Last year, certain Chicago Bears played below standard. We all know Jay Cutler was the focus point of all the abuse and he rightly deserved it. You can’t throw 26 INTs and realistically think you can make the playoffs.
Interesting fact: Cutler only threw for 2.4 yards more per game than Matthew Stafford.
Anyway, back to point, as Cutler took most the blame, some underachieving players managed to avoid the spotlight and avoid the blame they deserved.
Although some players on this list do not fall into the category of underachieving players, they have a point to prove that they can still perform at a high level or even maintain that high level.
Point to prove: Can he still play at a high level after all the injuries?
Urlacher dislocated his wrist in the Bear’s Sunday night opener to the Packers. Little did we know the effect it would have on the once dominant Bear's defense.
They lost their cornerstone. They lost their leader. Don’t get me wrong, Hunter Hillenmeyer filled in outstandingly, playing beyond anybody's expectations. But the presence of the six-time Pro Bowler was missed.
Most notably, in the Atlanta game. I specifically remember when Matt Ryan and Co. were running out of no huddle. The Bears had no answer. They had Nick Roach playing middle linebacker, an athletic, yet inexperienced player. He was outsmarted. One way or another, I have a feeling Urlacher’s experience would have come in hand.
With Urlacher fully recovered from the wrist injury, he should be able to slot right back in at the heart of the defense.
But, will he be able to play at the same high standard? Has age caught up to the former Defensive Player of the Year? Have the frequent injuries taken their toll?
Point to Prove: Is he really the No. 1 receiver the Bears have been searching for?
Can he carry his end of season form into the 2010 season?
Oh Devin. Why did you have to get injured early in the season? Why did Ron Turner not decide to play you earlier in the season?
In the last four games of the season, Aromashodu exploded. He recorded 22 catches for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns, including a game winning TD in overtime against the Vikings. Cutler apparently lobbied for him to have more game time. Seems like he was on to something.
Maybe the fact that Aromashodu is the closest thing Cutler can relate to in the way of Brandon Marshall, but if Aromashodu can prove his point that he can consistently play at the high level he did at the back end of the 2009 campaign, he might get the same recognition as Marshall by this time next year.
There is only one obstacle in the way. Will Mike Martz make the dubious decision to wait until week 14 to give the lad significant action?
Somehow, I doubt that.
Point to Prove: Can he regain his form of a 2006 12.0 sack year?
Alex Brown has gone. Adewale Ogunleye is gone. Gaines Adams sadly passed away. Mark Anderson. This is your chance.
Ok, let me start by saying that Mark Anderson has been a major disappointment over the past three years, compiling 9.5 sacks in three years, coming off the outstanding 12 sack year. He will share playing time with Israel Idonije and will more probably see more time as a third down pass rusher.
If that is the case, and he still remembers how to get to the QB, he should have no excuses for putting up good numbers this year.
Lets look at the rest of the line. Tommie Harris (who ill get onto later) may see double teams. Julius Peppers will probably get some attention as well. Marcus Harrison/Jarron Gilbert will take up at least one blocker.
That leaves Mark Anderson with a 1-on-1 match up to get to the QB and in a Division where two of the teams finished first and ninth in sacks allowed, surely if Anderson can find his form, he could be in for a big year.
If he can find his form.
Point to prove: Are you still a Pro-Bowl caliber player?
Tommie Harris, statistically, put up the worst numbers of his NFL career. And this was supposed to be the year in which defensive line guru Rod Marinelli was going to make him a beast again. 24 total tackles and 2.5 sacks is a low in both categories. Not much optimism going into the new season then?
WRONG! When your leading sack maser has six sacks, there really isn’t that much need to double-team him. Just stick your tackle on him and your sorted. No disrespect to Alex Brown who was a great role model and great player for the team.
But when you can cover both the opponents defensive ends with your tackles and maybe a chip from the running back, you have three more interior blockers left. You double team one and single the other. Simple. Seriously, when would you ever need to double-team Dusty Dvoracek?! Harris was double teamed all year, minimizing his threat.
But now your throw a 10-sack-a-year defensive end into the mix, you have to double-team him or Harris. Trust me, Tommie Harris 1-on-1 is a matchup the Bears will take all day, even if it means Peppers being double teamed each passing play.
Point to prove: Has he recovered from his knee injury that hindered his performance? Can he rush for 1,000 yards and more than 4 yards a carry?
This isn't just a point to prove for Matt Forte, it’s also for the offensive line. Realistically, they create any room or wholes for Forte to do anything with. It all starts up front with the line and Forte can only work with what they give him.
Back to Forte. Watching the games in the 2009 season, Forte lacked explosion and seemed hesitant to run through holes, seemingly waiting for a bigger whole to be grafted. That didn’t happen. What did happen was Forte finished with 3.5 yards a carry, 929 yards, and 4 TDs.
He ran for more than 90 yards four times last season against Detroit, St. Louis and Cleveland, who finished 25th, 27th, and 28th in rush defense. Take those games out of Forte's stats and he finished with 180 carries for 526 yards, 2.9 yards per carry, and 0 TDs. That, frankly, is awful for someone who was coming off a monstrous rookie season.
Forte has help in the form of former Vikings running back Chester Taylor, who will certainly keep forte fresh and take carries off of him. Also, he is set to flourish in the same system, which gave Marshall Faulk 2000 all-purpose yards.
Forte caught 0 TDs last year, probably down to a certain gunslinger that kept throwing the ball to the same Tight End in the red zone.
Anyway, to sum up, O-line need to block better and Forte needs to run harder and catch more touchdown
Thank You for reading the slideshow. Please feel free to leave any comments below. Bear Down.