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2014 NFL Season Preview- Chicago Bears
After hiring head coach Marc Trestman for the 2013 season, the Chicago Bears made a complete 180° turn. And when I say that, I don't mean in wins.
The team started the year with three straight wins. They would go on to loose eight of their final 13 to finish 8-8 on the season, two loses more than in 2012 under former head coach Lovie Smith.
The team was plagued by numerous injuries throughout the season to stars like quarterback Jay Cutler, linebacker Lance Briggs, and cornerback Charles Tillman. Backup Josh McCown performed well and he and Cutler helped make the Bears the fifth best passing team in the league. Running back Matt Forte had his best season and wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery became the best receiving duo in the NFL. The offense finished with more yards and passing touchdowns than any year in franchise history.
Apart from cornerback Tim Jennings, the defense really struggled. Not only dealing with injuries from playmakers, the defense coaches were teaching a style they knew nothing about. The defense ended up finishing dead last in run defense.
A few rookies made a name for themselves in their first year. After only starting five games in college, guard Kyle Long became a Pro Bowler. Linebackers Jonathan Bostic and Khaseem Greene played out of position all year but showed that they are athletic enough to make an impact.
Bears 2013 Rankings
Opponent Passing yds
Opponent Rushing yds
NFL Rank- 5th
NFL Rank- 16th
NFL Rank- 15th
NFL Rank- Last
NFL Rank- 8th
NFL Rank- 30th
The Bears were a last second touchdown away from grabbing the division away from the Packers. Trestman and general manager Phil Emery looked to build a team that wouldn't feel the disappointment of the past few seasons.
After setting a franchise worst for points and total yards by the defense, much of the defensive staff was fired. This will be the team's 95th season in the league and fans will want this to be one to remember.
Notable additions- SS Adrian Wilson, DE Jared Allen, DE Lamarr Houston, WR Josh Morgan
Notable departures- QB Josh McCown, DT Henry Melton, KR Devin Hester, DE Julius Peppers
Alshon Jeffery Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
The Bears held the 14th overall pick in the draft and had many holes to fill. The bears were able to fill their needs at defensive end by signing former Vikings Jared Allen. The team also picked up pro bowler Adrian Wilson to fill the void at safety. With the departure of Henry Melton, the team still need to fill spots at defensive tackle.
The defense needs an interior pass rusher and run stopper to plug in and make an impact. Since the team was at the middle of the first round, they could have had their pick of the litter at defensive tackle. Anyone from Notre Dame's Louis Nix and Florida State's Timmy Jernigan would be available at 14. Nix was seen as the best run stopping defensive tackle coming out of college and Jernigan had the best burst of any tackle in the draft. The knock on both players were their issues with weight. Nix was too overweight and Jernigan was heavy enough to be impactful in the middle.
The team ended up selecting Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller with their first round pick. Fuller was considered to be the most physical corner in the draft due playing linebacker early in his college career. The big issue with him was his tendency to overreact on plays due to not reading the play.
Chicago also selected two defensive tackles in the draft. The team selected LSU's Ego Ferguson in the second round and Arizona State's Will Sutton in the third round. Ferguson was seen as the player with the most potential but also be a big risk. Sutton proved to be a star at Arizona State since he was a freshman but maybe to undersized to make an impact at the pro level.
In the fourth round, the Bears chose Arizona running back Ka' Deem Carey. Carey was very productive in college and amassed nearly 4,000 yards and 42 touchdowns in final two seasons. He was criticized for taking too many unnecessary hits and also running a slow 40 time at the combine.
Kyle Fuller Highlights
What to Expect
The offense will be at the same level they were in 2013. Alshon Jeffrey, Brandon Marshall, and tight end Martellus Bennett will be key in offense's success moving forward. Matt Forte's ability to run and catch the ball make him the Bear's most dangerous weapon. It all depends on Jay Cutler's ability to stay healthy. If he goes down this year, backups Jimmy Clausen, Jordan Palmer, and David Fales won't be able to bring the same level of play that Josh McCown brought last season.
The defense will be improved this season. The addition of two defensive tackles in the draft will greatly improve the team's run defense and signing Jared Allen will generate a better pass rush. If John Bostic and Khaseem Greene can play the positions they were meant to, Bostic at outside linebacker and Greene at middle linebacker, the linebacking corps will be able to make plays all over the field. Kyle Fuller will likely be the nickel corner for now but in time I believe he can take the place of Charles Tillman.
Overall, the additions the Bears made this offseason will greatly improve the team. That being said I feel they are still a year away from taking the NFC North title away from the Packers, but still are capable of making a playoff birth if the can stay focused and avoid last minute collapses.
Best record they can hope for- 10-6