YOOOAdrian’s 2010 NFL Preview- Chicago Bears

The Bears brought in offensive guru, the orchestrator of the “Greatest Show on Turf” offense in St. Louis. Mike Martz to try to revitalize and revamp a struggling offense over recent seasons.  Chicago thought they had themselves a franchise quarterback for the 1st time in decades when they traded for Jay Cutler in last season’s off-season; he struggled.  Once again, the Bears made major splashes this past off-season spending a total of $121 million on Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna.

 Quarterbacks

Jay Cutler- 336/555  60.5%  3,666 yds  27 td  26 int  76.8 rat

Cutler, the man from Santa Claus, Indiana, did not provide the necessary gifts under the Christmas tree for Chicago Bears fans.  He led the NFL with 26 interceptions.  An interesting tidbit about Cutler;  He has yet to have a winning season as a starting quarterback in college or the NFL.  I find that baffling, especially with his gifted throwing abilities.

cutler_bears.jpg Jay Cutler image by lilmandavid

(Jay Cutler)

To give Cutler some due, he finished strong with an 8:1 touchdown/interception ratio in his final 2 games.  Cutler has a cannon and can make any type of throw.  That can be good and bad.  The good is he can fit a ball into tight spaces.  The bad, he makes bad decisions because he thinks he can make every throw. 

The essence of Mike Martz offense is timing.  To get back to the arm of Cutler, timing is not his forte.  He stares down his receivers and thinks he can get it to him even after the receiver gets out of his break.

Others- Caleb Hanie, Dan LeFevour

LeFevour is an intriguing 6th round pick.  He’s mobile, but he needs to improve on his accuracy.

GRADE- 7.25

 Running Backs

Matt Forte- 258 car  929 yds  3.6 avg  4 td  57 rec  471 yds 

2 years ago, Forte became the 1st rookie to amass over 1,000 yards rushing and catch 60 balls.  After showing such promise as a rookie, Forte was nothing but a disappointment last year.

(Matt Forte)

Forte is a versatile back who brings a lot to the table, but there’s no one trait that truly stands out.  Behind a poor offensive line, Forte often looked impatient.  He also needs to protect the football better.  He fumbled 6 times, losing 3 of them. 

Chester Taylor- 94 car  338 yds  3.6 avg  1 td  44 rec 389 yds  1 td

Taylor is a guy that has never really gotten his due.  He’s been a back-up for all of his career, but he could’ve easily started any of his years in the NFL.  He has solid inside and outside running skills to go along with being able to pick up short yardage 1st downs.

Taylor is 30, but since he’s been a  back-up so long, he still has fresh legs.

Others- Khalil Bell, Eddie Williams

Bell electrified Bear fans as he bolted on a 72-yard run on his 1st NFL carry.  This is a guy to keep an eye on. 

Williams takes over for the departed Jason McKie at fullback.

GRADE- 7.25

Receivers

Devin Hester- 57 rec  757 yds  13.3 avg  3 td

Hester filled the role as the number 1 wide receiver last season.  Mike Martz would like to see Hester line up in the slot, similar to what Az-Zahir Hakim used to do for St. Louis.  Hester has plenty of speed, but he’s still learning how to run routes.

Devin Aromashodu- 24 rec  298 yds  12.4 avg  4 td

Besides having the coolest last name in the NFL, (Yes, better than Houshmenzadeh) Aromashodu was one of the league’s more productive receivers the last month of the season.  He caught 22 passes for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns.

(Devin Aromashodu)

At 6’2, Devin has good size with big, strong hands.  Fantasy players, Aromashodu is the epitome of a late-round sleeper.

Johnny Knox- 45 rec  527 yds  11.7 avg  5 td

Knox is a threat everytime he touches the ball.  At the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine, Knox ran a 4.34 40 yard-dash.  Certainly not the slowest man in the NFL.

TE- Greg Olsen- 60 rec  612 yds  10.2 avg  8 td

Olsen creates mismatches with his ability to move for his size.

There is concern because Martz has never been a proponent of incorporating the tight end in the offense.  He likes using the tight end as an extra offensive linemen.

Others- Earl Bennett, Brandon Manumaleuna

Manumaleuna is strictly a blocking tight end who fits Martz’s offensive scheme.  It’ll be interesting to see how Olsen and he rotate.

Bennett is a possession receiver who played college ball with Cutler at Vanderbilt.

GRADE- 7

Offensive Line

LT- Chris Williams

Williams is a 2008 1st round pick who started 11 games at right tackle last year; he then started the final 5 games at left tackle once Orlando Pace was injured. 

Williams is athletic and is a better run blocker than pass protector.  He needs to be more consistent.  He led the team in penalties last season.

LG- Josh Beekman

Beekman is an undersized guard who started all 16 games at left guard a season ago.

C- Olin Kreutz

Kreutz is a technically sound player who’s made 118 consecutive starts at center.  He’s an emotional leader in the locker room.

(Olin Kreutz)

RG- Roberto Garza

This is the 5th consecutive year that Garza and Kreutz have played alongside one another.  They make a solid tandem.

