Camp preview: Chicago Bears

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by The Benjamin, Jul 17, 2014.

  1. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    • By Michael C. Wright | July 17, 2014 10:00:20 AM PDT


    NFL Nation's Michael C. Wright examines the three biggest issues facing the Chicago Bears heading into training camp.
    [​IMG]
    Cutler after the big-money contract: Lost in all the anticipation for the upcoming season seems to be an undercurrent of skepticism regarding whether quarterback Jay Cutler is worth -- or whether he’ll eventually prove he’s worth -- the seven-year deal signed in January worth $126.7 million. The verdict remains out, and even the team made sure to structure an escape hatch into the Cutler deal. Essentially, Cutler signed a three-year deal worth $54 million that contains rolling club options from now until 2016. If the Bears decide to release Cutler after the 2016 season, they can do so with no salary-cap repercussions because he didn’t receive a signing bonus, which means no proration.

    Cutler took a major step in his first season working with head coach Marc Trestman, quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. But will Cutler continue to trend in that direction?

    In four seasons with the Bears prior to 2013, Cutler had generated a passer rating of 81.9. But last year, the quarterback produced a career-high passer rating of 89.2, his best since his rookie season (2006). The coaching staff and front office believe they made a wise investment in Cutler. What’s more is the players in that locker room believe in Cutler, too.

    Safety play: Unrest at the safety positions seems synonymous with the Bears in recent years, and the team goes into camp with both spots up for grabs. The Bears drafted Brock Vereen, and signed M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray, Ryan Mundy and Adrian Wilson to battle it out for the top spots. Mundy has taken repetitions with the first group as have Vereen and Jennings, but the picture won’t start to clear up until the Bears play some preseason games.

    “The simple fact [that] we’ve rotated him in with the ones is a clear indication we think he can compete,” Trestman said of Vereen, a fourth-round pick. “We’re not going to anoint him yet. You’ve got to be very careful with young players. They get in shorts and they’re doing well, and then you put on the pads and you’ve got to see how they are in pads. There’s no reason to think he can’t put himself in position to compete for one of those jobs, but it’s way, way too early.”

    Chris Conte is the only returning starter at the safety position, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be fully healthy for the start of camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, which forced him to miss organized team activities and minicamp.

    Can Shea play LB? That’s been the question regarding former first-round pick Shea McClellin since the team announced it would be moving him to linebacker from defensive end. While McClellin certainly doesn’t appear to be out of place at his new position, we still haven’t seen him in live game situations. So it’s unclear whether the Bears will be able to salvage the first pick of Phil Emery’s tenure as general manager.

    “He’s going to be a typical 4-3 linebacker for us,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. “I see him as probably more of a blitzer than maybe a four-down rusher. But he will have some edge-rush opportunities.”

    McClellin is competing with Jon Bostic for the starting spot at Sam linebacker, and it’s likely Bostic will win the job. That could relegate McClellin to more of a role as a pass-rushing specialist. McClellin is also taking repetitions at middle linebacker, but he’s not likely to beat out incumbent D.J. Williams or Bostic.

    McClellin deserves credit for transforming his body during the offseason in preparation for the new role. Now he has to prove he’s capable of performing consistently in the new gig.
  2. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler SuperFan

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    In four seasons with the Bears prior to 2013, Cutler had three crappy OCs, three different crappy systems, the vaporous Hester Package, no real tight ends, mostly crummy receivers, a porous O-line, and J'Marcuss Webb. Frankly, I'm surprised he had a passer rating that high, let alone remaining relatively uninjured. And all the while, became the Bear's all-time best QB. I am not worried about Cutler or his contract.

    Safety play has me worried, as do the LBs. But we have enough depth that somebody SHOULD be able to step up. I agree with Mike on his comments here.
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  3. RochBear

    RochBear Rookie

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    Did Pete Rose saying something like baseball's a great sport, where else can you succeed one time in three and be a hero? Well, I think in sportswriting.

