Depth Chart Analysis: Offense

Although the sting from a loss in Super Bowl XLI still hasn't completely gone away, the Bears report to training camp in just about a week and a half. There has been some turnover on the roster since Super Sunday, but the starting lineup should look very similar come Week 1 in San Diego. The experts at Scout.com break down the NFC Champions on offense heading into Bourbonnais.

QUARTERBACK
Starter: Rex Grossman
Backups: Brian Griese, Kyle Orton, Chris Leak

Grossman often got blamed for anything that went wrong with the Bears last season, even though they went 13-3. While it's true Grossman was wildly inconsistent, that shouldn't have been shocking for a quarterback in his first season as a full-time starter. Grossman showed a too-frequent ability to self-destruct, throwing 16 interceptions and just one TD pass in his five worst games, forcing passes that turned into mistakes. But he also played exceptionally well in many games, throwing 18 TD passes and just one interception in his seven best games, showing poise, accuracy and the ability to dissect a defense.

The Bears believe in Grossman and will give him every opportunity to become more consistent and avoid the meltdown games, but he needs to take the next step. If he throws 20 interceptions again, nine-year veteran Griese will get to be more than an insurance policy. Griese doesn't have much of an arm, but he's a capable field general and knows the offense.

Orton has good size and a solid arm. He gained valuable experience in 15 starts, including 10 wins as a rookie, but he struggled in many of the games as the Bears often won despite him rather than because of him.

RUNNING BACKS
Starters: RB Cedric Benson, FB Jason McKie
Backups: RB Adrian Peterson, RB Garrett Wolfe, FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo

Benson will finally get an opportunity to be the full-time featured back the Bears wanted when they made him the fourth overall pick in 2005. Injuries and the solid play of incumbent Thomas Jones limited Benson to part-time duty, although his 647 yards and 4.1-yard average per carry last season were solid, and he played especially well in the second half of the season. Benson is bigger, stronger and faster than Jones, but he has been dinged up throughout his NFL career although he was extremely durable in college.

If Benson stays healthy, 1,500 yards is realistic since Peterson figures to be an occasional change-of-pace guy, a role in which he's been very productive in limited chances. Wolfe is a different type of player with marginal size but big-play potential. If used correctly, he could be a difference maker, even if he gets just a few touches per game.

McKie is rarely used as a runner but is a decent lead blocker and an adequate receiver who doesn't do much after the catch. Ayanbadejo contributes mostly as a receiving threat and a key special-teams contributor.

TIGHT ENDS
Starter: Desmond Clark
Backups: Greg Olsen, John Gilmore

Clark could lose his job to Olsen early. While Clark is a more-than-adequate possession receiver and adequate blocker, Olsen has soft hands, much more speed to stretch the field and better run-after-the-catch ability.

Gilmore is bigger and stronger than the other two and a more accomplished blocker but not much of a receiving threat.

TE Desmond Clark (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

WIDE RECEIVERS
Starters: Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian
Backups: Mark Bradley, Devin Hester, Rashied Davis

In his two years with the Bears, Muhammad has been just a shell of his final season with the Panthers in 2004, when he caught 93 passes for 1,405 yards and 16 TDs. At 34, he's not much more than a possession receiver anymore, but he's tough and will still make some difficult catches in traffic and averaged a respectable 14.4 yards per catch last season on 60 receptions.

Skinny, speedy Berrian is a legitimate deep threat, and he took another step toward becoming a No. 1 receiver last season (51 catches, 775 yards, six touchdowns). If he can stay healthy, he could become the Bears' go-to receiver.

Big, fast, physical Mark Bradley worked his way into the starting lineup as a rookie in 2005, but a torn ACL ended his season after seven games. That and other nagging injuries limited him to just 14 catches last season, although he averaged 20.1 yards per grab. He stood out in offseason practices and could be a major contributor if he plays more consistently.

Hester might not be on the field for many snaps after converting from cornerback, but as he proved last season with six kick-return touchdowns, he doesn't need many touches to make a difference in any game. The undersized but tough Davis can be an effective slot receiver and made some clutch catches among his 22 receptions.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Starters: LT John Tait, LG Ruben Brown, C Olin Kreutz, RG Roberto Garza, RT Fred Miller
Backups: G Terrence Metcalf, T John St. Clair, G/C Anthony Oakley. G/C Josh Beekman

The sum of the Bears' offensive line is greater than the individual parts, many of which are aging and in danger of breaking down or becoming ineffective in a hurry. Miller is 34 entering his 12th season and is susceptible against speed rushers. Brown is 35 going into his 13th season and made his ninth Pro Bowl when he was added as a late fill-in, but he's nearing the end. Tait is 32 and would probably be more effective on the right side if the Bears had a young stud who could be groomed on the left side, but they don't. Kreutz recently turned 30 but is entering his 10th season in the trenches. Garza is a blue-collar brawler and the baby of the group at 28.

The concern is that there isn't a lot of young talent in the pipeline. Metcalf has been adequate as a sometimes starter, while St. Clair is a temporary stopgap solution. Oakley is not a future starter, although the Bears hope fourth-round pick Beekman could develop as a successor to Brown.

Be sure to visit BearReport.com on Wednesday as the experts from Scout.com take a closer look at the Bears on defense.


Bear Report Top Stories