The playoff outcomes of the weekend should give pause and cause for thought in Chicago, not the least of which is that the Bears may be closer to being a playoff force than their 2013 finish suggested:
It is entirely possible that the Bears slide from 10-6 to 8-8 could be followed by another dip in 2014. Best guess: not likely. The Bears were 46 seconds and a complete gaffe from 9-7 and the playoffs this season, and that was with just about everything going wrong on defense that could go wrong.
But here’s the thing: The Bears have a playoff-grade offense, arguably one good enough to go well into the playoffs. The mission statement of the offseason is to address the defense, which is potentially a simpler task than building an offense, which GM Phil Emery has done from offensive line on up to head coach.
To use Emery’s own phraseology, “it’s on me” as far as the draft. The Bears had the 14th pick in 2004 and rebuilt the defense with tackles Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson in the first two rounds. Bernard Berrian was their third-round pick. Jared Allen was there in the fourth round. (Emery was a Bears scout then, but don’t blame him for missing Allen; Jerry Angelo was GM and Greg Gabriel was college scouting director, and nobody else took Allen for 125 picks, either.)