"The Chicago Bears are a defensive team with superior special team capabilities and an offense that has great potential."
- Every Bears fan in the world
We all knew that, but for some reason most of us forgot. For many fans, the acquisition of Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush meant a changing of the guard. In a blink of an eye a history of tradition was thrown out of the window and the Bears were going to make their first legitimate step into the 21st century.
Well, at least until they played a down of football. A false start and a pick six initiated the Bears 2012-13 campaign, but Chicago managed to control the next three quarters in a sound win over the Indianapolis Colts. Nonetheless, one would have to wonder if that wasn't a presage to the expectations the Bears should be held accountable to.These unalienable issues will forever be granted as long as they are not addressed.
The offensive line is still an issue. The inability to protect quarterback Jay Cutler was the primary key to the Bears loss at Green Bay. It also has contributed to the Bears passing game, leading to - since the win at Indianapolis - 9 sacks, 5 interceptions and only 2 touchdowns offensively. So basically since the Week 1 win against the Colts, the Bears as an offense has a 2-14 touchdown to turnover ratio. Which is bad, but can't be solely put on the offensive line.
The Bears receiving core are lacking chemistry, in one word. In a literal sense, they couldn't have more chemistry. Outside of rookie Alshon Jefferey, every receiver has previous history or has spent at least one season with Cutler. In a sense, Jay could be Kevin Bacon with all the levels of acquaintance he has with this Bears offense,
Six Degrees of Jay Cutler
1-3) Brandon Marshall was Jay's safety blanket during his rookie season with the Denver Broncos. Marshall caught 14 targets for 233 yards and one touchdown. This was under newly signed offensive assistant and quarterbacks/receivers coach Jeremy Bates. Bates assisted Cutler and Marshall during their 2008 Pro Bowl season (Cutler: 4,526yds, 25TD's-18INT's, Marshall: 104rec, 1,265yds, 6TD's).
3-6) During his collegiate career, Cutler spent many snaps next to Bears offensive lineman Chris Williams. He also had freshman Earl Bennett as his primary target. The duo, with protection from Williams, garnered 879yds and 9TD's.
So the familiarity part of chemistry isn't the issue. It's deeper than that, it extends to the playcalling and the understanding of the Mike Tice offense. This new Bears offense has seen 107 pass attempts compared to just 55 rushing attempts in three games. The reps are there, it's the communication - or lack thereof - between Jay and the receiving core that is at fault. Combine that with the lack of protection for Cutler and it isn't hard to understand why the offense isn't the second coming of the Luckman-Keane and more like the second coming of last season and the season before and the season before and so on and irritating so forth.
On the bright side, it's week 4. On the bad side, the NFC North is still within grabs for every team and the NFC as a whole is perhaps at its most dominant than ever before. So an identity crisis heading into the "second quarter" of the season - by head coach Lovie Smith's outline - isn't conducive for success in maintaining a grip on the division standings.
A 2-1 pass to rush ratio is obviously what the Bears are looking to get out of this offense. Adding the injury to Matt Forte, this would further exacerbate the fact. However, Michael Bush showed great gap sense and explosiveness in his first start as a Bear. Bush rushed for 55yds in 18 carries, one of which lead to a Bears touchdown early, giving Chicago a 10-0 lead against the St. Louis Rams.
The Bears got away from the rush, and Bush, adding running back Khalil Bell (20yds, 10 carries) into the mix and turned up the notch on 1st and 2nd down passes (10-1st down passes). Michael Bush kept the offensive tempo ideal and was productive with practically every other touch. "As I See It", if Forte remains unhealthy and the passing game continues to misfire, Bush being featured more in the gameplan should be a no-brainer. His size and mixture of strength in speed is ideal for the "insurance policy" tag he earned by signing a 3-yr contract before the season, notably prior to front office and Forte coming to an agreement on an extension.
So as we once thought, we now know. The Bears are a defensive and special teams product, with a higher ceiling for offensive potential. The crowning of this offense while blindly setting aside the protection issues seems to have resonated all the way up the playcaller's booth. A 2-1 pass to rush ratio with an offense that has allowed nearly 90 sacks on the quarterback since 2009 - when Cutler arrived in Chicago - is unmistakably to blame perhaps just as much as the offensive line, when it comes to the woes in the passing game.
The defense has been the constant in all of this. The 6th best overall defense is holding opponents to just 76 rushing yards per game, while allowing 203 (was 254 prior to the Rams victory) yards per game passing. The Bears defense is top three in turnovers and rank 5th in points allowed per game (16.7).
The Bears are 2-1 and are looking at the more 'favorable' part of the schedule. Chicago travels to Dallas, Jacksonville and Tennessee and host Detroit and Carolina (combined record of 5-7), before perhaps their two toughest tests of the season, hosting the Houston Texans then traveling to San Francisco to take on the 49'ers. The season is still early and this offense can be just as deadly as once anticipate, but before making any knee-jerk assessments of this Bears passing attack just remember who this team is and what they - at least for the Lovie era - will always be.
2. Special Teams
3. Manageable offense
And until proved otherwise, this will not change.
Tags: Alshon Jefferey, Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears, Chris Williams, Dallas Cowboys, Earl Bennett, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jay Cutler, Khalil Bell, Matt Forte, Michael Bush, San Francisco 49'ers, Sid Luckman, St. Louis Rams