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The time has come to make a Bears prediction. The time has also come to acknowledge it is an impossible task. And not because of the excuse others will use, the one having to do with multiple major potential contributors seemingly not having made it all the way back from injuries and therefore questionable for the season.
My primary dilemma is, who knows whether this team will win two or maybe even three games? Heck, perhaps everything will go right and they'll get five glorious victories. I fear I won't be able to determine whether 2-14, 3-13 or good golly Miss Molly 4-12 will be the way to go (I have to narrow it down somehow and five wins is obviously the least likely). But by the end of the column I vow there will be closure.
What's that you say? You just want to know if this team has even a tiny chance to be good? Well, in order for an expert prognosticator like myself to rationally predict success, I need to conclude that the Bears will be better than average in a majority of position groups.
The problem is it is most probable the Bears will be below average at running back, receiver, quarterback, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks, especially in the event of just one injury. And despite all the Bears apologists gearing up to again give this organization a pass because of ill health, that is no longer acceptable in today's NFL.
It is way past time for observers to acknowledge that the new normal in this fearsome sport is many injuries per team per season. In a game this fast and this violent, that is the way it is going to be for the foreseeable future. Good teams find ways to overcome. Bad teams, like the miserable Bears, use it as an excuse. It was lame last year. It will be pathetic this year.
Oh, and the strength of schedule. Many are already giving the Bears another excuse due to the perceived difficult slate of opponents they face. Shockingly enough this supposed adversity is overblown as well.
Beside the two games each against division rivals - you know, the basic element of a schedule that every team faces - the Bears spend half their schedule taking on the teams from the mediocre NFC South and the even more mediocre AFC North.
It is rough to open against the Falcons from that first group of course, but no one else in their division finished above .500 last season. The Steelers lead the latter group and they will almost certainly field a great offense again. But who is afraid of their defense? The Ravens and Bengals are mired in mediocrity. And the Browns?
In order to have success, the Bears will have to play decently against those teams and have success in their division. That would be exactly what all the other teams in the NFL will have to do.
And yes, yes, I myself wrote just a week ago that the early sked was brutal. That was during the preseason, OK? I'm grasping at straws during all preseasons to give a local team a break. That crap comes to an end once the regular season is upon us.
Let's get back to the groups.
The Bears go into this season with one every-down back on the roster. One? How can anyone think that Jordan Howard and third-down backs and a special teams guy is the way to go? Unbelievable. The running back is the guy most likely to get hurt by the way, if somehow that wasn't already clear.
The team already suffered the prominent injury to the wide receivers group when Cam Meredith went down. And the problem of course is that that group was already terrible to begin with. No team in the NFL goes into the season with a weaker group of wide receivers than the Bears. Kendall Wright is competent in the slot. And that is it.
And so we come to quarterback Mike Glennon. The guy showed some real promise in the third exhibition game, you know, the one that is slightly more meaningful than completely meaningless? But who the hell is he going to throw to now that Meredith is out for the year?
The Bears seem to have no clue who will start in the middle of the offensive line. Tackles Bobby Massie and Charles Leno, guards Josh Sitton and Cody Whitehair, and center Hroniss Grasu showed real promise during the preseason. Then the Bears practiced with Whitehair at center for most of last week, disrupting both the center and guard positions. I just don't understand.
As for the defense, linemen Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Jonathan Bullard have a chance to be good. They have an even better chance to be injury-prone and the backups are not inspiring. At linebacker, Danny Trevathan is supposed to start in the middle and he has not practiced once in the preseason. On the outside, Leonard Floyd had two serious concussions last year. Look out if he gets another one this time around.
The best cornerback, Prince Amukamara, has an ankle injury. More importantly, he can't catch (no interceptions last year). The starting safeties are a castoff (Quinton Demps) and a rookie (Eddie Jackson).
The Bears' tight ends, starting with Dion Sims and Zach Miller, will be above average if they stay healthy. It is a miracle. The rookie who is supposed to provide depth at the position, Adam Shaheen, looks like a bust.
Throughout the preseason, we've heard about how much the Bears have improved their depth. What. A. Crock. At cornerback, the Bears primary backup is Kyle Fuller. Remember that at the end of last year, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio wanted nothing more than to dump Fuller. In a shockingly candid moment, he put it out there that Fuller simply wasn't tough enough to make it in the NFL. But there he is, ready to start if Amukamara can't go.
The Bears will be lucky to finish 3-13. Then they will be in the running for a top draft pick and it looks like there will be some great quarterbacks available. The one thing they won't need is a quarterback. Perfect.
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.