5 Chicago Bears Bound to Break Out in 2014
Last year, it was Alshon Jeffery, and the year before, it was Corey Wootton. Every season, there are players who break out and start to make major contributions for the team.
Who will it be this year? The Chicago Bears certainly need a few guys to step up. The defense will not make it if some players don't improve upon their performance from last year.
There are five players on the roster who will catch your eye next season. These are the guys poised to break out in 2014.
Running Back Michael Ford
There's a good chance veteran backup Michael Bush will not be back with the team next year. He just doesn't fit into Marc Trestman's offense, and the Bears need a better all-around backup to Matt Forte.
Second-year man Michael Ford has the inside track to be Forte's backup. Ford provides more versatility than Bush. His stout frame and surprising burst give the Bears a better look when Forte needs a break.
Ford didn't have carry last year and his only real contribution was five kick returns in 12 games. Trestman will give Ford every chance possible to show what he can do. Ford will respond and produce in the offense.
It will be up to Ford to work on his blocking and receiving. If he shows he can be reliable in both areas then the Bears will roll with him as their primary backup. He could even see playing time on the field with Forte.
Middle Linebacker Jonathan Bostic
Jon Bostic was set up for failure last year. He was thrust into the starting role, forced to take command of a beleaguered defense and had to do it all while trying to adjust to life as a rookie.
Bostic was bad in his rookie season, but don't put the full blame on him. The defensive line was in shambles, and the coaching staff did him no favors. He was hung out to dry, and it showed game after game.
Next year will be better for Bostic. A healthy and hopefully retooled defense, coupled with a newly focused defensive coaching staff, will aid Bostic.
It takes time for a middle linebacker to grow into his role in the NFL. Guys like Brian Urlacher and Luke Kuechly are the exception and not the norm. Bostic will be a smarter and more accountable player who will take a big step in Year 2.
Defensive End David Bass
David Bass does only one thing well; he gets after the quarterback. Bass had 40.5 career sacks during his college days at Missouri Western State.
Bass showed everybody what he can do against Joe Flacco and the Ravens. His pick-six was the first by a Bears lineman since 2004, and he was the first rookie lineman to do so since 1987. Bass has big-play capability this defense so desperately needs.
The speed and the ferocity Bass uses to get off the ball cannot be coached. What can and will be coached is the technique and the wherewithal to make the smart play at not just run up the field all the time.
Bass has the chance to be a force on obvious passing downs. Last season, he had only one sack in limited time. Expect the workload to increase on a rebuilt defense and his skill set to be better strategically used.
Cornerback Isaiah Frey
Confidence is a necessary trait for all quality corners. Last year, he gained a ton of it in training camp, and it carried him all the way to a starting nickel position. This year, it's time for him to build on the same confidence.
In his rookie year, Isaiah Frey didn't even make the field. In his second season, he became a starter. Kelvin Hayden's early injury opened a door Frey will gladly shut behind him now that he's in.
Frey's not moving from the nickel spot, and that's a good thing. He's comfortable there after playing a full season as a starter. It's now time for him to completely own the role and start being more productive.
The Bears used to be a defense that would get some game-breaking plays from its third corners. Frey didn't have an interception, forced fumble or sack last year. All of that will change in 2014 with more confidence under his belt.
Wide Receiver Marquess Wilson
Remember when Jeffery worked out with Brandon Marshall last offseason? The skills and the camaraderie he learned catapulted him to stardom last year.
If you have been following Marshall on Instagram, you will see a third player has been added to the mix. Second-year man Marquess Wilson is down in Florida training with Marshall and Jeffery.
Wilson is very talented. He put up solid numbers at Washington State. Sadly, an incident with then head coach Mike Leach caused him to leave the team and drop his draft stock.
The incident is well past Wilson, and he's poised to show people around the league he truly is a reliable and talented receiver.
The Bears got a steal in the seventh round last year. Wilson's size is on par with Marshall and Jeffery, and he is learning from the best receiver duo in the league. This will pay off in a major way as he should overtake Earl Bennett for the third receiver job.