Joakim Noah, Brian Urlacher, and Julius Peppers: These are the faces of Chicago sports today. What do all of these athletes have in common? All three are known for their defense, not their offense. Chicago continues to be a backwards thinking sports town. Gone are the days where defenses ruled supreme. The last three NFL Champions (Giants, Packers, and Saints) along with the last three NBA Championships (Heat, Mavericks, and Lakers) all had prolific offenses. Teams like the 1985 Bears wouldn’t have been as dominant in today’s game due to rule changes that favor offenses. Until our teams figure out that offense wins championships, Chicago is going to continue to be in “Sports Hell.”
The Bears again this past Sunday put up another “stellar” offensive performance in their 28-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Jay Cutler threw for a whopping 145 yards and the Bears had 297 total yards of offense. Once again, their defense had a dominating performance to help bail out the struggling offense. If we compare that to the NFC North Champions Green Bay Packers, they had 460 yards of total offense with Aaron Rodgers throwing for 343 yards. Until the Bears can close the gap on offensive output, they will always play second fiddle to the Pack.
The problems stem from the leadership within the Bears organization. With Phil Emery on board, he seems to recognize the need for a better offense. He went out and tried to improve the offense with the additions of Brandon Marshall, Michael Bush, and Alshon Jeffery. With another offseason, we should see more talent added to the offensive side of the ball. It’s impossible to make wholesale changes in just one year.
If the general manager isn’t the problem, it then falls on the head coach, Lovie Smith. Now I’m as big of a Lovie supporter there is, but his conservative approach on offense along with his dependence on his defense is outdated in today’s NFL. Lovie has had numerous offensive coordinators (Terry Shea, Ron Turner, Mike Martz, and Mike Tice) under his reign, but none of them have led to consistent offensive success. Both Turner and Martz had flashes of offensive greatness, but neither were able to sustain consistency due to philosophy/personnel changes. The Bears need a significant overhaul to their offensive philosophy, and the only way that will come is with a change at head coach.
Not only is our NFL team an “offensive juggernaut,” out NBA squad continues to “light up” the court. This past Saturday’s game saw the Bulls put up a whopping 75 points against the Atlanta Hawks with their top scorers Luol Deng (11 points) Joakim Noah (10 points) and Jimmy Butler (9 points) combing for 30 points. The defending NBA Champion Miami Heat also played on Saturday. They put up 105 points with Lebron James leading the way with 30 points. 30 points combined from your top three scorers, that’s Chicago Bulls basketball!
The Bulls can make the excuse that they aren’t playing with their top scorer, and MVP, Derrick Rose. Derrick did average a little under 22 points a game last year and led all scorers on the team. As all Bulls fans know, the offense runs through him. But there lies the problem; Derrick is our only offensive threat. Successful NBA teams have more than one threat on offense. The last three NBA Champions have all had multiple threats on offense that can score in crunch time. Until the Bulls get that second piece, they will never be more than a stop on the Heat’s run to multiple championships.
There are two types of organizations in sports, forward thinkers and ones that live in the past. Both the Bears and Bulls are starting to mirror themselves to their counterparts in Cleveland (Cavaliers and Browns). The Cavaliers thought for years they could win with just one superstar in Lebron James while the Browns used every high draft pick on defense, ignoring the offensive side of the ball. For the love of God, nobody wants to end up like a Cleveland franchise. Our two teams need to wake up and realize we aren’t in the 20th century anymore where defenses won championships. This is a new league, a new age; the 21st century, an age of offense.