One of our all-time favorite pictures here at Windy City Gridiron.
When looking at the current Chicago Bears roster, there are many big name players. Over the last two seasons, the Bears have added quarterback Jay Cutler and defensive end Julius Peppers to go along with names like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Devin Hester. Currently, the Bears have 10 players that have made the Pro Bowl at least once in their NFL careers.
With the additions of Cutler and Peppers, along with rising stars Johnny Knox, Greg Olsen, Matt Forte and Chris Williams, combined with the return of recently injured veterans Urlacher, Tommie Harris and Charles Tillman, the Bears have the potential to send a double digit number of players to this year’s vacation game in Hawaii.
On offense, the level of potential rivals that of Space Mountain. In offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s wide open offense, any player can put up All Pro numbers. The receiver corps is young and is said to have a 'kid on Christmas day' type attitude while waiting for this upcoming season. With no clear cut number one, and a youth’s enthusiasm, the young pass catchers could get a group airfare to Hawaii. There is also the ‘promised to be utilized tight end’, Greg Olsen, who may be the best receiver on the team.
Once this entire group digests the entire Martz playbook and learns to run routes on an NFL stage, we may soon be seeing the second coming of the Greatest Show on Turf.
No matter how good the receivers do perform, the main man on offense is quarterback Jay Cutler. A Pro Bowler in ’08 with Denver, you could say Cutler digressed last season. There were many reasons for Cutler’s digression, but I feel the biggest deterrent is now making Peyton Manning realize that he is indeed smarter than his coaches. Cutler posted very high statistical numbers last season (3,666 passing yards, 27 tds, 26 int) unfortunately 26 is a little too high for interceptions. He did however throw for more touchdowns in 2009, than in his Pro Bowl year of ’08 (27/25).
Blocking for Cutler are perennial Pro Bowler Olin Kruetz and up and coming first round pick Chris Williams. Many feel that Kruetz’s best days are behind him, but you can never count out the six time Pro Bowler's heart. With a little help from his o-line brethren, and the pride of an aging warrior, don’t be surprised if Kruetz puts it all on the line for one last run at a Championship.
One man that could help out Kruetz is left tackle Chris Williams. After moving over from right tackle to left late last season, Williams showed why he was picked in the first round of the ’08 draft. After shutting down one of the best defensive ends in the league Jared Allen late last season, Williams is set to seal off Cutler’s blind side for years to come. The one sleeper on the o-line is last year’s free agent acquisition Frank Omiyale. Omiyale is back to his natural right tackle position and with the help of Brandon Manumaleuna setting up shop on the right of the line, Omiyale may have very successfully 2010.
The one offensive group that may miss the Bears jumbo jet to Hawaii are the running backs; not for lack of talent, but actually the exact opposite. Matt Forte has proven that he can carry the load and put up gaudy all around numbers. The same can almost be said about his sidekick, free agent pick up Chester Taylor. Taylor has been the second back for most of his career, but when given the opportunity, he has shown that he can be a special player. With the opportunity and ability to catch passes out of the backfield, the Forte-Taylor two headed running back monster may not make the Pro Bowl, but help the Bears make the Bowl that really matters.
Now to the side of the football that makes Chicago football, Chicago football. The Defense. On paper, the Bears 2010 defensive line up might conjure up images of the fierce teams of the mid 80’s. Veterans Tommie Harris, Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Chris Harris, Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs all have the potential to play in the Pro Bowl if they stay healthy. All have either been in the Pro Bowl or have come very close in final voting numbers. Sprinkle in young hopefuls Zack Bowman, Corey Wootton, Major Wright and Jarron Gilbert. The Bears infusion of young and old could be just enough to propel this team to a championship.
The third phase of the Bears could be considered the best. For the last several years the Bears Special Teams has remained consistent even when the overall team was not. Kicker Robbie Gould is the most accurate kicker in Bears history. His ability to make multiple game winning field goals even while the winds in Soldier Field whip across the frozen turf, should be reason enough to give the man a nice warm vacation to Hawaii in February. 14 year veteran, punter Brad Maynard may have been the Bears MVP last season. A league leading 357 punts within the 20 yard line since he entered the league, 1997, Maynard seems to be getting better with age. The Bears also post three dangerous kick return men, with last year’s Pro Bowler Johnny Knox, two time Pro Bowler Devin Hester and Daniel Manning, who leads all active players with a 28.8 yard per return average. Added to the ST group is special teams maven Tim Shaw. Shaw has quickly become a fan favorite and looks to be the special teams ace that Bears have lacked since the departure of Brendan Ayanbadejo.
The Bears roster is full of big stars. Which do you feel will shine the brightest?