Bears Gone Bad

Lake Forest - How bad of a season was it for the Bears? A day after an embarrassing 31-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers, David Terrell almost took out a group of reporters trying to get out of the Halas Hall parking lot. It was obvious players couldn't get out of town fast enough.

Ironically, Terrell might have played his last game in Chicago. The underachieving wide receiver still has a year remaining on his contract, but changes are definitely coming, and there will be plenty of them after a 5-11 debacle.

"We're gong to analyze everything," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "We had a losing record. We were abysmal on offense. And there were reasons for that. And so we have tough questions to ask ourselves and we have to do it, objectively and not emotionally and we'll do that."

The joke all season was on the Bears offense. With a season-ending knee injury to Rex Grossman in the third game, the offense went backwards with Jonathan Quinn and rookie Craig Krenzel at quarterback. It got bad enough for the team to sign surfer-turned-QB Chad Hutchinson and castoff Jeff George. It worked for a brief moment with Hutchinson, but the Bears went on to lose six of their final seven games, after sitting at 4-5 at one point.

The Bears were supposed to turn the offense around with John Shoop out of the picture, but things couldn't have gotten any worse under new offensive coordinator Terry Shea. The Bears were last in the NFL in total yards, passing yards, scoring and third-down efficiency. The offensive line was devastated by injuries, but still managed to set single-season records for sacks allowed (66) and tied the mark for sacks in a game (nine) against the Packers Sunday. The Bears also set a franchise mark for penalties in a season with 124.

"I'm a bottom-line guy really, so as you ask me about how we've done, as a football team, we're 5-11 right now, so I think we all share in that," first-year coach Lovie Smith said. "That's about the only grade or comment I can really make on where we are right now.

"We have to do better as a group."

The Bears went out and signed free agent offensive tackle John Tait and traded Marty Booker, and a third-round pick to Miami for defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, both to big-money contracts. Tait, who is making left-tackle money, played on the right side where he says he's more comfortable. Ogunleye missed training camp with his holdout and never got into a rhythm in a new defense. He finished with only 5 1/2 sacks, after leading the AFC with 15 in 2003, and missed time with a leg injury. Ogunleye, who left Halas Hall on crutches after ankle surgery Monday, vows to be back to form next season.

Thomas Jones proved to be a nice addition at running back, finishing with 948 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, but he also led the team in receptions. Terrell and Bobby Wade topped a disappointing receiving corps with 42 catches apiece, but the group combined for only three touchdowns, with rookie Bernard Berrian grabbing two.

The Bears have the No. 4 pick in April's draft with plenty of needs. Receiver, offensive line and tight end are major weaknesses, while finding a proven backup QB and a legitimate offensive tackle in free agency wouldn't be bad ideas.


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