At 7-3, the Bears are in a good position for a playoff spot and if Jay Cutler hadn’t gotten hurt last week, it would seem like a shoe-in. Now unproven backup Caleb Hanie gets the nod, but it’s not just up to him to lead the Bears into meaningful January football and keep Jay’s seat warm when he’s ready to return. The playoffs are still within reach, but a few guys need to step up these last 6 weeks to help secure that playoff spot. Here’s my list of five guys who need to step up for the Bears.
5. Kellen Davis
The tight end is a great security blanket for a quarterback. Kellen Davis has had an up-and-down season but it’s time to step it way up. Not only does he need to help Hanie by getting open and finding the soft spots in the defense, but he also needs to pick up his game in the blocking game.
4. Devin Hester
Is it possible for Hester to be even more ridiculous in the return game than he already has been? Better field position will be essential to give Hanie and the Bears offense a fighting chance.
3. Henry Melton
Julius Peppers can’t do it alone. The Bears defensive line has been largely invisible besides Peppers. Melton had a great game in Week 1 against the Falcons but hasn’t been getting consistent push from his 3-technique spot since. Quarterback sacks lead to turnovers and short fields for Hanie and the offense.
2. Marion Barber
Matt Forte would seem the obvious choice for guys who need to step up, but Forte is already having a career year. Barber missed a few games, so he should have some fresh legs to help bolster the Bears ground game. Barber needs to pick it up in the short yardage and in the red zone while also helping Forte stay fresh.
1. Mike Martz
Martz came in with a reputation of being stubborn and unwilling to adjust his playbook to but he has shown surprising adaptability this season. He tweaked the game plans with max protect, roll outs and called running plays. Hanie is largely an unknown and besides an adrenaline-aided NFC Championship game performance, we don’t know what to expect from him. Martz needs to use that big brain of his to shift on the fly. The Bears can’t afford to wait 2 or 3 games for Martz to change gears and give Hanie the right plays that he can execute to lead the Bears to victory.
Who is on your list of Bears who need to step up for the Bears? Lemme hear ya!