So it begins. The national media didn't show the Bears any love last season. Don't expect the sentiment to change around the defending NFC North Champs this season. Sports Illustrated's Peter King predicts the Bears will finish 8-8.
Here's why he's wrong:
Jay Cutler is in his second season under Mike Martz. Cutler has played in different offensive systems every season dating back to his time with the Broncos.
Cutler has improved his mechanics. He seems more fundamentally sound. This time around, he has Martz "gushing".
Cutler has something to prove. His toughness and desire has been questioned. Even though he hasn't said much about the NFC title game, you know Cutler wants to prove everyone wrong.
The offensive line let Cutler take a beating last season. It's still preseason, and we won't really find out how good they can be until the regular season starts, but the unit looks improved.
Last season, the Bears stumbled to a 4-3 start. The offense was predictable as the pass-run ratio was nearly 70-30. The Bears finished the season 7-2 when Martz called for a more balanced game plans as he featured Matt Forte more often.
Forte is a three-down back. He runs well between the tackles, has receiver skills and can block. Forte can be Martz's version of Marshall Faulk in this offense. I'm not comparing the two but Forte has similar skills.
Last season, the Bears struggled on third downs, short yardage and in the red zone. Marion Barber gives the Bears attitude in these situations. If Barber can stay healthy and can convert when he has to, he will be a 4th Phase favorite and can light a spark on the sidelines.
The Cover 2 is predictable but effective as the Bears rank towards the top in points allowed. The scheme depends on the strength of the defensive line and the depth of the unit is the deepest it's been since 2005-2006 and probably more talented.
If the Bears can stay healthy throughout the season, they can go deep into the playoffs and make it to Indianapolis.
Filed under: 4th Phase