    Cutler is, I think, nearly the least of the Bear's worries. He is proven to be minimally okay and he is potentially great. The LBs do not need Shea. A good defense these days really only needs too good LBs, more are needed because of injuries but a SLB is not that important and if Shea, as the fourth (healthy) LB is not good it doesn't matter, the first two matter.

    For me, one the those three should have been RT. Mills played great for a fifth round rookie, but he looked like an inadequate starter to me. He might well improve but that has to be established. After the starters, Britton does not inspire faith as a swing tackle. I figure there is a reason he signed for the veteran minimum.
  4. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I agree with this. ALL of this.

    Cutler ups his QB rating by 10% starting just 11 games in his very first year in an offense built to take advantage of the skill sets of the players we have. Geez, what a novel concept after watching Martz and Tice try to whittle square pegs into round holes.

    For the first time in his Chicago career he has a coach he trusts and believes in, an OL he trusts, two WRs and a TE he trusts and maybe a third coming on strong, and a two time Pro Bowl RB to push his ground game along with. He also got his dream contract and with that a gentle shove forward to become the QB most knew he could be when the traded for him.

    What's not to like about this picture?

    Safety and LB positions will sort themselves out in camp and preseason. How could it possibly be any worse than last year? No there's really no need for nail biting. We have the talent and all they need to do is learn how to play better.

    Conte is gonna be playing for pride, to restore trust and to hopefully earn an extension and he'll have Vereen breathing down his neck looking for playing time all year long. I believe Mundy could be a "break out player" in this defense. He's played second banana most of his career so now he gets a shot at center stage. I think he'll make the most of it and with some luck he'll have Adrian Wilson to share some snaps with.

    It really doesn't matter much who starts at SLB. Both Bostic and McClellin are gonna see plenty of snaps. I'm not worried about either other than whatever growing pains they'll go through. They're both inexperienced at this level so the key thing is to see that they improve with each passing game. If they do that we're in good shape. Briggs and DWill can man the fort while they do it.

    The time for hand wringing if it happens at all will come after those first four games. If we can go 3-1 we're moving ahead with speed and if we go 1-3 then it's time to worry but not before.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2014
  5. DaTreeBears

    DaTreeBears Pro-Bowler

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    Very analytical assessment of the situation. If you listen to the media guys Cutler is suppose to swoop down pick everyone up and fly them to the promised land. So what you are saying in order to have success all the players and coaches must be in the right position to have a chance at real success. Showing Culter was performing even with all the half ass offense he was given still produced somewhat. Now with a real offense the success that was displayed last year wasn't just dumb frick'n luck. No.... the media has it right the QB should swoop down and save everyone if you can't you suck as QB like Dan Marino.
  6. jackiejokeman

    jackiejokeman Pro-Bowler

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    We where surprised last year with a #5 Offense and a #31 Defense.

    Thats not the way things are suppossed to work.

    Before that it was the opposite.

    Now if we can hang on to #5 Offense and improve Defense to at least midlevel,

    we are not going to any SuperBowl , but goddammit we are going to upset some people that think they are.

    Baby steps ... think playoffs and how far in the playoffs.
  7. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    :4 13 4[1]: One does not just claim HOF QBs suck my man! How dare you? :jawdrop:


    :rofl2:
  8. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    As long as we don't reverse this in 2014 we'll be fine and I don't think we need to worry. Trestman could scheme a better offense than #31 in a coma.
  9. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    The offense might take a step back, but the defense should take a step forward.
  10. jackiejokeman

    jackiejokeman Pro-Bowler

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    Nice neutral opinion.
  11. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    That's like the "Hokey Pokey" isn't it? :bouncesm:

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  12. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    Just saying... we know the defense will get better. Cant get much worse.

    And as good as the offense was, there isn't much growth to be had. Can it get better? Absolutely. With our weapons, they could easily reach the best offense in the League.

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