HOLY SHIT PEOPLE. IT IS GAME WEEK. Really! We got a bit of college football to whet the ol' appetite (and I tell you as an Illinois fan, there's nothing like watching Nathan Scheelhaase's noodle arm to get you excited for Jay Cutler) this awesome Labor Day weekend, and now we get Bears football. Hell, they're even throwing us a game on Wednesday this year because THEY KNOW YOU NEED THIS. The new season of the Prognostication Bukakke should be up soon (in case we're too slow to have it up by tomorrow, all three of us have chosen the Giants).
All of that out of the way, it's time to break down the Bears 53 man roster and predict awesome career years for everyone:
QBs: #6 Jay Cutler, #2 Jason Campbell
I love that the Bears, now rid of Martz and his constant desire for a project QB, have decided to go with 2 QBs. There's no reason to waste a roster spot on "We're Fucked if this Guy is Playing Anyway." I'm betting Josh McCown will be available again. If not, Donovan McNabb will be. No one will care at that point anyway.
As for the two guys who are still here, well, Jay Cutler's improved every year as a Bear and there's no reason not to think that this won't be his best year yet. Jason Campbell is already the best backup quarterback in Bears history (and probably would be in the top ten of starting QBs). This part of the roster is definitely as strong as it has ever been.
HBs: #22 Matt Forte, #29 Michael Bush, #38 Lorenzo Booker
One of the things I love about Phil Emery so far is that everything he's done has made so much damn sense. So much scary, un-Bearslike sense. He signed Kahlil Bell to a decent contract and brought in Michael Bush in order to squeeze Forte. When Forte signed, he deemed Bell superfluous and dumped his high price tag for a cheaper player who adds more value on special teams. That's just the kind of shit Jerry Angelo would never have thought of.
This is a strong unit as well. Forte and Bush are both well-rounded backs who can run, block, and catch. Bush is (hopefully) the answer to the never-ending search for a quality short yardage back. Booker's been dynamic on returns and can probably add the occasional change of pace. Again, it's hard to remember any time when the Bears had so much talent AND depth at all three major offensive skill units.
FB: #88 Evan Rodriguez.
I wasn't surprised to see the Bears get rid of the overrated Tyler Clutts. Rodriguez is listed as a FB but is much more of an H-Back, a confusing hybrid that the Bears haven't ever really employed but really isn't much of a fullback at all. He'll shift around a bit and will mostly be used as a receiver, while Davis and Spaeth do most of the in-line blocking. Rodriguez is very intriguing. If he's over the personal issues that plagued him in college and develops his blocking, he'll be a very valuable asset in the passing game.
TEs: #87 Kellen Davis, #89 Matt Spaeth, #86 Kyle Adams
With Clutts getting tossed and Rodriguez listed as a FB, Kyle Adams gets to stay on as a third tight end. Good for him, as he's a nice blocker and has actually flashed a mild amount of receiving ability this preseason.
Davis is a great blocker (no pressures or sacks allowed the last 11 weeks of last season) and has great athleticism. I think he'll probably haul in around 30-40 balls for about 500 yards this season, although he may see his targets diminish in favor of Rodriguez. Matt Spaeth is just a loveable red zone blocker and nothing else.
WRs: #15 Brandon Marshall, #23 Devin Hester, #17 Alshon Jeffery, #80 Earl Bennett, #14 Eric Weems, #18 Dane Sanzenbacher
So my long-awaited Sanzenbacher cut day has been delayed. Curiously, the Bears placed Johnny Knox on the PUP rather than IR, so Sanzenbacher may only get a six week reprieve. Either way it hardly matters since the Bears sixth wide receiver will hopefully never take the field on offense.
Marshall is obviously the number one wide receiver that's been missing since...forever. Hester will be a starter in name only, as his reps at this point are nearly equal with Alshon between the 20s and Alshon will get nearly all of the red zone work. Before long even the formality will give way. Earl Bennett is healthy, and is actually now in an offense where he can simply be the slot receiver. That's a good thing. Eric Weems can return kicks and may catch 10 balls this year if Hester gets the flu again. This, again, is the deepest receiving corps in Bears history.
OTs: #73 J'Marcus Webb, #72 Gabe Carimi, #74 Chris Williams
Not surprisingly, Webb won the left tackle competition that he was clearly supposed to win. I still don't hate him quite as much as I probably should. He's still a guy with a ton of talent who made the long jump up from Division II and who has basically had two rookie seasons, one at right tackle and one at left tackle. He'll also be less exposed this year, which is good. I don't really understand moving Chris Williams back to LT if he wasn't really going to win the job. He's still got a lot of potential and doesn't make much sense on the bench. They either never should have moved him to left guard or they should have left him there.
Carimi performed well in preseason and hasn't had any trouble with his recovery, so hopefully he's set to man the right side for a long time, as he's the biggest key to the offensive line's improvement this year. I was also happy to see that they got James Brown through waivers and onto the practice squad, as he's got the potential to develop into the swing tackle role when Williams moves on.
OGs: #67 Chris Spencer, #60 Lance Louis, #70 Edwin Williams, #62 Chilo Rachal
This is actually a pretty solid unit in the interior of the offensive line. Spencer and Edwin Williams allowed just 2 sacks total between the two of them last year. Lance Louis got manhandled at times at RT, but he's only allowed 1 sack when he's starting at guard the last two years. He's also a mauler in the run game. Chilo Rachal is a great run blocker who may work his way into the lineup if he fixes his footwork in pass protection. The tackles are still a question mark, but the guards are deep and solid, if not necessarily spectacular.
C: #63 Roberto Garza
Roberto is getting up there, but it's hard not to be impressed with how well he handled the move back to center last year. He certainly made fewer errors than his overrated predecessor, and he earned the small extension that he got. That said, should he falter, Edwin Williams is waiting in the wings.
That's it for now. I'll post the defense when I have time. Go Bears.