The Chicago Bears entered the season with a new coach, one less veteran linebacker and a quarterback who’s a sack and interception machine. You could say expectations were low for 2013 but to the surprise of fans–and most likely NFL teams–the Bears jumped out to a 3-0 start. Improvements were immediately seen and the new coach, Marc Trestman, was enjoying a nice honeymoon.
But not so fast. Enter Week 4 against the Detroit Lions.
The Bears suffered their first loss, 40-32, against their division rival and well, let’s just say the wheels came off for this team. As they prepare to face the undefeated New Orleans Saints on Sunday, many adjustments will be needed to reverse their losing streak.
But with the loss, the season is not over for the Bears; they’re tied with the Lions for the top NFC North spot (3-1). Bears Nation still has postseason hopes with some even believing this team is a possible Super Bowl contender (see Mike Ditka).
Here’s a few reasons to believe this is true.
Offensive line improvements – Desperately needing offensive line improvement, the Bears have relied on two rookies to get the job done, Kyle Long and Jordan Mills. They’ve kept quarterback Jay Cutler standing upright for the most part (five sacks) and allowing him time throw to the right team (only six picks) but he does have history of sacks as it happens 7.7% of the time when he’s stepped back to throw since joining the Bears. In his Bears tenure, he’s had 148 of them–a ridiculous amount. By but keeping Cutler standing, it enables him throw (or run) and he’ll continue making plays.
Quality Weapons – First there was the addition of Brandon Marshall in 2012 but under Trestman, six-year running back in Matt Forte is flourishing and sophomore wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett have improved. The addition of tight end Martellus Bennett has been a positive (and entertaining) and with Devin Hester back on kick returns and reliable kicker Robbie Gould, Cutler has plenty of weapons to succeed.
Defense Wasn’t Too Broken – Along with the loss of Brian Urlacher, the team has a new defensive coordinator, Mel Tucker. As linebacker Lance Briggs said at the season’s start, this defense wasn’t broken so it didn’t need to be fixed. Tucker let the Bears defense be who they are and kept the same scheme but after last week, there’s holes in this crew and room for improvement even with the talents of Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Julius Peppers and Briggs.
O.k, with all the positives, there’s still some concerns.
The Packers Own the Bears – The Bears are yet to play THE division rival, the Green Bay Packers and history is not on their side for a win. Under Cutler, the Bears are 1-8. For their first 2013 meeting it will come after the Bear’s bye week and the second one will wrap up the regular season (no pressure here).
Can the Bears finally beat their nemesis with all the change?
Good Jay/Bad Jay – By now, football fans have seen both Good Jay and Bad Jay. Both have made 2013 appearances and on Sunday, Bad Jay stuck around a little too long with his four turnovers (three picks and one fumble returned for a touchdown). He went 27-for-47 passes, 317 yards and a 65.6 passer rating. The team also only converted only one third down in their 13 attempts.
This won’t win games and fortunately for Cutler, his new coach is patient with him. Trestman is known as the quarterback whisperer but will his latest pupil rise to the occasion?
As for the Bears as a 2013 Super Bowl contender, they’ll need to fix their problems and in Chicago, they embrace the saying, there’s always next year. But should they make it to February, Chicago could give Trestman keys to the city for one day or more likely throw a kickass parade.