A fun part for the players every year is challenging each other on the stat sheet. Which prominent or surprise Chicago Bears names could lead the way in 2014?
Touchdowns – Alshon Jeffery
While both look first to the betterment of the team, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall reach such great heights as receivers by pushing each other through competition. So Jeffery is bound to see the fact that Marshall beat him in the touchdown stat last year (12-7) and will look improve in that area. Expect the third-year star to do just that, reaching the double digit mark for the first time.
Rushing Yards – Matt Forte
The touchdown stat is certainly one Matt Forte would like to have. He tied with Marshall for 12 last season but in 2014 the Chicago Bears may begin to ease the workload on Forte is short yardage in favor of rookie Ka’Deem Carey, who excels in that area. That shouldn’t stop the two-time Pro Bowler from easily locking up the title for most rushing yards as he has every year since his rookie season.
Receiving Yards – Brandon Marshall
Interestingly while the touchdown mark was owned by Brandon Marshall in 2013, he will see that Alshon Jeffery surpassed him in receiving yards (1,421 to 1,295). The 30-year old will almost certainly see that as his primary goal to achieve this season and ironically like Jeffery in the touchdown stat, will once again lead the Bears in receiving by seasons’ end.
Tackles – Shea McClellin
This may be the most interesting pick. First and foremost, Shea McClellin isn’t even guaranteed a starting job at this point, still competing madly at both middle and strong side linebacker. However, early signs hint him as the favorite for the “SAM” outside spot, which was occupied by James Anderson a year ago. In fact it was Anderson who led the Chicago Bears defense in tackles last season. Naturally a healthy Lance Briggs would be a more practical selection, but it’s important to remember Briggs will be playing behind Lamarr Houston on the weak side. Houston is one of the best run defending ends in football. More likely teams will try to run at the lighter Jared Allen, who is more of a pass rush threat. That will create opportunities for McClellin, and he will take advantage.
Sacks – Jared Allen
Speaking of Allen, the Bears brought him in via free agency to become their primary pass rusher and there is no reason to think he won’t be. At age 32 he hasn’t missed a game in seven years and hasn’t produced fewer than 11 sacks in eight. Chicago also hopes to keep him fresher during games with more depth at end, which should benefit his ability to pass rush consistently. The numbers will be there provided enough opportunities are created.
Interceptions – Kyle Fuller
Here is the selection that will draw more than a few head scratches. Why in the world, with Pro Bowlers Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings on the field would rookie corner Kyle Fuller be expected to lead the team in interceptions? For those same reasons. One thing about opposing offenses is they always like to go after the weak link. More often than not the weak link is typically wherever the rookie is. So when Fuller is on the field it’s almost a given that the opposing quarterback will direct a lot of passes his way in order to avoid Tillman and Jennings. That may end up creating some big plays for them, but it also will create extra chances for Fuller to get his hands on the ball. It is then he will show the Chicago Bears and the league why he was considered the most pro ready corner in the 2014 draft class.