Bears ought to be primed, ready to go

The NFL lockout is nearly over, with the owners having brilliantly voted to approve a deal, backing the players into a corner from which there is no escape.

As for when it started or what occurred during it, I couldn't tell you.

Happy to say I didn't pay attention to a minute of it.

The thought here before the work stoppage was that they wouldn't miss a regular-season game, and they didn't.

The hope here before the work stoppage was also that they would miss most or all of the preseason, but we're sorry to say they won't.

So who won and who lost?

Who cares?

It appears as though the players took a pounding again, which is not a surprise as historically they've had the worst union leadership among the major sports. But at least they have taken back from the owners significant practice time in training camp and off-season workouts.

In any case, the two sides unearthed a deal — as you knew they would — and so now what?

The lack of off-season workouts will hurt the rookies, the teams with complicated schemes and the clubs adding a lot of new players.

The Bears are in great shape defensively, at least from a coaching and system standpoint.

They have the third-simplest defense in the NFL based on last year's blitz stats, and probably could walk right into a game with little review assuming they have the right personnel on the field.

Compare that to three of their main competitors in the NFC. The Falcons, Eagles and Saints have three of the top five most complicated defenses in the NFL, and all will need more time to get their philosophical stuff together.

The Bears play all three this season, including the Falcons and Saints in Weeks 1 and 2.

Offensively, there's no doubt the lack of an off-season hurt the Bears under Mike Martz, and especially new tackle Gabe Carimi, who had a chance to start at left tackle but almost certainly heads to right tackle now due to the lack of familiarity with the system.

It also would have been nice to sign a veteran wide receiver during spring free agency and allow him to work this summer with Jay Cutler and Martz in preparation for the 2011 season.

But looking around the division, Detroit is probably more affected due to QB Matthew Stafford's injury-plagued 2010 and his lack of playing time, plus the Lions had a monster draft and those players will need time to learn on both sides of the ball.

Minnesota still doesn't have a quarterback outside of the rookie (Christian Ponder) they just drafted, and they looked old at the end of the 2010 season.

As for the Packers, the world champs shouldn't suffer the traditional hangover because their normally short summer was much longer and relaxing without the off-season workouts to drag them down.

They ought to be recharged and ready to go, assuming they can fill some important spots that might open up as they try to get under the cap.

As for free agency, it won't be the crazed frenzy many expect, because every team, player and agent in football has been tampering like mad for the last four months, and every team, player and agent knows exactly what they're going to do in free agency — with the exception of the bad and old.

So what will the Bears do?

Well, first they have to clean up their own house and get free agents like center Olin Kreutz and defensive tackle Anthony Adams signed, but linebackers Nick Roach and Brian Iwuh also are important because right now the Bears have Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs under contract and that's it.

If they lose special-teams star Corey Graham and safety Danieal Manning, and possibly linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, they'll have to find replacements.

So they'll have work to do in free agency, where they definitely need to find a wide receiver and depth on the offensive line, probably at guard, assuming there's no starting tackle available for the right price.

Of course, the Bears have had this figured out for months and they ought to be able to get their business completed fast and be ready to open camp quickly.

So are the Bears ready for some football?

We would expect so.

Chicago baseball being what it is this summer, there seems no need to ask any fan the same question.

Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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