Last year, the Bears finished with an 11-5 record and a loss to the rival Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship and there were many questions going into this off-season: Is Jay Cutler tough enough? Who is going to be on the offensive line? Who is going to catch passes? Can the defense continue to win games for the offense?
When the lockout ended, it felt as if the Bears were just standing pat and not doing much as other teams were signing free agents and trading players. Then the Bears traded one of Cutler's favorite targets, Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers. Then they decided they would begin the post Olin Kreutz era, which has somewhat upset fans who believed Kreutz was essential to an offensive line that allowed an NFL leading 52 sacks last year.
But key additions this off-season should have Bears fans looking up.
They finally have a number one (so be-it a diva) receiver in Roy Williams. They have a third running back in Marion Barber, who may be a better second option than Chester Taylor. Since Barber came into the league in 2005, he's rushed for 4,358 yards and 47 touchdowns—in that same time, Taylor only has 3,551 yards and only 21 touchdowns. I believe this was a great pick-up.
I also believe the offense will be better overall because this is the second season under the Mike Martz system. The drafting of Gabe Carimi and a second year under Mike Tice will the offensive line as they are looking younger and should be more solidified. The defense will always be the Bears defense and they will continue to make it difficult for opposing offenses to score.
So the main question to Bears fans is: are you buying into what the Bears are selling?
They may not win the NFC North (the Packers are just too good), but I believe they will make the playoffs and compete for the NFC ticket to Indianapolis in February.