I'm siding with flotsam. The sinking ship that is the 2007 Chicago Bears have cast-off their mutinous ruddersman and are adrift at sea without even the hopes of a top defense to couple with their below average offense.
Ok, enough maritime metaphors, let me explain why I don't think Chicago will be very good in 2007, and it has very little to do with losing the Super Bowl. Here's four points to ponder.
- As I've detailed before, Grossman got some of the cheapest touchdowns in football last season thanks to the excellent return work of Devin Hester and a Bears' defense that was top 5 in the league at forcing and recovering turnovers. This is the real Grossman: -11.2 DVOA. If you don't think a top quarterback has something to do with consistent season to season success, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Carson Palmer want a word with you.
- Defense is wildly inconsistent, and much of the Bears' defensive success in aught-6 was because of an 87% forced fumble recovery rate. That's completely unsustainable.
- Devin Hester will not repeat his improbably good return work, but hidden beneath his 5 touchdowns is a lot of muffed punts and kickoffs. Hester fumbled 8 returns but recovered all but 2. A little regression to the mean is going to mean fewer return touchdowns and more lost fumbles.
- The offense has more troubles than Grossman, too. Including a 34 y/o possession receiver in the teeth of a decline, Muhsin Muhammad. And a freshly minted feature back, Cedric Benson, with a lot of wear on his tires and a history of shaky health; Now, the centerpiece of a running game that was the true and only strength of the Bears' offense.
Throw in an older o-line that suffered no major injuries in 2006, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if a Bears' team that is, as constructed, a .500 team, soon being injury riddled and spiraling towards the bottom of a lousy division. 2001 Chicago Bears, meet the 2002 Chicago Bears. 2006 Chicago Bears, meet the 2007 Chicago Bears. So, Super Bowl losers curse? No. Bad chemistry? BS. When this team founders, it will be because of good old fashioned probability and a mediocre, at best, offense.