Most Improved: Stephen Paea - I was a fan of the Paea draft pick back in 2011. I thought he had the strength and quickness to grow into a very good NFL defensive tackle. The injury bug kind of derailed his development, but now that he's healthy, he's showing up each week in the stat sheet. Through 8 games, he's set a career high in sacks with 4. Hes one pass defense away from his career best of 3 and he's only 7 tackles away from his career best of 24. He's been a big part of the Bears' improved run defense this season.
Least Improved: Jordan Mills - There were plenty of rookie mistakes from Mills last year, but I saw enough good stuff out of him that I expected him to make a leap in play in 2014. A nagging foot injury obviously set back his development, but the fact remains that he isn't playing better this season. I'm still holding out hope that he can become a reliable part of the Bears offensive line, but he has to play better.
Most Disappointing: Marc Trestman, Mel Tucker, Jay Cutler, Jordan Mills, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Chris Williams, Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, Shea McClellin, Chris Conte, D.J. Williams - Yeah, it's that bad. What's even sadder is, I probably could have rattled off a few more names.
When going over the roster, I kept talking myself out of different guys because others were just as disappointing. The offense has been the biggest disappointment, but is that on Trestman's play calling, Jay's turnovers, Mills' lack of development, the wide-outs' injuries or a combination thereof?
Defensively, I realize that many people weren't expecting that much from defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, but I expected him to do more since the talent was upgraded on his defensive line. Speaking of the defensive line, I expected much more from Houston and Allen. McClellin probably wouldn't be looked at as a disappointment if the team didn't keep trotting him out at starting strong side outside linebacker. Chris Conte has morphed into Mr. Glass and D.J. Williams just isn't playing very good.
Most Surprising: Michael Ola - His solid preseason play surprised me. Then him making the 53 man roster was a bit surprising. Then him being the first guard off the bench when Matt Slauson was injured in week 1 was surprising. I don't think anyone could have predicted that Ola would have played in 7 of the first 8 games, including 6 starts at three different positions. His versatility kept him on the team, but his solid play may have garnered him a future with the Bears.
Best Off Season Move: Willie Young - When you've eclipsed your career high in sacks by week three and when you've already doubled your career total during week six, you've made a statement. Young was signed to start opposite Houston, until Jared Allen was signed. Young moving to the 3rd DE role didn't even faze him. He just kept working and picking up sacks, until the Bears had to increase his playing time. We'll find out in the second half if he can keep up his good year while starting.
Worst Off Season Move: Lamarr Houston - I'll just put this right here.
I expected Houston to anchor the left side of Chicago's defensive line by providing stout play against the run and by improving on his pass rush numbers from his time in Oakland. That didn't happen. His 2014 season ends with 8 solo tackles, 3 assists, 1 sack and 1 pass defense in eight games.
Offensive MVP: Matt Forte - This is the biggest no-brainer for me. Forte is a threat to get a thousand yards both rushing and receiving and he's 2nd in the NFL in receptions. A concerted effort to run the ball more in the second half is exactly what the Bears O needs.
Defensive MVP: Willie Young - For all the reasons I mentioned above, Willie Young is the defensive MVP of the 1st half. Even when he was held sackless in the Green Bay game, he still had 4 tackles including one for a loss and a blocked kick. He didn't get a sack in the Miami game, but he had 5 tackles and knocked down a pass. Even when he's not getting to the QB, he's filling the stat sheet and playing good all around football.
Now it's your turn, give us your take on all these categories.