NFL Season Preview: Chicago Bears Continue Plugging Holes

NFL Season Preview: Chicago Bears Continue Plugging Holes

 

One of the main issues for the Bears in recent seasons has been their lopsided offense and lack of creativity on the part of head coach Lovie Smith. Now that Smith has been relieved of his duties and former offensive guru Marc Trestman has been hired as head coach, the Bears figure to finally maximize their offensive potential. Defense has buoyed the Bears for years, but coupled with offensive ineptitude, injuries have destroyed their teams on both sides of the ball. This required the team to get younger at several key spots.

Jay Cutler has entered the “put up or shut up” zone. He has an offensive-minded coach who will cater to his strengths, and a returning run game that features a dual threat in Matt Forte. With beastly WR Brandon Marshall, 2nd year player Alshon Jeffrey, Earl Bennett and returning Devin Aromashadu (defected to the Minnesota Vikings and re-signed with Bears this offseason), the Bears’ offense is seeking continuity in the passing game, while shoring up a brutal offensive line. Getting rid of turnstile Gabe Carimi was a good start. Carimi was a former highly touted 1st Round pick who never panned out. The Bears expect J’Marcus Webb to continue to progress, after shedding the “bust” label and making strides as 2012 wore on. They also acquired former Drew Brees shield, Jermon Bushrod to replace Carimi.

Defensively, the Bears cut iconic MLB Brian Urlacher, following 13 seasons with the team. It was time. Urlacher had visibly lost two steps and had been hampered by injuries for quite some time. Chicago went out and signed DJ Williams, hoping to squeeze out a couple more years out of a guy who is also getting long in the tooth in NFL years. Lance Briggs is now heading the LB corps for the Bears. This was not a major concern for the Bears, as they figure to continue doing a lot of the same things that they did out of their base Cover-2 system, regardless of roster turnover. Their secondary features longtime ballhawk Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, who are two of the biggest threats as a CB tandem as any team possesses. None of the Bears’ draft picks are expected to make any significant impact in 2013, barring injury.

One major note is Devin Hester’s return to focusing solely on special teams. His time in the WR slot appeared to affect his abilities (albeit not significantly) in special teams. As the Bears seek to become consistent in every phase of the game, it was decided that Hester was better suited to devote his time to special team duties, as the WR corps is settled. Make no mistake, the Bears are only going as far as their offense can take them. Defenses, particularly those that can score like the Bears’, can help win titles, but a team must be able to run the ball and make important conversions in the passing game in order to go deep into the playoffs and win anything of any significance. Each Super Bowl winner in recent memory that has been close has featured the ability to run when necessary and make clutch passes in tight situations.

The Bears have faded down the stretch in each of the past few regular seasons, robbing them of a deep playoff run, and playoff berths altogether; which was the case in 2012. They hope that a few key additions and subtractions will help them finally get over the hump.

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