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2007 Season Previews
Chicago Bears (Last Year: 13-3)
Veteran Additions:
DT Anthony Adams, S Adam Archuleta.
Draft Picks:
RB Garrett Wolfe, TE Greg Olsen, OT Aaron Brant, G Josh Beekman, DE Dan Bazuin, OLB Michael Okwo, CB Corey Graham, CB Trumaine McBride, S Kevin Payne.
Major Subtractions:
RB Thomas Jones (NYJ), WR Justin Gage (TEN), WR Airese Currie, TE Gabe Reid, DT Ian Scott (PHI), DT Alfonso Boone (KC), DT Tank Johnson, S Todd Johnson (STL), S Cameron Worrell.

Offense This Year: There isn't really much to write about Chicago's offense. In fact, I haven't been able to think of anything since typing that previous sentence 15 minutes ago. I guess my brain has melted away into oblivion after watching Rex Grossman play quarterback.

I know there are tons of Grossman apologists out there. I noticed it in the response column to Peter King's quarterback-rankings list, and I mentioned it when I conducted my own. To all of you, I ask: Have you lost your mind? Grossman is garbage. Look at the following stat lines: 6-of-19 for 34 yards and three interceptions against Minnesota; 2-of-12 for 33 yards, three picks and a fumble against Green Bay; 18-of-42 for 210 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions and a fumble versus Miami; 14-of-37 for 144 yards, four picks and two fumbles at Arizona. And then there was the Super Bowl, where Grossman was responsible for two interceptions and a pair of fumbles.

I'm quite aware that Grossman played well at times. However, he's one of the most bipolar quarterbacks I've ever seen. I'd rather have someone consistent and somewhat mundane over a signal caller as erratic as Grossman. Grossman may have trouble commanding his offense to 26.7 points per game again, given that his top weapon will be playing for the Jets in 2007. Thomas Jones, who compiled 1,210 yards and six touchdowns, is no longer with the team, leaving the shaky Cedric Benson to carry the load. Benson will share some of his carries with Adrian Peterson (the other one) and Garrett Wolfe, but it remains to be seen if he can be a feature back in this league. Furthermore, Muhsin Muhammad is a year older. At 34, Muhammad's numbers (60 catches, 863 yards, 5 TDs) may begin to decline.

Despite all my negativity toward Chicago's offense, things aren't as bleak as I make them seem. The Bears used a first-round selection on Greg Olsen, who should be able to become a potent target for Grossman. Fourth-year Bernard Berrian has also gained a season of experience and should be able to surpass his 2006 production (51 receptions, 775 yards, 6 TDs). The ultimate wild card is Devin Hester, who was moved from cornerback to receiver. It should be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Ron Turner utilizes the lightning-quick return specialist.

The offensive line is also pretty solid. The unit permitted Jones and Benson to compile 1,857 yards last season. It also surrendered only 24 sacks. However, as I mentioned in my 2007 and 2008 mock drafts, the front is getting old. Left guard Ruben Brown (35), right tackle Fred Miller (34) and left tackle John Tait (32) aren't going to improve at this point in their careers.

Defense This Year: Discussing Chicago's defense should be a lot more pleasurable than writing that previous section. The Monsters of the Midway yielded less than 16 points per game in 2006, notching 40 sacks and 24 interceptions. There are, however, some points of concern that I'll address individually.

The biggest story this offseason involving the Bears is Lance Briggs' contract dispute. Chicago franchised Briggs, much to the behest of its prized outside linebacker. Briggs went on to say that he'll "never play in Chicago ever again." There were rumors that Briggs would be traded to the Redskins, but nothing ever materialized. The Bears and Briggs are currently at an impasse. If he decides to sit out the first 10 games of the season - refusing to play more than 10 contests would void this year of his contract - Chicago will go with Jamar Williams, whom the team covets. Of course, almost anyone could look good playing next to Brian Urlacher. The underrated Hunter Hillenmeyer will man the strong side once again.

Defensive tackle is another issue. The Bears were deep at the position last year, but they lost Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone to free agency, and Tank Johnson to suspension (he was cut on Monday, June 25). The corps is now comprised of Pro Bowler Tommie Harris, Antonio Garay, Anthony Adams and Dusty Dvoracek. Excluding Harris, the entire unit is made up of unproven unknowns. Luckily, Chicago has no trouble at defensive end. Mark Anderson collected 12 sacks as a rookie last year. Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown combined for 13.5. Second-round rookie Dan Bazuin should be able to contribute right away. The Bears will once again put immense pressure on opposing signal callers.

