Technically, Chicago was not eliminated until the very end of the season, but the loss to Minnesota on December 9th sealed the deal for the Bears. Christian Ponder was able to walk away victorious without throwing more than 17 times and Number 28 in purple destroyed an Urlacher-less D to the tune of 154 yards en route to one of the most remarkable comeback seasons in sports history. The stat line of this game serves as baffling example of Chicago's offensive ineptitude, essentially shaping the problems of the season as a whole.
Scoop Jackson published a well written agenda on ESPN.com here. Jackson wrote regarding trading Devin Hester, finding at least one GREAT offensive lineman, addressing the elephant in the room in regards to the aging defensive leaders, among other neglected personnel moves that led us to *gulp* cheer for Green Bay. There's little to no argument with the points that Scoop made and no doubt a shake up will occur once GM Phil Emery names the 17th Bears head coach.
Chicago has $44.4 million contracted to their backfield until 2016, the three best receivers (Marshall, Bennett, and Jeffrey) are set to make over $70 million over the next three seasons and tight ends Kellen Davis and Evan Rodriguez are going to be Bears through at least the end of next year. Cutler has one more season on his current deal. These are the skill players that the next coach will be utilizing. OC Mike Tice did a dreadful job schematically, between not getting calls in on time and being noncommittal, for as bright as the defense would shine, the offense generally scuffed around to make uninteresting games become nail biters.
The largest deficit in the Metrodome that day was 14 points, hardly a justification for 53 Bears pass attempts. Chicago abandoned the run almost immediately, but averaged over half a yard less per play passing than they did rushing. On the season Matt Forte rushed 15 times or less in six different games not including his injury, while only losing one fumble. Michael Bush had more than 10 attempts in only four games, one of which he was filling in for an injured Forte. The running backs had three fumbles combined losing two of them.
With a duo of talented backs there is really no reason not to at least attempt a rushing attack. The offensive line was dreadful in pass protection. The bigs may have been awful at run blocking, but it ought to have been tried. Jay Cutler is great in a moving pocket, he's great out of play action, but he was never able to establish either. For Chicago to compete with the division we need to know who we are offensively and build with that. The skill players we have are some of the best in the league, the Bears have yet to figure out how to implement the right ones at the right time.
Hope is in Emery's thorough approach to the head coaching vacancy. Ideally he has found some candidates for the offensive coordinator position that should come open as well. A new face could really make a name for himself by turning all of the potential in Chicago into results in January, the pieces are there.