CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears during play against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on October 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis /Getty Images)
So, as the saying goes, there's no 'I' in team. Or to put it another way; one player does not a football team make. But there can be no doubting necessity of a high caliber quarterback, or an elite running back. The Bears have both, and last season we saw what a difference it makes to be without those players. So, with this in mind, should the Bears face a worst case scenario, and lose some of their starters to injury, do they have the backups ready to step in and carry them to victory?
We have to start by looking at the quarterback position. The Bears were on a roll last year, until that train was derailed when Jay Cutler was injured in a game against San Diego. The importance of having a good backup QB was then clearly demonstrated, as Caleb Hanie took over the controls and the plane simply nose-dived. Hanie was given every opportunity to prove that he was who we hoped he was, but it was not to be. I was surprised he started as many of those games as he did, to be fair.
Campbell has been in the league for seven years, starting his career in Washington, and playing the last two seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He is a big, tall passer with a career completion percentage of 60.8. He can run with the ball when the need arises, and possesses a strong arm. Campbell should be a safe bet, and although he might not always win the game, he has the skills needed to not lose the game.
This brings us nicely on to the Bears running backs. Matt Forte is still yet to sign anything with the Bears, whether that be his franchise tender or anything more long term. But I think it would be unlikely, and foolish for Forte to begin contemplating missing any games. So let's be positive and assume that he will be ready to go come the beginning of the season.
But just like Cutler last year, Forte was injured towards the end of the year, and his absence was obvious. Marion Barber stepped up, but he's clearly no Forte, and as much as I have a soft spot for Barber, he didn't really bring that much to the table in terms of rushing. The Bears strengthened the position with the signing of another former Raider in Michael Bush. Although many saw this a slap in the face of Forte, the Bears have clearly done what is best for the team.
Bush is a big strong, powerful runner with quick feet and the ability to break tackles. He has a career average of 4.2 yards per carry and has fumbled the ball just three times. I feel confident with what the Bears have in Bush. Coupled together with the emerging Kahlil Bell, and the Bears are well set at running back. Of course, it is preferable that Forte is still the main man, but if he's not available for whatever reason, Bush should be able to step up and get the job done.
Wide receivers look strong, and everyone seems excited about Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery seeing their first action in a Bears jersey. It now seems pretty likely that Johnny Knox will miss the season as he continues to recover from the horrific back injury he suffered last year. Whether Knox will ever return to his best remains to be seen, but I am sure I echo everyone's sentiment when I wish him all the best.
Although, obvious question marks remain about the Bears offensive line, they have good depth at most other positions. I still have worries about the linebacker position if either Briggs or Urlacher picks up any long term injuries, but I think Chicago have enough to cover it.
I think it's fair to keep the focus on the running back and to a greater extent, the quarterback position. Cutler has to stay healthy. The Bears stand a good chance of making a deep run into the playoffs if he plays every game. I won't be criticizing him if declines the opportunity to chase down an opposing player. Yes, he's a football player, but come on Jay, not again!!
So, what's the consensus? Is the Bear's depth chart talented enough to carry on the fight if the starters go down?
The Bear's playoff hopes? (imagining that Cutler and Forte were to miss 6 games or more)
We can still do it without Cutler, but with Forte (12 votes)
We can still do it without Forte, but with Cutler (361 votes)
We can still do it without both of them. (123 votes)
No chance if we lose both of them (140 votes)
636 total votes