The Chicago Bears Need to Find Cornerstones in 2015

As the Bears approach the start of the 2015 season, I decided to take a different approach to previewing the year. Instead of picking how many games the Bears might win this year, I wanted to focus on what’s more important and that’s the long term health of the franchise.

The Bears have to come away from this season being able to identify at least three cornerstone players in order for it to be a successful one.

It seems as if the consensus floor for the Bears this year is three wins while eternal optimists have them as high as 10 wins. In reality, it’s probably somewhere in between both of those numbers making this season mostly irrelevant from a record standpoint.

What can and hopefully will make the year meaningful is the identification of  at least three potential Pro Bowl players. Guys the Bears can build around and eventually lean on in the near future as the team competes for a Super Bowl.

Look at the Seattle Seahawks. They are one of the league’s most stable and successful franchises right now but in 2011 they were only a seven win team. Even though they had a losing record for the fourth straight season, they finished with a top-10 overall defense that year and never looked back from there.

How did they do it? They had a great system in place and began to develop second-year safety Kam Chancellor (three-time Pro Bowler), rookie cornerback Richard Sherman (two-time Pro Bowler) and second-year safety Earl Thomas ( four-time Pro Bowler) into the players they are today.

The Seahawks also saw Marshawn Lynch go to his second of five Pro Bowls that season after trading for him four games into the 2010 campaign.

One year later they’d go on to add quarterback Russell Wilson and the rest is history in the form of two straight Super Bowl appearances winning one and coming within a yard of winning the other.

Now let’s look back at the Bears. It really doesn’t matter how many wins they get this year. They aren’t a viable playoff team and certainly aren’t a team ready to compete for a Super Bowl. It’s more important this season they find an identity and develop young studs who will carry out the message for years to come.

Who are the guys who can fill the roles? Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is a relentless pass rusher who has all the tools and make up to be one of the league’s most feared pass rushers.

Last year’s first round pick Kyle Fuller has the talent but desperately needs to be coached up and developed into a quality lock down corner. This second season is pivotal for  Fuller and his long term development.

Rookies Eddie Goldman and Adrian Amos have the potential to be fringe Pro Bowl players but it’s wide receiver Alshon Jeffery who can really development into a force. As long as Jeffery is healthy, he can not only make himself a rich man this season as he enters the last year of his deal, but also emerge as a top-five receiver in the NFL.

If the Bears can get at least three players to step up and be young, highly productive leaders on the team this year, then all of the sudden they have the kind of foundation to build a quality team around. Free agents are going to want to come to Chicago and general manager Ryan Pace can find other young players to complement his cornerstones.

Why can’t the Bears beat the Packers? There are multiple reasons but in the end it really boils down to the fact they don’t have playmakers like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb or Clay Matthews.

Let’s hope by the end of the season the Bears have a handful of guys you feel really good about going into the next few years. It’s what matters more this year than thinking about what very well could be another losing season.