Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Chicago Bears

CHICAGO BEARS                                                  

2013 Record: 8-8-0

Key Additions: DL Jared Allen; DL Lamarr Houston; DL Willie Young; OL Brian de la Puente; S Adrian Wilson; S  M.D. Jennings; S Ryan Mundy.

Key Losses: KR Devin Hester; DL Henry Melton; QB Josh McCown; DL Julius Peppers; S Major Wright; DL Corey Wootton.

HEAD COACH: Marc Trestman

Offense: It will be Jay Cutler at quarterback once again after he passed for 2,621 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while missing five games last year. Jordan Palmer or Jimmy Claussen will back up.
Matt Forte is the top running back after going for 1,339 yards (4.6 ypc average) with nine touchdowns while also catching 74 passes for 594 yards and three more scores. Ka'Deem Carey (rookie from  Arizona) and Michael Ford will be on hand to provide depth.
The wide receiving duo of Brandon Marshall (100 receptions for 1,295 yards and 12 TD) and Alshon Jeffery (89, 1,421 yards and seven TD) is among the best, if not the best in pro football. Tight end has depth this season as well as Martellus Bennett returns after making 65 receptions for 759 yards and five touchdowns. Veteran Zach Miller is also ready to play this season as is Dante Rosario. Josh Morgan is in camp this year looking to make an impact as well as Josh Bellamy and Eric Weems, who can also return kicks. Marquess Wilson was injured in training camp and there is no telling if he will be available this season. The Bears also signed veteran Santonio Holmes (23, 456, 19.8 ypc, one TD) during training camp to fill the void.
The offensive line has Roberto Garza at center along with tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills. The guards are Kyle Long and Matt Slauson.

STATS - The Bears ranked eighth in the NFL last year, averaging 382 yards per game. The passing game went for 268 yards a game (5th) while the rushing attack averaged 114 yards, which was 16th overall. Scoring wise, the Bears averaged 28 points per game, which was second overall. The quarterbacks were sacked only 30 times, which was a huge improvement from seasons past. Chicago committed 23 turnovers last year.

Defense: The line has gone through a major overhaul and will have five players, including newcomers Jared Allen (11.5 QB sacks with Minnesota last year), Willie Young and LaMarr Houston, who had six sacks with Oakland, playing the end position. Stephen Paea and Jeremiah Ratliff are the tackles.
The linebackers include middle man D.J. Williams and outside backers Shea McClellin (four sacks) and twelve-year veteran Lance Briggs. Jonathan Bostic, Jordan Senn and Khaseem Greene will provide relief.
The secondary has veteran Charles 'Peanut' Tillman returning for his twelfth season after missing several games with injuries in 2013. Tillman, who had three interceptions, will play cornerback along with Tim Jennings (four picks) while Chris Conte (three INT) and Ryan Mundy will play safety. Backing up in the defensive backfield are M.D. Jennings, Brock Vereen, top rookie pick Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech), Kelvin Hayden (injured last year), veteran free agent Adrian Wilson and Craig Steltz.

STATS - The defense, especially against the run, was terrible last year and that is unacceptable for a team that usually ranks highly in this area. The Bears allowed an astounding 161 yards rushing per game last season, which was last in the NFL. The pass defense was 15th overall, giving up 233 yards. Overall, Chicago placed 30th in the NFL, allowing 394 yards per game. The Bears gave up 30 points a game, which was tied for worst in the NFL along with Minnesota and Washington. The team did get 19 interceptions, including two for touchdowns. The Bears amassed 31 quarterback sacks last year.

OUTLOOK: Keeping QB Jay Cutler healthy is the key for the Bears this season, because there are major question marks surrounding the backups this season. Cutler has been injured and missed time in four of the five seasons he's been with the team.
The offense should be solid once again and score points on a regular basis with the top flight wide receivers they have as well as a top notch running game with Matt Forte leading the way.
Head Coach Marc Trestman knows this team can reach the playoffs and anything short of that goal will be a disappointment.
The defense must improve, especially against the run if the team wants to achieve any measure of success in the 2014 season. There were wholesale changes made in the off-season to shore up the defensive front, including bringing in veteran defensive ends Jared Allen (Minesota), LaMarr Houston (Oakland) and Willie Young (Detroit) to help improve the pass rush while looking to shut down opposing running attacks.
As long as they remain somewhat healthy and the defense shows improvement, the Bears should contend against Green Bay in the NFC North division. A wild card spot should happen along with a 10-6 record this season. How the team does in the post-season (should they make it) will ride on Jay Cutler and the play of the defense.

Week 1- vs. Buffalo
Week 2- at San Francisco
Week 3- at NY Jets
Week 4- vs. Green Bay
Week 5- at Carolina
Week 6- at Atlanta
Week 7- vs. Miami
Week 8- at New England
Week 9- BYE WEEK
Week 10- at Green Bay
Week 11- vs. Minnesota
Week 12- vs. Tampa Bay
Week 13- at Detroit
Week 14- vs. Dallas
Week 15- vs. New Orleans
Week 16- vs. Detroit
Week 17- at Minnesota

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