Chicago Bears: Predicting Team Award Winners for the 2012 Season

William Grant@FBGWILLContributor IIIJuly 17, 2012

Chicago Bears: Predicting Team Award Winners for the 2012 Season

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    Matt Forte is now under contract and the Chicago Bears are at full strength as they head into training camp.

    The expectations are high for the Bears this season and new GM Phil Emery is doing his best to put Chicago in a position to get back to the playoffs. 

    We love making predictions for the season, even before training camp begins.

    We've already looked into the Magic Eight Ball to predict how the Bears can go 12-4.

    Now we'll look at some of the team awards that would come out of that season. 

Most Valuable Player: Jay Cutler

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    It might not be for his singing, or the way that he throws out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game, but Jay Cutler is going to be the MVP of the Chicago Bears this season.

    The new passing offense will take advantage of Cutler's ability to improvise, and he'll finally be able to call and audible to get out of a bad defensive situation.

    Cutler should throw for 3800 yards or more this season, and 23-25 touchdowns. If the Bears make it back to the playoffs this season, it will be because Jay Cutler has led them there. 

Offensive Player of the Year: Brandon Marshall

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    The biggest move that Chicago made this offseason was to trade for Brandon Marshall just as the free-agency period began.

    Marshall is a three-time pro-bowl wide receiver with a streak of five consecutive 1000-yard receiving years.

    Chicago hasn't had a 1000-yard receiver since Marty Booker did it in 2002.

    While Matt Forte will be the workhorse of the offense this season, Marshall gets the edge for bringing back the top shelf receiver to Chicago. 

Defensive Player of the Year: Julius Peppers

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    With Shea McClellin and Israel Idonije providing pressure from the other side of the field, Julius Peppers is not going to face as many double-teams as he did last season.

    Offensive lines will not be able to focus exclusively on Peppers, and the pressure from the opposite side might even chase opposing quarterbacks into Peppers' waiting arms.

    Expect Peppers to be among the sack leaders in the league this year and to easily win the Defensive Player of the Year for Chicago. 

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Alshon Jeffery

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    The Offensive Rookie of the Year award isn't going to be much of a contest.

    Alshon Jeffery was a second-round pick and is expected to be a starter opposite Brandon Marshall.

    The only other offensive rookie from Chicago is tight end Evan Rodriguez who will be the #3 tight end, if he isn't regulated to the practice squad.

    Undrafted rookie wideout Chris Summers has chance to make the 53-man roster, but he won't put up the numbers that Jeffery will this season. 

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Brandon Hardin

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    Defensive Rookie of the Year should be first-round pick Shea McClellin.

    The Bears passed on several more highly-ranked rookies in order to draft him, when many people had him as a mid- or late-second-round pick.

    He will probably be a starter at some point this season, but it doesn't seem like he's coming along at the pace that he should be.

    Meanwhile Brandon Hardin has been flying under the radar because of his injury in his final college year.

    Chicago has spent a third- or fourth-round pick on a DB/safety for the last four seasons, and they are still looking for a guy who can be an every down starter.

    Hardin has the potential to surprise everyone if he's healthy and by the time the season is over, Hardin will be their No. 1 defensive rookie. 

Special Teams Player of the Year: Devin Hester

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    'Devin Package' aside, the Bears are still going to use Devin Hester as a return man.

    Adding Eric Weems will give the Bears another kick return threat, but it's Hester's big-play potential that makes him the most dangerous return man in the game.

    By the end of the season, Hester will be the MVP of special teams for Chicago again. 

Most Improved Player: Gabe Carimi

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    The Bears drafted Gabe Carimi in the first round last season because of the huge question marks on the offensive line.

    He played just five quarters before being lost for the season.

    In the summer mini-camps, Carimi has been brought along slowly, but so far he seems to be back at full strength.

    If he can stay healthy, and anchor the right side of the offensive line for the entire season, it's hard to imagine any other player being more improved on this offense. 

Honorary Team Captain: Johnny Knox

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    Despite the season-ending injury last season and starting the season on the "Physically Unable to Perform" list, Johnny Knox has been with the team at every mini-camp this summer.

    He'll probably be there for all of training camp and it won't surprise anyone to see him on the sidelines for every game. 

    He may not play a down this year, and he's a free agent after the 2012 season.  He may never play another down for Chicago, but he'll be there every step of the way.