WARNING! THIS IS A LONG ARTICLE! An additional spot will be posted after.
After finishing inches short of a playoff berth, the new look Chicago Bears head into off season work outs in hopes of controlling their own fate this season.
Man oh man, what an off season for this team. As a fan of the Chicago Bears (my picture doesn’t give it away at all), this off season was a bit shaky and somewhat depressing. Of course, most of us didn’t expect Lovie Smith to be fired, I mean come on, Rex Ryan is still employed by the Jets? Yeah Rex led the Jets to an AFC Championship game a few seasons ago but Lovie actually made it to the Super Bowl.
Almost every coach on this staff is new, so this year may be a look at what to expect in the future. We knew what we got with Lovie (84-66 career record), a calm coach who hardly lost his cool, was all about defense.
With Marc Trestman (59-31 in CFL), seems like the type of guy who won’t think twice about getting loud. I honestly haven’t seen the guy in action as a head coach, but there is something about him that makes me think we will see him explode at some point this season. He had some success in his early years in the NFL, coaching some great quarterbacks but most of his success came from Canada.
In all honesty, I think that is exactly what this team needs. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Lovie and his approach, I mean, there were times where he was frustrated, but he never let it show that much unlike other coaches in the league. So what this team needs, is someone who can light a fire underneath them, because last season, we lost a few games that we should have won, cough cough, the Seahawks game.
With that being said, I’m curious and excited to see how this coaching staff works, oh and I’m excited that Chris ‘Hitman’ Harris is back! But this time as a staff member, not an active player on the roster. Now lets take a look at what is going on with both sides of the ball. Starting with the offense.
Offense: One thing we still have to worry about, yes you guessed it, our offensive line. Still one of the worst lines in the league, had its moments last season. The team ended up trading Gabe Carimi not too long ago, but have some guys on the depth chart who could provide consistent blocking, at least we should hope. They picked up a 6th round pick for Carimi, being a former 1st round pick who didn’t play that much, that isn’t that bad of a deal. With the additions of tackle Jermon Bushrod, guard Matt Slauson and drafting Kyle Long (son of Howie Long), the competition for this offensive line should be better than last seasons. But what I don’t get is, how is J’Marcus Webb still on this roster??
A few pieces have left, such as back up quarterback Jason Campbell, but a familiar face in Devon Aromashodu has returned to the team once again. And of course you have Evan Rodriguez who was arrested for a D.U.I., looked like he was going to be a big piece for this offense, but there went that idea. But bringing back Devon Aromashodu is a move that I am excited about, another good receiver who will compliment this group of receivers nicely. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Devon Aromashodu and Terrence Toliver would be my guess on who starts this season as 5 who sit atop of the depth chart now that Devin Hester is a full time return man. Unless he can win the job.
Another position that has changed, was our tight end position, which is really good to see. We ditched Kellen Davis, who is now Clevelands problem and picked up Martellus Bennett who more than likely is the #1 tight end on the roster. A good check down tight end who has the size to go up and snatch passes out of the air, should come to good use whenever the offense is in the red zone. With a strong arm like Cutler and the potential Bennett has as a receiving tight end, these two should meet up 3-4 times in the end zone.
Now with our running game, we all know we have one of the best running backs in the league. And after adding Michael Bush last season, aside from the fumbles, this combination is working out perfectly as Forte still rushed for a 1,000 yards last season. So as long as the offensive line can open up lanes for this 1,2 punch in Forte and Bush, the running game should be better than last seasons. I would like to see Forte hit 1,000 again and Bush behind him with around 800 yards from scrimmage. Matt will possibly break around 4-500 yards receiving, we know how good of a receiving back he is.
Other key departure(s): Wide-Receiver Johnny Knox (retired), Matt Spaeth, Lance Louis.
Defensive/Special Teams: Last season for this defense was absolutely amazing. After having 24 total interceptions, 8 returned touchdowns, 29 forced fumbles (10 by Charles Tillman) with 1 resulting in a touchdown. This defense should be looking to get back to its dangerous form and putting points up on the board in case things on the other side of the ball aren’t looking so well.
A big piece of this defense will be missing, as we all know, Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears parted ways which lead to Urlacher later retiring. The replacement for Urlacher is D.J. Williams, a former Denver Bronco, should fit well with defense along side now captain Lance Briggs. Briggs admitted that he was spoiled his first handful of seasons he spent with Chicago because Brian carried the load when it came to shouting out adjustments.
