Just yesterday, I wrote a post saying how the Bears could resurface as contenders in the NFC if they pulled off a deal for Denver quarterback Jay Cutler and signed 7-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Pace.
Today, in my opinion, they’ve become the favorites in the NFC North after making both acquisitions happen. If the Bears upgrade at wide receiver, strong side linebacker, and safety, they could become the team to beat in the NFC.
While I’m not completely happy with what the Bears had to give up to get Cutler — two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and Kyle Orton — the deal probably would not have consummated otherwise. Whether or not Cutler pans out as a franchise quarterback — and up to this point in his career, he’s well on his way — you can’t fault Jerry Angelo for taking a risk and trying to finally get the quarterback position stabilized after a decades-long drought.
Cutler threw for over 4,500 yards and 25 touchdowns last year while completing 62% of his passes. He’s only 25 years old and already has a Pro Bowl under his belt. If you think about how the Bears would have finished last season if Cutler was calling signals instead of Orton, you can’t help but feel optimistic about the upcoming season.
I’m not 100% on the Cutler bandwagon — I think he’s been a bit overhyped since the day he was drafted. But neither I, nor anybody else, can argue with his credentials up to this point. He clearly upgrades the position and will likely make everybody else on the offense better.
Hypothetically, what were to happen if Cutler flopped with the Bears? It wouldn’t be the end of the world or the demise of the franchise. How many first round picks have the Bears used on or traded for a quarterback that hasn’t panned out with the team? Rick Mirer, Cade McNown, Rex Grossman. Grossman at least had some success with the Bears unlike the other two, but none of them panned out as the franchise had hoped.
Moving on to the Pace acquisition, I couldn’t be happier to add a player of his caliber to the offensive line. Again, hypothetically speaking, if he were to get injured once again and not be able to complete a full season, the Bears still have Kevin Shaffer, Chris Williams, and Frank Omiyale in the mix. The Bears did not give up a lot to get Pace, and now they can move Omiyale back to guard, where they intended on inserting him when they signed him at the start of free agency.
With a solidified offensive line, a burgeoning run game, and, now, a Pro Bowl quarterback, all that remains on offense is to fix the receiver position and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this unit in the top half — and maybe top third — of the league next year.
But in order to really compete in the NFC and make some noise in the playoffs next year and beyond, they need to use their mid- and late-round draft picks to help solidify the defense.
They’ve definitely taken a giant leap in the right direction today.