Team Profiles- Chicago Bears by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
Mark Trestman is out, John Fox is in, as head coach of the Chicago Bears. This is like going from Ryan Mallet to Tom Brady. Trestman has been a very good QB coach over the years, mentoring young players such as Scott Mitchell, Jake Plummer, and Rich Gannon. He also had success coaching in the CFL, but his 2 years in Chicago were disaster, and he’s better suited in the NFL as an assistant coach. John Fox on the other hand, is a head coach that was a score for the city of Chicago to land. In 13 years as an NFL head coach, Fox only has 4 losing seasons, and while in Denver, he had 4 straight winning seasons, leaving with a 46-18 record. Apparently let go in Denver for not winning the Superbowl in 2013 or 2014, there are teams in the NFL that would just be happy to ever go to the playoffs. Understandable that QB Peyton Manning’s window for getting that 2nd ring is closing, but hardly think firing Fox was the solution for 2015 season. Regardless, Denver’s loss is Chicago’s gain, and maybe a head coach is now in place that will get the most possible out the incredible talent that the Bear’s roster is loaded with.
2015 Team Outlook– The NFC North is one of the strongest divisions in the NFL. (Being from the northeast, I wasn’t always able to write that.) In 2008, only 7 years ago, the NFC North division teams were very weak and had a combined 25 wins. That was the year the Lions went 0-16. In 2015, all the teams will be formidable, with perhaps Minnesota being the weakest of the 4 teams, due to the Viking’s young QB Bridgewater, who is still learning, but a good QB to build around. QB Jay Cutler is the wild card for HC Fox.
2015 Fantasy Outlook–
QB– The “enigma” known as Jay Cutler. The QB with a cannon for an arm, a very good athlete, and prone to make a ton of mistakes. His NFL career totals have his TDs at 186, and his INTs at 130. That’s a 7:5 ration. For perspective, QB Tom Brady has a career 14:5 ratio, which is twice as many TDs thrown than Cutler, vs each INT. Right now, it is impossible to say whether Cutler will even be a Bear in 2015. Cutler’s $15.5M guaranteed salary makes him both difficult to cut and difficult to trade. One thing is for certain however, this is a very weak QB class in coming up in the 2015 NFL draft, and QB Mark Sanchez is perhaps the prize QB of all the free agents, so Cutler will not be without a starting job. If Cutler stays in Chicago, with HC Fox, his fantasy stock will rise. If he is released and signed by another ten, his fantasy stock will plummet, but either way, I want him on my fantasy team, and usually get him.
RBs– In 2008, RB Matt Forte wasn’t selected until the 2nd round by the Bears. In that draft, here are the running backs that went before RB Forte, all in the first round…OAK- Darren McFadden-4th overall…CAR- Jonathon Stewart-13th overall…DAL- Felix Jones-22nd overall…PITT- Rashard Mendenhall-23rd overall…TENN- Chris Johnson-24th overall. Forte ended the 2014 NFL season with 1846 total yards from scrimmage and 10 TDs (6 rushing-4 receiving) Forte is one of the best RBs in the NFL and perhaps the best receiving RB in the NFL. UPDATED Bears sign former Falcon RB Jacquizz Rodgers.
WRs– My previous article spotlighted the Carolina Panthers, who have one of the weakest receiving corps in the NFL. We are on the other end of the spectrum with the Chicago receiving corps, who have one of the NFL’s best. Chicago has big, talented wide receivers. WR Brandon Marshall is 6’4″, 230 pounds and has been with the Bears since 2012. WR Alshon Jeffery is 6’3″, 213 pounds and has been with the Bears since 2012. A wide receiver who came on in the later part of the season for the Bears was WR Marquess Wilson, another big, talented wide receiver at 6’4″ and 184 pounds. (Wilson is a sleeper candidate for the 2015 season.) The Bears can clear $3.95 million in cap room if they release WR Brandon Marshall before March 12th, and $7.7 million if they designate him a post-June 1 cut. UPDATE: WR Brandon Marshall is traded to the NY Jets for a 2015 5th round pick. Bears sign former Charger WR Eddie Royal. The Bears drafted 6’3″ WR Kevin White who will immediately make an impact for the Bears opposite Wr Alson Jeffery. WR Marquess Wilson’s fantasy stock takes a huge hit with White on the team, and the addition of WR Eddie Royal.
TEs– After the Chicago Bears earned an ESPY “Bone-head” award in 2012 when they traded TE Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers for a 2012 third round draft pick, they manage to sign TE Martellius Bennett 2 years later. (The Dallas Cowboys selected Bennett in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, and he would play for the NY Giants in 2012.) TE Bennett has become one of the best tight ends in the NFL today, and ranked #6 in 2015 with 916 yards and 6 TDs.
K– Robbie Gould has been Chicago’s place kicker since 2005. Originally signed by the Patriots as a free agent, Gould is currently the third most accurate kicker in NFL history. Gould’s seven seasons with at least 100 points is a Bears record.
DEF– When you think of a Chicago Bears defense, you think of Ditka, Butkus, Singletary, and Urlacher. Under HC Mark Trestman, the Bear’s defense was 8th in 2013, and dropped all the way down to #24 in 2014. Chicago tried to put a Bandaid on their pass rush by bringing broken-down Jared Allen, who barely played 10 games. The Bears’ defensive front seven badly needs overhauling. Do not expect a big turnaround by the Chicago defense in 2015, as they have too much re-building to do first. UPDATE: Bears sign DE/OLB Pernell McPhee to a 5 year deal. Bears sign FS Antrel Rolle, LS Thomas Gafford, OLB Sam Ocho, ILB Mason Fowler, DE Ray McDonald, CB Alan Ball, CB Sherrick McManis, and DE Jarvis Jenkins.
2014 Chicago Fantasy Surprises– One never expects any Chicago defense to fall out of the top 10, let alone drop down to #24. Chicago is one of those teams that regardless how they do in the NFL, in fantasy football…they have fantasy players every fantasy team wants to have on their roster. Under HC Fox, this won’t change.
2015 Free Agents that Chicago Needs to Address- QB Jimmy Clausen (re-signed)- WR Josh Morgan- TE Zach Miller (re-signed)- TE Dante Rosario (re-signed)- OT Eben Britton- C Brian De La Puente- DT Stephen Paea (signed w/ Washington)- CB Al Louis-Jean (re-signed)– CB Demontre Hurst (re-signed)
2015 NFL Draft– The early needs of Chicago are help at three defensive line positions and strength on the O-line. The Bears need new blood for the defensive front seven (LB) and they gave up too many big plays (S) in 2014. Chicago also needs to start thinking about the future, even if Cutler is signed for the 2015 season (QB)
Did You Know– that since 1982, the Bears have only drafted 8 quarterbacks…total? (Cleveland has drafted that many since the year 2000.) It’s been 12 YEARS since the Chicago Bears have selected a quarterback in the 1st round of any NFL Draft. (In 2003- QB Rex Grossman with their 22nd overall…and before that, 1999 Cade McNown.)
Team home page: www.chicagobears.com