Chicago Bears Breakdown

Hello Brandon Marshall.  The Chicago Bears managed to steal the pro-bowl caliber Wide Receiver away from the Miami Dolphins for 2 third round draft picks back in March, and Bears fans have been beaming ever since.  Michael Bush was added next to support Matt Forte in the running game.  Bush came over from Oakland in a free agent steal (4 years, $14 Million, $7 Million guaranteed), and has already impressed teammates with his quick feet, athletic ability, and deceptive speed for a back of his size.  Add to them Rookie wide out Alshon Jeffery and the Bears have turned an under-performing catastrophe of an offense into one that should be able to compete with the like of division foes, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

The Defense, Normally a Chicago staple in the Lovie Smith era, has also improved.  The Bears addressed their most pressing need in the off-season by adding back-up corner backs, Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite, giving the secondary size and depth.  Spending the first round draft pick on Boise State Outside Line Backer, Shea McClellin.  McClellin has slid down to Defensive End and is currently playing opposite Julius Peppers in passing situations and nickle packages.  So far through the preseason McClellin looks to be picking up the new position well, his speed and strength have allowed him to move past Right Tackles so far and apply good pressure to the quarterback, he has also looked solid in the running game, showing above average lateral speed.

The question marks for the Bears, are the same as their downfall from a year ago, Health.  Perennial Pro-Bowler Brian Urlacher is recovering from microscopic knee surgery just two weeks ago.  In their second preseason game against the Washington Redskins, the Bears lost safeties Chris Conte (shoulder) and Brandon Hardin (neck), and do not have timetables for either’s return.  On the offensive side the elephant in the room is the Left Tackle position.  Ja’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams have been battling it out so far this preseason, both looked awful in the first preseason game against the Denver Broncos, but Williams seemed to out perform Webb in the second contest against the Redskins.

The Bears have prepared for injuries on the offensive side of the ball, adding much needed depth to the Quarterback position with the addition of Jason Campbell to back up Jay Cutler.  They have added depth at the WR spot, adding Eric Weems, and Rashied Davis, to join Marshall, Devin Hester, and Earl Bennett.  At Tight End the Bears resigned Kellen Davis, who should be a valuable red zone target, and drafted Evan Rodriguez who has really impressed coaches early in preseason.  The defensive side of the ball is now deep in the secondary, however the linebacker corp is thin, especially if there are any complications to Urlacher’s knee, and the defensive line is deep on the ends but could use another high energy Defensive Tackle (unless recent trade acquisition Brian Price can find his skill level from 2010 with Tampa Bay).

FANTASY FOOTBALL IMPACT

The Bears offense should generate a lot of yardage this year.  Jay Cutler should return to his Denver Broncos form now that he has a legitimate number one receiver in Marshall (possibly two of them if Jeffery keeps coming along).  The Bears will run the ball quite a bit with Mike Tice calling the plays which gives Matt Forte a chance for another outstanding season, the problem with Forte is Michael Bush will vulture goal line touches and touch downs, expect Forte to go mid first to mid second round in fantasy football drafts and Bush to be picked up in the middle rounds 7 – 9 (if you draft Forte and can get Bush in the 7th do it, the best possible handcuff for a player coming off an off-season holdout).  The Receivers strategy can be simply dubbed, “The Marshall Plan”, as in:

 “Jay, Whats the plan?” – said Coach Tice
 “Throw the ball to Marshall!” – Said Jay Cutler
 “sounds good” – agreed Coach Tice

I expect a huge season from Brandon Marshall, he is playing with a legitimate quarterback again, and this time both of them admit they have learned a lot since playing with each other last, and expect better performances than they had in Denver.  The Defense and Special Teams units look very good, knowing a healthy Brian Urlacher will be there for the start of the season would make them better, but even without the All-Pro Middle Linebacker the Bears have playmakers at all levels of the Defense.  The Special Teams unit looks excellent.  Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub has the blocking scheme in place and a stable of burners to return kicks.  Robbie Gould is a solid model of consistency from the Kicker spot, and has under-rated leg strength (hit 6 field goals over 50 yards in 6 attempts last year).

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