There are still so many factors unknown for the Chicago Bears heading into the 2014 NFL season. So here are some bold predictions.
Jordan Lynch makes the final roster as a running back
Without a doubt the most advertised undrafted free agent the Bears added was NIU quarterback and Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch. He was told in all honesty his best shot to make their roster was as a running back though, something head coach Marc Trestman believes he can do. Not only did Lynch embrace the switch, but he will prove his value to the team and make the final roster as the third running back.
Jay Cutler tops 4,000 yards passing and 30 touchdowns
For all the talk about his cannon arm and gunslinger mentality, Jay Cutler has not produced numbers befitting such a type of player. He has never thrown more than 30 touchdowns in a season and topped 4,000 yards passing only once. It’s a rather dubious statistic given the era of passing football. However, with improved protection, another year in the same offense and a bevy of weapons at his disposal, expect Cutler to breach both ceilings this 2014 NFL season.
Mel Tucker gets defense into top 15 in sacks and run stoppage
Injuries did their damage last season to the once proud Chicago Bears defense but so did age. The team finished last in run defense and quarterback sacks, arguably the two most important stats to dictate defensive success. Despite it all coordinator Mel Tucker kept his job, retooled his coaching staff and with help from GM Phil Emery got a number of quality additions to his unit including Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Kyle Fuller. With the talent and depth improved, the defense will not only be better than last season but Tucker will get them back to respectability in the top 15.
Fendi Onobun catches his first regular season touchdown
One position the Bears were curiously quiet at during the off-season was tight end. While they have a proven starter in Martellus Bennett, the depth behind him is a little light. Either the coaches and front office disagree or they feel they have more on hand than some think. A perfect example is Fendi Onobun. The former basketball standout impressed coaches last year with his amazing size-speed ratio. It was felt a year on the practice squad would allow him to better learn the game of football, something other teams didn’t grant him. If the light does turn on for him, the talent should take care of the rest. Based on projection, not only will Onobun make the final roster, he will catch his first ever career touchdown pass sometime in the regular season.
Ka’Deem Carey starts at least three games
Considered by many to be a steal in the NFL draft, expectations are high for 4th round running back Ka’Deem Carey. He was highly effective at Arizona and fits the Bears offensive system well. Most see him as an understudy for Pro Bowler Matt Forte, but it could go beyond that this season. Forte is coming off a year in which he had over 360 touches. That is a lot of wear and tear on a body, even one as tough as Forte’s who has missed just five games in six years. Unfortunately that work load may catch up to him this season, and it will fall to Carey to step up in his place for time. Perhaps as many as three starts aren’t out of the question.
Shea McClellin leads the team in tackles
Expectations for 2012 first round pick Shea McClellin have hit rock bottom. After two years of struggling at defensive end the Chicago Bears have made the decision to move him to linebacker where they hope he is a better fit as an athlete. It’s a move he quietly hoped for and now has a chance to show what he can really do. Not only will he win a starting job, but he will exceed expectations by ending the season as the leading tackler courtesy of the speed and athleticism that got him drafted in the first place.