Chicago Bears

3 Bears primed to decline in 2017

Nuccio Dinuzzo/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

The Jay Cutler era is finally over in Chicago. Bears fans may soon wish it wasn’t.

A team that has been stuck in a downward spiral for a decade bottomed out last season when the Bears posted a 3-13 record that was the franchise’s worst since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978.

And that was with Cutler at quarterback. Can you imagine what the Bears will be like now that Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky will be under center?

Bears fans have no choice because that’s who the team is going with. What’s worse is the Bears did nothing special in free agency or the draft to improve the pieces around their new quarterbacks.

It’s enough to make you think the real winner in all of this was Cutler, who will spend the season safe and warm inside a television booth, watching from afar.

Bears fans will likely be safe and warm, too, this season. It’s doubtful many will leave their homes to watch this team. There’s just so little here to see, which suggests even the Bears could be in for another long slog.

With that in mind, here’s a look at three players who could become part of the collateral damage and suffer a decline in play in 2017.

Jordan Howard, RB

 A fifth-round pick out of Indiana, Howard had an absolutely incredible and totally unexpected breakout rookie season last year. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry while running for 1,313 yards and six touchdowns. He also caught 29 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 20: Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) runs during the third quarter of the National Football League game between the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears on November 20, 2016, at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Most running backs would have a hard time replicating those numbers under the best of circumstances. Howard will be attempting to do so under worse circumstances. Remember, it’s not just Cutler who’s gone. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is gone, too, and until Kevin White proves he can stay on the field and play up to his status as a first-round draft pick, opponents will focus on stopping the run, which means stopping Howard.

Josh Sitton, LG

Howard can thank the Green Bay Packers for some of his success last year. Had the Packers not cut Sitton just before the start of the season, the Bears never would have signed Sitton and therefore might never have had as strong a run-blocking unit as they did.

Sitton earned his fourth straight Pro Bowl berth, albeit as an alternate, last year and also finished the year as the league’s top-ranked pass-blocking guard by ProFootballFocus. But Sitton will soon turn 31 and his history of back and ankle problems suggests he may have a hard time maintaining his Pro Bowl form.

And then there’s the locker room issues. Sitton is adored by teammates, but he was let go in Green Bay in part because he has a tendency to speak out about the way his team is being run. If he wasn’t happy in Green Bay, it’s hard to imagine he’s going to be happy in Chicago, where his mood may also affect his play.

Cameron Meredith, WR

 Meredith might have been a bigger surprise than Howard last year. An undrafted free agent out of Illinois State, he was pressed into duty as a starter after White went down with his leg injury in Week 4 and wound up leading the team in receiving with 66 catches for 888 yards and four touchdowns.

White appears to be healthy now, and if he stays that way and develops quickly, he will likely take over as the Bears’ top pass-catching target. That alone could reduce the number of targets for Meredith, who will likely have to beat out newcomers Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright for playing time.

And let’s not forget that with Cutler gone and Howard emerging as their top offensive threat, the Bears may become a more run-oriented team. That will further limit Meredith’s workload, which will likely result in a decline in overall production.




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  1. Adam

    May 21, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    I’d argue all 3 will have great years.

    Howard was playing with Alshon out a chunk of the year, down to their 5th QB, a rookie center and a their 2 probowl guards out.

    Sitton was playing alot of last year hurt but also with a line he didn’t have much time to gel and practice with. This year he should be healthy at the start and will be moving to RG

    Meredith was a QB in college and still learning the WR position. He’s only going to improve the more he learns

  2. Rrdrrd

    May 19, 2017 at 6:41 am

    This doofus also thinks Cutler played a sgnificant amount last year. He only played in 5 and injuries shortened even that. Much of Howard’s best work came with Matt Barkley at QB (also true for Cameron). Both players are far more likely to immprove with QB stablity (and Glennon may not be great but, again, BARKLEY).

  3. John Watkins

    May 19, 2017 at 4:39 am

    I still don’t understand you guys​ being so critical about Trubisky. Last time I checked, he’s not even starting this year. He will sit behind Glennon got a year and will develop well, just like to Brady and Rodgers did. Give the kid a chance.. sheesh!

  4. James Kelley

    May 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    I agree with you guys, these jack offs opinions mean squats, I try not to read the negative bull that’s written about the bears but it’s hard not too. In the end let the season begin and then you can throw your 2cents in.

  5. James Vach

    May 18, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I would like these writers from outside of Chicago to quit giving their opinions on how the team will do. They don’t take the time to know what is going on in our town with our franchise, but are quick to condemn our team. Just chasing clicks to make themselves look good.

    • SS

      May 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Totally agree this dude doesn’t remember we had no alshon most of the yr and if Howard declines it will be because of injury or touches because the bears want to get the rookie big daddy dome touches and as far as sitton he was hurt some LA yr but we have good back ups that perform awesome in sitton and Long’s place now go find something write about that makes sense

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