CHICAGO BEARS PREVIEW
July 22, 2012Tri-Eastern Conference
Chicago Bears Preview by Kelci Baker EIHSS Sports
Last year: 8-8, 3rd in NFC North, missed playoffs
With five consecutive wins under their belt, the Bears ended the season 7-3 and were seemingly close to a second consecutive trip to the postseason. The final few seconds was their downfall after quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a broken thumb against the San Diego Chargers and didn't play the rest of the season. A mere two weeks later, running back Matt Forte sprained his knee and his season came to an end. He was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage at the time. The momentum lost, the Bears lost five games in a row, their playoff hopes coming to a close. With the losses came the underscoring of Cutler, his importance to the team and how unprepared the team was when he left. The Bears had no true backup quarterback, having to rely on Caleb Heine who went 0-4 as the fill-in starter with a 41.8 passer rating. The door closed at last when Jerry Angelo left after 11 years as GM and was later replaced by former Bears scout Phil Emery. With Cutler and Forte, the offense averaged 26.8 points a game but still struggled in pass protection yielding 49 sacks and a year later giving up 56. With a close on eye the aging defensive line made up of Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman, all on the plus side of 30, each of them still made it to the Pro Bowl giving some hope for the Bears.
Unlike Mike Martz, offensive coordinator Mike Tice will not over stress his lineman with as many as five- and seven-step drops with his vertical power style offense. He plans on providing more tight-end help when he wants slow-developing plays. With new wide receivers Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffrey as weapons, the next key for is to keep Cutler on his feet if they have any hopes of getting to playoff-caliber. The line is blurred when they try to decide if the offense will truly pick up this coming season. Gabe Carimi, the 2011 first-round pick at right tackle, only played two games before suffering a season-ending dislocated knee cap. If he can come back, he'll still be considered their best lineman. The team is lacking guards. Veteran Chilo Rachal was added to free agency. Their first order of business, upgrade at left tackle, where J'Marcus Webb struggled in pass protection.
Defense, although old, showed no signs of slowing down, of deteriorating play, or missing a start in 2011. Rod Marinelli's 4-3 and Cover 2 defense is keeping them at a high level of play. But optimum health can't last forever. The old stars are looking for young help to contribute to the Bears defense. What's unsure is who will provide the pass-rush alongside Peppers. There was hope with Henry Melton but he was gone for too many stretches to be solid in that position. With only five sacks( an unacceptable total) left end Israel Idonije. Shea McClellin, a first-round pick from Boise State, might work assuming that he can get after the quarterback.
Dave Toub has done right by the Bears special teams, making them one of NFL's best groups and because Lovie Smith values them. Devin Hester is an all-time great kick returner. They've also managed to pick up Devin Thomas and Eric Weems, both standout returners in free agency. They've also drafted cornerback Greg McCoy who averaged 30.6 yards per kickoff return at TCU. Punter Adam Podlesh set the franchise record for net punting average at 40.4 while kicker Robbie Gould is the fifth-most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history.
Replacing Tice as line coach is Martz who never really believed in the run-first philosophy of Smith's. By throwing less, the Bears might throw more effectively each turn. Even though the Bears have only been in the playoffs once in the last five years, Smith's job was spared. It might take a playoff win for Smith to cling on to this last year of his contract.
2012 Draft Recap
With only six picks coming out of the draft, the best pick for the Chicago Bears is WR Alshon Jeffrey from South Carolina. Everyone was saying that the big pass catcher couldn't run but the Bears clocked him in the 40-yard dash at 4.47 scones at pro day. They believe he has every other trait need to become an impact player.
DE Shea McClellin. Boise State
First round. 19th pick overall.
He'll be thrown right into the lineup, hoping to upgrade the pass rush that was ranked 29th last season. After playing defensive end and linebacker for the past two seasons, he totaled 16.5 sacks because of his speed, hard-work ethic, ability to find the football as well as being technically sound
WR Alshon Jeffrey. South Carolina
Second round. 45th pick overall.
S Brandon Hardin. Oregon State
Third round. 79th pick overall.
He's a strong safety who played cornerback for the Beavers. He has the toughness, size, and tackling ability to thrive on this team
TE Evan Rodriguez. Temple
Fourth round. 111th pick overall.
His legal record is longer than his on-field record. With an arrest in 2007 for assault charges and in 2009 on charges of disorderly conduct he'll have a close eye on him but he does boast great speed at 4.56 in the 40 and natural pass catching ability.
CB Isaiah Frey. Nevada
Sixth round. 184th pick overall.
He had five interceptions as well as 21 pass breakups, a nation-leading score, as a senior but he doesn't play physical game and has unrefined footwork
CG Greg McCoy. TCU
7th round. 220th pick overall.
With a 30.6-yard kickoff-return average in 2011, he led the Mountain West Conference and was sixth in the nation.