by Greg Talcott
I can’t think of many sports where the early offseason for any team is full of pessimism and doubt. Think about the Chicago Cubs and their tradition of being the worst team in professional sports; the fans are always excited for next season even if they haven’t won in over 100 years (not happening this year either guys). The Chicago Bears are no different this offseason despite consecutive years of “it worked in Canada” football with Marc Trestman. Much of this optimism is rooted in a new front office and coaching staff that have been busy retooling the worst defense anyone has seen since France in World War II. When combined with the drafting of potential superstar WR Kevin White in the first round, an improved offensive line, and the everlasting hope that Jay Cutler is finally going to “get it”, there is reason for optimism.
The Bears most disappointing seasons tend to follow a preseason where hype is off the charts (see: last year). Conversely, they tend to surprise when you think, “can these guys be any worse”? Preseason hype may climb, but it is a long way from predicting division titles and Super Bowl fantasies, and that is a good thing. The Green Bay Packers remain the kings of the division and a perennial contender for the crown; but a wild card may well be in store for Bears fans this winter.
Crap That Matters
- Martellus Bennett used basic math to deduce that he was best served reporting to camp vs holding out or demanding a trade. The good news is Bennett sounds very comfortable with the new offense being put in by Adam Gase. Bennett could be in for another solid year as an every week TE1 for fantasy owners.
- The Bears’ offensive line is getting a new look with Kyle Long getting time at right and left tackle in the absence of Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills. It’s no secret Long is the Bears best offensive lineman, and it is also no secret Jermon Bushrod has underperformed expectations. John Fox is going to have a top notch running game in Chicago and will make sure Cutler is protected. This is a story to follow through the preseason; Long moving to left tackle would be a potential big win for the Bears offensive production this year.
- Speaking of running games, fantasy owners need to prepare for the “Fox Factor” on Matt Forte’s traditionally reliable numbers. Forte is one of the most consistent and durable backs in football, but the Bears drafted Jeremy Langford to produce now and that means fewer touches for Forte. It is way to early to look for a handcuff between Forte and Langford or any other back; but drafting Matt Forte this year with expectations of his production continuing at the same level would be a mistake. I am not saying he isn’t still an RB1 to start the season, but where he finishes the season may be a different story.
- Jay Cutler has expressed confidence that Alshon Jeffery is up to the challenge of moving to the Bears WR1 following the trade of Brandon Marshall. If he isn’t, you can bet Kevin White won’t mind giving it a shot over the next couple of years; fantasy owners can’t go wrong with either one. There will be big games in the mix for Eddie Royal if history is any indication of his chemistry with Cutler, but production will likely keep him at a WR4 in deeper leagues or emergency WR3 for fantasy purposes. Marquess Wilson will press Royal for the WR3 spot on the Bears’ roster and may well beat him out for the job. Bottom line: there are not enough balls to go around and Jay Cutler still touches it the most. Stick to Jeffery, Forte, White, and Bennett, in that order, when ranking Bears players in your “War Room”.