Bears have all-around personnel problems

Why aren't the Bears winning much anymore? Their roster isn't that strong and players who were paid to perform might be washed up, according to this analysis.

Say the Bears decide to replace not just offensive coordinator Ron Turner and all the assistant coaches on that side of the ball, but the entire staff, including head coach Lovie Smith. What then?

That would be just the start of a rebuilding job that never seemed more necessary than during Sunday's loss in Baltimore.

General manager Jerry Angelo said this before the 31-7 loss to the Ravens: "We like the roster. We have a good nucleus of young players. So pretty much our roster will be intact next year. But I look at that as a positive, not a negative."

If Angelo still believes that after Sunday's latest embarrassment, then he should go, too.

This is not a competitive team. It's historically bad. Unless this 5-9 outfit finds a way to defeat the Vikings on Monday night, or unless the Steelers win both of their final two games (against the Ravens and Dolphins), this will be the first Bears team since 1975 to play an entire season without defeating an opponent that finished with a winning record.

The personnel is as bad, if not worse, than the coaching, starting with both lines.

It was a mistake to pay defensive tackle Tommie Harris a $6.67 million roster bonus back in February, and it would be throwing good money after bad to fork over the $2.5 million roster bonus that he's due next June. He hasn't earned it, and if the past two years are any indication, he'll never be anywhere close to the same player who was given a four-year, $40 million extension a year and a half ago.

Defensive left end Adewale Ogunleye is 32 and will be an unrestricted free agent coming off a fractured fibula. Nose tackle Marcus Harrison has been a disappointment.

On the other side of the ball, the offensive line failed all season to assert itself in the run game and was poor to mediocre when it came to protecting quarterback Jay Cutler. Based on this season's performance, left tackle Chris Williams and guard/center Josh Beekman are the only two players on the O-line who may have a future beyond next season as starters in the NFL. And neither one of them is a sure thing.

Even when the offensive line did get the job done, running back Matt Forte, the rookie sensation from 2008, looked timid, tentative and a step slower than a year ago. And when it comes to Forte breaking tackles, Brian Urlacher was right on. Maybe Forte lacks the qualities to get the tough yards between the tackles and would be better as a third-down back because of his fine receiving skills.

Things have degenerated so rapidly on offense that it's only natural now to wonder if Cutler is a Pro Bowl player or just this generation's Jeff George, a talented player with all the tools except the ability to win.

As for the wide receivers? Even a Bears hater has to admit that this group has shown improvement. But it remains a work in progress.

Tight end Greg Olsen has been a huge disappointment in the second half of the season. Early on it looked as if he would benefit most from Cutler's presence. Through nine games, Olsen had 34 catches for 361 yards, a 10.6-yard average per catch and six touchdowns. But he hasn't been a factor in the past five games, catching 18 passes for just 110 yards, a 6.1-yard average and no touchdowns.

So, replacing the coaches, however many, would just be a start.


  • QB Jay Cutler has thrown 13 of his league-worst 25 interceptions in the past six games, during which he has just five TD passes. He has not thrown for more than 209 yards in any of the past five games, including 94 yards last week.

  • RB Matt Forte's 69 rushing yards (on 20 carries) on Sunday represented his fourth-most-productive game of the season, but he is still averaging just 3.4 yards per carry for the season. He had two catches in Week 15 for a total of no yards.

  • TE Greg Olsen was targeted five times but caught just one pass for 8 yards. In the past five games, he has 18 catches for just 110 yards and a 6.1-yard average with no touchdowns.

  • WR Devin Hester hopes to play Monday night against the Vikings after missing the past two games with a strained calf.

  • WR Earl Bennett had the Bears' longest play from scrimmage last week, a 30-yard reception, and he also returned a punt 49 yards for their only score.

  • CB Zach Bowman has five interceptions, nearly half the Bears' team total of 12.

  • MLB Hunter Hillenmeyer has 1 1/2 sacks, three forced fumbles, a recovered fumble, an interception and two tackles for loss in his last five games.

  • WLB Lance Briggs had 13 tackles against the Ravens and now has 100 for the season, along with 2 1/2 sacks and an interception.

  • WR Devin Aromashodu was targeted 10 times in Week 15 but made just two catches for 10 yards. Three of the passes thrown to him were intercepted, including one that deflected off his hands.

  • WR Johnny Knox had four catches last week for 29 yards, the sixth time this season the fifth-round pick has caught at least four passes in a game. He also had a 31-yard kickoff return but lost the ball on a fumble.

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