Friday, August 13, 2010

2010 Preview: Chicago Bears

2009 Record: 7-9

2009 Rankings:
Total Offense - 23
Run Offense - 29
Pass Offense - 17
Scoring Offense - 19
Total Defense - 17
Run Defense - 23
Pass Defense - 13
Scoring Defense - 21

Who would have ever thought they would see the day when the Chicago Bears became a passing team? Believe it folks. With the hiring of Mike Martz and the trading of their last VHS tape of "Da Bears" to Denver for Jay Cutler, the Bears of the past are dead and buried. Sure there are still some zombies like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs walking around. But for the most part, this is a team that defies the logic of a "Bears" team.

They will be a pass-first team with no proven #1 receiver. Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, and Devin Aromashodu will be the primary targets, while Jauquin Iglesias, who put up some great numbers at Oklahoma when Sam Bradford threw him the ball, will remain buried on the depth chart. Earl Bennett is a sleeper for playing time as well, and he could develop into a #1 given time. The most reliable receiver on the team is Tight End Greg Olsen, and for as much as Martz likes to throw the ball, you'd better believe Olsen will get his looks.

The Bears picked up Chester Taylor in free agency to back up Matt Forte, who looks to rebound after a disappointing 2009. Forte put the ball on the ground 6 times last year while only reaching the end zone 4 times and failing to break the 1000-yard mark. This offense will most likely be even more un-Bears-like this season, possibly even rivaling the 2009 Steelers for "Team Most Unlike Your Tradition in recent memory."

On defense, where to begin? The Bears added DE Julius Peppers, who is an instant upgrade along their defensive front. Behind him, the linebackers are aging and the secondary was inconsistent last season. Daniel Manning is a good safety when healthy and the Bears used their first pick of the draft, which didn't happen until the 3rd round, on Safety Major Wright (Florida). The Bears spent their first 3 picks on defensive players, trying to add youth and depth to an aging unit. Their defensive starters are perfectly capable of being a solid unit, but they have been plagued by injuries in the past, and none of the starters are exactly spring chickens.

Five of the Bears 7 wins came against teams with losing records, specifically Detroit (twice), Seattle, Cleveland, and St Louis. Their performance against good teams wasn't exactly something that should inspire a lot of confidence from their fans. Jay Cutler is a gunslinger who could just as easily throw 5 interceptions as he could 5 touchdowns. The Bears had 29 turnovers in their 9 losses as opposed to only 5 in their 7 wins. The Bears had the third most turnovers in the league last year. To be successful in 2010, the formula is simple: don't turn the ball over. The only problem is that they have Jay Cutler who had a 4.7% interception rate last year, which means he averaged 1 interception for every 21.2 pass attempts. That number will have to improve if this team wants to make a run at the playoffs this year. If they post another losing season, you had better believe Lovie Smith will be on the hot seat.

For more in-depth info on the Bears, check out our buddy Ismael's blog: Bears Hibernation

Ian's Prediction: 6-10

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