5 Areas of Concern for the Chicago Bears Heading into Training Camp
The Bears will compete for a division title and are much improved but still have some areas of concern. There are some starting roles on defense that are still a little worrisome and what happens if the team needs to count on the backup quarterback again?
Here are the five areas of concern for the Bears heading into training camp.
The Bears have gone from Josh McCown to the combination of Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen. McCown was no star before last year so there's hope for Palmer and Clausen but the Bears still have to be concerned.
Palmer has never started a game in his career and has only thrown 15 passes in four regular season games. Clausen is 1-9 in his career as a starter with three touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Experience and talent are severely lacking in both Clausen and Palmer. Starting quarterback Jay Cutler hasn't played a full season since 2009 meaning the Bears might be forced to hand over the offense to one of these two very mediocre quarterbacks.
Hopefully either Clausen or Palmer will step up and take control of the backup quarterback role in training camp. Should both guys falter, the Bears would have a problem on their hands and might be forced to bring in another guy.
Both Starting Safeties
Safety was a serious problem last year. The Bears made a point of bringing in a handful of new options to compete at both starting positions but they still failed to significantly upgrade the position.
Brock Vereen is a quality talent for where he was drafted but he's still a mid-round rookie. It's going to take him time to grow into the position and if he's the opening day starter then he will have to grow up quickly in a division with Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
Ryan Mundy also lacks experience as a starter. He's only started 15 games in his career and can be remembered best for letting Demaryius Thomas blow past him in a 2012 playoff game that added to the legend of Tim Tebow.
If you are looking past Vereen and Mundy then it gets very scary. Chris Conte is still on the roster, Adrian Wilson is an aging option coming off a major foot injury and M.D. Jennings was one of the worst starting free safeties in the league last year.
Mundy and Vereen can be a good combination but the Bears can ill afford to give them any wiggle room to grow. This is a competitive division and we have seen from years past that one or two games can change the entire outcome.
Special teams was always an area of strength for the Bears under former special teams coach Dave Toub. Last year it took a major step back under the watchful eye of Joe DeCamillis.
This year DeCamillis will have to develop a rookie punter who did most of his work in Miami, replace a legend in Devin Hester and find a guy who can fill the shoes of long time Bear Patrick Mannelly.
In addition to the new players, DeCamillis has to clean up the litany of mistakes made last year. Holding calls, personal fouls and ball control were all an issue last year.
DeCamillis will have to do a masterful job getting this unit back to where it should be. On the bright side, at least he still has Robbie Gould.
Backup Tight End
Starting tight end Martellus Bennett hasn't missed a game in two seasons and let's all pray that trend continues.
Zach Miller (not the one from Seattle), Dante Rosario, Matthew Mulligan and Jeron Mastrud make up the rest of the depth chart after Bennett.
There is little to no depth at tight end and that's a concern. Rosario knows the offense but only caught one pass with the Bears last year. Miller is far removed from his best years in Jacksonville and Mulligan has struggled to stick with a team after spending the first three years of his career with the New York Jets.
Some would say with the crop of running backs and wide receivers like the Bears have, who needs depth at tight end? Injuries happen all the time and it's always nice to have a solid second option for blocking and receiving near the goal line.
Miller is likely the second guy in but look out for Mulligan. He spent time with the Patriots last year and has a lot of versatility.
D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs are solid veterans but the other linebacker spot opposite them is a complete mystery.
On paper, there's a perfect plan of having Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin split time at strong-side linebacker but what if neither develops or steps up?
Bostic had a dreadful rookie year last year in the middle and McClellin is a certified bust at defensive end. The Bears are now asking both guys to regain their mojo at a new position but whether they can do it is still a big question mark.
Nobody will know whether one or both can do the job until training camp, preseason and even the regular season. Until then, strong-side linebacker still remains one of the biggest areas for concern on this roster.