They lost linebacker Nick Roach to the Oakland Raiders as they were trying to see if Urlacher was coming back or not. It only took Roach one visit with the Raiders for him to realize it was the best option for him. He provided this defense consistent play when called upon and should do well in Oakland. The linebacker core may have lost our star general, but we picked up some good replacements, temporary and future.
Bringing in former Denver Bronco D.J. Williams, Carolina Panther James Anderson and drafting Florida Gator Jon Bostic and Rutgers Khaseem Greene, the linebacker core lead by Lance Briggs should do just fine without Urlacher. His presence will be missed, but the talent that was added after he departed, should give this team and fan base some hope. Bostic could possibly be the future of this defense, along side Greene, Cornelius Washington and Shea McClellin as Chicago has one of the oldest defenses in the league.
A big pick up they recently made as Sedrick Ellis, a former first round draft pick who has the potential to be a big name on a defense. He didn’t live up to expectations in New Orleans, but could possibly get his career where he wants it too be in Chicago. A long side Henry Melton, these two could do some damage on the inside of this already dangerous defensive line. They should have some better numbers when it comes to stopping the run and the way Peppers maneuvers from the outside to the inside of the line, should benefit from this signing as his sack numbers should go up.
The corners need to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. The only piece missing is D.J. Moore who left for the Carolina Panthers, which in my opinion was a mistake by this front office for letting him walk away. A young defensive player who has pro bowl potential, slipped away and could now have that success in another uniform.
This defense needs to stay healthy and consistent, get back to causing turnovers and getting take aways. Putting up additional points immediately after turnovers for this defense would be a big plus, but as long as they give the ball back into Jay Cutlers hands all should be well. When it comes to the safeties, Conte and Wright are on their way to being pro bowl safeties as a pair. Both have the potential and talent to be top safeties in the league. They added veteran Tom Zbikowski to add some help for these two young guys.
As far as the special teams go, it will be interested to see how this Devin Hester thing plays out. The coverage as far as punts and kick returns are still pretty solid, not really allowing that many returns for touchdowns and having the ability to cause mistakes/turnovers. But it will be interesting to see who will be the primary return man this season.
Key additions: Defensive End Turk McBride
Losses: Matt Toeaina, Brian Urlacher, D.J. Moore, Nick Roach, Geno Hayes.
With all this being said, about 1,500 words into this article, as a Chicago Bears fan I am excited about this season. I am a little so-so on our offensive line, but I can’t help but believe in them. If this team can stay healthy and get more production from their offensive line, giving Jay Cutler more time to find a receiver down field, or bigger and consistent running lanes for either half back of this offense, should be able to control their own fate late in the season in hopes of making the playoffs.
This schedule does look tough, but I think a handful of games could be easily won.
I see the Chicago Bears going at least 11-5, 10-6 being the worst.
If you have seen the last couple articles I have posted, I have been dedicating them to a family of a close friend of mine. A little boy by the name of Jackson Smith, along with his parents, are in one of the toughest situations you could possibly be in. Now I know this isn’t sports related, but as a human being, I couldn’t just sit back and not help this family raise the money they need. So I have decided to dedicate every article I will write for the next 44 days or so, in order to help them, to little Jackson Smith and his family. In a course of around 10 days, the family had raised the goal of around $5,000 (nearly met in just hours) to $10,000 due to good hearted people who also refused to give up on Jackson. Now I’m not saying those who don’t help this kid out, are cold hearted. I understand and I’m sure Jackson’s family and friends also understand, that times are rough. Prayers, messages, comments, all related to Jackson would be deeply appreciated.
Salute Jackson Smith.
”Almost 2 years ago a beautiful little baby Jackson was born into the world to the greatest mother and father, our cousin and her husband. Almost one week ago, our lives changed unexpectedly when we found out baby Jackson had a tumor on his brain stem. The following day he had successful brain surgery to remove the tumor later to find out after the biopsy came back, it turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer. We are all waiting to hear back from the doctors at St. Jude’s hospital on the next plan of attack. We have never been more proud of our cousin, her husband, and their son Jackson for being so strong! We will all beat this together.”