Bears 2014 Opponents Already Decided and Other Bullets

Forte

Before I get to the bullets, which are necessarily stocked with reaction to yesterday’s heartbreaking 33-28 defeat to the Packers, I wanted to look forward a bit; it’s never to early for next year. (Many of you come to Bleacher Nation for Cubs talk; you sadly know exactly what I mean.) After the conclusion of the Cowboys-Eagles matchup, which ended with a Kyle Orton interception, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweeted the opponents the Bears will face next year, both home and away.

Home

New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Buffalo, Miami, Detroit, Minnesota, Green Bay

Away

Atlanta, Carolina, San Francisco, New England, New York, Detroit, Minnesota, Green Bay

The NFC North plays the AFC East and NFC South next year, while the Bears second place divisional finish meant that they’ll play the second-place 49ers and Cowboys in their remaining games. (For example, had Detroit defeated the Vikings, the Bears would have finished third, meaning they would have played the Giants at home and visited the Cardinals.) The NFL schedules are fairly well-mapped out into the future; if you’re curious, you can find the Bears schedules through 2019 here (minus the results-dependent matchups, of course.)

If you want my quick early opinion, the AFC East was not a good division this year, (no AFC division was “good” really; the Bears went 4-0 against the AFC North after all) but the NFC South is a tough draw. At least the Bears avoid a trip to the Superdome.

  • First up is ESPN Chicago’s Jon Greenberg, who breaks down the Bears defensive breakdowns.
  • His ESPN Chicago colleague Michael C. Wright writes that Jay Cutler played well in the defeat. I’d agree with this; he outplayed Aaron Rodgers all day, throwing for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns before an interception on the game-ending Hail Mary. I’m not one to buy into the “big game performance/clutchness” way of thinking, but if you do believe in that, you can only be encouraged by his performance. (I just saw a player who has played well all year continue to play well.) He racked up a QBR of 88.8, and he finishes the season 8th in the NFL in that metric, ahead of Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Matt Stafford, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, and others. Wright thinks Cutler will be back, and I tend to agree. When that will happen, though, is something I can’t predict.
  • CBS Chicago’s Adam Hoge checks in, describing how fitting the defeat was for the Bears. He touches on a couple of the same plays I will be breaking down this afternoon. Adam also notes that the Bears allowed a staggering 6,497 yards this year; 521 more than their previous franchise record for yards allowed.
  • The Daily Herald’s Barry Rozner has his own recap, including comments Brandon Marshall made after the game in which he predicted that Cutler would be back. Marshall obviously says a lot of things, and while he himself admitted that he had no inside info as to the Bears plans, I think it’s safe to assume he does have insight into what Cutler wants to do. If Jay is motivated to return and the Bears are motivated to bring him back, I think a financially reasonable deal is quite possible.
  • Finally, Rich Campbell had a nice summary of Matt Forte’s game. Forte played quite well, rushing for 110 yards, tacking on 47 receiving yards, and scoring 2 touchdowns. He also had some Madden-style jukes in the open field. He’s very deserving of his Pro Bowl nod; hopefully he can stay healthy for a few more years, as he’s a dynamic weapon and a perfect fit in Trestman’s offense.

Oh, and I missed the Pro Bowl announcement; the Bears had two representatives, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall. I was surprised that Alshon Jeffery didn’t make the cut, but he might still make it as players pull out due to injury. (Which happens every year.)

I have a lengthy look at yesterday’s game coming this afternoon, if you can stomach it.

But I also want to say how much fun it’s been writing about the Bears this season. Thanks for reading. I just wish I had a playoff game to preview.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

27 responses to “Bears 2014 Opponents Already Decided and Other Bullets”

  1. mdavis

    the only consolation i can take is the bears jumped all the way to the #14 pick. in reality, they would have gotten killed by SF next week. Cutler played well. there’s certainly a few plays i look to, but Jay i’ll wait till you do your recap as i’m sure you’ll have a lot of them on there. I think a Cutler deal gets done fairly quickly.

  2. Jon

    Has Mel Tucker been fired yet?

  3. abe

    I won’t be watching the playoff. This loss was just too painful.

    1. Jeremy

      abe, I agree. I can’t watch football the rest of the year. I’m giving it up until after the SB. Just too painful to watch.

      1. J.F. Edwards

        Agreement here, too. Thoughts of football nauseate me so the idea of watching a game is sickening.

