Chicago Bears Poised For Disaster In 2014? Jun 20 2014 02:05 AM | Views: 230 | Jeff Schlegel in Chicago Bears There is quite a bit of optimism about the Chicago Bears heading into 2014. Let me tell you why that optimism might be misguided and how the team could be headed towards a bad season. The Bears finally had a legit NFL offense in 2013 as they finished 2nd in points scored, 5th in passing yards and 8th in total yards. Unfortunately the Bears defense didn't play like a legit NFL unit. They were last in the league against the run, 30th in total yards allowed, tied for last in sacks and tied for 30th in points allowed. This was the primary contributing factor to the team finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs again last season. Not surprisingly the Bears spent the off-season going to work on the defensive side of the ball. Big money was spent in free agency on defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young and the team devoted the vast majority of the 2014 NFL Draft to addressing that side of the ball. With all of these moves to address the defense and the offense from last year basically intact again in 2014, it's easy to see why the sports media and many Bears fans believe this will be a much better season for the team. However, I'm not all that optimistic about the Chicago Bears heading into 2014. Now granted that could be in part due to my cynicism after watching so many years of bad football from this team. It could also be that I don't want to get too excited out of the fear that my hopes will be dashed and will I end up more hurt and disappointed then I want to be. What I can say though is there are some very troubling signs that for me indicate that 2014 could be a very long season for my beloved Chicago Bears. I am going to share my reasons for concern with you. Some of the reasons are based on the team themselves and some are based on other factors. JAY CUTLER AND HIS INJURY HISTORY Teams that make the playoffs traditionally need consistency and dependability out of their starting quarterback as much as anything else. Well based off his history Cutler has proven that he definitely can't be counted on for that. Only once in 5 seasons in Chicago has Jay played all 16 games and that was back in 2009. For all of the talk about the great Bears offense in 2013, many seem to forget that Josh McCown started several games and frankly outplayed Cutler statistically which contributed to the team's offensive prowess. Only 2 teams, Green Bay and Philadelphia, made the playoffs last season with a QB missing time due to injuries. A team must have stability at the quarterback position that largely comes from the starter staying healthy. The history is there to clearly indicate that Cutler can't do this until proven otherwise. Even more concerning is that McCown is gone so if and probably when Cutler gets hurt, the Bears lack a proven back-up who can come in and win games. THE BEARS JUST CAN'T BEAT GREEN BAY Since 2009, the Chicago Bears have a record of 2-9 against the Green Bay Packers. Even both of those wins have big caveats as the victory in 2010 was a game handed to the Bears by the refs and the victory last season came after Aaron Rodgers had been knocked out of the game. Over recent years you can pretty much pencil in the Bears for 2 losses against the Packers. It is very hard to make the playoffs if you can't first succeed in your own division. It is even harder to do well in your division when you lose twice every year to the same team. If they can't beat Green Bay, how can they expect to do big things in 2014? History indicates the Bears won't do well against them this season. THE CHICAGO BEARS ARE AN OLD TEAM The Bears have a total of 10 potential starters that will be 30 or older at some point during the 2014 seasons. The players and their ages are below. Jay Cutler 31 Brandon Marshall 30 Jermon Bushrod 30 Roberto Garza 35 Jared Allen 32 Jeremiah Ratliff 33 Lance Briggs 34 D.J. Williams 32 Charles Tillman 33 Tim Jennings 31 The age of 30 is usually considered a cliff for players in today's NFL where once they reach that age they fall off of the other side and start to decline as players. It is very concerning to see almost half of the Bears starting line-up, including most of their best players, being at least 30 years old. If just a couple of these ten players shows decline in their skills in 2014 it could spell disaster for the team. THE BEARS LACK DEPTH IN SEVERAL AREAS What makes the age of this team in particular and the age of most of the key players especially so concerning to me is that this team really lacks quality depth on both sides of the ball. Older teams tend to be more injury prone and assuming this is the case in 2014 the Bears could struggle mightily to overcome this as was the case in 2013. Just about every area of the Bears roster has significant questions pertaining to the depth behind the starters. Tell me seriously where you can find one area other than perhaps defensive end on this entire 2014 Bears roster that you feel confident in the depth and talent at that position. A lot of the reserves are unproven and/or young players. There is the potential that some of these guys could step up in the case of injury. There is also the chance these young players aren't starters for a reason and stink up the joint when they get their chance like several players did on the Bears defense last year. Injuries are a part of life in the NFL. Some teams are lucky in that they seem to stay relatively healthy throughout the season. Sometimes frankly it's better to be lucky than good. However for most teams how you handle adversity and overcome injuries will usually dictate your success or failure in a season. The Bears couldn't overcome their injuries last year and failed and I frankly don't see where they are all that much better equipped to deal with them if the problem arises again in 2014. THE BEARS OVER RELIANCE ON FREE AGENTS The easiest and most effective way to build and maintain a championship caliber team in today's NFL is via the NFL draft. The talent comes cheaper, tends to be around longer and tends to be more inexpensive to have around as opposed to spending big money in free agency to often times over pay for players based off past production. Of course the Bears have screwed the pooch over the recent years in the NFL Draft and as a result have had to compensate for these organizational failures by hitting free agency very hard. It paid off to a certain degree last season after the team brought in several free agents on the offensive side of the ball who played well. General Manager Phil Emery has taken a similar approach to the defensive side this year and is surely hoping along with Bears fans all over that it produces similar results. The problem is that having to build your team primarily through free agency means you are getting older as a team and drastically narrows any window of opportunity to win big. Furthermore, we have seen many times before where teams who tried to go the free agent route to build a team have ended up regretting the decision and setting their organization back long term.Instead of drafting players to fit into and grow into your system, you are try to plug older players into a potentially new way of doing things and expecting them to produce big immediately. There are many reasons that the best and most consistent teams in today's NFL are the teams that draft the best, not signing the biggest and most expensive free agents. The Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl 48 with 15 of their 22 starters coming from the draft. The Chicago Bears in 2014 will have at the very most 10 starters drafted by the team. Not a sign that the Bears are heading in the right direction. Believe me when I say I would love nothing more than for the Chicago Bears to prove me dead wrong in 2014 and make a deep run in the playoffs. I just see lots of areas of concern that lead me to believe this team is much more likely to disappoint in the season to come. The Bears appear to me more likely headed towards a top 10 pick in next year's draft than they are a playoff appearance.