasons, Hester used his God-given athletic ability and great blocking to achieve stardom. As a receiver, he learned that he has to put in hard work to be successful because it won’t come natural to him.
Become the disruptive force he was during the first few years of his career. Without a dominant Tommie Harris, the Bears don’t have a dominant defense — or much of a competent one at all. To do this, he needs to put his personal life aside and concentrate on his professional one.
Get off the ball quicker, learn a few more moves, and get to the quarterback. Another vital piece to Lovie Smith’s defense is the ability for defensive ends Adewale Ogunleye, Alex Brown, and Mark Anderson to get to the quarterback and hurry him into doing something rash. If they don’t, rest assured that Angelo and Smith will bring somebody else in that can.
Get healthy! I have every confidence that Urlacher still has enough left in the tank to be a solid middle linebacker. Pro Bowler? Maybe not. But at least good enough to be a difference-maker. His lack of production this year may have been a result of him not feeling 100% and playing tentative with his neck and back conditions. If he rests up this off-season and gets healthy, maybe he can put together a great 2009.
Like Babich, first Vasher needs to hope he isn’t going anywhere. Then, he needs to learn how to play more physical without getting hurt and figure out what he needs to do to get back to the way he was playing as “The Interceptor”.
Wrap up when tackling solo. It’s fine for Payne to deliver the pain when he’s finishing off a pile or trying to break up a pass when the receiver is in the air. But if he’s going one-on-one against a ball carrier, he has to bring his arms with the rest of his body or else he’ll continue to miss tackles.
Accept that he’s no longer the beloved 2001 version of himself. It’s been 8 years since his back-to-back game-ending interception returns against San Francisco and Cleveland in overtime. He’s definitely lost a step and has to rely on his smarts to put himself into the proper position. If the Bears choose to welcome him back, they may only give him minimum money and he needs to accept that. He hasn’t played a full season since 2003 and the Bears need to have 2 solid starting safeties with Brown competing for playing time.
Accept his role as a special teams player. The Bears need to accept it as well, because it appears he’s just not bright enough to learn one position and avoid costly mistakes like he did most recently against Houston. But he can have a long and fruitful career as a kick returner and standout special teams player.
Earn his money as the highest-paid kicker by becoming a more well rounded player. For starters, he’s automatic from short and mid-range but has yet to make a 50-yard field goal. He needs to strengthen his leg and earn the trust of his coaches to put him out there from long range. Secondly, and probably more important, he needs to work on his onside kicks and squib kicks because he’s frankly not very good at them.