        I came to the site to commiserate today.

  4. abe

    Jay,

    What is the quickest way are defense gets better? Should we change to the 3-4?

    1. mdavis

      not jay, but hey, i’ll throw a comment in there. looking at Emery’s history, he’s proven he can overhaul a unit in a hurry. look no further than the O line. a joke last year, adds 4 guys (2 FA, 2 draft picks) and sudeenly they’re one of the better units in the nfl. So i think they’ll target some guys in the draft, some guys in free agency. with this offense, really the D just has to be AVERAGE, and they win a handful more games.

      in terms of going to a 3-4, i’m mixed on that. the only guy on the roster right now that would fit the 3-4 is McClellin. and i’m not sure that’s the answer. that being said, if they wanted to make that switch, this is the year to do it. you would need 2 different corners, bc tillman and jennings are not 3-4 corners. both are FA so there’s that. I’m not sure if Briggs or Bostic would reall fit inside in that scheme, but maybe. would need to draft/sign a NT, 2 DE, and another stand up pass rushing outside backer. Mack from Buffalo would be a nice fit. it’ll be interesting to see!

      1. abe

        Thanks for your input on the 3-4 defense.

      2. JonKneeV

        How is McClellin the only player we have for a 3-4? Briggs and Bostic would both be good candidates for ILB. Paea would be an almost perfect NT. At this stage in his career, Peppers and Melton would be good DEs in a 3-4. Peppers isn’t quick enough anymore to speed rush in a 4-3.

        I actually think the roster as it stands now would benefit to switch to a 3-4. We’d have to draft/sign another edge rusher, but overall it’d be an easy switch roster-wise.

        1. mdavis

          to me Paea is too undersized to be a true NT in a 3-4. you look at Wilfork (6’2 325), Ngata (6’4″ 340), Dareus (6’3″ 330) compared to Paea 6’1″ 300. i just dont think he has the size to plug the middle like you need to be able to do at the nose. Peppers could fit, but how much does he really have left? Melton is a free agent, and how much $ do you wanna throw at a DL, coming off an ACL to play a position he’s never played before? Briggs is in his mid 30s, and never played the inside. and you still would need 2 new corners. i don’t think it’s as easy of a switch as you’re thinking. but just one man’s humble opinon.

          1. abe

            We probably can get Melton on a 1 year cheap prove it deal.

            1. mdavis

              right, and if he’s willing to do that i’m all for it. regardless of scheme. i just wouldn’t throw big money at him.

  5. Jon

    IMO, just try to get the best coach and let him run his scheme. With Chud being fired in Cleveland, Ray Horton might be available. I’d take him in a heartbeat

    1. abe

      I hate to say it, but how about J Schwartz.

      1. mdavis

        please no. big reason he got the ax was the serious lack of discipline, and the guy is just a punk. i don’t see him working well with trestman regardless. Still no guarentees that Tucker is out. They don’t disclose assistants contracts, but from what i read last year they paid a decent amount to get him. and they can point to all the injuries as a reason for the disgrace on the field. defintely could see a change in scheme though.

      2. Jon

        I’d consider it as well. Before he got the Detroit job he was probably the most revered defensive coordinator in the league outside of LeBeau.

        He might be just one of those “great coordinator, bad head coach” types.

  6. Nathan

    Thanks Jay for all of the hard work this year. I love that Brett decided to expand bleacher nation so us Bears’ fans can have a nice sight to go to as well. Looking forward to next season and beyond.

  7. Polar Bear

    You’ve done an excellent job, Jay! Again, welcome to the BN family. Get ready for the offseason… it should be entertaining.

    1. abe

      Agreed. My offensive wish list is a better slot receiver and a young backup running back.

  8. Finner

    Forte had two rushing td’s and one receiving.

  9. RoughRider

    I don’t hate to say it. How about Singletary as DC?

    1. itzscott

      How about Lovie Smith?

      1. mdavis

        i could see lovie landing the tampa HC job. and wasn’t Singletary demoted in Minnesota? Idk enough about him as coordinator to really have an opinion on it though. of course, they still have to actually fire tucker first haha

  10. Kurt

    Pleassssse not Lovie.

    He wasn’t a great defensive coach. For a site that loves metrics (?) Lovie was a smoke and mirrors coach, defensively. His record against teams above five hundred was .311. Lovie feasted off of mediocre and bad teams. That’s the reason why he went to one playoff appearance in the last 6 years.

