Chicago Bears: 15 Things Needed to Make 2014-2015 Super Bowl Run
The Chicago Bears Must Do These 15 Things to Make a Super Bowl Run
Like many Chicago Bears fans, I thought that last season they could have definitely done better. The Bears' 2013 season was a disappointment, to say the least. Under first-year coach Marc Trestman, the Bears' offense flourished. We saw points put up like they haven't been scored in years. It was exciting and, well, it was the only thing Chicago had going for them.
The defense was shredded as the year went on. Injuries played a part, but overall it just didn't seem the same. The Bears weren't forcing turnovers like fans were used to seeing in recent seasons. They weren't stopping the run -- and that's putting it nicely. They weren't pressuring the quarterback -- again, injuries did not help in this area. It was almost an embarrassing effort all-around on the defensive side, quite frankly.
But, like every other team sitting at home right now, Chicago has hope for next year. It's not too far off to say that this Bears team could make a run in 2014. The talented offense will be in its second year under Trestman, giving them even more time to gel and the confidence that they can be better than they were a year ago.
Things are going to need to change, however -- quite a few of them. Super Bowl runs don't just happen; they are carefully crafted. Chicago has some work to do in every phase of the ball, and the coaching job needs to be better as well -- especially on the defensive side of the ball.
What do the Bears need to do to ensure a Super Bowl run next season? What is their main concern? Where is the greatest weakness? Don't answer those just yet, allow me to do so in the next 15 slides. Check out the 15 things Chicago must do in order to make a Super Bowl run happen in 2014, and comment with your thoughts below.
15. Get Matt Forte 100 Catches
In his first year under Trestman, running back Matt Forte had arguably his best season yet. Forte finished with over 1,900 total yards on the season, featuring a 74-catch performance. This Bears offense can get more exciting, folks. It sure can -- mark my words. If Forte gets 100 catches in 2014, these guys will put up over 30 points per game in their sleep.
14. Score on Goal-to-Go
This is an area that has frustrated Bears fans at times over the last several years. Chicago brought in Michael Bush to make this happen, but he has been less than expected from inside the 5-yard line. Whether or not they keep Bush going into next season, Chicago needs to get a better push from their line and a better effort from their backs to make sure points are scored when the offense is that close.
13. Find Another Return Specialist
If your'e an honest Bears fan, you realize that Devin Hester is done. He does not have a lot left in the tank in terms of his elite status as a return specialist. As a free agent, he wants to return to the Bears, but I'm not so sure they will see it his way. If Hester is gone, Chicago needs to develop a return game that will be one to reckoned with. It was a huge part of their success over the years, but now it is virtually non-existent and, well, average.
12. Groom Jonathan Bostic for Future Stardom
As bad as the defense was last season, I saw some great things out of rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic. I also saw some not-so-good things. But, that's to be expected as a first-year, second-round player. Chicago is a franchise that lives, breathes, eats and sleeps middle linebackers. Bostic's development should be toward the top of the defensive priority list.
11. Tackling 101
Bears fans cringed more and more as the season went on due to the inability to wrap up on defense. It was absolutely pitiful. It's almost as if they forgot how to tackle. In practice, the defense needs to have this drilled into their head all summer, all training camp and all season long. Better angles, going waist and below and as if it couldn't be more obvious, more effort in general. Too often was the defense burned due to poor tackling. That stops now, if they want to make it all the way in 2014.
10. Release Julius Peppers
It is no secret that Julius Peppers is no where near the guy he was just a few short years ago. He will count over $18 million against the cap next season if Chicago keeps him and does nothing. If they release him, it would open up a lot of money they can use to get better on defense as a whole. Peppers is not worth keeping at this point, and is worth cutting in the end.
9. Beat Teams They’re Supposed to Beat
It is going to be tough to win a Super Bowl, let alone make the playoffs, if you're losing to teams like the St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins. There isn't much else to say about that. They need to beat teams they're supposed to beat, plain and simple.
8. Legitimate Backup Quarterback
Recently, Josh McCown has said he would like to return to Chicago after contemplating retirement back in December. This would be a huge win for the Bears. Having two capable quarterbacks in both McCown and Jay Cutler, in the same offense as a year ago, would benefit the offense in an inexplicable way. McCown made a career stride in 2013 under Trestman and would give the Bears a luxury if they can bring him back. If not, then Chicago has a job to fill.
7. Healthy Offensive Line
This was a pleasant surprise a year ago. The Bears started two rookies on the right side of the line in Kyle Long and Jordan Mills, and they played phenomenal in their first year. Chicago had by far the best offensive line they have had since Cutler joined the team and in order to make a run next year, the unit needs to stay healthy and continue to build on their chemistry.
6. Re-Sign Henry Melton
The defense took an immediate dive after Henry Melton tore his ACL and went out for the year. The former Pro Bowl defensive tackle is one of the best in the business and if Chicago wants to work toward bettering their front line, Melton needs to be back in blue and orange. It has got to happen.
5. Dominate Divisional Play
Going 2-4 in divisional play is not going to get you into the playoffs, nor should they have had any shot to even win the NFC North last season with that type of play. They must boast a winning record in the black and blue division while winning it overall. If not, we could be in for another season just like 2013.
4. Force More Turnovers
In 2012, the Bears forced 44 turnovers. Last season, they dropped down to 28. This is Bears football. If the defense is to return to form, it has to start with taking the ball away like they have done in the past. There are many ways to make this happen, but the bottom line is just that -- it needs to happen.
3. Find Safety Help
I have never seen worse angles taken by a group of safeties in my life -- whether in the passing game or run game. I could list areas Chris Conte and Major Wright need help, but it might take too long. The Bears need solidified starters at the safety position, or these two need to get their act together.
2. Jay Cutler Needs to Limit Mental Mistakes
We've heard it for years now, Cutler has all the potential in the world to be an elite quarterback. He can make all the throws, and has shown that. But, it still comes down to making mental mistakes. Whether that's forcing throws or holding the ball too long, these mistakes need to stop if the Bears are to make a run.
1. Stop the Run
The Bears’ Achilles heel last year was in defending the run. They allowed six straight 100-yard rushers en route to the worst run defense there was in 2013. Ray Rice had a down year and the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line ranked near the bottom of the league, but they still allowed him to dash all over them for 131 yards in his breakout game of the season. This is at the top of the offseason priority list. Chicago has to stop the run. They don't need to be tops in the league, but it wouldn't hurt. Improving from last year needs to be seen, that's all the fans are asking. If not, well, then the Super Bowl is far out of the question.