Our newest contributor, DeMario Phipps-Smith, a week after giving us five Bears who could pleasantly surprise us this year, continues to show the benefits of keeping a youthful, positive outlook with his list this week of five Bears who will make the Pro Bowl this year.
Two Bears made the NFL’s all-star game last year via the league-wide vote — Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte — but five Bears played in all as Alshon Jeffrey, Kyle Long and Tim Jennings made it as substitutions. Though the Bears’ dreadful defense would be represented in Jennings, no one on that side of the ball was selected outright, a first since the 2004 season.
If five Bears can be voted onto this year’s Pro Bowl then we’re likely looking at a playoff team and maybe one of the best in the League. Checking DeMario’s list, if these five make it, there will be a lot less to complain about overall this fall. — ed.
5 Bears Who Will Make the Pro Bowl
Although the new-age Monsters of the Midway are in a different, more pass-happy era, currently than its fans are used to, the city of Chicago will be clamoring for this Bears team just the same. The Bears bring back a top-5 offense that utilizes the talents of two top receivers very effectively. The 2014 Bears also surprisingly boast a number of defensive players that have Pro Bowl potential, which could translate into treasured playoff victories.
Jay Cutler (2008 selection)
The Bears were once notoriously renown for their lack of consistent production at quarterback. Last season, a Bears signal caller finally put up the numbers to dispel past struggles – unfortunately, Josh McCown is no longer with the team.
Cutler has more talent and athleticism than McCown but the latter was better at decision making and ball distribution. With the development of Alshon Jeffery into a Pro Bowl receiver, Cutler has more weapons at his disposal than ever, three of whom have made the game along with all-pro talent on the line in front of him in Jermon Bushrod, Kyle Long and Roberto Garza. This is his time to thrive once again.
At 6-foot-3 inches and 300 pounds, Houston is a physical freak on the defensive line. He may be the best player on a defense that has multiple-time Pro Bowlers in Jared Allen, Lance Briggs and “Peanut” Tillman. Houston will probably spend time at linebacker and defensive end but the Bears need him to get to the quarterback no matter where he is.
If he can notch six sacks on a lifeless Oakland Raiders squad, Houston should do pretty well in Chicago.
Alshon Jeffery (2013 selection)
Although Brandon Marshall will see the ball thrown his way more again this year, Jeffery has the legs, arms and all other body parts to do the most damage at his position this year. Jeffery is among the best receivers in the NFL at making spectacular catches, usually come in the end zone or on the tail end of long passes – or both at once.
Jeffrey will have more chances than most to make highlight-level plays, if his overall production even rivals his standout 2013 campaign, he’ll get the benefit of the doubt amongst his peers, mainly because as a young receiver, people still know he has room for development, though he is already doing that as quickly as anyone around.
Matt Forte (2x selection – 2011, 2013)
When he isn’t injured, Forte is a world-class runner. There is so much that he can do on a football field, it is a shame his biggest problem is staying on it.
The Bears offensive line is developing chemistry and depth – two things good O-lines (and therefore, good running backs) need. If the Bears are successful in 2014, Forte will be a big part of that.
Charles Tillman (2x selection – 2011, 2012)
“Peanut” Tillman has spent much of his career as the best corner most people outside of Chicago have never heard of and because of that he was arguably robbed of a couple Pro Bowl appearances.
Despite losing some of his quickness over the years, Tillman could still be an elite corner if he can get through an entire season healthy. This is a corner that still covers well and plays man coverage like a beast with every inch of his 6-foot-2 frame.
He still has a nose for the ball, having compiled 42 forced fumbles in his career and three last season despite missing eight games (he also picked off three balls for the ninth time in his career).
Watching him punch the ball out of carriers’ hands is like watching moving art, that doesn’t just go away in one season. Expect more pop from the Peanut Punch in 2014.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; Follow DeMario on Twitter @DemarioPSmith.