This will be my eighth season picking the 10 Most Important Chicago Bears here at Windy City Gridiron, which makes mine the longest running such series amongst all Chicago Bears writers. But before I kick off the series, I'll take a peek back at the 10 guys I tabbed for their importance before last season started.
Gauging the importance of a player or coach to a team's success is a difficult and very subjective task. I'm doing it for the discussion it will generate here at WCG, not to try and nail my 10 picks. I expect some of you guys to disagree with me, but that's part of the fun in doing this list.
Back when I first sat down to compile this list I had to think about the criteria I'd use and here's what I came up with.
"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."
Those intangible attributes are a toughy to quantify, so often times I'm making my list and altering it on a gut instinct.
Even though the Bears improved from 2014 to 2015, they were still a losing team, so some of the guys that needed to shine obviously didn't. Here are my 10 Most Important Bears from 2015.
For those of you that just skim our articles and you think this is my 2016 list, be warned you will be mocked in the comment thread. For a look back at what I wrote last year, just click on the number in front of the Bears' name.
10) Eddie Goldman - Putting a rookie on the list was risky, but I knew the Bears had to get better play from their defensive front,k especially with the change to a 3 man front.
9) Kyle Long - Long was the most experienced Bears offensive lineman returning to the team last year and there was some questions on his ultimate 2015 position.
8) The Inside Linebackers - With a change to the 3-4 defense, the Bears needed their young group of ILBs to play well. We all know how that experiment went.
7) Kyle Fuller - On paper, Fuller should have been the Bears best defensive back last year. After a slow start, I though he had a strong finish to the season.
6) Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery averaged a career high 89.7 yards per game last year. The problem was that he only played in 9 games.
5) Pernell McPhee - The Bears' new 3-4 defense needed the experienced and violent McPhee to be a leader and a playmaker. He was a team captain, and when he was healthy he was effective, but like Jeffery he was hurt off and on last year.
4) Jay Cutler - For the first time ever I didn't have Cutler at #1 in my list. He had arguably his best season ever.
3) Adam Gase - Gase went from a hot head coaching candidate to following John Fox to the Bears. He had a steadying hand in helping Cutler play smart football.
2) Vic Fangio - For the first time ever the Bears weren't going to run a 4-3 defense. The man tasked with transitioning them was one of the better coordinators around.
1) John Fox - Fox had the hardest job in all of football last year, changing the culture of the Bears after the Marc Trestman era ended.
I'll kick off my 2016 list on Tuesday of next week, so If I don't see you guys at all before then, have a happy and safe 4th of July holiday!