Chicago Bears: Top 5 Players Of The 2010 NFL Regular Season
Sitting atop the NFC North at 9-3, the Chicago Bears are riding a five game winning streak into the final quarter of an unpredictable 2010 NFL season. Not since the failed Super Bowl campaign of 2006, have the Chicago Bears played so well in all phases of the game. Coaching upgrades have certainly driven this playoff run, as the Bears staff boasts three former head coaches in Mike Martz, Rod Marinelli and Mike Tice.
However, on the field, the all-star performances of five Bears players have propelled the Bears from the mediocrity of 2009 to a potential Super Bowl contender in 2010.
#5: RB Matt Forte
RB Matt Forte, after a slow start to the season, has improved with more carries. For the first time as a pro, Forte is on pace to average over 4.0 yards per carry in a season. Moreover, Forte remains a reliable receiver and blocker. This versatility makes Forte the ideal back in the Martz offense. With better blocking, Forte would likely become a Pro Bowl contender.
#4: DE Israel Idonije
When Chicago released veteran DEs Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye, fans understandably fretted about defensive line depth. Sure, they acquired Peppers in the off-season, but who could pick up the slack when Peppers gets double-teamed or has an off day? Surprisingly, the answer has been DE Israel Idonije, an unheralded 30-year-old undrafted lineman from Canada. The unassuming DE is enjoying his best season as a pro, compiling seven sacks and three forced fumbles. With Idonije and Peppers attacking from the edge, the Bears defensive line has prospered in 2010.
#3: MLB Brian Urlacher
The return of Brian Urlacher has solidified the 2010 Bears running defense and midfield pass coverage. Urlacher and Briggs are arguably the best line-backing duo in the NFL. Although his speed has declined with age, Urlacher still possesses freakish range and athleticism that sets him apart from other linebackers. His remarkable 19-tackle performance against the Lions on Sunday demonstrates he can still dominate opposing offenses.
#2: QB Jay Cutler
Minus several lackluster performances before the bye week, Jay Cutler has efficiently and effectively guided the Chicago Bears offense to victory. Cutler’s ability to make quick decisions and move around the pocket has helped the Bears compensate for a porous offensive line, which continues to allow an unacceptable amount of sacks. Nevertheless, this season has demonstrated why the Bears expended two first round draft picks on the former Vandy standout. Just imagine how good Cutler will become with improved pass protection and more familiarity with the Martz offense. The Bears have found their coveted franchise QB in Jay Cutler.
#1: DE Julius Peppers
The biggest reason Chicago’s defense has developed into a top five unit is the off-season addition of perennial pro bowler Julius Peppers. Chicago’s Cover-2 defensive scheme is predicated on the ability to pressure the quarterback with only four defensive linemen, allowing the linebackers and secondary to lurk in zone coverage. When DT Tommie Harris was healthy in 2005 and 2006, the Bears defense prospered, earning the Chicago back-to-back playoff appearances. However, after Harris’ knee injury in late 2006, the defensive line struggled to generate consistent pressure on opposing QBs. Now, with Peppers on the line, the Bears defense has regained its elite status, as the front four is, once again, harassing QBs and forcing turnovers.