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It has been an interesting off season so far for the Chicago Bears; with the hiring of Marc Trestman, the departure of future hall of famer Brian Urlacher and the addition of Matt Cavanaugh as QB coach. In this week’s Bears Banter – which will be a weekly column from now on during the off season – we are going to dissect five questions which will be playing on the minds of Chicago Bears’ fans during the off season.

Will the Offensive Line Improve?

Chicago had one of the worst offensive lines last year. It gave up 44 sacks. We know Jay Cutler has always been a little streaky and the deficiencies in the offensive line certainly don’t help that.
The O line is in serious need of an overhaul, but has it improved?
They have brought in LT Jermon Bushrod and Guard Matt Slauson in Free Agency, both who are expected to grab starting positions. They have taken Kyle Long, a guard from Oregon, with the 20th pick. He really should be competing for a start at RG. We then have Carimi, Brown and Williams to round out the depth in that position. They have also strengthened the line with the addition of former Louisana Tech right tackle Jordan Mills. J Marcus Webb and Jonothan Scott were the primary competition for those spots.

The front office has definitely been working hard to improve the offensive line, but will that improve Cutler’s production and protection? That’s still to be determined and if it doesn’t, it certainly won’t be through lack of trying!

Is Marc Trestman the right man for the Bears?

This hire is a bold and unconventional move but it is one that I really like. He is known as a quarter back guru and one of the premier offensive strategists in the NFL. He also has a huge amount of respect from other high profile coaches in the league. In a recent interview, San Francisco’s coach Jim Harbaugh described the hiring as a “Grand Slam Hire” and also said Trestman taught him everything he knows while they were at Oakland together. This is high praise indeed. I like the hiring, I think he will bring a lot to the organisation and personally, I commend Phil Emery for giving him a long overdue shot as a head coach in the NFL.

Is Brandon Marshall going to get more support?

Brandon Marshall is the true number 1 wide receiver that the Bears have been missing for some time. Last year, he broke the single season Bears record for catches (118), for receiving yards (1508) and was the only productive player in the Bears spluttering offense. But he needs help. Now, with Trestman and the new offensive co ordinator Aaron Kromer, we should see some variety and some real production – at least that’s what we hope.
Devon Hester is now strictly a return man according to early news, Matt Forte could be used even more than he was in the last season and Evan Rodriguez could be used in a variety of roles. But the man that I am looking at to improve the team the most is 2nd year wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey. He looks ready to step into the starting line-up, he can give the Bears a legitimate second option and hopefully take some pressure off Marshall. This is exactly what both he, and the team, need.

Can Jay Cutler make the transition to an Elite QB?

To be honest, I am not sure. I want to say yes, but I just can’t yet.
I think that if he does, this is the year to do it.
With a new offensive coordinator, a new head coach who is renowned for his QB work and Matt Cavanaugh as QB coach, he should find the perfect system to thrive in. We all know that he struggles under pressure at times, but hopefully with the offensive line being improved during the off season, he can see some more time in the pocket. Trestman is high on praise for Cutler and has been quoted saying that he thinks Cutler’s throwing ability is as good as any player he has coached. I really look forward to seeing these two work with each other.

Can the Bears win the Super Bowl?

If these four questions above work in positive favour for the Chicago Bears, then yes they can. But they need Cutler to make that transition ala Joe Flacco last year. For that to happen, he needs more protection from his offensive line and they need more variety. There is no doubt that it’s a huge year for Cutler.
And Bears fans will finally get the answer to whether Jay is the franchise QB they hoped for when they acquired him from Denver.

There are interesting times ahead for Bears fans and we will continue to bring you off season news and opinion pieces.
Next week, we will have a look at the Bears’ draw, how it stacks up against the other sides as well as the top 5 players of the last decade for this wonderful organisation.

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