The Bears are a team that has been living in the basement of the NFC North for a better part of the season. Everyone knows that teams that dwell at the bottom don’t get much recognition. You would think that a 2-7 team wouldn’t have too many, if any, notable players but the Bears have a couple of guys that have shined through the first nine weeks of the season. Who are they and why do they deserve to be honored? Are there any Pro Bowl players on the Bears?
The election that everyone has been waiting for has come and gone and we now know who the next President of the United States will be. We finally have some closure.
Another kind of vote is happening in the NFL right now and that’s the Pro Bowl vote. If you have been following the latest Bears’ news, you will know that people have been touting one player in particular as being a strong candidate for the Pro Bowl.
But in other circles, another player has had his name thrust forward as being a possible candidate for the NFL’s all-star game. A third candidate has been a mainstay for the Bears in the Pro Bowl. Could the Bears really have three Pro Bowl candidates?
Consider one nearly a lock, the other a dark horse and one a fringe Pro Bowl candidate with a Pro Bowl pedigree. We are going to take a brief look at each player and see why they could get “elected” to the Pro Bowl this year.
This could be an excellent debate, but you could consider Freeman to be the Bears best defender. He could quite possibly their best player so far this season. Freeman is the defense’s leader in tackles through eight games played with 72 total tackles (52 solo and 20 assists). He has been a very productive tackler and is also one of their top play makers.
He has been able to force ball carriers backwards causing them to not gain that critical down. Freeman also takes them down right away and doesn’t let himself get taken for extra yardage like some defenders do.
Freeman can be found making plays all over the field and is involved in almost every defensive play. He is very smart and knows how to play in this defense.
Is it right to say he is the Bear’s best defender? Many just might agree with that assessment.
Injuries haven’t helped the Bears defense at all. Wit that, Chicago has been lucky that Freeman has been healthy so far this season. When he has had to, he has stepped up and played harder when starters are out (such as Danny Trevethan and Leonard Floyd). He hasn’t missed a beat.
He deserves to be in the Pro Bowl.
There are going to be some people that think that it’s a huge stretch to say that Howard could be a top performer . An even bigger stretch might be saying he could make the Pro Bowl. But aside from a couple of games with poor production, which was due to the opposing defenses, Howard has been very productive.
His biggest game came against the Vikings but he had had some strong outings prior to that. Even though the starter to begin the season, Jeremy Langford, is back, you can count on Howard starting the rest of the season.
But is Howard deserving of your Pro Bowl vote? If you look at the stats, you will see that he is ranked fourth in the NFC in rushing yards. He is poised to gain even more in the next eight games. Howard may not overtake the top two guys (Dallas’s Ezekiel Elliot and Arizona’s David Johnson) but he could land in the third spot very easily.
If he continues this pace and keeps playing well over the course of the next few games, he could easily be a Pro Bowl alternate. That’s no joke.
Can the Bears offensive line and offensive coordinator make things easy on Howard the rest of the season? We will find out as the remaining games are played. If he can keep consistent and play at a high level he could receive some recognition. As a rookie, he won’t be beating out Elliot but he might easily be the second best rookie back in the league.
Another Bear who has an outside shot at making the Pro Bowl this season is center Cody Whitehair. Remember that Whitehair is a rookie who was projected to be a guard but was forced to play center after a season ending injury to starter Hroniss Grasu.
Whitehair has had some growing pains but he is improving with each game and has been a valuable asset to the team. He could be named to an all-rookie team or two at the end of the season and be a starter on the team for several seasons to come.
Being forced to adapt to the NFL so quickly hasn’t seemed to be an issue for Whitehair. He is coming along nicely and has become a very good football player. He should have continued success through the next seven games.
There are a couple guys that need a little recognition for what they have done this season. Here are two Bears worth mentioning.
There are some that may think that Hicks hasn’t shown much this season but he has flashed in games. He has performed well (Chicago’s game against the Vikings was his best) in some situations and is making General Manager Ryan Pace look smart for bringing him in as a free agent this offseason.
If Hicks can improve, coupled with the return of Eddie Goldman, the Bear’s defensive line will be much better than it has been through the first part of the season.
Hicks will be a strong contributor the rest of this season and could be talked about as one of the Bears most valuable defenders by the end of this season.
Do you have a current Bears player that you feel needs special recognition through the first half of this season? Don’t agree with the author? Please comment below.