2009 Chicago Bears Season Preview
2009 Chicago Bears preview from MadduxSports.com. The NFC North is a division filled with question marks. Expect the NFL odds makers to have trouble setting lines on these teams, using a proven winners NFL picks will provide dividends early and often for the 2009 campaign.
2009 Chicago Bears Predictions
By Adam Barone
Obviously the big story in Chicago going into this season is the Bears’ acquisition of 26 year-old Jay Cutler from the Broncos. Cutler will bring an entirely new dimension to the Bears’ offense, and take plenty of pressure off the defense. His ability to put the ball in the end zone from just about anywhere on the field and sustain longer offensive drives will allow the defense more time on the sidelines and less need to hold opponents under 10 points.
The offensive line has been upgraded significantly, with the additions of 33 year-old seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace, guard Frank Omiyale, and tackle Kevin Shaffer. Last year’s first round pick, tackle Chris Williams, missed nearly the entire season with back problems, and should be healthy this year. Williams ironically blocked for Cutler at Vanderbilt. With Olin Kreutz still in the middle, the Bears’ offensive line is as solid and as deep as it’s been in years.
Last season’s rookie sensation, running back Matt Forte, accounted for 35 percent of the team’s total offense—more than any other player in the league. He’ll have a lot less pressure on him with Cutler at quarterback, but don’t expect his role to diminish too much. Forte is the complete package. He can run inside and outside, catch the ball out of the backfield, and pass block. He may even have more room to work now with Cutler’s ability to spread the field. Expect him to be among the league’s elite runners this season.
The receiving corps is easily the weak link on Chicago’s roster. Devin Hester and Jay Cutler will connect on plenty of fade routes, but beyond that there’s reason to worry. There’s no No. 1 on this team, despite the Bears trying to fit Hester into that mold. Rashied Davis drops everything that comes near him, and Earl Bennett didn’t catch a single pass a year ago. He did, like Williams, play with Cutler at Vanderbilt. It’s anybody’s guess if that’ll make a difference. Rookies Juaquin Iglesias and Johnny Knox aren’t expected to provide much this season. Tight ends Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark are still the main threats in the passing game, and Olsen could be in for a breakout year.
Despite the signing of Orlando Pace, the Bears’ biggest free agent signing this offseason was probably former Lions’ head coach Rod Marinelli. He was hired as defensive line/assistant head coach. His presence will allow Lovie Smith to take a more hands-on approach in coordinating the defense. The defense has underachieved the past two seasons, and its leading sack artist in 2008, Alex Brown, had just six. There’s a load of talent on the front line, and Marinelli has a reputation as a fantastic motivator. If Marinelli can get three-time Pro Bowl tackle Tommy Harris back to that level, and athletic third round pick Jarron Gilbert can contribute (he can jump out of a pool—that’s important in football), this unit could be among the league’s best. That would be great for the Bears, because the pass rush from the front line is the heart of Smith’s Tampa-2 style.
The back seven is not quite as strong. Brian Urlacher has missed the Pro Bowl for two straight seasons, but there’s decent talent around him. Lance Briggs is probably the best linebacker on the team and is coming off a 110 tackle, three interception season, and Pisa Tinoisamoa was added to play opposite him. Cornerbacks Nate Vasher and Charles Tillman will both need to have a bounce-back year, and someone will need to step up at each safety spot. There’s a lack of talent there after Mike Brown was let go.
Kicker Robbie Gould will get to continue fighting the unbelievable winds at Soldier Field. Safety Danieal Manning looks to have officially taken over return duties since Devin Hester became a full time receiver.
The Bears are aging, but aren’t too old anywhere to make another Super Bowl run. They don’t really have a weakness that can’t be overcome, assuming that Jay Cutler can mesh with the receivers, and whoever plays safety doesn’t give up too many big plays. The defense will probably return to its ball-hawking ways of the past with Smith back at the helm. Good things are probably in the cards for Bears’ fans in 2009.