Unlike the top two levels of the stop unit, there's nothing wrong with the secondary. In fact, all of the defensive backs will be returning for another season. Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher and Ricky Manning could be the top trio of cornerbacks in the NFL. The three combined for 13 interceptions in 2007. Free safety Danieal Manning started all but two contests as a rookie last year and was extremely impressive. Strong safety Mike Brown is the veteran of the group. Brown gets injured often, but he always seems to be at the right place at the right time whenever he's in the lineup. Two additions Chicago made this offseason were safeties Adam Archuleta and Kevin Payne. Archuleta excelled under Lovie Smith in St. Louis and should be able to do the same in the Windy City. Payne, meanwhile, could be this season's rookie who comes out of nowhere and shocks the entire league.

Schedule and Intangibles: I guess it's a good thing the Seahawks made the playoffs last season. If they didn't, I'd be talking about the Super Bowl Loser Curse. Only Seattle has qualified for the postseason the year after losing the Big Game this decade. ... Although the Bears were just 40-40 as hosts between 1995 and 2004, they've compiled a 13-3 home record the past two years. Looks like the Soldier Field mystique is back. ... How do you think Chicago's special teams fared? All Devin Hester did was score five touchdowns on returns. The team didn't allow one either. ... Robbie Gould didn't nail a field goal from beyond 50 yards, but he didn't attempt one either. Gould was 12-of-14 from beyond 40 instead. Pretty impressive. ... Besides the misfits in the Bears get to beat up on in the NFC North, they will have the luxury of crushing Washington, Oakland, Kansas City and the New York Giants. That said, San Diego, Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle, Denver and New Orleans are all on the schedule. Going 13-3 again seems like a stretch given that slate.

Additional Reading: Endless Banter coming soon.

Positional Rankings (0-4 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

Divisional Rival History:
Detroit Lions: Although the Bears have won the last four meetings, the home team has claimed seven of the past 10 matchups, seven of which have been decided by six points or less.
Green Bay Packers: Brett Favre dominated the Bears for years. That's not the case anymore. Under Lovie Smith, Chicago is 4-2 against the Packers.
Minnesota Vikings: The home team has won nine of 10. The lone exception was a Bears 19-16 victory in 2006.

Fantasy Football:
Rex Grossman: If you're thinking about making Rex Grossman your starting quarterback, please lay off the crack. He's way too inconsistent to be relied upon.
Projected Stats: 3,100 passing yards. 21 passing TDs. 0 rushing yards. 0 rushing TD.
Projected Fantasy Points: 281.

Cedric Benson: I hope Cedric Benson didn't cry when he heard Thomas Jones was traded. Benson will be the featured back this year. He should be able to put up solid numbers on the ground, although he's pretty useless in the passing game.
Projected Stats: 1,300 rushing yards. 100 receiving yards. 13 total TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 218.

Desmond Clark: Desmond Clark caught 45 passes for 626 yards and six touchdowns. Greg Olsen likely won't supplant him as the starter until 2008.
Projected Stats: 500 receiving yards. 5 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 80.

Greg Olsen: Greg Olsen will see some action, but 2007 will probably be a learning experience for the rookie tight end.
Projected Stats: 300 receiving yards. 2 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 42.

Bernard Berrian: Bernard Berrian started off hot, but fizzled along with Rex Grossman, starting in the middle of October. It's a shame that Berrian doesn't have a better quarterback throwing to him.
Projected Stats: 850 receiving yards. 6 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 121.

Muhsin Muhammad: An aging receiver in a stale offense is not something I'd be interested in.
Projected Stats: 775 receiving yards. 5 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 107.

Devin Hester: No one's really sure how Ron Turner will utilize Devin Hester, but it should be fairly obvious that he won't put up huge numbers.
Projected Stats: 200 rushing yards. 400 receiving yards. 4 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 84.

Robbie Gould: Robbie Gould didn't attempt a 50-yarder in his second season, but he connected on 12-of-14 attempts from 40-49. Pretty solid. Gould's an outstanding fantasy kicker because his offense has trouble getting into the end zone.
Projected Stats: 29-34 FG (0-0 50+). 41 XP.
Projected Fantasy Points: 137.

Chicago Defense: How well do you think the Bears' defense will do this year?
Projected Fantasy Ranking: Top 3 Defense.

Analysis: How will the Bears recover from getting their heart broken in the Super Bowl? They'll likely take a step back in 2007. Luckily, they can take about 10 steps back in the NFC North and still remain on top.

Projection: 9-7 (1st in the NFC North)

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