Chicago Bears: 2013 Season Report Card
2013 Season Report Card For Chicago Bears
Coming into the 2013 NFL season, there was some uncertainty about the state of the Chicago Bears. The organization fired Lovie Smith and brought in the offensive-minded Marc Trestman from the CFL as their new head coach. Starting quarterback Jay Cutler was in his final year of his contract, and no one knew if learning a new offensive system would lessen his chancees of getting a new deal. In addition, Chicago’s aging defense was being introduced to a new defensive coordinator.
As the year got underway, things looked to be going in the Bears’ favor, with the team winning three of their first four games. Unfortunately, as the season rolled along, injuries haunted Chicago and they found themselves on the losing end of some games that they should have won.
Despite their misfortune, the Bears still remained in the hunt for not only a playoff berth, but for their first division crown since 2010. However, things eventually fell apart, which resulted in Chicago finishing the season with an 8-8 record.
The offense was the second-highest scoring unit in the league and produced three Pro Bowlers. However, the same praise couldn’t be given on the other side of the ball. The Bears’ defense ranked near the very bottom of the NFL in total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed and sacks.
Even with the early exit from this season, there were some good things to take away from Chicago’s efforts. Hopefully, the Bears can build upon those positives and vastly improve on their negatives going forward.
Here are the final grades from Chicago’s 2013 season.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.
Despite missing five games due to injury, Cutler did do enough on the field to prove that he was worth keeping for the long haul. The eight-year veteran seemed very comfortable in Trestman’s offensive scheme as did backup quarterback Josh McCown. With both on the roster, the confidence Bears fans had regarding the quarterback position was at an all-time high. Assuming the Bears re-sign McCown, the Windy City could probably have the best group of quarterbacks in the league.
8. Running Backs
Running back Matt Forte had the best season of his six-year career. Forte’s 1,933 yards from scrimmage (1,339 rushing and 594 receiving) and 12 total touchdowns (nine rushing and three receiving) were all career-highs, which earned him a spot on the Pro Bowl roster for the second time. Backup running back Michael Bush wasn’t used as much as he was last season, but didn’t shine when he number was called.
7. Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The receiving combo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery was hands-down the best in the NFL and the best in franchise history. The duo combined for 189 receptions for 2,716 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns, and both will represent Chicago in the Pro Bowl. The first season in a Bears uniform for tight end Martellus Bennett was a success. Bennett’s 759 receiving yards and five touchdown catches were third on the team.
6. Offensive Line
The play of Chicago’s offensive line was the biggest improvement from last season. The main reason for the success of the Bears’ quarterbacks was due to the protection by the O-line. Chicago surrendered the fourth-fewest sacks in the league (30). What was probably a bigger surprise was the play of the right side of the offensive front, which was occupied by rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills.
5. Defensive Line
Unfortunately, season-ending injuries to defensive linemen Henry Melton and Nate Collins left the depth of the defensive line thin. To make matters worse, the Bears’ best D-lineman, Julius Peppers, started to show his age and finished the year with a subpar performance. A consistent pass rush was hard to come by, and the Bears had only 31 sacks to show for it (tied for last in the NFL).
Just like the defensive line, the linebacking corps was decimated by injuries. Lance Briggs missed virtually the whole season while D.J. Williams was put on the injured reserve list. This left rookies Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene to fill the void. The inexperience led to Chicago having the worse run defense in franchise history.
3. Defensive Backs
Chicago probably could have forced more turnovers had cornerback Charles Tillman not had a season-ending injury. The Bears’ other cornerback, Tim Jennings, did pick up where he left off in 2012 by returning two of his four interceptions for touchdowns. As for the play at both safety positions, a lot of room for improvement is needed. Major Wright constantly whiffed on tackles, and Chris Conte was beat for a lot of big gains in the passing game. The biggest of these was the touchdown pass surrendered in Week 17 that killed Chicago’s playoff hopes.
2. Special Teams
Kicker Robbie Gould had his usual consistent season, connecting on 26 of 29 field goal attempts. Punter Adam Podlesh planted 27 of his 68 punts inside the 20-yard line, and had only two touchbacks. As for return specialist Devin Hester, he did return a punt for a touchdown, which ties him for first all-time for returned touchdowns. Hester’s first season as strictly a returner probably didn’t turn out the way that he or many others wanted. However, he did come up with huge returns in crucial times.
We do know that Trestman’s offensive mind is legitimate, and with the help of offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, Chicago’s offense should be potent for years to come. However, some of the decisions that Trestman made throughout the season were questionable (ie. playing Cutler with an injured groin, or kicking a field goal on second down instead of trying to gain additional yards before attempting the kick).
It’s hard to gauge the performance of defensive coordinator Mel Tucker considering the fact that he was operating under Lovie Smith’s scheme and not his own. Regardless, he failed to make adjustments to improve his defensive unit.