by Greg Talcott
The best thing to happen to the Bears since the start of OTA’s would be the cutting of Ray McDonald; a sack of turds* which should not have been signed in the first place. Kyle Long put it best when he tweeted; “Good riddance”. The last thing the Bears need going into this season is the circus that goes along with classless wife-beaters like McDonald. Now perhaps the focus could shift to something more positive like Jay Cutler learning a new offense under the highly touted OC Adam Gase, who himself was initially in the running for the head coaching job in Denver prior to the hiring of Gary Kubiak. Some early news out of Bears camp is the offense has “Martz-like” elements to it… let’s reserve judgement for now, but safe to say the name Mike Martz is not one that conjures positive feelings in the Windy City. At the end of the day, Jay Cutler can read any playbook he wants; he needs to learn how to read a defense this offseason.
There is at least one ongoing distraction that fantasy owners should be aware of and that is the absence of Martellus Bennett; the ultra-talented tight end with the ego to match. With a new offense to learn and a quarterback who can’t find rhythm at a Kool and The Gang concert, Bennett’s shenanigans are extremely counter-productive. With a career year in his back pocket, Bennett is hoping to get himself a new deal this offseason. If Bennett were to actually hold out (which would cost him money vs OTA’s which are voluntary), his fantasy output could be impacted. Jay Cutler has more than enough high quality options with Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Marquess “Remember Me” Wilson, and ultimate safety valve Matt Forte. If Cutler is confident in the offense without Bennett, his numbers will likely suffer once he does return to the team, relative to last year’s breakout performance. Unfortunately, the Bears do not have another obvious TE1 waiting in the wings for owners to pounce on should Bennett continue to hold out or be traded.
At this point, the realistic expectation is the Bears will be better on both sides of the ball this year simply because they can’t be worse than they were last year. John Fox is not married to Jay Cutler, and this is definitely the last coaching staff of Cutler’s tenure with the Bears so there is a sense of “win now”. Are the Bears a playoff team? Barring injury, the Bears could surprise people with as many as 11 wins. The over under on the Bears this season is 7 so I would take the over with the expectation of 8-9 wins minimum; with fewer than 7 wins being judged as a disaster and Jay Cutler needing to be escorted by The Avengers safely out of town.
*Note: I recognize there are some big differences between Ray McDonald and a sack of turds, such as a sack of turds never hurt anyone and a sack of turds has never been arrested multiple times for anything, let alone domestic violence. I would like to apologize to any sack of turds who may have been offended by the comparison.