The 5-11 Bears of 2014 were a sorry bunch and an embarrassment to the navy and orange faithful. As a result the team is, rightly I might add, not getting a lot of love heading into the 2015 season.
While head coach John Fox is known for his quick turnarounds, the team he took over was so dysfunctional and full of under achievers that even the most optimistic among us aren't expecting much better than 8-8. The schedule opens with three straight tough games which could put them in a hole to dig out of early.
With a roster full of unknown and unproven young players and disappointing veterans, there aren't any players to be getting any offseason awards talk.
Chris Wesseling over at NFL.com recently looked at some candidates for the big non-MVP award: Comeback Player of the Year. Unlike the other, value-oriented awards (Defensive/offensive rookie/MVP), CPOY doesn't have a great set of criteria.
One year it could be given to a player returning from a devastating injury, the next to a QB who had the fork proverbially put in his career. Philip Rivers won the award in 2013 after "slumping" the previous season and then playing better.
Needless to say, the Bears didn't have any players on his list. The Vikings' Adrian Peterson was his top candidate for the award and I can't say it's a bad choice.
The problem for Bears players are that their offensive players didn't really have any huge slumps last year to come back from, nor did they have any devastating injuries.
Jay Cutler is listed as an "other candidate" at the end of Wesseling's list and he is the only one with a chance, but he doesn't have the resume of past QB winners. He'd also have to have a career year (i.e. less than 15 INTs, probably less than 20 total turnovers) and I have a hard time believing that will happen. It could, but it just isn't likely.
The other issue is is that all their best candidates are defensive players, and a defensive player hasn't won the award since 2000 when Joe Johnson won it. Only three defensive players have ever won the award in its 42 year history.
Jared Allen could get some strong consideration if he transitioned well to the 3-4 and racked up about 15.5 sacks. Lamarr Houston or Willie Young would be longshots with big years as they return from injuries as well.
Some of their one-year prove-it players could also be longshots with career years. Specifically Sam Acho and Mason Foster come to mind of those players.
In the former Bear crowd, Charles Tillman is also mentioned in the "other candidates" category. He has had two injury-plagued years and I am sure I speak for a lot of Bears fans when I say it would be neat to see him play 16 and lead the league in forced fumbles and INTs and win the award, especially since the Bears don't play the Panthers.
Who do you think is the Bears' best CPOY candidate?