Are The Chicago Bears For Real?
Chicago Bears fans are starting to get a little excited with their 7-1, NFC North leading team. Football experts and media types are starting to make some 2006 comparisons, which was when the Bears last made a Super Bowl appearance. Some sports journalists are even bringing up – gasp – the 1985 Bears into the discussion, which was the… Do I really need to explain Da ‘85 Bears?
The reason for the burgeoning excitement over this 2012 team is their Monstrous defense who are doing things that have never been done before. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman each returned an interception for a touchdown in the same game; IN CONSECUTIVE WEEKS! The Bears have actually have returned 7 interceptions for touchdowns in just 8 weeks. The all time record is 9, which was set by the Chargers in 1961. Charles Tillman set a record by forcing 4 fumbles in the Bears 51-20 win in Tennessee last Sunday.
Chicago’s defense leads the NFL with 28 takeaways; 1st in picks, 1st in fumble recoveries, and 1st in forced fumbles. They are 3rd with 25 sacks and they are tops with allowing a scant 63.0 QB rating to opposing quarterbacks. They have the league’s best point differential and are the second stingiest defense in allowing just 120 points through 8 games.
Here’s an interesting Chicago Bears 2012/1985 stat from ESPN. Through 8 games this season, the Bears ‘12 defense has allowed fewer offensive touchdowns and scored more defensive touchdowns than that ’85 team.
There’s no doubt about it, the Bears have a Super Bowl ready defense. But on offense…
I’m not as doom and gloom as some when it comes to the Bears O. Take last week for example, most harped on the slow start from the Bears offense, whereas I looked at the bigger picture. The Bears eclipsed their yearly offensive averages against the Titans in both passing and rushing. They had a hundred yard rusher and a hundred yard receiver. Plus, Jay Cutler finished the game with a 138.1 rating. Not too shabby.
The offense has enough play makers to eventually come around, and it was around mid season last year when the Bears started clicking. Factor in injuries this year to Earl Bennett, Matt Forte, and Alshon Jeffery, and the sputtering start is understandable.
Chicago’s detractors say: But what about the pass protection? What about the lack of competition so far?
To that I say you’re exactly right. The Bears pass protection is a work in progress. Their offensive line has been great in the run game, but not so great with pass protection. These issues aren’t all on the big guys up front. The tight ends have allowed some sacks, and the backs too. They’ve been out schemed a few times, and certain sacks have been clearly Jay Cutler’s responsibility.
Also, the schedule is what it is. You can only play the teams that the NFL lines up for you, so no point in worrying about that. The Bears have played 5 teams with a losing record, and they beat them all. Isn’t that what good teams do? They lost against the Packers in week two, but the circumstances surrounding that loss are worth mentioning.
Green Bay was soundly beaten in week 1, and they were coming home to face a 1-0 Chicago team that had to travel on a short (Thursday Night Football) week. The Packers needed the win, and they were playing in their home opener. The Bears were in week 2 of the new offense, and coordinator Mike Tice called a bad game. Losing Matt Forte very early to an ankle sprain didn’t help matters much. The Bears D played good enough to win, but they couldn’t overcome a terrible 4 interception game by Jay Cutler.
So are the Chicago Bears for real? I think so, but after the next two weeks we’ll know for sure. A possible Super Bowl preview this Sunday against the Houston Texans, and a possible NFC Championship game preview with the San Francisco 49ers the following Monday.
The Chicago Bears are two prime time games away from showing the world exactly who they are.