Chicago Bears: 5 Players Who Could Make the Pro Bowl
For a 4-3 Chicago Bears team, a difficult division dominated with superstars such as Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson makes snagging a coveted Pro Bowl roster spot seem next to impossible.
This is where the Bears have the best opportunity to have their squad represented in Honolulu, Hawaii this January. Aside from Clay Matthews, Jr. and Ndamukong Suh, the NFC North lacks many defensive superstars not from the Windy City.
The season’s ultimate goal is not to be well represented in Hawaii. As a matter of fact, not being represented at all is now a positive thing.
Since being moved to the week prior to the Super Bowl rather than the week after, the Pro Bowl occupies what normally would be a voided bye week of preparation for the league’s two best teams. With there being no reason to risk harm in an exhibition game prior to Super Bowl Sunday, teams in the NFL championship game are banned from playing in the Pro Bowl.
If your team has no Pro Bowlers, it means one of two things: either you’re Super Bowl bound or you suck.
All kidding aside, Chicago has a legitimate shot to land a handful of Pro Bowl roster spots.
Here are the top five Chicago Bears who should represent the NFC at the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl:
Beginning with the most obvious selection, not even the world’s greatest prosecution lawyer could argue a case as to why Bears running back Matt Forte won’t be wearing a lei and sipping form a coconut in a matter of months.
Forte is the first NFL player to accumulate 1,000 yards from scrimmage in seven weeks since Tiki Barber and Priest Holmes both accomplished that feat in 2004.
The most underpaid offensive player in the NFL right now also has the most rushing yards (672), receiving yards (419), receptions (38) and is tied for the most touchdowns scored (three) on the team.
He is also responsible for 43.6 percent of Chicago’s total offense.
The pure numbers alone are argument enough as to why he needs to receive Pro Bowl votes. If he keeps this pace up, he could challenge Chris Johnson’s record of a couple seasons back for most total yards from scrimmage in a single season.
As Deion Sanders says, pay the man.
Name a single NFC kick returner who is more impactful to his team than Devin Hester.
No luck? Try the entire NFL and find a candidate.
Still no success? Even with college players?
This is why Hester needs to be Hawaii bound this winter. Hester’s phenomenal kickoff and punt return skills are imperative to the success of the Chicago Bears.
What Hester does so well is turning great kicks and punts into big breaks for a bad Bears offense. Changing field position and shortening the field leads to greater scoring chances. The more tries the Bears have to cash in for points, the better they’ll do. That’s elementary.
Hester also took his rightful spot atop the rankings for all-time kick returners in touchdowns scored. The man is only in his sixth professional season.
Forget just the Pro Bowl, Hester will be a candidate for a special teams Hall of Fame nomination when he decides to hang up the cleats one day.
Chicago’s big free-agent signing of a year ago is off to a slow start with tackles, but doubt Julius Peppers for a single game, and he’ll make you eat your words.
Peppers is the leader in sacks on the team (four) and also is responsible for a defensive touchdown.
While his tackle totals may be low, this can be directly affected by how teams game plan against the Bears defense. There’s no logic in running right at Peppers if a team’s left tackle struggles to contain him. Run the opposite way or pass to avoid the pressure.
What Peppers does so well too is forcing false starts and opening doors for his fellow defensive linemen. Even if Peppers is not involved in a play, his presence just makes teams fear him and his skill set.
Brian Urlacher took a bath in the fountain of youth and came out like someone had threatened his family. He’s energized, impactful and most of all productive.
The fact the team’s 33-year-old middle linebacker is tied with defensive back D.J. Moore for the team lead in interceptions (three) is just wrong.
Urlacher has 41 total tackles and also scored a defensive touchdown off a forced fumble.
Chicago’s blitzing effectiveness has been poor all season long even when they rush six or seven. Having a rejuvenated Urlacher to clog up the middle and patch the holes makes this team better all around.
Based off of reputation, Urlacher could be playing at Aloha Stadium come January.
Consider a confident quarterback who looks comfortable in the pocket and has thrown nine touchdowns against only six interceptions and 1,700 yards. Care to take a hint who this could possibly be?
Why it’s Jay Cutler, of course. The Messiah, the Chosen One and the Quitter—all combined into one compact package.
The 2011 season has not been a train wreck for Cutler, which is a Chicagoan way of saying he’s doing well. The stats all check out, his decision making is improving and he seems to be making weapons out of the limited talent surrounding him.
The NFC may have a down year with quarterbacks. It’s almost a given either Rodgers or Drew Brees will most likely be leading his team towards another Super Bowl. What other QBs in the NFC would jump ahead of Cutler right now? Matthew Stafford was hot to start but is cooling off, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman are struggling and Sam Bradford has laid an egg thus far.
I’m not saying he’s destined for Hawaii, but there’s a legit chance Cutler may be selected as a Pro Bowl reserve.
Brett Lyons is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials.
Follow Brett Lyons on Twitter @BrettLyons670.