(WSCR) The end of the 2011 season looked grim for the Bears, but could 2012 bring a fresh start?

One former player seems to think so.

“I think a core group of guys on this football team can keep it pointing in a direction to compete in the division,” Tom Thayer told The Mully and Hanley Show. “It’s going to be tough to beat Green Bay, so it looks like you’re always going to be competing for the division or the Wild Card, but I think the Bears can be a super competitive team next year with anybody in the division.

LISTEN: Tom Thayer on The Mully and Hanley Show

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“You’re going to have to have a really positive culture developed in the offseason. You’re going to have to bring in a general manager that the players are positive about his choices and the way he reflects on the organization.”

Given the aging players on the Bears defense like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers, this year’s draft will be the most important for the new-coming general manager.

“You need to go out there and draft depth and you need to have depth that is developing at a really aggressive rate next year,” Thayer said. “You don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘We’ll get this guy on the field in three years.'”

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