Coming off the Bears’ 27-21 win over the lowly Giants on Thursday Night Football, I thought we got to see all of the Bears’ strengths and weaknesses from the first 6 weeks of the season on display. Let’s take a look at what we have learned about your Chicago Bears.
Jay Cutler is finally in the right offense
This is indeed the offensive coach we needed to uncover the best of Jay Cutler. He is limiting his mistakes, he is making big plays when they are needed and he is not giving the ball away. He has stayed protected and he has taken advantage of all of his new weapons. Cutler to Marshall is as dangerous as ever, and the continuing development of Alshon Jeffrey is making things even worse for opposing defenses. He’s able to trust the play calls, trust his receivers, his line, and trust Matt Forte in the backfield. No longer do we just hope the Bears offense can manage the clock and give the defense a rest. Now they can be depended on to score – and they appear to be getting better and more comfortable each week.
The defense is still the best in the business at taking the ball away
If you could say anything for certain about this defense, it is that they can take the ball away from opponents. And no matter how well you prepare for them, you will almost certainly have a ball punched away, have a passed intercepted, have a fumble recovered – by the Bears
defense. Even without Charles Tillman, three more interceptions this week puts the Bears at the top of the league in takeaways with 17.
The Bears cannot pressure the quarterback or stop the run
By far the most disturbing thing we’ve learned about this team. The Bears are giving up an average of over 100 rushing yards per game. Not gonna win many more games when that happens, because not only are they allowing teams to beat them in the air AND on the ground, but by making the run game so easy on them, they are allowing other teams to manage the clock and own the time of possession battle. They were DOMINATED this week by Brandon Jacobs. That just can’t happen.
Even worse, the Bears have only sacked the quarterback 8 times in 6 games, third worst in the league. The only two teams worse, the Steelers and Giants, have yet to win a game. They had a chance to break through this week against the Giants – Eli Manning has been sacked 16 times this year – the Bears only sacked him once. And with Henry Melton and Nate Collins out for the year, and James Anderson and DJ Williams leaving the game this week with injuries, it is not looking good for the Bears. As good as the offense has been, they will not win many more games while the defense is playing like this. Julius Peppers has been invisible. Charles Tillman has not been 100% all year and missed Week 6.
I do think the offense has taken a step forward each week, and I think they will continue to get better as the year goes on as long as they stay healthy. But this is not the Bears defense we have come to expect here in Chicago. And unless they find some way to improve and soon, the Bears will not be much better than a middle of the road team. We finally got the offense we wanted, but it appears it has come at a cost.
I’m wondering what is the cause of this decline. Is it an aging defense finally past its prime? Is Mel Tucker just not the defensive mind we needed or is he doing the best he can with limited resources? Are we really feeling the value and loss of Lovie Smith and Brian Urlacher? Its probably a little bit of everything, but with the improvement on offense and the decline on defense, have the Bears actually gotten better? It appears that things have come out to about even, but I do know that if it doesn’t get better, and I mean MUCh better, we will not be seeing playoff football in Chicago this year.