Despite getting everything he wanted – new coordinator, his favorite wide receiver and quarterbacks coach – Jay Cutler regressed in 2012. What changes must he make going forward and what should the team do about his backup?
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With Matt Forte and Michael Bush both signed for three more seasons, running back is the most solid position on the team. What can we expect from these two under new head coach Marc Trestman, and does Armando Allen fit into the team’s future plans?
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Brandon Marshall was everything the Bears wanted and more, setting numerous franchise records in his first season in Chicago. Yet the rest of the receiving corps was a collective disappointment. Can we expect Alshon Jeffery to take a step forward in his second season, will Earl Bennett ever live up to his potential and is there a place for Devin Hester on offense?
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Matt Spaeth was solid in his blocking role, yet Kellen Davis was arguably the biggest disappointment for the Bears in 2012. Where should the Bears look for Davis’ replacement and does Spaeth have a role in new offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer’s offense?
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Collectively, Chicago’s offensive line again had a sub-par campaign. Injuries and poor play resulted in seven different starting combinations in 2012. Going forward, the Bears must decide whose worthy of keeping and who must go, then prioritize those positions come free agency and the draft. With so many areas of need, where do the Bears start? We have the answers.
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Chicago’s veteran edge rushers, Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije, were effective and versatile, while Corey Wootton has emerged as a potential long-term starter. It’s one of the deepest positions on the team, yet Idonije is a free agent, Peppers is set to take a huge chunk of the 2013 salary cap and no one knows what to do with Shea McClellin. We have solutions.
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Henry Melton earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl this year but will soon hit free agency. Can the Bears afford to let him walk or will they slap the franchise tag on him? And if he does leave, where do the Bears begin to look for his replacement? We also look at the strong sophomore campaign of Stephen Paea and more.
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Come March 12, the Bears will have just one linebacker, Lance Briggs, under contract. Will the team re-sign the aging and ailing Brian Urlacher or attempt to bring back Geno Hayes and Nick Roach? Or will new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker look elsewhere for starters? We lay out all the scenarios.
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Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings had career years in 2012, with both earning All Pro honors and trips to the Pro Bowl. No matter the new system, the Bears’ defense is set out wide. Yet what will the team do at the nickelback position, which will likely feature a new face in 2013?
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With Major Wright and Chris Conte, the Bears have a young back-end duo that is developing on the fly. Yet are these two the safeties of the future? And what should we expect from Brandon Hardin, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve? We consider all the options.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.