The Bears took the field this morning after arriving at training camp over the last two days. If you read part one of my training camp primer you know what the important battles are in training camp, you also know most of the work is on the defensive side of the ball. While there are offensive positions that still need to be settled, camp news will heavily focus on the defense. The Bears put up some incredible numbers last season offensively, but there are some depth concerns on the offense in two key positions.
The Chicago Bears wide receiver corps is dangerous, and for bears fans its beyond exciting to reverse that old adage, “Chicago is where receivers go to die”. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery combined for 189 catches for 2,716 yards. Marc Trestman’s offense is clearly what many were hoping for, an explosive, quarterback friendly system where skills positions thrive. Protection has been light years ahead of previous years, and has clearly had an impact. With all this greatness comes one big concern. The depth behind these two stud receivers is highly lacking. There is reason for optimism as Marquess Wilson, my steal of the draft (for the Bears) could make a serious impact. Prior to his incident at Washington State, Wilson was a highly productive, highly touted wide receiver prospect for the 2013 NFL draft. After the off field issues became public, no one seemed to want to take a chance on Wilson. The Bears elected to take that risk in the seventh round. Wilson didn’t see much action in the regular season, but his reps are going to increase during camp. The Bears brought in Josh Morgan from the Washington Redskins who doesn’t inspire much hope. Last season he only contributed 20 receptions for 214 total yards for the Redskins. After Morgan and Wilson there isn’t anyone that will challenge for the third spot. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Marquess Wilson will take that spot, and it looks as if it’s already his to lose. The Bears will likely keep Morgan as a fourth wide receiver, with Chris Williams and Eric Weems rounding out the final spots on the roster. The other worrisome position for the Bears is tight end. It’s essentially all or nothing on Martellus Bennett. I don’t believe the Bears had many options given the number of moves that needed to be made on defense. There were not too many free agent options available, and drafting one didn’t make enough sense. However there is an undisputed hole, and no one on the team is capable of catching the ball as well as Bennett. In
reality a backup isn’t going to produce like that anyway. The problem is no one can even come close. A pass catching tight end proved to be incredibly valuable to Cutler and Trestman’s offense. If Bennett does go down during the season, the Bears will find themselves without that kind of weapon. Rosario can block, but as a receiver he poses as a minimal threat. I lobbied for the Bears to take a run at Owen Daniels, although he has injury risk, he would have complimented Bennett very well, and would be an upgrade at the number two spot. There is still Jermichael Finley from the Green Bay Packers, however no one is quite sure what he wants to make, and injury is a serious concern.
Matt Forte is the obvious starter at running back, and that won’t change anytime soon. His first year in Trestman’s offense proved to be ultra productive. Forte was just short of 2,000 all purpose yards. Forte proved once again he is a weapon that demands coverage from the opposing team. Even through the air, Forte caught 74 passes for 594 yards. He is one of the best multi-purpose backs in the NFL. Forte paints a picture for the future of the running back position. Behind Forte is an interesting competition to be his backup. The Bears elected to use a fourth round draft pick on the ultra productive Ka’Demm Carey. In his final year at University of Arizona he ran for 1,885 yards on 349 yards. Carey has a lot of miles on his legs, but he has been a solid and consistent producer at University of Arizona. He’s shown the ability to be productive when catching out of the backfield, which will help him solidify a spot in Trestman’s offense. Carey may not have elite speed, running a 4.70 at the NFL combine, but he has great vision and quick cuts. it’s likely Carey will be Forte’s backup. It will be up to his pass protection and how well he can execute those pieces of his game. Following Carey, I think Michael Ford will get the final spot. He has ability as a returner, and showed flashes in preseason.