Chicago Bears: 3 Players Who Need to Have a Breakout Second Half

Matt CoanCorrespondent IIOctober 21, 2011

Chicago Bears: 3 Players Who Need to Have a Breakout Second Half

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    The Chicago Bears are 3-3 going into their Week 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and have been a very hard team to gauge so far this season.

    The Bears have played a very tough schedule so far and haven't looked good in their three losses against Super Bowl contending teams. With that said, they are still in contention for a playoff spot and perhaps a division title.

    The second half of the season is going to be huge for Chicago and they will need a few different areas of their team to improve if they are going to string together some wins and work their way back into the NFC North race. Here's who needs to step up to help them get there.

Devin Hester

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    Devin Hester is having another great year as a return man. His threat of taking the ball to the end zone every punt or kickoff return gives his team great field position and a huge advantage.

    There is no question Hester has been one of the most valuable players on the Bears. I still want to see more out of the young wide receiver.

    Hester has the potential to become an explosive weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Through six games, however, he has only 17 catches for 262 yards and one touchdown.

    Hester's speed alone should allow him to create separation against his defenders and be a target that is constantly open for Jay Cutler.

    The Bears should send Hester deep and just give him more chances to make plays—even with the poor offensive line play they've been dealing with. He is a born playmaker and the more chances he gets at big plays, the more touchdowns he will produce.

    I expect more productivity out of Hester as a receiver in the second half of the season—especially getting into the end zone.

Chris Harris

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    The Chicago Bears have suffered through poor play at safety all season. Last week, Lovie Smith benched their starting safety combination in favor of Major Wright and Chris Conte—two players with a total of one NFL season under their belts.

    Chris Harris was a casualty of the benching and was so upset by it that he requested a trade before last week's deadline. Harris was not moved and now needs to start working on getting his starting job back.

    Talent wise, Harris is the Bears' best option at strong safety, but he's made some major mistakes this season. Harris needs to get back to being one of the best run-stopping safeties in football and stop giving up long touchdown passes that have killed his team so far this season.

    I expect Harris to be back in as a starter making plays by Week 9.

The Entire Bears' Offensive Line

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    It has been said before and will be said again: The Chicago Bears have a horrible offensive line. 

    The team has given up the third most sacks in the NFL and while their efforts have improved over the past few weeks, they can't afford to get complacent.

    Mike Tice, the Bears' offensive line coach, deserves credit for trying to turn this bunch of mostly incompetent back-up players into an actual NFL offensive line. 

    Chicago has also done a nice job of mixing two tight end sets into the offense to give Jay Cutler max protection and allow him more time to make reads downfield.

    This offensive line has clearly improved since Week 1, but still aren't close to being good enough to get this team to the playoffs.

    Martz will have to go against his own ways—start running the ball, using shortened routes and short drop backs—to help Cutler get rid of the ball quicker. It's going to be very interesting to see if Mike Martz can continue to protect his quarterback by changing his core beliefs about running a successful NFL offense.

    If Martz can swallow his pride and keep Matt Forte running the ball, the offensive line will look a lot better and the team will win more games in the second half of the season.