Apparently I'm not supposed to be excited about the Bears acquisition of Brandon Meriweather because A) He's an asshole and B) BILL BELICHICK IS TOO SMART TO GET RID OF SOMEONE GOOD. Well, as far as the asshole thing goes they've told me for two years that my franchise quarterback is a cancer and I'm still pretty fond of him. As for B, I'd like anyone to look at the following players who left the Patriot organization and were still productive players for several years: Lawyer Milloy. Ty Law. Asante Samuel. Willie McGinest. Drew Bledsoe. Richard Seymour.
I have a hard time believing that Brandon Meriweather is suddenly a shitty player, unless there's a medical reason for it. If he passes a physical I have a hard time seeing where he's just going to disappear. At the very least, he's one hell of an insurance plan for Major Wright. That should be good news for everyone involved.
That said, it's time for my half-assed preview of the 2011 Bears. I never get much into previews since I spend the whole offseason talking about what I expect, so none of this is really new information. Anywho, let's start with the 53 man roster broken down by position:
Starters in italics-
QB: #6 Jay Cutler, #12 Caleb Hanie, #10 Nathan Enderle
RB: #22 Matt Forte, #24 Marion Barber, #32 Kahlil Bell, #44 Will Ta'ufo'ou.
WR: #11 Roy Williams, #23 Devin Hester, #80 Earl Bennett, #13 Johnny Knox, #81 Sam Hurd, #18 Dane Sanzenbacher
TE: #87 Kellen Davis, #89 Matt Spaeth, #86 Kyle Adams
OT: #73 J'Marcus Webb, #72 Gabe Carimi, #68 Frank Omiyale,
OG: #60 Lance Louis, #74 Chris Williams, #70 Edwin Williams
C: #63 Roberto Garza, #67 Chris Spencer
DE: #90 Julius Peppers, #71 Israel Idonije, #96 Mario Addison, #98 Corey Wootton, #94 Nick Reed
DT: #95 Anthony Adams, #69 Henry Melton, #91 Amobi Okoye, #92 Stephen Paea, #75 Matt Toeaina
OLB: #55 Lance Briggs, #53 Nick Roach, #52 Brian Iwuh
MLB: #54 Brian Urlacher, #58 Dom DeCicco
CB: #33 Charles Tillman, #26 Tim Jennings, #30 DJ Moore, #35 Zack Bowman, #21 Corey Graham
S: #46 Chris Harris, #27 Major Wright, #31 Brandon Meriweather, #47 Chris Conte, #20 Craig Steltz, #49 Winston Venable
K: #9 Robbie Gould
P: #8 Adam Podlesh
LS: #65 Pat Mannelly
There's a few surprises with the final roster cutdown. I'm still surprised the team is so thin at backup linebacker, and I'd expect at some point they'll find someone and cut DeCicco. Until then, congrats to the rookie. I'm pleased that Martz finally broke down and admitted his offense Does use a fullback and kept one accordingly. I was sad to see Dez Clark go, but Kyle Adams played very well this preseason. Of course, everyone's thrilled to see that Gritty McGrindenwhitey made the roster as a sixth wide receiver, but I'm not sure who he's going to take meaningful reps away from, because I doubt he's a better receiver than Williams, Hester, Knox, or the BBE. Probably a smart move that the team has a billion safeties, since that position always seems to suffer attrition, plus Chris Conte has experience at corner if needed.
On offense this year I'd expect vast improvement. It's dangerous to take too much away from the stellar pass blocking we saw in the last three preseason games, but there's a lot to like about the infusion of size and youth on this offensive line. I think you'll see a much more successful running game from the outset, with the pass blocking to come. The wide receiver corps is undoubtedly upgraded, Marion Barber should be so much better than Chester Taylor that it isn't funny, and the tight ends appear to be capable blockers, which is all anyone will ask of them this year. I'd be willing to stake everything on the 2011 Bears scoring more points than the 2010 edition.
On defense, I'm incredibly psyched about this defensive line. The only sure-fire star may be Peppers, but I don't think there are many teams out there that can bring in fresh, quality bodies at both end and tackle like this team can. There are quality run-stuffers in Anthony Adams, Paea, and Idonije, and young, fast legs that can help on third and long in Okoye, Wootton (assuming he's healthy), Melton, and Toeiana. I'm not sure what to expect from Mario Addison and Nick Reed, but they both had great preseasons and Addison racked up double digit sacks last year at Troy.
Lance Briggs may be a heaping pile of douche, but the linebacking corps should be just as solid as last year if it stays healthy. The safety position may have been upgraded if Meriweather gets up to speed quickly. Corner remains a concern, but if the other units are as good as I hope it shouldn't be too much of a concern since cornerbacks are the sacrificial lambs of Lovie's defense anyway.
I expect good things from this team, but you already know that. I hope you agree with me. It's been another long and painful offseason and everyone and their mother would have you know that the Bears were just a lucky team and that they're screwed this year thanks to the presence of the unstoppable Packers and the ascending Lions. Well, fuck that. Actual football games are about to start, so the meaningless predictions stop here. I'll see you all on Sunday.
UPDATE: Two seconds after I praise Martz for keeping a fullback, he waives him. There's an open roster spot for now INTRIGUE.