Projected Lineups: Chicago Bears
Head coach Marc Trestman’s first season was a one-sided affair as the offense performed admirably but the defense had holes at every level. The Bears got strong quarterback play from both Jay Cutler and Josh McCown, running back Matt Forte was an every down threat, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had a breakout second season.
Unfortunately, the other side of the ball was nothing short of a disaster as their veterans showed their age while their young players showed little development. When you add it all up, Chicago’s 8-8 record was a fitting finish for their 2013 season that such contrasting play on both sides of the ball.
– Player markers are colored per class on a six-step ‘Poor’ to ‘High Quality’ scale based on their overall performance and the league’s elite are marked separately in blue.
– Colored outlines suggest a potential change in class.
– Underlined players will be 30+ years old for the 2014 season.
– Red player names suggest injury risks.
– Click on the image to enlarge.
– The Bears are strong at the skill positions with wide receiver Brandon Marshall coming in at elite status and Jeffery knocking on the doorstep. Martellus Bennett was a fine addition at tight end, while Matt Forte is among the best running backs in the league. As for Cutler, we’ve been hearing about his plus tools since he was drafted in 2006, but he’s reached “is what he is” status at this point in his career, a solid starter around which the Bears can build their offense.
– The offensive line got a lot of credit for lowering their sack totals from 2012, but there was still plenty of pressure seeping through. Matt Slauson was the best of the bunch while Kyle Long showed quite a bit of promise in his rookie season. The biggest concerns will be at right tackle where Jordan Mills struggled throughout his rookie season and center where Roberto Garza hits free agency with Taylor Boggs is next in line despite never playing an NFL snap.
– The defensive side of the ball is a sea of red and unknowns. Shea McClellin has never lived up to his first round status while Chris Conte paired with free agent Major Wright to form one of the league’s worst safety duos. Defensive tackle is a huge position of need with Henry Melton and Landon Cohen hitting free agency leaving an adequate Stephen Paea and Tracy Robertson’s one snap of NFL experience.
– Chicago will lean heavily on linebackers Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene who both struggled during their rookie campaigns. Like most of their defensive teammates, both players struggled mightily in the running game.
2014 Cap Situation
While the Bears’ cap situation is not ideal, they’re a couple of free agent releases away from clearing up some room. They currently have a little over $5 million of cap space according to overthecap.com, putting them near the bottom of the league in available resources.
Some serious decisions have to be made on good veteran players, starting with DE Julius Peppers. The Bears would save almost $11 million by cutting Peppers who is coming off a -4.4 season and is heading into his 13th year in the league. Another option could be Lance Briggs who would provide nearly $6 million of relief, but cutting one of the only reliable players on defense is certainly a risk. Also keep an eye on the Bears moving on from RB Michael Bush and WR Earl Bennett who would offer even more cap flexibility while allowing for the youth movement to continue ton offense.
Opportunities from the Roster
WR Marquess Wilson could make a run at that No. 3 wide receiver spot after some rookie year flashes. He was an intriguing prospect coming out of Washington State. There weren’t many positives on the defensive side of the ball, but DE Zach Minter had a nice preseason that just didn’t translate into his 27 regular season snaps. Fellow defensive end Cornelius Washington only saw the field for 10 snaps after being drafted in the sixth round, but he’ll be expected to make a serious push for more playing time in 2014.
Projected lineups by team:
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