By Carlos Nazario
On Tuesday, the Chicago Bears released the team’s first depth chart. We will look at the roster in three parts: Offense, Defense, Special Teams. First up, the Offense.
Interestingly, at WR the starters are Roy Williams and Devin Hester. The two receivers who led the team in receptions and yards, Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett, will be the backups. With the departure of TE Greg Olsen, the receiving corps looks to catch a lot more passes. Kellen Davis will be the starting TE, but he is more of a blocker than receiver. Dane Sanzenbacher will be used as the third down option, much the way the New England Patriots use Wes Welker.
At RB, Chester Taylor will be the backup to Matt Forte, beating out newcomer Marion Barber. I suspect that is the case only because at this point Taylor knows the offense better than Barber. As the season progresses, however, look for Barber to get more touches. The trio of Forte, Taylor, and Barber must gain enough yards to open up the passing game.
On the Offensive Line, the Bears will have a total of 1595 pounds of protection for Jay Cutler and the running game. Last year, the Bears allowed the most sacks in the NFL with 56. Two teams tied for second with 50- the Arizona Cardinals, who failed to make the playoffs, and the Carolina Panthers, who finished with the worst record in the NFL. This year, the Bears are younger and more athletic on the line. Rookie Gabe Carimi will start at RT. He is symbolic of the hopes for the line this year. A lot is expected, and Bears’ fans are holding their breaths waiting to see how they perform.
Of course, at QB there is Jay Cutler. Many feel he has something to prove after he left the NFC Championship Game last season. Fans, and surprisingly, players not on the Bears questioned his toughness even though he had a tear in his knee. It is hard to believe that since he threw for 3,274 yards, completed 60.4% of his passes, and threw 23 TDs while spending a great deal of his time on his back or running for his life away from defenders. This tag of “Not tough enough” is just laughable.
The Bears have made the moves they felt were necessary to improve a team that was one game away from the Super Bowl. If the O-Line is able to keep Cutler upright they can punch their ticket to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.