Here we go, we are so close to the Chicago Bears’ season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, and I, as many of us are, am giddy to see how the season shapes up. The Bears have a tough schedule this year so it will not be a walk in the park getting back to the playoffs. A lot of fans and writers are putting up their predictions for the 2011-2012 Bears’ record; well I’m going to one up them, so here are my projections for each Bears player on the offensive side of the ball’s 2011-2012 season statistics. Well, let’s start from the top shall we?
QUARTERBACK: Jay Cutler came to Chicago as an expected immediate savior to the Bears passing attack. Well, so was Rex Grossman, only difference is while Grossman seemed to get worse, Cutler has been improving during his tenure in Chicago. Throwing for 3,666 yards and 27 touchdowns was good during his first year in Chicago back in ’09; only problem is he also had 26 interceptions and fumbled the ball 9 times, posting a 76.8 quarterback rating, the lowest of his career. In 2010 Jay got better, although throwing for less yards, 3,274, and touchdowns, 23, he also had to deal with getting sacked 52 times. But he still threw only 16 interceptions. I would expect Cutler, with his improved physique and footwork to have a great year. If the Bears Wide Receivers play well and catch balls I expect Cutler to throw for 321 completions, 3,785 yards this season along with 30 touchdowns, but still throw 13 interceptions.
RUNNINGBACK: Matt Forte was drafted in the 2nd round of 2008 by the Chicago Bears after amassing over 2,000 yards as a Senior on the ground and running a 4.46 40 yard dash, and became an immediate star in Chicago. He ran for 1,238 yards his rookie year, while almost averaging 4 yards per carry. His sophomore campaign wasn’t what fans expected, only totaling 929 yards averaging 3.6 yards per carry and losing the ball six times. Last year, I consider Forte’s best, while he didn’t run for as many yards as he did in 2008, 1,069. He carried the ball 79 less times, and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. This year I expect him to have a similar season as last year but with more yards, I think he will gain 1,176 yards on 254 carries for a 4.6 yard per carry average and 9 touchdown runs. Oh, and he will earn that contract extension. For his backup, which will be Marion Barber, I’m predicting 459 yards on 112 carries, for a 4.1 ypc average and 5 more touchdowns.
WIDE RECEIVERS: I honestly expect Roy Williams to still be the starter over Johnny Knox, even though Knox will deserve it. I don’t think the coaching staff will be willing to admit that they went bargain shopping instead of handing out money they had for a better wide receiver and it didn’t work out. Still, Knox will play, but let’s go in order. Devin Hester has really improved as a wide receiver, especially with working out over the lockout with Cutler. He will be a definite weapon this year as a number one option. I expect Hester to have a career year and becom the first Bear to gain 1,000 yards through the air in a long time, catching 87 balls for 1,151 yards and 8 touchdowns. Next we have Roy Williams. I think he senses that his job is in danger and will finally step up his game come the regular season. Because Williams is big, 6’3, and faster than you would expect, ran a 4.42 40. If Williams can start catching balls I expect him to have a really good year. With the most optimistic results in mind, look for Williams to catch 68 passes for 741 yards and become the target in the red zone, catching 9 touchdowns. The slot receiver will generally be Earl Bennett, who is a favorite of Cutler. Bennett will be targeted frequently by Cutler on third downs and in clutch situations. As more of a possession receiver, Bennett won’t be running the deep routes that will be more for Hester and Knox, he runs a 4.48 40, which is not slow, but he is a better over the middle receiver. Bennett will continue to be a favorite of Fans and Cutlers alike and catch 56 balls, while gaining 643 yards and catching 4 touchdowns. Johnny Knox has proven himself as a great deep threat averaging 18.8 yards per catch last season. He will still be on the field a lot for that reason, and because he is still a very good receiver. Look for Knox to grab 40 receptions along with 547 yards and 3 touchdowns. Dane Sanzenbacher, the Undrafted Free Agent from Ohio State will be the 5th wide out on the team, leaving another talented UFA receiver in Kris Adams looking for another team. Cutler has openly expressed his happiness with Sanzenbacher, as he is a similar receiver to Earl Bennett, and will share reps with him at the slot. Sanzenbacher will be a good story this year, catching 20 balls for 218 yards with a touchdown reception.
TIGHT ENDS: Kellen Davis will be the starter for the Bears and Matt Spaeth will also be on the field a lot. Although Mike Martz really doesn’t use tight ends other than for blocking, they will still catch a few balls. Davis will be looking at about 22 catches for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns. Matt Spaeth has really only been used for blocking in his career, but still he will catch 15 balls and gain 131 yards while grabbing 2 redzone touchdown passes. Desmond clark is still around as he is a fan favorite. He won’t be on the field much as his career is winding down, but he will still catch 3 balls for 29 yards in some 4th quarters when the Bears have a very healthy lead, or when Davis and Spaeth are winded.
That concludes my predictions for the Offensive side of the ball, any questions, ideas or comments? Make sure to leave them in the comments section and let me know.