Training camp and the preseason await for the Chicago Bears. So what are some things to take away from their 2014 NFL off-season?
Jay Cutler has a deeper offense around him than a year ago
Expectations are high for the Bears offense in 2014. Why shouldn’t they be? A unit that ranked 8th overall and 2nd in scoring a year ago returns every key starter including quarterback Jay Cutler. For the first time since 2011 he will have a chance to play in the same offensive system under the guidance of head coach Marc Trestman. That alone is reason for optimism. Another is the fact that on paper Cutler will have not only a talented but a deep offensive roster around him. The usual suspects will be there including Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. However there are some promising talent filling out the depth chart including rookie 4th round NFL draft pick Ka’Deem Carey, second-year receiver Marquess Wilson and productive veterans Josh Morgan and Domenik Hixon. The flexibility of the offense is growing and should serve the team well this season.
Lamarr Houston headlines a size upgrade for defensive line
It’s always difficult to sum up a result about any specific unit following the off-season. In the case of the Chicago Bears defensive line it was actually quite simple: size. A year ago the average weight of the front was 283 lbs. Thanks to additions like Lamarr Houston, Jeremiah Ratliff and rookie Ego Ferguson that number has spiked to 290. That might not seem like a significant jump but rest assured it is. The Bears are going to be considerably heavier up front in 2014, which will make it very tough for teams to run on them. That is sweet music for fans who had to watch the horrible run defense from last season.
Kyle Fuller and Ka’Deem Carey first signs of long-term plan
The past couple NFL seasons have seemed like desperate win-now scenarios for the Chicago Bears. For the first time now GM Phil Emery has provided a sense of security beyond the present. From the very moment he took over the job he claimed to have a plan and it seems that plan is coming into being. Not only do the Bears have proven stars to lean on but for the first time in years they seem to be assembling a talented cast of young on the back end of the depth chart. Two of the prime example are 1st round pick Kyle Fuller and 4th round pick Ka’Deem Carey. Fuller is expected to compete for the slot corner position in training camp but every expert believes he will eventually replace Pro Bowl veteran Charles Tillman. Carey meanwhile was brought in for the purposes of keeping star running back Matt Forte fresher during the season. At the same time the Arizona product showed he has the chops to become a feature running back himself. He could be the heir apparent to Forte down the road. Emery has begun to collect future starters, which with a little luck and good coaching should lead to future success.