Thursday, March 3, 2011Posted: 10:40 AM
By John Mullin
The sound you hear is the tick-tick-tick of the NFL clock moving inexorably toward the deadline Thursday at which the agreement between the NFL and its players officially becomes un-agreed, although the exact implications of that remain to play out over the coming weeks and possibly even months.
The situation is unsettled as to whether there in fact will be a prolonged lockout just because the issue of NFLPA decertification was unresolved as to whether that will ultimately enjoin the owners from stopping players at the gate. Mike Florio and Gregg Rosenthal at ProFootballTalk.com are among those riding herd on all of this.
The intricacies of the issues and negotiations arent really the point of interest with respect to the Bears. The business of business will work out at some point; the pie is too big, the two sides are too smart, and the question is more of where they find the agreement, not if.
A lot of attention has been paid to teams with new head coaches (CarolinaRon Rivera, San Francisco Jim Harbaugh, OaklandHue Jackson, etc.) and how hard a prolonged lockout would be on those teams' programs with new systems. But the Bears are quite likely to have a wholesale shifting around on the offensive line, a significant weak spot much of 2010.
The Bears may be a vet team with a coach (Lovie Smith) set in place and mutually comfortable with his players. But if the Bears' OL spends another half-season in development, they could find themselves looking at Green Bay disappearing out ahead of them - and Jay Cutler could have taken another pounding like he did in 2010 that got him a concussion and knee injury.
A pressing issues for them are the OL and can they win without a significant upgrade to that group, especially if they do not bring Olin Kreutz back at center. Kreutz is a co-captain and the glue of a still-forming group. If they get a top guy in the draft, great, but immediate impact is tough from that area under any circumstances, and trying to bring that unit together without the benefit of an offseason is problematic.
Same for wide receiver. The Bears want to add one, a good one. A veteran one would be nice but if that certain someone (Plaxico Burress, Braylon Edwards, Roy Williams, you pick one) doesnt begin working with the Mike Martz system and Cutler until just before the season, the value added is potentially lessened.
The next time Martz says something publicly wasnt good about last seasons player performances may be the first. But when you finish 30th in yardage per game and 32nd in sacks per pass play, Im not sure there are a whole lot of praise-worthy positives in the bigger picture. The offense was part of an 11-5 season and NFC Championship appearance, but so was a defense No. 4 in points allowed.
The news out of the negotiations continues to be sparse. I still take that as a good thing, for various reasons. If tempers were flaring, someone would vent. No one has. If there were nothing whatsoever to hope for, someone would say so.
None of that has happened. Yet. That, however minor at this point, is a good thing for the 2011 Bears.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.