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Chicago Bears exit interview

The Chicago Bears finished with an underwhelming 6-10 record and have lost another offensive coordinator after Adam Gase took the head coaching job for the Miami Dolphins. The amount of coordinators quarterback Jay Cutler has had throughout his career hasn’t helped him develop much, but he had a decent 2015 season. With wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and running back Matt Forte hitting free agency, there is a chance that the Bears take a giant step backwards if they aren’t able to re-sign either of them.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths:

Running back, pass defense

Running Back: If the Bears aren’t able to re-sign Forte, this strength becomes a weakness, and the Bears have yet to offer Forte a deal at this point. Yes, they still would have Jeremy Langford at running back, but letting Forte walk could come back to haunt Chicago next season. The Bears averaged a click under 116 rush yards per game and Langford showed that he was a viable option behind Forte and he played well when starting in place of him this season.

Pass Defense: The Bears pass defense finished ranked fourth in the NFL after only allowing 224.6 yards per game, and that was after playing Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford each twice, Peyton Manning once and Russell Wilson and Derek Carr once as well. They faced some of the best quarterbacks this season and were able to keep them in check for the most part, and they lost seven games by eight points or less.

Weaknesses:

Run defense, quarterback, pass rush

Run Defense: If the run defense can be addressed this offseason, there is a chance that the Bears could be a top 10 defense in 2016. Opposing teams rushed for almost 121 yards per game, and this was ultimately the Bears’ downfall in 2015, although they did give up 24.8 points per game as well. Chicago needs to find a couple of players that can come in and stop the run and help ease some pressure off the secondary.

Quarterback: Cutler had a decent season and lowered his turnovers in 2015, but the Bears need to either draft a quarterback or sign a quarterback that can give his some competition and push him in the offseason. Cutler is a competitor and would likely step his play up if there was a good chance that he could be the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

Pass Rush: Lamarr Houston had 8.0 sacks in 2015, but the Bears traded defensive end Jared Allen to the Carolina Panthers during the season. This is probably their most pressing need and there are plenty of solid options in the upcoming NFL draft, so the Bears should use their No. 11 pick to add a player that can help Houston put more consistent pressure on opposing backfields.

Team Needs

Players to Re-Sign:

LB Sam Acho

RB Matt Forte

WR Alshon Jeffery

DL Jarvis Jenkins

TE Zach Miller

CB Tracy Porter

WR Josh Bellamy

2016 Free Agent Targets ($52.6 million projected cap space):

QB Brock Osweiler

RB Lamar Miller

WR Rishard Matthews

WR Travis Benjamin

T Cordy Glenn

LB Von Miller

DE Greg Hardy

2016 NFL Draft First Round Targets (No. 11 pick):

LB Myles Jack (UCLA)

WR Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss)

DE Shaq Lawson (Clemson)

CB Vernon Hargreaves (Florida)

QB Paxton Lynch (Memphis)

Read Salute Magazine‘s other NFL exit interviews:

AFC East: Buffalo Bills | Miami Dolphins | New York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens | Cleveland Browns

AFC South: Tennessee Titans | Jacksonville Jaguars | Indianapolis Colts

AFC West: San Diego Chargers | Oakland Raiders

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys | Philadelphia Eagles | New York Giants

NFC North: Detroit Lions

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