LOSS OF BERRIAN A FACTOR
It’s not that I haven’t thought about it. Especially when you see him returning a kick for a TD or scoring on a long pass. Bernard Berrian is having a great season and he’s been worth every penny the Vikings have paid him. But I have to slightly disagree with David Haugh’s assessment of Berrian’s worth to the Bears.
The guy the Bears didn’t do enough to keep around last winter won’t go away now, and it will be his image more than any other that haunts the Bears this off-season if they miss the playoffs. But contrary to popular belief, if the Bears miss the playoffs, they didn’t squander away their season in September or October. That happened in February.
Are we really to believe that if Bernard Berrian was still a Bear that the city of Chicago would be enjoying playoff football in a few weeks? I don’t believe that.
The Bears have the same amount of touchdowns (37) and have scored only 11 points less than the Vikings. Offense hasn’t been the big problem. Defensive breakdowns–Haugh notes the Tampa and Atlanta games as prime examples–have been the bane of the Bears in 2008. But if we were going to point out things on the offense, it would be two twists: the knee of Brandon Lloyd and the ankle of Kyle Orton, and a wrenched back: Chris Williams.
Laugh if you like, but Lloyd was outplaying Berrian before he went down with a knee injury in week 4. Orton and Lloyd had clicked, and it looked like Lloyd was going to be the #1 receiver. And Orton hasn’t been the same since he injured his ankle. Before that he had a passer rating of over 91. Now it sits at 80. Would it have been different if he hadn’t been injured? I think it’s safe to answer yes to that question. And while John St. Clair has been serviceable, there’s a reason the Bears spent their first round pick on Williams.
It would be nice if Berrian was still a Bear. It would be even nicer if the Bears had made a legitimate attempt at replacing him, or if they could gather a clue about drafting receivers and assessing the group that they had in the offseason. Mark Bradley was supposedly the #1. He’s on the Chiefs now. Devin Hester has had his moments, but no GM in their right mind would consider him a #1. Lloyd was signed off the scrap heap, seemingly due to his relationship with Ron Turner. They spent a 3rd round pick on Earl Bennett and he has more tackles than catches.
I hate to go all Wanny here, but the Bears are just a few defensive lapses away from being in first place. No one would even be talking about Berrian if the Bears could get their defense off the field. No team in the league has been on the field for more defensive plays. There’s no doubt that receiver is a huge need and the Bears offense needs to score more points. But when we look back at this I doubt many Chicagoans will be lamenting the loss of Berrian, at least as the reason for missing the playoffs. I think it will be more about coaching, defensive breakdowns and a few key players on that defense not playing up to their previous levels.
Now go get me Anquan Boldin.