By Tyler McMullen @Direct_Snap on July 16, 2014
The Chicago Bears were one of the surprise teams in 2013, remaining in contention for the NFC North title for the majority of the season. Chicago came up just shy in 2013, but the team will have their eyes set on improving their win total in 2014 and becoming a force in the NFC.
Here are the top 10 reasons why Chicago fans should be excited for the 2014 NFL season.
The Chicago defense has been riddled with aged veterans who, while they have played consistently well during their respective tenures with the team, cannot seem to stay healthy and are on their last few seasons in the league. That being said, Chicago has set themselves up with a bright future on defense by adding young defensive talents with nice upside such as ILB Jon Bostic and CB Kyle Fuller among many others.
Fuller, Chicago's first-round pick, has NFL bloodlines and looks like a legitimate No. 1 corner at the next level. Fuller is aggressive and truly fits the bill of what Chicago likes in their corners. He will not be asked to start immediately but is likely to compete for a starting role with either Tim Jennings or Charles "Peanut" Tillman. Either of the three would thrive as a nickel corner giving Chicago flexibility defensively.
Chicago really did a nice job of giving themselves a dynamic duo of receivers by bringing in WR Brandon Marshall via trade from the Miami Dolphins and then selecting WR Alshon Jeffery in 2012. Jeffery and Marshall are both 6-foot-3 or taller and weigh in over 220 pounds. These two receivers absolutely manhandled opposing corners last season, and there is no reason to believe that they will not continue their success in 2014.
Cutler put together quite a nice season in his first year with head coach Marc Trestman, and there is no doubt in my mind that Cutler can exceed the standard he set for himself last season. Cutler needs to stay healthy, but he certainly has the tools to be quite a successful player in Trestman's offense. With Jeffery, Marshall, TE Martellus Bennett, RB Matt Forte and many other useful talents, Cutler has no excuses this season.
Chicago needed to add some defensive line help this offseason, and the team did a phenomenal job by adding one of the NFL's most underrated defensive line talents in DE Lamarr Houston. Houston has never been a true pass rushing specialist during his time with the Oakland Raiders, but he is one of the league's best overall in terms of rushing the passer and stopping the run. Houston will add some strength and power up front.
Marc Trestman did a phenomenal job of leading Chicago to a would-be playoff berth in 2013 if not for a slip-up during the final game of the 2013 season. Trestman is entering his second season in the league, and the experience he gained during his first year could lead to some exciting offensive packages in 2014. Trestman is an offensive genius, so expect some creative formations this year.
Briggs is clearly the heart and soul of the Chicago defense. When Briggs went down for an extended period of time in 2013, the defense as a whole struggled to find an identity. There was a lack of communication and a lack of trust among defensive players. In 2014, Briggs is back and ready to go as Chicago's defensive leader and captain. Expect his presence alone to make a big impact for Chicago's rush defense especially.
Perhaps the NFL's most underrated and truly undervalued running back, Matt Forte made a mark in 2013 having one of his best professional seasons in Trestman's new offensive scheme. Trestman decided to feature Forte as the team's top offensive player, and Forte answered that challenge and then some. Forte should be a hot commodity for you fantasy football players out there in 2014, and he could be in line for a potential MVP season.
Not only did Chicago reel in Houston, but the team also brought in former division rival Jared Allen. Allen, one of the league's most consistent pass rushers, adds a sense of toughness to a Chicago defense that has seemed a bit weaker in recent seasons overall. Allen's nonstop motor will certainly be a key factor in the success of the Chicago pass rush in 2014, and his toughness and relentless nature will be an added bonus for the team.
Marshall and Cutler have been one of the NFL's best QB-WR duos for the past three seasons, and it seems as though they are only getting that much better. The two began their careers together in Denver and were reunited in Chicago, where they have put up some eye-popping numbers over the past few seasons. The Cutler-Marshall connection will only grow stronger as Jeffery begins to grow into another dominant pass catcher.
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