Chicago Sun-Times

Tale of a disappointing team: 7 wins, 5 Pro Bowlers

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Pro Bowl voting is an inexact science, but it's not so random that you can't ignore the painful truth revealed by the Pro Bowl rosters released Tuesday: the Bears were the most disappointing team in the NFL this season.

One look at the list of seven teams that had more than three players in this season's Pro Bowl says it all:

49ers (8) -- 12-3

Patriots (8) -- 12-3

Packers (7) -- 14-1

Ravens (7) -- 11-4

BEARS (5) -- 7-8

Saints (5) -- 12-3

Steelers (5) -- 11-4

If these were the multiple-choice options on a standardized intelligence test, the Bears would be the house without the chimney. There's no doubt which of these does not belong with the others.

The Bears were the worst kind of disappointing -- good enough to warrant respect from fans, coaches and players and still fail to make the postseason. The Eagles were arguably the bigger bust. But they just failed to live up to expectations. The Bears actually were good and still crapped out. That's a sting that lasts.

The Bears' five Pro Bowl players were linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, cornerback Charles Tillman, running back Matt Forte and special-teams ace Corey Graham.

Tillman, Forte and Graham are first-time Pro Bowlers. So it's not like they got in on reputation. In fact, the Bears legitimately could have had seven players in the Pro Bowl -- one for each victory so far this season -- if two players who could have been selected on both merit and reputation had made it: defensive end Julius Peppers and kick returner Devin Hester.

And the great irony is that the one player most responsible for the Bears' demise -- injured quarterback Jay Cutler -- didn't even make the Pro Bowl and shouldn't have even if he stayed healthy. Is there a player in the NFL more valuable to a playoff-caliber team who is not a Pro Bowl player than Cutler? Not even Tim Tebow.

The five Pro Bowl players is the most for a non-playoff Bears team since 1965, when Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, defensive end Doug Atkins, tight end Mike Ditka and linebacker Joe
Fortunato made it from a 9-5 team.

But that was when only two teams made the postseason. This is the most Pro Bowl players from a non-winning team since 1957, when Atkins, linebacker Bill George, guard Stan Jones, running back Rick Casares and offensive tackle Kline Gilbert made it from a 5-7 team.

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3 Comments

The 5 deserve it.

I lost interest as soon as I found out Cutler was done for the year. I knew the "experts" said he might be back for the season finale, but a Bennett's fracture is complicated and I knew he wouldn't be back.

Good thing Hanie only had to be that bad for 4 games instead of 5 for the Bears to make the change to McCown. I felt they should've made the change at halftime against Denver, but hindsight is 20/20.

The problem with lack of depth is inability to draft impact players year after year. I feel besides Martz, the coaching staff has done a job nothing short of remarkable considering the lack of talent on the team. Lovie Smith had this team playing great before Cutler went down. None of the receivers would be starters on any other team in the NFL except maybe Bennett. Same goes with the Tight ends, and 4/5 offensive lineman. I would say the Bears have 6 players that would start for more than half the teams in the league. Cutler, Forte, Peppers, Urlacher, Briggs, and Tillman.

Angelo is the culprit for bad talent evaluation. His 3 best picks are Tillman, Briggs, and Forte. And none of them were in the first round. Harris was, and still is, his best first round draft pick. He was only good for 2 and half seasons. The fact that Bennett, Grossman and Orton are some of his best selections is evidence of his failure to draft any impact players. With over 100 picks in his career, he has only 3 impact players that he drafted, and none in the first round.

He either has to go, or be given a different job within the team. As for last years draft, Carimi looks to be another Columbo. Paea looks to be another Melton. Conte looks to be like all of the safties he has drafted, often injured, and brain farts in coverage (see Major Wright and Daniel Manning).

The Bears are good enough with Cutler and Forte as starting points to not need a complete overhaul. They need (emphasis on NEED) 4 impact players to contend for a title. In any order, they need a left tackle, penetrating defensive tackle, big physical bump and run cornerback, and a legitimate must-be-double-teamed wide receiver.

I don't expect them to get all 4, but they can get one through free agency, and 1 through the draft (probably a corner).

The most important change they need is a new GM with good talent evaluation. Someone that will rule out anyone with injury histories, or character concerns. Ditka and Buddy Ryan said "a stupid player will get you beat, and a coward will get you beat.". They can start there.

As a doctor, I am an evaluator of one's level of health, not projected NFL football talent. I am smart enough to know I would not do any better than Jerry Angelo. But I am also smart enough to know that there has to be multiple worthy candidates available, right now, to do a much better job than Angelo has done in 10+ years on the job. He has had plenty of time to learn from mistakes and improve. He has not, and his time is up.

Well one thing with Pro Bowl voting is what positions are teams sending. If three of your guys were a Kicker, Punter, and return man, those are impact positions but also not impact positions so to speak.

I like Tillman he had a solid year, but he shouldn't be there and neither should Briggs. On the other hand Peppers more than deserves it. As a 4-3 Mike Urlacher deserves it, but you could argue some other guys as well, Fletcher had a good year.

Mark on Merit your saying Hester over Peterson this year? Sorry but no way, if Hester had stayed healthy then yes, but he didn't and he has been off for weeks. Peterson has been insane on Punt returns this year and has 4 TD's. That's twice as many as Hester. That would be why he got in over Hester. Sproles over Hester on Kick returns as well, more yards better average. If Hester was Healthy that would be one thing but he isn't so that's all there is to it.

I also wouldn't put Graham this year either, special teams has look like garbage the last few weeks and Graham has had some big mistakes this year.

It should be Peppers, Urlacher, Forte, and Zack Bowman. Just cause I think it would be fun to see the Bears explain how Bowman deserved it.

Angelo has never shown a sign of life, doc. He was dead on arrival. He didn't draft any good offensive linemen or wide receivers at Tampa either. Just the man we wanted for the job. The McCaskeys are all zombies, too.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on December 27, 2011 11:40 PM.

Five Bears players selected to Pro Bowl was the previous entry in this blog.

Charles Tillman thankful for first Pro Bowl selection is the next entry in this blog.

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