There is a long way to go until anybody can know for sure, but can the Chicago Bears be considered a quiet threat to the champion Seahawks?
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery perfect antithesis to Seahawks secondary
To identify and then justify the Bears are a legitimate threat to the world champs, it’s important to find out how the teams matchup. It’s not hard to say that Seattle found their amazing success last year through their defense, specifically their overpowering secondary headlined by All-Pros Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. One of the most imposing aspects of the group, aside from their talent, is their size. Sherman is 6’3″. Fellow corner Byron Maxwell is 6’1″ and strong safety Kam Chancellor is 6’3″ as well. It’s no wonder that most teams are intimidated by them. Chicago on the other hand has no reason to be.
Of all the offenses around the NFL, they have fully embraced the idea of big athletes. Headlined by Pro Bowlers Brandon Marshall (6’4″) and Alshon Jeffery (6’3″), the Chicago Bears offense averages out to over 6’3″ in height. That includes 6’6″ tight end Martellus Bennett and 6’2″ running back Matt Forte. So the idea of Seattle leaning on its height advantage is gone. So what about straight skill?
In head-to-head matchups, Richard Sherman and Brandon Marshall have met one time in their career and it’s probably a time Sherman would like to forget. That day Marshall abused him and the Seahawks secondary for 165 yards on 10 catches. Bear in mind that was done without Jeffery drawing away coverage on the other side. So Marshall, who is actually an inch taller and 35 lbs heavier, has no reason to fear Sherman. The same goes for Jeffery against Maxwell.
Defense better built to handle Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch
The key for the Chicago Bears in any idea of competing against the Seattle Seahawks rests with their rebuilt defense. Seattle has a strong core of talent on the offensive side headlined by Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, both of whom would present a nightmare to the Bears unit that finished 2013 ranked dead last allowed 160 yards per game on the ground. However, recent changes to the roster hint at improvement in that area.
One notable fact is that the Bears have gotten considerably bigger up front both at defensive end and defensive tackle. Thanks to the addition of Lamarr Houston (300 lbs) at left end and arrival of big rookie Ego Ferguson (315 lbs) at tackle, Chicago now boasts an average defensive line weight of 290 lbs. That is over five pounds heavier from a season ago. It might not sound like much, it is actually quite considerable and typically hints that a team is not only bigger but stronger up front. That will be crucial against the power attack of Seattle led by Lynch.
The second part is what Chicago is do at linebacker. Based on recent draft moves and also a roster tweak, the team has invested a great deal of speed into their corps headlined by second-year man Jon Bostic (4.6/40) and former defensive end Shea McClellin (4.5/40). Together with the ageless Lance Briggs the Bears have the required foot speed to chase down a gifted scrambler like Russell Wilson, something they weren’t able to do the last time they saw him in 2012.
No matter how once slices it, on a pure physical basis from the trenches to the skill positions, the Chicago Bears are talented enough to match up with the world champion Seattle Seahawks. Whether that makes them a dark horse for a Super Bowl run will be answered in the months to come.