Every smart girl knows that Chicago is a football town through and through. No matter how good the Bulls have been in the past or how beloved the Cubs still remain despite their losing history, Chicagoans rally around their Bears and covet the NFL season like no other. Despite the fact that the Bears have missed the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years, Bears fever remains at an all time high as fans hunger for a team that can take them back to the Super Bowl.
If you’ve been a fair-weather Bears fan over the past few seasons, then this is the season you will want to get dialed in. After some much-needed off-season moves, the Bears are in an excellent position to make it back to the Playoffs and lead in their very competitive division, the NFC North. Trust us when we say understanding, appreciating and following the Bears this season is worth your time as the product on the field has never been better and more fun to watch.
The biggest improvements this off-season came on behalf of the offense. And while the old-saying goes, “defense wins games”, offense is definitely the sexier of the two with the highest scoring positions. This season the Bear’s offense could finally be just as impressive as their legendary defense. So let’s dive into it. Below are the offensive positions, the players and the details you’ll need to know for the upcoming Bears season.
Offensive Positions and Players to Know:
Starter: Jay Cutler
Back-up: Jason Campbell
If there’s one player that is definitely in the hot seat this season, it’s Jay Cutler. Going into his 4th season as the Bear’s starting QB, Bears fans are still waiting for “Cutty’s” break-out season as a Bear. Cutler’s performance has continued to decrease ever since he came over from the Denver Broncos in 2009. Cutler shouldn’t take all the blame though, he hasn’t had many decent options to throw to or pass the ball off to, and his protection by the offensive line has been lacking to say the least.
All of that has now changed with the addition of wide receiver, and former Bronco, Brandon Marshall and top-notch running backs. With the improvements the Bears have made, Cutler is out of excuses and should be able to exceed 4,000 passing yards (a QB benchmark) if he stays healthy. IF being the question mark.
Jason Campbell is Cutler’s back-up. Campbell is a NFL vet that will be a solid option if Cutler get’s injured again like he did last season. He is a much better option that former Bear’s QB back-up Caleb Hanie who took over for Cutler the last 5 games of the season in 2011, when the Bears finished 8-8 after an 8-3 start.
Position: Running back
Starters: Matt Forte and Michael Bush
Back-up: Lorenzo Booker
The Matt Forte contact drama during the off-season ended in the favor of Forte locking up a $32MM 4-year contract with the Bears and putting himself in the elite RB column which he deserved as the Bears #1 rusher and ball-carrier the last 2 seasons. While the Bears were sweating it out with Forte, they signed RB Michael Bush from the Oakland Raiders as a potential back-up plan. Both are stud running backs and will share time on field making the running game that much more fun to watch.
The biggest difference between the two is Forte is more of a long-distance running back where Michael Bush is good for short-yardage carries, meaning he’ll probably see more time in the end zone when the Bears need a big-barrelled back to punch the ball over the goal line for a touchdown. The Forte/Bush duo is one of the best in the NFL and have fans giddy about the scoring possibilities between the two. Know these guys – they will be all the chatter this season.
Position: Wide Receiver
Starters: Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester
Back-ups: Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Dane Sanzenbacher
The wide receiver unit – the air-squad of the offense, received a major upgrade this off-season when the Bear’s picked up Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins. Bears fans have been waiting for years for a star wide receiver with the talent to solidify a spot for the Bears in the playoffs, and Marshall has the potential to be that guy.
When Marshall and Cutler played together in Denver, they were scary good putting up some of the biggest offensive plays and stats in the NFL. The hope is that this bromance between Cutler and Marshall will continue once again on the field in Chicago. By far, Marshall is the most anticipated player to watch this season with the most potential to be a huge play maker for the Bears.
Position: Tight End
Starter: Kellen Davis
Back-ups: Matt Spaeth, Evan Rodriguez, Kyle Adams
With the addition of Bear’s new Offensive Coordinator, Mike Tice, we can expect to see much more of the tight end position this season as Tice uses this blocking and receiving position much more than old coordinator, Mike Martz did. At 6’7” Davis is a beast, but hasn’t been playing at the level coaches had hoped for. We could see a lot of rotation in this position because of it.
Position: Offensive Linemen
Starters: J’Marcus Webb, Gabe Carimi, Chris Spencer, Roberto Garza
Back-ups: Edwin Williams, Chilo Rachal, Chris Williams, Lance Louis
If there’s one glaring problem on the Bear’s offense, it’s the Offensive Line. But this is not news to Bears fans. The O-Line has been the Achilie’s heel of the Bear’s offense for years. With a job to protect the quarterback and stop the oncoming defense, the O-Line has struggled over the years resulting in Cutty being one of the most sacked QBs in the NFL(105 sacks in the last 2 seasons!)
Unfortunately, the Bears failed to address this problem in the off-season by beefing up their O-Line options. Instead they switched out Offensive Coordinators (from Mike Martz to Mike Tice). While this should definitely help with the offensive schemes, the problems that plagued the O-Line still exist. Watch for rookie Gabe Carimi (current HAM). Carimi was the Bear’s #1 draft pick in 2010 but only played 2 games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. With Carimi back on the O-Line and healthy – he’s the only thing different from last season. Yikes.