Now that’s an offseason.
It took a while, but Phil Emery finally got the pass rusher the Bears needed.
None of this Willie Young stuff. If he could get only three sacks while playing on a Lions line with the best tandem of defensive tackles in the league, then how could anyone believe he would get even three with the Bears?
None of this Lamarr Houston stuff, either. Houston is a defensive tackle hanging out on the end without the sack portfolio the Bears needed. Houston left the Raiders with a reputation as a player who could stop the run, but his skills fit better inside.
And now he can slide into that spot because the Bears just signed Jared Allen.
Yes, that Jared Allen, the right defensive end who has recorded double-digit sacks in each of the last seven seasons and started every game the last six. That’s a right defensive end the way it oughta be.
Allen turns 32 in a couple weeks, but he had more sacks than any Bear last season and more sacks than any player the Bears signed in the offseason.
Allen is a pure pass rusher. It’s what he does. It's what he has done better than anyone in the league the last 10 seasons.
He was the best pure pass rusher on the free-agent market, and that goes back to when the doors to the free-agent market swung open.
In a blog on March 13, I screamed for the Bears to sign Allen. If they wanted to address their pass rush that tied for the fewest sacks in the league, than Allen was exactly what they needed.
Emery did what I’d hoped he would, just backward. I wanted them to nail down a defensive tackle first because they were the worst against the run and no team was even second.
Then I wanted them to sign a defensive end because you have to earn the right to rush the passer by stopping the run.
Houston, the Bears’ first free-agent signee, clearly is a better fit at defensive tackle, and Allen certainly is more dangerous rushing the passer than anyone the Bears could think about bringing in.
Plain and simple: Allen finally gives the Bears someone opponents have to game plan for.
Here’s something else Allen’s signing does: It puts the Bears in the Super Bowl conversation.
I know, this sounds like crazy talk amid a big-name signing when signing big-name pass rushers hasn’t been a smart deal the last several years. I know, it sounds crazy when Jon Bostic and Chris Conte remain on the roster.
But here’s the deal: Emery has addressed the biggest remaining weakness with the biggest possible signing.
If Allen has his usual double-digit sack season, the Bears are infinitely better than last season’s disaster. They are certainly good enough to be average and have a chance to threaten the top 10.
That kind of ranking is enough to win a lot of games in the NFC North -- enough to win more than anybody, in fact -- with the kind of offense the Bears have.
Emery reconstructed the Bears' offensive line on the fly last season. He made sure Jay Cutler was protected enough to throw to the league’s best tandem of wide receivers, a terrific tight end and perhaps the most versatile running back in the league.
The powerful and growing Bears offense should be even better, and what’s more, it ought to get more possessions with a defense that now includes one of the top 20 pass rushers of all time at a time when he can still produce.
That’s my thinking. That’s why I’m putting the Bears in the Super Bowl conversation.
Phil Emery, your table is ready.Copyright © 2015, RedEye