For the sixth consecutive year I'll be peering over the roster and coaching staff of the Chicago Bears, trying to determine whom is most critical to the team's success for the upcoming season. Keep in mind it's all subjective, I may place more importance on one position that you deem secondary to another. But that's kind of the point. It's all about generating some quality discussion about the Bears while looking towards the 2014 season. If you think I'm wrong, then tell me about it. If you agree, let me know.
Here's the basis for my annual selections.
Some things I thought about when compiling this list were: What potential impact they may have, how much the team will look to the individual for guidance or leadership, how badly the team would suffer if they lost the player to injury, and other intangible attributes.
Before I kick off the 2014 version of this series, I'll peek back at last year's Top 10 Most Important Bears list to see how my guys fared.
If you're a skimmer and think this list is my list for the 2014 season we will mock you in the comment thread.
Here's how I saw it a year ago...
And if you want to peek back at the original article for each of the 10, just click on the number.
10) The Middle Linebackers - Yeah I had a position as the 10th Most Important Bear, but that's because whoever won the job was replacing the great Brian Urlacher. D.J. Williams won the job, fought though some early injuries, finally rounded into shape, them was lost for the season to a pectoral injury. Rookie Jon Bostic took over and played like a rookie.
9) Corey Wootton - I thought the Bears needed someone opposite Julius Peppers to step up their game. Little did I know that the Bears would suffer through injury after injury to the front four, leading to Wootton playing out of position for much of the year.
8) Martellus Bennett - A true West Coast Offense utilizes an all around tight end and I thought Bennett would be a perfect fit for Marc Trestman. He was, and he set career highs across the board.
7) Tim Jennings - I thought Jennings had to prove his 2012 was no fluke, and I think he did just that.
6) Lance Briggs - Briggs was not only the lone returning linebacker in 2013, but he took on the task of being the mouthpiece in the huddle. Their defense was historically bad last year, but it was even worse with him sidelined.
5) Brandon Marshall - Not only is Marshall the #1 receiver, but he's one of the team leaders, and he came through in a big way again.
4) Jermon Bushrod - The Bears were in desperate need of a professional left tackle, and that's exactly what they received in Bushrod. He may not have been flirting with the Pro Bowl, but he was an upgrade and helped stabilize the line.
3) Mel Tucker - No one knew what to expect from Tucker running the Tampa 2, and thanks to the plethora of injuries we never did find out.
2) Marc Trestman - A year ago Bears fans had no idea if the bespectacled former CFL coach could run his own NFL team. His offense was spectacular, but he made a few head-scratching decisions on game day.
1) Jay Cutler - I started writing for WCG in an official capacity in 2009, and every year I've been around here Cutler has been the most important piece of the puzzle for the Bears.
I think we can all agree that Chicago's epically failing defense was the root of all their problems in 2013. The offense did their part; the special teams, while not ridiculous, still did OK, but the defense was a disaster.
For another take on roster importance, be sure to check out my answers to the 13 questions each team must answer to determine championship roster depth.