Okay, so it would be great if all the players on the team had a great year, but I think it's fair to acknowledge that a good performance from certain players on the team is vital if Chicago are going to make a run for the playoffs. Let's take a look at three of those players and why the Bears need them to have a great season.
1. Jay Cutler - The Bears quarterback just has to have a huge year. More so than any other player on the depth chart. There is a lot resting on his shoulders as he looks to lead the Bears to the Super bowl. It's been mentioned countless times, but Cutler finally has a set of receivers that look capable of doing him justice. He wish came true when Chicago traded for Brandon Marshall, and everyone is hoping for good things from rookie WR Alshon Jeffery.
The one big question that still remains is how well the offensive line will protect Cutler. I don't think we'll know the final lineup until the pre-season games, but here's hoping they get it right. I have said time and time again, that given time and the proper pass protection, Cutler is as good as any passer in the league. he has all the skills to make all the throws and can scramble enough to catch a few extra yards. Let's just hope he doesn't have to take off running too often.
I really feel that if Cutler has a poor year, or even an average one, the Bears just won't get it done. I expect Matt Forte to take to the field this season, but he can't do it all on his own. The bottom line is this - Jay Cutler has to have a big year if the Bears are going to be successful.
2. Julius Peppers - Without doubt, Peppers is one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL and the Bears are blessed to have him on their side. The 11-year veteran racked up 11 sacks last year, forced three fumbles and recovered two of them.
He faces a lot of double teams, but still manages to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. And it's that pressure which can stop a team in their tracks. It's important that Peppers can use his athleticism to have another great year for the Bears. He has great speed for a man his size, and can really chase down the ball carrier.
On the opposing side of the line, Israel Idonije should see a lot of action, and the Bears hope to get some good production out of their first round draft pick, Shea McClellin. With all the attention that Peppers will draw, it should give the rest of the defense a chance to make some big plays. And that is one of Pepper's strengths. The ability to be so feared, that it takes two offensive linemen to try and contain him. Let's hope they don't do too good of a job, and Peppers can show the rest of the league why he's still one of the best in the business.
3. Matt Forte - I am going to put my feelings on the whole contract situation to one side, and recognize Matt Forte for what he is. An excellent NFL running back. Even after being injured for the latter part of last season, Forte still rushed for 997 yards, and had 490 yards receiving. He truly is the definition of a dual-threat football player. And it is for this reason that the Bears need him to have a huge year.
I think Forte needs to have a 1,000 yards rushing or more this year and still feature prominently in the passing game. We all expect the Bear's game to be much improved through the air this season, and that should hopefully give Forte more opportunity to burn it up on the ground.
It is hard to think of Forte at the moment, and not have all these contract issues pop into your head. But let's all hope that he does suit up for the Bears and he wants to play in Chicago and help lead the team back to the playoffs. We all know he has the ability to do so.
So, what does everyone think? Who are some of your players that you think need to have a great season if the Bears are going to make it all the way?