I'm not asking what record you think the Bears will have in 2014 but what your expectations are from personnel. Though I have them going 10-6 with a playoff birth.
What do you think of Jay Cutler and his ability to lead the team? What are your statistical expectations for him? I expect him, if he plays a full season, to have a even better year than he did last year. Jay was off to a great start last year and needs to build off of that. Had he played a 16 game season last year it would have easily been his best year and I'm looking for bigger numbers. He has a great cast and there is no excuse. I'm looking for him to complete about 65% of his throws and post 35 TD's and only 16 INT's. I know the TD to INT ratio is not what you can consider elite but it is realistic. I would also look for him to post career bests every year for the next 4. TD's will go up and INT's will go down. Ideally I would like him to post over 5000 yards... any big armed QB should be able to do that in this offense. But I think the realistic number is somewhere in the 4200-4500 range, anything less than that is unexceptionable.
What are your expectations for Marquess Wilson "Q?" Everyone keeps raving about how good this kid is going to be, and I'm not saying he's not going to be good, but I feel expectations are unrealistic. It has been reported that Wilson is going to have a break out season like Jeffery did a year ago. That means he will have to top 1000 yards and 80 catches. I really don't see a #3 being targeted that much. The trust for Cutler is Marshall, Jeffery, Forte, Bennett, and then it would be Wilson, in my opinion. Now I'm not saying trust isn't there. From what I read Jay has worked with Wilson, Marshall, and Jeffery down in Florida so to report has been built. But remember Earl Bennett was greatly trusted by Jay and he only posted 32 catches for 243 yards. I would expect Wilson to get more targets than Bennett did last year because of his size, but I don't think his numbers will come close to Alshon's or Brandon's. I'm looking for about 40-50 catches out of him and about 400-600 yards and maybe 5-7 TD's. That would be a big upgrade at the position.
What do you expect from the offense as a whole? I fully expect a better offensive season this year over last. The offensive line is only going to get better through continuity and the weak link is Garza, which isn't to bad of a weak link. Many would say Mills is the weak link but I expect to see a stronger Mills with better technique. The game should have started to slow down for him by now and he will be a better tackle than a year ago. I only consider Garza the weak link because of his age not because of his performance. I expect the numbers between Marshall and Jeffery to be close. Marshall has said that this is going to be his best season and I'll give him that. I think he'll have 105-110 catches, 1500-1600 yards, and 12-16 TD's. With Brandon having one of his best seasons Alshon will get many one on one looks. I think he will finish the season with 95-105 catches, 1400-1500 yards, and 8-12 TD's. Bennetts stats will dip this year because of all the "elite" wide receiver play, I still think he will have a respectable 40-50 catches, 500-600 yards, and 7-8 TD's. Forte in my opinion will have a season year once again. With defenses being off balanced because of our aerial attack and Forte being fresh because of a legitimate #2 back he will post his best year in most statistical categories. He will see a decrease in # of rushes he gets, I'm shooting for 220-240, about 60 less than last year. His Average/Carry will be somewhere at 5.2 to 5.5, giving him 1144-1320 and I think he'll finally hit double digits in rushing TD's. The rumor is Casey is going to take on the role of goal line back but I think there is enough trust in Forte to keep him in in goal line situations. I think he will be as big in the passing game as last year. I'm shooting for 60-80 receptions for about 500-650 yards and 3-5 TD's. I'm hoping he can top 2000 all purpose yards.
What are your expectations for the defense? For me, the defense is hard to gauge. Mostly because there are only a guaranteed 3 regular starters returning, Briggs, Tillman, and Jennings. I like the additions we had on the defensive line. I'm looking for Allen to post double digit sacks like he has for so long. The nice part about what Emery has done is gave a respectable complement to Allen with Houston. It will make it hard for offenses to consistently double team Allen. This also plays into Allen getting his sack totals up without have to be on the field for 95% of the snaps. I'm looking for Allen to play 75-80% of the snaps because of Young being a strong rational player. This will also keep Allen fresh all year and possible prolong his starting career for the full 4 years on his contract. I'm also looking for Houston to produce 8-12 sack because of the prescience of Allen and he to will only take about 80-85% of the snaps. I think the Allen-Houston tandem will work well together keeping offensive lines off balanced. Willie Young is going to play a big role one this defense as well even though he's the #3 End. He will still receive about 35-55% of the snaps keeping Allen and Houston fresh at all times. This is going to give us a consistent performance at the end position. I'm thinking by the end of training camp we wont have a true starter at nose. I'm sure Paea will receive more reps at the beginning of the season, probably around 60-70%, but look for Ferguson to close that gap to a split 50-50 by week 5 and for him to potentially take over the starting role. I think there will be a good rotation at 3-technique. I'm looking for Ratliff to start and take about 40-50% of the reps. I'm thinking Sutton will take 40-45% of the reps and the last 5-20% will go to Collins.
