After missing the playoffs two consecutive years and five of the last six, the Bears brass decided to let Lovie Smith go and bring in Marc Trestman as the new head coach for the 2013 season. It was a surprising choice, certainly one that no one predicted before the initial rumors surfaced. and 2013 was a transition year for the Bears; After 9 years of solid defenses and boring offenses under Lovie, the Bears brought in a supposed offensive mastermind, a QB whisperer, that was going to bring the Bears offense into the 21st century and fix Jay Cutler.
The Bears offense was certainly different in 2013, outscoring every team except Peyton Manning’s Broncos. It was amazing to watch after a lifetime of 3 yards and a cloud of dust offensive schemes. It was also heart-wrenching to watch the once proud Bears defense fall apart and allow bums and has-beens like Benny Cunningham and Brandon Jacobs run wild on the Bears D. It was an awkward transition, as fun as it was to watch a real offense for once, it was the first time in my life that I was embarrassed about the Bears defense.
2013 is over with the Bears missing the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive year, but there are signs for hope (and despair if you are a half-empty guy). Jay Cutler and the Bears offense have had a year to perfect Trestman’s complex offense so there is a chance they can improve on their 27.8 points per game average. They might need to, considering that last year’s defense gave up 29.9 points per game last year (30th in the league).
The Bears didn’t make any changes to the offensive starting lineup, which makes sense considering they all played pretty well except for maybe Jordan Mills. For a 5th round pick, Mills wasn’t that bad, and some improvement should be expected in year 2. Besides Mills there are really no weak spots on the offense and some improvement can be expected from young players like Kyle Long and Alshon Jeffery. The Black Unicorn will be better if he can avoid nagging injuries, and this is Jay Cutler’s first consecutive years with the same coordinator since he joined the Bears and I am expecting big things.
I mentioned how bad the defense was and I probably understated it, they were legitimately terrible. They gave up the most rushing yards, had the least amount of sacks in the league and gave up the second most points. It was disgusting. Bears GM Phil Emery made a significant effort to stop the bleeding on defense by signing free agent DEs Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, and Willie Young. He added a couple solid veteran defenders in Ryan Mundy and D.J. Williams, and spent four of their first five draft picks on defensive players. It would be impossible for the defense to be any worse, but with all the talent the Bears added they have a legit shot to be a mid-tier defense if everyone stays healthy.
The NFC North may be the most talented division in the league, so it’s going to be tough for the Bears to break their 3 year streak of no playoff appearances, but they have an elite offense and a rebuilt defense that should be good enough to hold defenses to under 30 points. If the Bears offense is at least as good as last year, then that will be enough and the Bears should be able to win 10 games and make the playoffs. Keep reading for a breakdown of the Bears offseason moves, their upcoming schedule, and my game-by-game predictions on how the Bears will do in 2014.