Aug 29, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jordan Palmer (2) drops back to pass against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears: Probable Truths for 2014 Season

Answers aren’t yet available for the biggest questions surrounding the Chicago Bears.  So what are the most probable answers heading into 2014?

Chris Conte retains the starting free safety job

Nearly every Bears fan across the globe would love nothing better than to see former starting free safety Chris Conte ride out the remainder of his contract on the bench.  Such is his reality after an ugly end to last season that saw him give up a long touchdown on a blown coverage to Green Bay, handing them the division title.  It’s an understandable reaction considering how arduous 2013 was for him.  However, facts are facts.  The Bears made some interesting additions to the safety spot in former Packer M.D. Jennings and rookie Brock Vereen, but neither inspire much confidence.  Jennings has a worse stat line than Conte does and Vereen is a 4th round pick.  Also something to note is that in the midst of the bashing, Conte has actually bettered his stats every year.  His 90 tackles and three interceptions last season were both career bests and he also accomplished that playing behind arguably the worst front seven in Chicago Bears history.  With a bolstered defensive line up front and better depth at linebacker, Conte has a chance to get over last year, and he should.  He will be the starter in 2014.

Jon Bostic beats out Shea McClellin for last linebacker job

Most opinions centering around the competition at linebacker flow the same way.  Two of the three spots should be locked up before the preseason with Lance Briggs at his customary weak side position and veteran D.J. Williams in the middle, where he played well last year before getting hurt.  That just leaves the strong side spot, and the two favorites to battle for it are second-year man Jon Bostic and converted defensive end Shea McClellin.  Hopes are high that McClellin will thrive shifting to a more natural position.  Unfortunately he might not take to it quickly enough to beat out Bostic, who has the speed and athleticism along with a thirst for hitting.  Unless McClellin can make impact plays sooner than later, he may be relegated to top reserve.

Matt Forte and Ka’Deem Carey combine for over 2,000 yards

For all the talk about the Chicago Bears receiving corps, which is understandable given its newfound talent and fame, the real source of production for the offense will come from their running game.  Matt Forte was a one-man show for the team in 2013, earning his second Pro Bowl and finishing with over 1,300 yards rushing.  This he accomplished in a brand new system with four new starters on the offensive line, including two rookie.  Could it get even better?  All five starters up front are back, creating valuable continuity where it’s required for success.  The offense is entering it’s second year which will also add to the smoothing out process.  On top of that, Forte will have help.  Rookie 4th round pick Ka’Deem Carey has already turned heads at camp and expects to have a role in the offense.  If things play out as they should and defenses focus on the Bears passing attack, it will create loads of open lanes for Forte and Carey to hit.  Don’t be surprised if the two combine for over 2,000 yards rushing.

Jordan Palmer plays at least one game

One of the popular myths of being a strong-armed quarterback is that the game comes easy to them.  While that is true in some aspects, history also shows football can be awfully tough on those who can’t learn to control their baser urges.  In simpler terms, strong-armed quarterbacks believe if they hold the ball long enough a window will open down the field for them to fit the ball through.  Sometimes it works, others it leads to a lot of sacks and a lot of hits.  That has been the reality of Jay Cutler since he joined the Bears.  For every big play he creates with that gifted arm of his, the trust he places in it, as well as his toughness has gotten him hit numerous times.  This in turn has led to injuries.  Cutler has missed a game every year dating back to 2010 due to the punishment he takes.  This trend shows no signs of stopping, which means it’s almost a virtual guarantee that Jordan Palmer could get his first start as a pro at some point this season.

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Tags: Chicago Bears Chris Conte Jon Bostic Jordan Palmer Ka'deem Carey Matt Forte Shea McClellin

  • DiscountPCRepair SATX

    I agree on Conte.
    I think McCellin wins the Sam job. Bostic was drafted as Mike.
    Forte/Carey will 2500 yards total offense between them. i am expected Forte’s YPA to increase with less carries. I think Carey will punish defenders as the change-of-pace RB.
    I do not think Palmer will necessarily play.

    • Erik Lambert

      I think the McClellin/Bostic battle will actually be the more interesting one to watch than the safety position. In terms of total yards, you might be right about Forte and Carey. Hey, if Jay progresses properly he shouldn’t take as many hits as he did last year.

      • Herman Moore

        If Jay progresses? He’s 31–seeing much in the way of change is unlikely. He’ll take fewer hits if the line gives him more time to throw and/or his receivers get open more quickly. He’s still going to hold on to the ball too long at times.

        • Erik Lambert

          Shouldn’t you be more worried about Stafford missing his window than deliberating about whether or not Cutler has missed his?

          • Herman Moore

            Stafford is young, and the Lions are on the rise, so I’m not worried about that. Besides, is it hard to figure out why a fan would take interest in the prospects of a division opponent? I’m not even saying Cutler has missed his window of opportunity, just that he is a known quantity, and the team needs to recognize that and build accordingly. If OTOH they expect Jay to learn new things and make big changes, they are making a mistake, IMHO.

          • Erik Lambert

            Jay doesn’t have to learn new things. He’s proven he can be a Pro Bowl player. Just because he holds the ball from time to time and makes some mistakes doesn’t mean he can’t succeed in this offense. History shows you don’t need to be a superstar at quarterback to win championships. You just need to be as efficient as possible and make a few plays every game. At the very least he can do that.

  • Mike Flannery

    Didn’t you predict McClellin would have 85 tackles, 5 sacks, and an INT this season just a few days ago? Now he’s not even going to start? Why the flip-flop?

    • Erik Lambert

      While I believe McClellin should have that job, my gut tells me Bostic will end up winning it. However, at some point I believe D.J. Williams will go down again with injury. That will push Bostic to the middle and give McClellin the strong side.