Today we take a look at part two of the major questions surrounding the Chicago Bears as they head into the 2013 NFL season. After looking at three previous ones, here are the final two.
4. Can another wide receiver other than Brandon Marshall emerge as a legitimate target?
After bringing in Brandon Marshall last year for a third round draft pick (seriously, that was it), nobody could have been happier than quarterback Jay Cutler. The two former teammates created one heck of a combo as Marshall finished with 118 receptions for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns, all of which were good for top five in their respective categories. Marshall’s 194 targets were also good for second in the league, trailing only Calvin Johnson. However, the Bears cannot continue to rely so heavily on their superstar wide receiver. The second highest output for receptions on the team in 2012 was from running back Matt Forte. There is an issue there. Another wide receiver needs to step up in 2013. But who will it be?
The logical answer would be second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. He was off to a solid start last season as he tallied three receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut against Indianapolis. Jeffery then followed that performance up with a mediocre one catch for seven yards the following week against the Packers. Along with his inconsistent play, Jeffery was dealing with hand and knee injuries throughout the season.
Even with a somewhat unproductive season, 24 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns, Jeffery will enter camp as the No. 2 receiver opposite of Marshall. His 6-foot-3 and 216 pound frame is one of the bigger ones in the league at the wide receiver position. And he showed flashes of dominance at the collegiate level with South Carolina. His ability to go up and bring down 50-50 balls is reminiscent of Marshall. The added attention on Marshall should also help Jeffery receive more targets this year. If healthy, Jeffery can have a very productive season in 2013.
5. Will Jay Cutler prove that he is the long term option at quarterback?
It’s the biggest question surrounding the Bears in 2013. The future of quarterback Jay Cutler is up in the air, although it really shouldn’t be. With a much improved offensive line and hopefully a healthy receiver group, Cutler is in for a possible breakout season.
Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod at left tackle will be a tremendous upgrade form J’Marcus Webb, who will more than likely shift to the right tackle spot. With Bushrod protecting Cutler’s blindside, he should have much more time to read through his options and make the best possible throw.
Marshall and Jeffery are two of the bigger receivers in the league on the outside. In the slot, Cutler will be looking for speedy receivers Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashodu. The weapons are all there for Cutler. He just needs to put it all together now. For that, he will have new head coach Marc Trestman. As mentioned before, Trestman’s work with past quarterbacks should help Cutler very much in 2013. As long as Cutler is willing to listen to Trestman and not do his own thing, he could be in for a very nice season, which will result in a lot of green in his pocket in the offseason.