Gauging one's importance to something is a difficult task, but it's a task I've taken on every offseason for the last seven years in regards to the Chicago Bears.
This series will consist of the 10 Bears (players and/or coaches) that I deem to be the most important to the team's success in 2015. This is a subjective list and I expect many of you to disagree with my picks and that's OK. There are no right or wrong answers, this is just a way to generate some discussion as we all look forward to the 2015 season.
When I first sat down to think about importance, this is what I came up with.
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.
It's those intangibles that are really hard to describe, but again so be it, because sometimes I'm just going with a gut feeling.
Before I kick off the 2015 version of this list, I'll take a look back at last year's list to see how those 10 fared.
For those of you that just skim articles and you think this is my 2015 list, be warned you will be mocked in the comment thread.
Here's what I had last season and if you want to see the entire article just click on the number.
10) Jordan Mills - Mills was coming off a rocky rookie season, but he flashed some potential. He never fully recovered from his week 17 injury and that stunted his growth for the 2014 season. Right tackle was a problem last year and it's still a question mark heading into 2015.
9) Kyle Fuller - The Bears drafted Fuller and immediately made him one of the top 3 corners, which added to his importance. They needed him to come through, and while he had some moments of brilliance, being pressed into a starting role coupled with his numerous injuries hurt his overall play.
8) Jeremiah Ratliff - The Bears needed Ratliff to shake off his shortened, sub par 2013 season and play closer to his Pro Bowl level in 2014. Even though he missed a few games to injury, he was arguably Chicago's best player last year.
7) Matt Forte - Coming off a 2013 season that saw him play 87.9% of the offensive snaps, I knew head coach Marc Trestman would lean on him again last year.
6) The #2 QB - With Jay Cutler coming off a season in which he missed time again, it was important to identify a capable back up QB just in case. It turns out Cutler was healthy all year long, but his play got him benched for Jimmy Clausen.
5) Jared Allen - Even though Allen was signed late in the free agent process, the Bears gave him big money to get after the quarterback. They were also counting on his leadership as the team transitioned to a full fledged Mel Tucker style of defense.
4) Brandon Marshall - Chicago needed their #1 wide out to continue to play like a #1. He didn't on the field and his off the field stuff bit the Bears in the ass, too.
3) Lamarr Houston - I think the fans had more creative ideas to get the former Raider involved in the defense than did Tucker, who simply lined him up as the left defensive end then kicked him inside on passing downs. Then of course Houston injured himself at the start of a sack celebration and his season was history.
2) Mel Tucker - Ugh... I've already mentioned Tucker more than I wanted to. Tucker ran the Tampa 2 his first year in Chicago, that didn't work, so he was promised the ability to do things his way in 2014, and that didn't work either.
1) Jay Cutler - Every year that I've done the 10 Most Important Bears, I've had Cutler on top. His poor season wasn't the only reason the Bears sucked in 2014, but it sure contributed.
Will I have Cutler #1 again in 2015?