Late last month Bucky Brooks of NFL.com went through each of the 32 teams in the NFL and picked the face of each franchise. It's an exercise I ran through last off season, and a question I posed here on Windy City Gridiron in 2013 in regards to the Chicago Bears.
The Bears were fresh off Brian Urlacher's retirement, and he was the unquestioned face of the franchise during his 13 year run in Chicago. Last year I settled on Jay Cutler taking over as the face of the franchise for the Bears. While not a perennial Pro Bowl player, he's a very well known athlete that plays quarterback in the city of Chicago. For better or worse, when thinking of the Bears the first thought is often Jay Cutler.
Bucky Brooks didn't have Cutler listed as face of the franchise for the Bears this year, instead he had him listed as the "Next in line" face. Here's what he said about him.
Cutler is entering his sixth season with the Bears -- and ninth in the NFL -- but he remains a mystery man from a leadership standpoint. Yes, his teammates have steadfastly supported him as a franchise quarterback since his arrival in Chicago in 2009, but it's time for the veteran to take his game to another level. Armed with a fat new contract (he signed a seven-year, $126 million extension in January, with $54 million guaranteed), Cutler will be expected to step to the fore as the Bears' unquestioned leader and guide the team back to championship contention.
I still have Cutler as the face of the Bears in 2014. The questions about his leadership have began to subside since Marc Trestman took over as head coach. Cutler is going though a natural maturation as he grows up, but he's also being mentored by the quarterback whisperer. The two of them took a well publicized trip to meet with the NFL advisor Dov Seidman to discuss ethics, leadership and culture change.
My pick for "next in line" face of the franchise is the popular Kyle Long. I know, I know, an offensive lineman is usually a faceless member of the starting five, but Long is a different type of player. He's engaging via social media, he's active in the community, he was a rookie Pro Bowler last year and he comes from NFL royalty.
Bucky Brooks tabbed veteran linebacker Lance Briggs as the current face of the Bears and here's his take on that.
Defense has been Chicago's backbone since the days of "Papa Bear," George Halas. Briggs, a seven-time Pro Bowler, replaced retired linebacker Brian Urlacher as the unit's leader last season, setting the tone with his ultra-aggressive demeanor, toughness and knack for playmaking -- but he missed much of the year with a shoulder injury, and the Bears struggled to stop opponents, finishing with the NFL's 30th ranked defense. In 2014, he'll anchor a defense that must play at an exceptional level to spark a playoff run.
While I'm hoping for a bounce back season from Briggs and the defense, I don't think Lance is the guy most Bears fans would point to as the face of the team.
What are your thoughts on the face of the current Bears team and on the "next in line" guy?