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2014 Season Preview: Chicago Bears

2013 Season Recap

  • Record: 8-8 (2nd NFCN)
  • Head Coach: Marc Trestman (1st Season)
  • Offensive Rankings: No. 2 Scoring, No. 8 Yards
  • Defensive Rankings: No. 30 Scoring Allowed, No. 30 Yards Allowed
  • Pro Bowlers: Kyle Long (G), Matt Forte (RB), Brandon Marshall (WR), Alshon Jeffery (WR), Tim Jennings (CB)
  • Key Injuries w/Games Missed: Jay Cutler (QB) – 5, Lance Briggs (LB) – 7, Charles Tillman (CB) – 8, D.J.Williams (LB) – 10, Nate Collins (DT) – 11, Henry Melton (DT) – 13.

2014 Season

Chicago Bears Depth Chart via Chicagobears.com.

Offense

After a successful 2013 season under first year head coach Marc Trestman, the Chicago Bears offense will look to build upon that success in year two. The offense returns nearly all of its starters and main contributors, with only wide receiver Earl Bennett having left during the off-season. Veteran quarterback Jay Cutler will have the benefit of running the same offense and being surrounded by the same coaches for only his second time throughout his six-year career with the Bears.

Speaking of Cutler, his 2013 campaign under Trestman was mostly positive as he posted a career best in quarterback rating (89.2) and a second-best career completion percentage (63.1%). Unfortunately Cutler also missed five games and parts of two others with groin and ankle injuries. The key for Cutler going into this season, above all else, is to stay on the field for all 16 games. With general manager Phil Emery rewarding Cutler in the off-season with $54 million guaranteed contract, all eyes will be on Cutler to see his performance and leadership development this season with Trestman and Co.

The offense will also feature a group of the best skill position players in the NFL. Running back Matt Forte put up career numbers in 2013, and will be the linchpin for the entire offense to run a balanced and efficient attack. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are both coming off of Pro Bowl caliber seasons, and are arguably the most dynamic receiving duo in the league.  Tight end Martellus Bennett is if nothing else a very solid option to give the offense a mid-field target.

Defense

Unfortunately for the Bears this is where things get a little dicey. 2013 was marred by key injuries, and couple that with new coaching and inexperienced depth the defense put up historically poor numbers.

Phil Emery put much of the focus this off-season retooling the defense, adding through free agency defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, and Willie Young. Add in the additions of defensive tackles Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson through the draft, Emery has done his part in putting veteran and young talent along the defensive front.

The linebacking corp will remain fairly unchanged from 2013, with only third-year player Shea McClellin shifting from the defensive end position to linebacker. Second-year linebacker Jon Bostic, veteran DJ Williams, and long-time Bear Lance Briggs will round out the group. The key for this group will be improving their run fits and mid-field passing coverage.

The secondary will return veteran starters Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings at cornerback, with first-round pick Kyle Fuller looking to contribute in the nickel defense right away. Safety will be the one position with possible sweeping change, as 2013 starter Chris Conte will look to rebound from a shaky campaign last season. Add in off-season acquisitions Ryan Mundy, Danny McCray, and M.D. Jennings and this position group could have a very new look in 2014.

Biggest Key for 2014

Without simply saying “everyone stay healthy” which is more or less paramount for every team, the biggest key for the Bears this season will be improving their defense. With a heavy dose of turnover in personnel ideally with upgrades, and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker introducing a new scheme, it’s not hard to imagine the defense taking a little time to gel. If the defense can be at least average going into the second half of the season, with the team having five of the last seven games at Soldier Field, the Bears could be poised for a solid season and could break into the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

Predictions

10-6 (2nd NFCN, Wild Card Contention)