The regular season for the National Football League kicks off in just 12 days.
The Chicago Bears have had a lot of question marks when it came to certain spots on both sides of the ball the last couple seasons.
For a while they looking to find a quarterback who could lead them to victory, having a different mix of safeties, who would be their No.1 wide receiver and will the offensive line ever improve?
Last season this team started off strong and looked like they were going to make a serious run for the post season until things slowed down and well, they left their playoff hopes in the hands of their division rival.
On the defensive side of the ball, we haven’t seen anything from middle linebacker D.J. Williams which allowed Jon Bostic to step in and get himself some decent time with the first team unit. Of course both men are replacing Brian Urlacher, but right now it looks as if the rookie will be the first, new Chicago Bears opening day starting middle linebacker since No. 54 was drafted.
The secondary of this defense still looks solid. Last night they were all over the football as they picked off the Oakland Raiders four times. It’s not surprising that this defense is still causing turnovers even with Urlacher gone. They may not have 44 this season, but they will have enough to give Jay Cutler and that Chicago Bears offense a chance to put up more points, that is if the defense hasn’t done that already.
The defensive line will continue to be strong as long as Peppers and Melton can remain healthy. They usually don’t have any problems up front besides injuries. The defensive line always has a good rotation of players who are able to make plays.
A big question mark for this team was the offense. Everybody knows or at least says that the defense for this organization carries them. Chicago’s offense got off to a slow start against Carolina, but has picked up beautifully these last two pre-season games. The running game for the Bears looks a lot stronger, the running backs have been presented with multiple running lanes to choose from. If the front line can remain consistent through out the season, Matt Forte should be able to rush for around 1,200 yards with Bush having around 700-800 yards himself.
The pass protection has somewhat improved, a couple of the guys on the offensive line have been out dueled by their assignment which results in their quarterback being taken down. Cutler has had a decent amount of time to find his target and move the chains. Right now the only original starter from last season on the offensive line happens to be center Roberto Garza. This new group of offensive lineman need to continue to do what they are doing, reduce the amount of sacks this season and this team could be a lot stronger than they were last season.
You can’t make a push for the playoffs when your quarterback is constantly getting hit by the defense for negative yards.
Now with Johnny Knox and Devin Hester not playing for this offense anymore, it opens up opportunities for other guys to step up and get some receptions. Cutler has one of the strongest arms in the league, like him or not, the guy can throw the pigskin. If he’s given the time he needs, it doesn’t matter if it’s man or double coverage, Cutler can throw through small openings in coverage just as well as any elite quarterback in the league.
Alshon Jeffery was targeted seven times last night, picking up 77 yards receiving which lead all receivers during last nights game. Cutler was asked about why he targets Marshall so much. When you have chemistry with a guy who you played with when you first entered the league, that target will eventually become your favorite. Both of these guys are like brothers and are pretty much on the same page almost every snap.
And of course, you have our special teams unit. When you think of special teams for the Chicago Bears, you think of Devin Hester. Hester was one of the most explosive return man in the league in his first couple seasons. His ability to return kicks the way he used to slightly went down hill ever since he was converted to a wide receiver at the professional level.
Watching Hester’s returns so far in pre-season, looks like he’s getting that feel and field vision back that helped him destroy return records.
Overall, the Chicago Bears look like they have improved in the spots they needed too.