    His Tampa 2 defense was horribly soft the last 2 seasons as everyone got older and more broken, which is a big reason for this years total defensive collapse. It finally and fatefully caught up with the Bears. Do you not remember the last game of the year where Lovie’s vaunted defense couldn’t stop Seattle’s 90 plus yard march at the end of regulation and then Seattle had another 90 plus yard march to start OT so the Bears never saw the ball? What saved Lovie was the emphasis he put on stripping the ball. You can get a real Defensive coordinator that also teaches that skill.

    I, for one, have had enough of Lovie’s bend and then break philosophy while he stands stoically on the sidelines clueless as to what to do about it.

  11. mjhurdle

    really disappointed listening to ESPN Chicago radio today (i live in STL so that is one of the only ways for me to listen to Chicago centered sports talk).
    It seems like somehow a memo went out to rip every aspect of the team today, especially Trestman.
    Im not asking for the media to rejoice and talk about how they are still winners, but it seems like they have sold out to the ‘OMG THE LOST WE SUCK HORRIBLE HORRIBLE’ as opposed to understanding what most people knew about this team going into yesterday.
    The offense was going to score, and it would come down to whether the defense could step up. It didn’t and the Bears lost.
    I think there was plenty of bad (2nd down field goals, the defense) and plenty of good (the offense) to discuss without having to obsess just over the mistakes made.

  12. Fastball

    The Bears should have a very long to do list on defense. The offense has one as well but not as significant obviously.

    Re-sign Cutler, then get Slauson resigned, I think they need to draft a center because Garza is getting up there in years. A good proactive signing at center would be smart. Make sure we get Earl Bennett signed. It’s critical that they keep this receiving core in place. Then in the later rounds they need to sign a really good running back to start grooming as Forte has been in the league for quite a while. The could wait another year on this and sign a FA.

    The defense needs a freaking overhaul up the entire middle. First fire Tucker. Then spend a little time to hire a damned good DC and really good defensive coaches at all the positions. Then I cut Conte and Wright immediately as they both just absolutely suck. They have had there chance and they have both failed miserably. Conte can’t do anything right. In this draft they have to do a really good job finding 2 safeties who can be immediate starters. Proven hitters, tacklers and play makers in the open field. I would even consider moving Greene to Strong Safety. He is very fast and he can hit and support the run. I move McClellan to Outside Linebacker. I sign a new Middle Linebacker out of Free Agency. Bostic did not demonstrate that he is capable of handling that job. Move him to OLB as well. I would get Melton signed, resign JR, keep Paea and sign two more FA big guys who can stop the run and pressure the QB. I get Peanut and Jennings resigned but draft some top notch corners next year. The Bears can get by for another year with our current CB’s.

    Lastly, the DC must have a better defensive scheme than the Tampa 2. We haven’t had the correct personnel for this defense in a while. It was never a shut down defense under Lovie. It was always bend but don’t break. Now that the offense is fixed I want to see a shut down defense that is feared on the field. This is the Bears Defense not the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. I can’t take another season of watching this mess. I truly question the heart of Conte, Wright, Bostic, Greene and the guys up front. Only 4 guys on this defense get a pass for this season. Peppers, Briggs, Tillman and Jennings. The rest need to be heavily scrutinized. Wooton, McClellan and Bass I can live with and Ratliff. Paea needs come back healthly along with Melton. Bears can’t rely on them to be healthy so drafting the really big guys from Alabama would be a good start.

    1. mjhurdle

      I think they re-sign Cutler.
      Bennett might be gone because he is going to get paid more than the bears are willing to give a 3rd option reciever. It would be great if he took a hometown discount to stay with Jay, but I can’t blame him if he takes a larger contract somewhere else.

      for the defense, i see Peppers gone unless he restructures his deal. He is just not playing to the level he needs to justify the salary.
      TIllman will be gone to Tampa if they sign Lovie as coach imo.
      Jennings get re-signed.
      Wright and Conte both cut.
      Then the focus should be on Safeties, CBs, and DT.
      I think the linebackers would be ok if the rest of the holes are filled. Bostic is serviceable, with a chance to be even better. Greene looks ok. McClellan might make a good OLB like you suggest.
      Get a run stopping interior lineman and a couple good safeties, then draft best available to fill any other needs and the defense could look a lot better next year.

      just my two cents.

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