Sep 29, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) breaks a tackle by Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay (30) in the second quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Projected Chicago Bears 2014 Stat Leaders

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.

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Tags: Alshon Jeffery Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears Jared Allen Kyle Fuller Matt Forte Shea McClellin

  • Michael Rushton

    Here’s the thing with Shea- IF he wins the starting SAM position there’s a good possibility that he’s not out there on about 50% of the snaps, swapping out with Kyle Fuller in Nickel and Dime situations, and making it very hard to lead the team in tackles.

    Also, I’m not sure DE’s in this scheme switch to open and closed side formations. Typically, you’ll have Allen lining up against the opposing team’s LT and Houston going against a team’s RT in base formations. The interior linemen do switch depending on strong side/weak side alignments as do the LB’s but not typically the ends. Or at least that’s how last year’s scheme usually worked. All that to say, I don’t think Briggs will playing behind Houston more than Allen, per se.

    What will really effect the tackles race will be which LB’s are playing in the nickel and dime packages that the Bears employ. In the past, Briggs and Urlacher would be in the nickel and I believe Urlacher would stay on in the dime as well. Last season, when healthy, Briggs took on Urlacher’s role, where it would be Briggs and Anderson in on nickel and Briggs in on dime. When Briggs got hurt, Anderson took over the role as the lone LB in dime, which lead to him leading the team in tackles.

    This could be a big year of change when it comes to their passing down personnel and schemes. Briggs isn’t the fast young guy he used to be and the Bears have repeatedly stated their desire to use McLellin as a blitzing LB in passing situations. You have to think they are going to at least consider keeping him in in nickel along with Briggs or maybe even Bostic.

    And speaking of Bostic- don’t be shocked if Bostic wins the starting MLB job away from Williams. If their play is comparable/even during training camp, they’re going to play their second round draft pick over Williams. Not to mention, because of his speed and coverage ability, there’s a good chance that Bostic could replace Briggs as the LB that just doesn’t come off in nickel or dime. If that’s the case, look for Bostic to lead the team in tackles.

    At any rate, I’m curious to see what personnel and alignments the Bears will be employing in passing situations- you could conceivably have a front four of Allen, Ratliff/Sutton, Houston (being kicked in to the three technique) and Young, with the LB’s being McLellin as a potential pass rusher off the edge, Bostic out there with Jennings at the slot CB. That’s a lot of speed in the front seven for an opposing QB to deal with. Looking forward to seeing how Tucker, et al utilize these pieces

    • Erik Lambert

      Based on whispers I’ve heard, McClellin has gotten his speed up since dropping weight, somewhere in the 4.5 range. If that’s true he’s certainly faster than Bostic and probably faster than Briggs. So by your logic he would be the guy to keep on the field for passing situations, not only for his blitzing ability but also his sideline-to-sideline range.

      I agree that Bostic has a great chance to unseat Williams at MLB. The scheme has shifted enough to where it better fits what Bostic does best. Besides, he’s more experienced now and is in NFL shape. Unless he completely lays an egg in preseason, I think that job is his to lose.

      • Johnathan Wood

        don’t forget also that we’re likely going to see a decent number of 3-3-5 nickel looks this year. That’s part of the whole “hybrid” thing, where Shea would be a rush LB.
        IMO he doesn’t start but plays about 50% of the snaps in this role. I would be very surprised if he leads the team in tackles though.

      • Brian Francis T

        keep in mind that a large part of the SAM position is taking on blockers. Most SAM backers don’t lead the team in tackles, and it’s recommended you best tackler be the WILL, as he cleans up the play. I think the case with Anderson last year was an anomaly based on our terrible defense.

        • Michael Rushton

          I think Anderson leading the team in tackles was largely due to him being out there in nickel and dime packages for the back half of the season as well.

      • Michael Rushton

        The only problem with that is that, at this point, Shea’s coverage ability at the NFL level is a complete unknown. I would agree with Jonathan below that there could be some 3-3-5 looks with Allen-Houston-Young-McLellin-Bostic-Briggs front six. Or as I said previously, a 4-2-5, with Houston kicked into the three technique with Ratliff or Sutton as a one gap NT, McLellin coming in as a blitzer, etc…