NFL midseason reports usually are written after eight games—ya know, at midseason. But with seven games in the books and injuries piling up, the 2013 Bears have reached a crossroads. No time like the present, then, to distribute awards and look at what's to come.
The Mike Ditka Award for Best Season Ever for a Chicago Bears Tight End
Iron Mike, meet the Black Unicorn. When the Bears signed Bennett after his one season with the N.Y. Giants, nobody knew quite what to expect from the gabby, imaginative player. But off-the-field creativity aside, it's been awhile since Bears fans have seen a tight end like Bennett, whose season projections in touchdowns (nine) and yards (814) would trail only Ditka's best marks (12 TDs, 1,076 yards).
The Walter Payton Award for Eye-Popping Running Back Stats
The hiring of coach Marc Trestman brought lots of speculation about a potential increase in offensive production, and nobody seemed giddier over the summer than Matt Forte. He was right to be. The sixth-year back is having a career year, averaging 113.5 total yards per game while on pace for nearly 14 touchdowns. He's also within striking distance of his own franchise record for receiving yards per game for a running back (40.8, set in 2011).
The Marcus Robinson Award for Breakout Wide Receiver
Is this award just an excuse to get Marcus Robinson's name in print? Of course! But Alshon Jeffery's receiving numbers—he already has career highs in receptions and yards—warrants ties to Robinson, who like Jeffery also attended South Carolina. And with 88 yards rushing, he can become only the second Bears receiver to gain 100 yards rushing in a season, something Dennis Gentry did twice.
The Marty Booker Award for Best All-Around Receiver, Only If Booker Was a Game-Breaker Like Brandon Marshall
While Bennett, Forte and Jeffery have been the most obvious beneficiaries of The Trestman Effect, Brandon Marshall continues to be the Bears' key offensive performer. He's on pace to tie his 2012 TD mark despite fewer catches per game, but more important he has refined his blocking to an art, meaning he affects plays on every down, not just the ones on which he's targeted.
The Erik Kramer Award for Best Season by a Bears Quarterback