Raise your hand if you too were watching the Bears game on Sunday and after the first few possessions, were thinking, "oh no, not again". I even started to think I might be a Bears meathead for having such high expectations coming into the season...3 and out and Cutler looked terrible, sacked and could have been hurt. Then the pick six by the Colts on another horrendous play and throw by Cutler! I made way to the medicine cabinet to grab my Pepto and Tums, it was sure to be a long day...
But then something very interesting and exciting occured. The Bears got past the opening day jitters and started performing like the well oiled machine we expected. Cutler starterd hitting on all of his throws. Brandon Marshall finished with 9 catches, over 100 yards, and a touchdown. Even rookie Alshon Jeffrey scored on a long TD pass from Cutler. The Bears looked great for the rest of the game and ended up squashing the Colts.
Certainly this was terrific. The Bears QB throwing for 300+ yards, hasn't happend in a while. 2 Bears Wide Receivers 6-4 and taller, has never happend. Depth at the WR position, certainly not under former GM Jerry Angelo. Credit will obviously go to new GM Phil Emery. He traded for Marshall, drafted Jeffrey, signed Michael Bush as a free agent, among many moves he made this offseason.
However, there is one very important key to success here. Most people don't even see it. They focus on the Wideouts and the stingy Bears defense. The success of this team will depend on one thing and one thing only...
The running game!
Signing Michael Bush has paid immediate dividends as he scored twice yesterday and is clearly the goalline and short yardage back. However, if you watched the game, what was the turning point? Bears opened terribly. Then the pick six and their down 7-0. They get the ball back and attempt another incomplete pass, and then it happend...Matt Forte blows through a hole for a big gain on the ground. Then he does it again...and again. Then a pummel through the line by Bush for a Bears score. These are the Bears after all. The monsters. The back and blue division. Despite what we have seen in the NFL over the past few years with quarterbacks and passing games putting up video game like numbers, the Bears and most of the other truly successful teams can run the ball. It is crucial for many reasons...
1) Running the ball gives the offensive line confidence. With this uncertain unit, that is huge. After that drive to tie the game, the line played much better. The first series, not so much.
2) Running the ball sets up the play-action pass. This is one of the oldest adages in the league. Play-action. If the defense is expecting run or knows the team they are defending can run, it is an advantage. The play fake on the play-action is something Cutler does very well. When the running game is working, the play-action works and the field opens up for big plays (see Jeffrey's TD)
3) Running the ball keeps the Bears defense off the field. The defense is excellent, but any defense will eventually tire if they are put in the position of having to play all game. Age is creeping up on some of the defenders like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman (who was injured yesterday). Running the ball gives the defense rest and keep them fresh at the end of the game, when it could become very important.
4) Running the ball eats the clock and protects a lead. Time of possesion is always a key statistic in football. Usually, the team the wins TOP wins the game. This season, you will see the Bears jump out to some big leads and then just run,run,run all afternoon.
I implore the meatheads and all the other Bears fans to jump on board. This is going to be a special season for the Chicago Bears. As a fan and former reporter who covered the team for ten years, I have never been more excited. This offense looks good, defense solid, and we have the best special teams in the league with ridiculous Hester and coach Dave Toub. The schedule is kind as well with two games against Minnesota, games against St.Louis, Jacksonville, Carolina, Tennessee, and Seattle. That is 7 wins right there plus yesterdays victory gives you 8. You figure they will split with Detroit and Green Bay. That gives you 10 wins. There is Dallas and Houston, which they will split, giving them 11 wins. There is also Arizona, a gimmie, that's 12. The game I'm looking forward too is November 19th vs. San Francisco. That, my friends, will be a preview of the NFC championship and a true test to whether or not these 2012 Bears are for real and a super bowl contender.
Meathead or not, I'm saying these Bears are the real deal and ready to soar to incredible heights.