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State of the Bears - Training Camp Preview
David Dorey
July 20, 2009
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This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2009.
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Training Camp Opens: July 31
Head Coach: Lovie Smith (6th year)
Stadium: Soldier Field  Surface: Grass
2009 Schedule   2009 Roster   2008 Statistics   2008 Record: 9-7

QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2006 30 -3 0 512 280 55% 3413 12.2 24 22 15 9
2007 32 54 0 567 326 57% 3692 11.3 17 21 14 22
2008 27 53 5 527 304 58% 3229 10.6 20 14 25 16

Quarterback - This may be the most interesting year for a Bears quarterback... ever. At least in expectations since the a string of quarterbacks like Kyle Orton, Brian Griese, Rex Grossman, Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn were hardly destined for the Pro Bowl. Jay Cutler brings in exactly what they Bears have not had since perhaps Jim McMahon - a gun slinging, deep armed and respected quarterback who can make any throw on the field and the deeper the better. 2008 had Orton who loved to dump off to Matt Forte or the tight ends. Cutler made stars out of Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. However - there's no apparent Marshall or Royal on this team unless training camp holds some big surprises.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2006 472 1915 4.1 14 105 75 71% 458 0 5 14 10
2007 384 1286 3.3 8 120 86 72% 693 0 30 27 27
2008 397 1542 3.9 10 106 83 78% 603 5 21 21 17

Running Backs - The Bears opted to cut ties to Cedric Benson last summer despite not having much more to rely than the rookie Matt Forte. In late July, the Bears added Kevin Jones who was coming off a knee surgery and who did not know the playbook. The result was Forte becoming one of the heaviest used backs in the league. Not only did he have 316 carries for 1238 yards, he led all running backs with 63 catches for 477 yards. Kevin Jones only had 34 carries as the #2. It was a wonderful year for those who added Forte to their fantasy squad particularly in point per reception leagues. The team still did not rank as even average overall from the position but unlike almost every other team - Forte got nearly everything. Kevin Jones is looking much better this offseason and he knows the playbook so the big question is how much confidence he can inspire to have the coaches actually let Forte have some rest this year.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 316 153 48% 2309 15.1 16 16 10
2007 296 154 52% 2056 13.4 11 25 21
2008 259 126 49% 1685 13.4 9 29 29

Wide Receivers - Not much change here to a unit that ranked as one of the worst last year other than a change in quarterback that could have a huge impact - or none at all if it was really that these players are not talented enough. Devin Hester remains the top player though he only managed 51 catches for 665 yards and just a 13.1 yards per catch for a player who has been one of the most electric return men in the league. Brandon Lloyd and Marty Booker are gone without being noticed and the #2 spot will likely remain with second year player Earl Bennett even though he never actually had a catch last year. Rashied Davis is expected to be in the slot but this entire unit will be under the fantasy microscope in training camp only because of Cutler. Otherwise, Hester would likely be the only Bears wideout worthy of a draft pick and even then only as depth.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 98 55 56% 701 12.7 8 14 5
2007 140 86 61% 950 11.0 6 6 12
2008 155 95 61% 941 9.9 6 6 9

Tight Ends
- The Bears mixed Desmond Clark (41-367, 1 TD) and Greg Olsen (54-574, 5 TD) with good success last year since Kyle Orton rarely threw downfield. The addition of Jay Cutler still should not have any negative impact here even if the wideouts perform better because Cutler used the position in Denver with nice results anyway. Granted, Cutler rarely threw to running backs in Denver but tight ends should not be a problem and there's a great chance that Olsen could end up as the lead receiver on this team. He's already shown the best chemistry with Cutler in the offseason.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - This is definitely one of the most noteworthy training camps to watch this summer and only because of the addition of Jay Cutler. Offseason workouts indicated that Cutler may make a start out of Olsen but the wideouts are sure to improve this year. The more success passing to wideouts and tight ends could mean less passes to Forte who already is expected to have Kevin Jones take away some of his workload. All teams talk about sharing the load but in games they want to win and rely on those players who give them the best chance. That means Kevin Jones needs to look sharp to expect to take more than a token role away from Forte.

That third preseason game of the Bears has to be seen. Not only will it give the best indication of what may happen with Cutler, the game is played in Denver where Cutler will want to try a little harder anyway.

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Ease of Schedule for Quarterbacks
Ease of Schedule for Running Backs
Ease of Schedule for Receivers
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