RT- Frank Omiyale

Omiyale is long armed and tall.  He played left guard last year, but he is better equipped to play tackle.

GRADE- 7

Defensive Line

LDE- Mark Anderson- 28 tck  3.5 sck 

Anderson has yet to match his 12 sack total he had as a rookie in 2006.  He’ll share duties with Israel Idonije.  Anderson will serve as the pass rusher on the left side.

LDT- Tommie Harris- 24 tck  2.5 sck  1 int  1 p def

At his ultimate potential, Harris is one of the best and most disruptive 3 technique tackles in the NFL.  He’s an effective interior pass rusher who gets off the ball quickly.  The acquisition of Julius Peppers should free up some space for Harris to operate.

RDT- Anthony Adams- 44 tck  2 sck  1 p def

The Bears keep trying to upgrade the right defensive tackle position, but Adams keeps fending off his competitors.  The disappointing Marcus Harrison will be Adam’s main challenge in preseason.

RDE- Julius Peppers- 42 tck  10.5 sck  2 int  5 p def  5 ff

Peppers is an athletic freak who has compiled double-digit sacks in 6 of his 8 seasons.  He has an unlimited amount of pass rushing moves in his repertoire.

(Julius Peppers)

Others- Israel Idonije, Marcus Harrison, Corey Wooton.

Idonije will share time with Anderson at left defensive end.  He is the better run stuffer of the 2.

Wooton was a promising player before tearing up his knee in the 2008 Alamo Bowl.

GRADE- 8.25

Linebackers

LOLB- Pisa Tinoisamoa- 4 tck  1 ff

Pisa is a good fit in Chicago’s defensive strategy, but he’s coming off 2 injuries from last season.

MLB- Brian Urlacher- 3 tck

Urlacher was lost for the season in week 1 when he suffered a broken wrist.  Chicago really missed his leadership defensively.

(Brian Urlacher)

At 32, he’s not the same athlete he once was in his prime, but he can still make plays.  He can still cover the deep middle and make tackles from sideline to sideline.

ROLB- Lance Briggs- 118 tck  2.5 sck  1 int  5 p def

Briggs has made the Pro-Bowl for 4 consecutive years.  He has great range against the run, can rush the passer and drop into coverage.  He’s instinctive and laterally quick.

Others- Hunter Hillenmeyer, Nick Roach

Hillenmeyer and Roach filled in nicely for the injured Urlacher and Tinoisamoa.  Hillenmeyer is smart and versatile while Roach is fast and good in space.

GRADE- 8

Secondary

LCB- Charles Tillman- 77 tck  2 int  7 p def  6 ff

Tillman is a hard working physical corner who excels in run support and matches up well against bigger and taller receivers.  He has long arms in which he utilizes to cause fumbles.  He forced a career-high 6 fumbles last season.

Charles Tillman Charles Tillman #33 of the Chicago Bears intercepts a pass intended for Donnie Avery #17 of the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on November 23, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Bears beat the Rams 27-3.

(Charles Tillman)

RCB- Zack Bowman- 66 tck  6 int  10 p def  1 ff

Bowman steadily improved as the season went along as he got absolutely burned by Calvin Johnson in week 1.  Like Tillman, Bowman is physical an good in run support.

CB- Tim Jennings- 57 tck  2 int  10 p def 

Jennings was acquired from the Colts,  At 5’8, he’s undersized, but has o.k. cover skills.

FS- Danieal Manning- 92 tck  1 int  2 p def  1 sck  2 ff

Manning has all the physical tools, but has never really put it together thus far.

SS- Chris Harris-  60 tck  3 int  6 p def  2 ff

The Bears acquired Harris from Carolina after Harris was originally drafted by Chicago in 2005.  Like most of the secondary, Harris is physical.

Others- Major Wright, Craig Steltz, Josh Bullocks

Both starting safety spots are up for grabs.  Major Wright is a guy I love.  The 3rd round rookie from Florida is a playmaker with good range and can hit.  I think he’ll start by season’s end.

GRADE- 7

Special Teams

PK- Robbie Gould- 24/28 52 lg

Gould has a team record of 4 consecutive 100+ point seasons.

P- Brad Maynard- 77 punts  41.4 avg  26 ins 20

Maynard had just 2 touchbacks last year.

KR- Johnny Knox- 32 ret  29.0 avg  102 lg  1 td

Speed, speed, speed!

PR- Devin Hester-  24 ret  7.8 abg  33 lg  0 td

If he plays the slot, he’ll return punts more often.

GRADE- 7.25

Prediction- 7-9

Defensively, the Bears are stout.  Urlacher is back, and the Bears signed the prize of the offseason in Peppers.  I still have questions about the offense.  How will Mike Martz and Jay Cutler mesh?  Who will emerge as viable receiving option?

Offensive MVP- Jay Cutler

Defensive MVP- Julius Peppers

Breakthrough- Devin Aromashodu

Overrated- Jay Cutler

Underrated- Chester Taylor

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