I'm sure Williams will win Mike but don't get used to it. Williams is no longer the durable linebacker he was in Denver and I wouldn't expect a full season out of him, I wouldn't expect half at that. This year Bostic will be ready to go but not at Mike. I have said this since last year, he will win Sam. I like him at Sam because he can really punish the runner. With Allen taking most of his snaps on that side we will need a strong run support to back him. Who better than Bostic, he will make a runner pay by taking the ball Allen's way, and I see him leading the team in tackles. When Williams goes down, and he will, I'm looking to Shea to fill the void and excel in the middle. Most think of Shea only as a pass rusher but he is more athletic than that and could prove to be a strong Mike. He will never be a Bears great linebacker but could be the answer for the next 4-6 years. I fully believe that Shea can handle coverage and the added time of being in the second level will improve his ability to stuff the run. The problem with putting Shea at Sam is his poor run stuffing ability on the outside. You would be putting Allen, who does not play the run particularly well, on the outside with Shea, again doesn't play the run particularly well, backing him up. That leaves the safety, whoever that may be, in a bad spot. I think Shea could handle the run in the middle however, playing the run in the trenches is a lot different then trying to make a one-on-one tackle on the outside. I think Shea has the smarts and athletic ability to diagnose the run and put himself in a position to plug the gap. Now imagine this. A big reason folks don't want Bostic on the outside is because they want to see him play in Nickle situations which is about 50% of the defensive plays. If we take Shea out and move Bostic to Mike so we would then have Briggs and Bostic at the second level.
As for the secondary, Tillman and Jennings are the obvious starter. and it looks like Mundy will start as well. I like the idea of Jennings taking on the nickle in nickle packages with Fuller playing the outside. I'm not to sure this is the case, there is a good chance that that was just a "smoke screen" more or less. I do think if they go that direction Fuller will be more successful but Jennings will take a step back. It would be tough for Jennings to have to play both roles but he is familiar with the nickle position. Fuller also has the size to be a more effective outside corner than Jennings which makes this strategy more feasible. I'm am sure that Conte is going to win the starting Safety position. Conte has been unfairly criticized this off season for so many of the bears woes last year. Yes he did take some poor angles but as a safety you have to predict more or less the rout a runner is going to take. So by putting trust in his front 7 he would expect the back to be at least slowed by the front 7 so he can take a shallower angle and make a 5 yard stop and not shoot for the 10 yard stop. He was also put into way more one-on-one situation than he should have been. Any safety would have struggled. Trusting his teammates hurt him in the end. I also am not sold on Vereen just yet. This is going to be Conte's job to lose and I am about 90% positive he will be the starter week one. If he continues to have the same struggles as last year we can expect to see Vereen week 9. At the other safety position it looks like Mundy is going to take that role. Not sure how I feel about this. I'm not real up on Mundy, I don't think he is a legitimate upgrade over Wright. I am kind of upset we didn't invest more into safety this off season. The good news is the rest of the defense should be good enough to once again mask the poor play in the 3rd level.
Update: We have added 5 time Pro Bowl Safety Adrian Wilson to the roster. My thoughts, he doesn't make it through training camp. He is a 14 year veteran that hasn't played a down sense 2012. He will be able to give some veteran insight through training camp but I just don't feel he has enough left in his talk to compete.
All in all I'm looking for the Bears to become the Monsters of the Midway we've all grown to love. I will be quite upset if they do anything worse than a top half of the league defense. I actually see a top 10 defense on paper the only problem would be continuity and uncertainty at linebacker. I'm looking for 45-50 sacks, and to top 25 INT's.
I would appreciate answers to my questions from others. I always like a good debate and to know how others feel about the bears and there upcoming season? I am also open to other questions. I am a huge bears fan and have an opinion on almost any topic involving the bears.