Without making a move in the off-season, the skill positions should be better in 2006. WR Mark Bradley and RB Cedric Benson will be back at full strength and give an entirely new dimension to the offense.
The Bears have a wealth of running backs, which should yield a tough competition for the starting job. Although Thomas Jones did everything right for the team this season, Benson wasn't taken with the fourth pick to sit on the bench. Let them fight it out in training camp and the best player will win. Don't forget Adrian Peterson, he's become a versatile backup.
Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton gained experience and now know what the playoffs entail. That can only be beneficial to them in the long run. Adding a veteran to the mix would help, but GM Jerry Angelo has been hesitant to do that for whatever reason.
The defense should continue to dominate, especially given the fact that Ron Rivera will return as defensive coordinator. Some of the luster was taken off because of what Carolina did against the Bears, but the unit dominated for most of the season. There are Pro Bowl players at every level of the defense.
I love the players that the Bears have on the roster. They are talented young guys who can achieve great things. Give them time to mature and you'll be pleased with the results. I hope they won't be too discouraged by the way the season ended, but will find positives to build on in order to come back stronger next season.
The 1984 Bears went up against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Title game and were blanked 23-0. Several members of the team said the blowout loss turned into motivation to come back and win the Super Bowl in 1985.
Angelo can help the process along by addressing a few weaknesses through free agency and the draft. There is room for improvement in the secondary and tight end.
The cornerbacks were exposed against WR Steve Smith. Obviously scheming had something to do with it, but there is a question of depth. Jerry Azumah's contract is up and the Bears don't plan to re-sign the veteran. There are rumors swirling that S Mike Green is also on his way out.
There's a philosophy in football that you can never have enough cornerbacks. The Bears are likely to adhere to that by taking cover man early in the draft.
Chicago tight ends have been non-factors for years. It would be great to see the position get involved in the offense.
All in all, I'm quite optimistic about the Bears prospects for success during the next few seasons. A few upgrades in the coming months and there's no telling how far the team can go next season. Anyone made reservations for Miami yet?