2015 Record: 6-10-0
Head Coach: John Fox
New Faces for 2016 - LB Danny Trevathan, LB Jerrell Freeman, DL Akiem Hicks, OL Ted Larsen, OL Bobby Massie, OL Manny Ramirez, LB Aaron Brewer, DB Omar Bolden
OFFENSE: Jay Cutler is back for another season following his throwing for 3,659 yards with 21 touchdowns and eleven interceptions. Backing up will be veteran Brian Hoyer (2,606 yards with 19 TD and seven INT) who comes over from Houston.
The running game will be with a new feature back as Jeremy Langford takes over for Matt Forte, who signed with the New York Jets this off-season. Langford gained 537 yards (3.6 ypc average) to go with six rushing touchdowns. He also made 22 receptions for 279 yards and a touchdown. Ka'Deem Carey (159 yards, 3.7 ypc, two TD) and perhaps rookie back Jordan Howard (Indiana) will be the reserves.
The wide receivers have two players who can extend the field when healthy. Alshon Jeffery (54 receptions, 804 yards and four TD) missed six games last season while Kevin White missed the entire season of his rookie campaign with leg injuries. Backing up will be Josh Bellamy (19, 224, two TD), Marquess Wilson (28, 464, one TD), Eddie Royal (37, 238, one TD) and Marc Mariani (22 catches for 300 yards). The tight end is Zach Miller, who had 34 grabs for 439 yards and five scores.
DEFENSE: In the 3-4 alignment, the Bears have Eddie Goldman (4 1/2 QB sacks) at the nose tackle with either Mitch Unrein or rookie Jonathan Bullard (Florida) at a tackle spot while Akiem Hicks plays the other tackle spot. In reserve will be Will Sutton, Cornelius Washington and Ego Ferguson.
The inside linebackers include Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman, both free agent signings this off-season. The outside men are Willie Young (6 1/2 QB sacks) and Pernell McPhee, who made six sacks. Others include rookie Leonard Floyd (top pick from Georgia), Lamarr Houston (eight sacks), John Timu, Aaron Brewer and perhaps rookie Nick Kwaitkoski (West Virginia).
The secondary includes safeties Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey. The corner men are Kyle Fuller (two interceptions) and veteran Tracy Porter. Rookies Deon Bush (Miami, FL) and Deiondre' Hall (Northern Iowa) are looking to make an impact along with Sherrick McManis, Bryce Callahan and Omar Bolden.
OUTLOOK: The Bears attempted to overhaul the offensive line, the running game and even add more tweaks to the defense, which was much improved from the disaster it became in the 2014 season.
Whether or not those off-season moves pan out depends on the playing abilities of the players brought into the system that Head Coach John Fox is looking to continue to employ.
With Jay Cutler at quarterback, the Bears feel confident the offense can improve from mediocrity (21st overall and 23rd in scoring) when they averaged just under 21 points per game a year ago. The big question is whether Jeremy Langford is ready to make people forget about Matt Forte, who for years was a good bulk of the teams' offensive numbers.
The passing game should be better as long as Jeffery and White are on the field providing Cutler with the downfield targets he so sorely lacked last season. The Bears' biggest play went to the tight end for 87 yards. Continued field efficiency from Cutler would also be a plus as he cut down on his turnovers last year dramatically from previous years.
The defense was better in 2015, finishing 14th overall (345 yards per game allowed) while ranking fourth in the NFL against the pass, giving up 225 yards per game, including 35 QB sacks. The secondary was tight, but more turnovers would help. The Bears defense had only eight interceptions last year.
Playing in the NFC North means facing division champion Minnesota and perennial powerhouse Green Bay twice a year and the Bears know these two teams, along with the Detroit Lions, very well.
If the team can get off to a good start with an easier schedule the first six games as opposed to 2015, the Bears can be competitive. It's always important to win the division games and have a good start.
The Bears appear to be building for the future while also trying to remain relevant in the standings, which is a tough road to go down. With a few breaks and by staying in good health, an improved record for the 2016 season is not out of the question.
Fearless forecast - 8-8 this year
2016 TEAM SCHEDULE
Week 1 - at Houston
Week 2 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 3 - at Dallas
Week 4 - vs. Detroit
Week 5 - at Indianapolis
Week 6 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 7 - at Green Bay
Week 8 - vs. Minnesota
Week 9 - BYE
Week 10 - at Tampa Bay
Week 11 - at NY Giants
Week 12 - vs. Tennessee
Week 13 - vs. San Francisco
Week 14 - at Detroit
Week 15 - vs. Green Bay
Week 16 - vs. Washington
Week 17 - at Minnesota