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redeyechicago.com

Bears' victory could trigger bad decisions

Team needs to ride it out and reload after season

Dan McNeil

8:07 PM CDT, October 17, 2013

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In a simpler time — when we were wide-eyed and fresh-faced — all that mattered was seeing our team win.

Kids don't engage in conversations about "buyers or sellers." They don't root for their team to lose so it improves its draft position or whacks a coach.

If you want the Bears to beat the Redskins Sunday, bless you. I try to avoid telling people what to wish for.

It occurs to me, however, that a Bears win at FedEx Field has the potential to create a judgment error by the decision makers in Lake Forest. A win would put the Bears at 5-2 heading into a nice, long rest before going to Green Bay on Monday, Nov. 4.

In the NFL, which general manager or head coach is thinking about next year when his team is in the hunt for a division title?

I hope Phil Emery and Marc Trestman will. The Bears braintrust would be delusional if it thought swapping a draft pick for a veteran defensive lineman would be enough to push them deep into the postseason.

It wouldn't. The Bears may be only seven weeks into the season, but they also are a mere four months away from reconstructing their defense. All over the field.

Julius Peppers is nearing the end of his terrific career. Even if Peppers rebounds from a bad start, a game-changing pass rusher tops the Bears' offseason wish list.

Same thing with cornerback Charles Tillman. He's the best at his position in franchise history, but like Peppers, Tillman's best days are behind him. To compete in this NFL, top-tier corners are a requisite component of a roster.

Major Wright and Chris Conte are serviceable safeties at best. Painful as it may be, the Bears have to draft at that position again. That or go out and sign a ball hawk who also can tackle.

Shea McClellin will never be more than just a guy. All the more reason to cling to every draft pick you have. Unmet expectations are a certainty.

Lance Briggs isn't going to play forever. Is his successor on the roster? Jon Bostic, last spring's second-rounder, is an unknown in the middle. Put linebacker on the needs list.

There isn't a defensive tackle in town who's earned anybody's trust.

I don't envy defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. There isn't anybody at Halas Hall with more pressure on him to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

Injuries, age and the absence of difference-making talent have rendered Tucker's defense problematic. Parting with draft picks for a band-aid, however, would be terribly short-sighted.

The Bears have to play with what they have. It's going to get worse before it gets better, but they have to ride it out and reload after the season.

Just tell your kids — when opposing running backs are imposing their will on Bears defenders, when quarterbacks have all day to roam the pocket and wait for somebody to break free — it's all for the greater good down the road.

If they're Cubs fans, they'll understand.

Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.