The Bears 3-0 start has Chicago football fans cautiously optimistic. They started 7-1 last season and 7-3 in 2011, but still missed the playoffs. The defense continues to play at a high level and the rebuilt offense line has protected Cutler better than he has scene during his tenure. With the Packers struggling at 1-2, the Bears have a two game lead over the two time defending NFC North Division champions, a two game lead over 2012 playoff qualifier Minnesota and a one game lead over Sunday's opponent Detroit.
Analysts, fans and sports talk show hosts all like to play monday morning quarterback. We all have our own idea of what advice we'd like to give Marc Trestman for the Bears to continue winning.
Here is what the Bears need to do going forward to continue their early season success.
Have the Defense Continue to Force Turnovers
The Bears have been the best team in the NFL at forcing turnovers in recent seasons. The departure of Lovie Smith had many concerned that the Bears wouldn't be as aggressive as they were under Smith. Although the Bears rank 25th in total defense, they rank in the top three of most of the turnover categories. They have forced 13 turnovers through three games and have scored three touchdowns on defense.
Keep Cutler Efficient
Jay Cutler is off to the best start of his career. He has his highest quarterback rating and QBR of his career, his highest completion percentage and his two to one (6-3) touchdowns to interception percentage has been the highest of his career. If he keeps playing within the offense and trusts Aaron Kromer and Trestman, Cutler could make a case for MVP.
Have the Offensive Line Continue to Protect Cutler
Through two games, the Bears are second in the NFL in sacks allowed with three. That's an amazing number coming from a team that finished 25th in the NFL in 2012 with 44 sacks allowed. Bears GM Phil Emery has done an incredible job rebuilding the offensive line. Eighty percent of the Bears offensive line wasn't on the team in 2012. Left Tackle Jermon Bushrod and left guard Matt Slawson were signed as free agents from New Orleans and the Jets and right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills were taken in the first and fifth round pick in this year's draft.
Trestman's offense has given Cutler more rhythm. The Bears are using shorter passes and having Cutler get the ball out of his hands quicker. This puts less pressure on the offensive line to protect Cutler for a shorter time.
The Bears are also a respectable tenth in yards per carry at 4.2.
Part of what makes the west coast offense so successful is offensive balance. This comes in the form of run/pass balance and spreading the ball around.
Brandon Marshall had the highest percentage of his team's targets in 2012 with over 40 percent. Marshall, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery all have over ten receptions through the first three games.
The Bears need to feature the running game more. Sixty eight percent of their yards through three games have come through the air. Forte does rank second on the team to Marshall with 18 receptions and 138 yards. His 4.1 yards per carry is respectable and getting him the ball more in the running game, should open up the offense more for Cutler and the passing game.
Continue to See Devin Hester as a Threat on Kickoff Returns
Citing injuries as a concern the NFL has seemingly adopted rules to end kickoff returns as a part of the game. Devin Hester hasn't heeded those concerns. He is off to the best start of his career on kickoff returns.
Hester has been historically better on punt returns. This season has been an exception. In three games, Hester only has two punt returns for one yards. His kickoff returns have played a big role in the Bears 3-0 start. Although he has yet to score a touchdown, Hester leads the league with 306 yards on eight returns. That comes out to 38.3 yards per returns. If he can continue to show that he is back to being the dangerous threat he was earlier in his career, he can give Cutler and the offense a short field.
The Bears 3-0 start has truly been a team effort. The team seems to be more cerebral and organized under Trestman. He was the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2002 when the went to the superbowl and he won two Grey Cup in Canada with the Montreal Alouettes. If the Bears continue to use this formula, Trestman could lead the Bears to the Superbowl in his first season.
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