Here we are, pharm four games through the 2013 Bears season. Maybe it’s the 75 degree weather in late September that has messed with our NFL mind-set, and but it sure doesn’t seem like a quarter of the season is already in the books, ask does it?
With a quarter of the regular season done, it’s time for my first Bears report card. Consider this your cheat sheet when talking Bears with anyone that may come your way: cocktail parties, board rooms, sports bars, baby showers…all target-rich environments. Our city loves to talk Bears football and in order to hang with the best of them, your knowledge needs to run deeper than last Sunday’s game.
Despite their 3-1 record, it’s not all roses for the Chicago Bears. In fact, following their most recent game against the Detroit Lions, it looks like there are a lot more issues than I originally thought. Because of that I am going to give Chicago a B- for their first quarter grade report. I will break down why the team earned that grade by discussing the offense, defense, special teams and coaching separately below.
- Offense: In Sunday’s game against the Lions Jay Cutler threw 3 interceptions, matching the number he had thrown in the first three games prior to their first loss of the season. There in lies the problem, consistency. Bringing the “quarterback whisperer” on as head coach this year was supposed to solve that issue but clearly it’s going to take a little more time than four games to prove there’s a reliable Jay Cutler 2.0. The rookie offensive line has allowed Cutty to get sacked six times so far this season, which is up there among the most in the NFL. To state the obvious, if the Bears want to get back to winning, Culter needs to be better protected and more consistent.
- Defense: If the loss to the Lions wasn’t proof that we need defensive tackle Henry Melton out there (out for the season with an ACL tear in his left knee), then I’m not sure what would be. The Bears D is currently ranked 13th overall in the NFL, 30th in number of sacks, with 6, and 16th for total tackles. Lance Briggs, who took Brian Urlacher’s place as play caller, said he was disgusted by how the Lions were able to put up 40 points against them last week. Detroit scored on six straight possessions, three of them being field goals followed by three TDs. It is obvious that the Bears need to work on closing gaps and eliminate missed tackles, otherwise the future may not be so bright. On a positive note, Chicago is leading the league in forced fumbles with eleven, something we have grown to expect from our defense and more specifically Charles “Peanut” Tillman.
- Special Teams – I don’t think the special teams unit is doing particularly poorly but they certainly at the same level as last year. They’ve allowed two huge returns by two NFC North teams, the Vikings and Lions, both of which ended with points being scored. So far, opponents have done a pretty good job of keeping the ball away from Devin Hester, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made some important plays. He’s tallied 453 kick return yards, with 249 of those coming from their win against the Vikings (one of the few reasons the Bears got that W). As for kicker Robbie Gould, I have nothing bad to say, he remains one of the best kickers in the NFL. Punter Adam Podlesh had a very poor game against the Lions but if this year is anything like the last, his shaky start to the season will wear off soon. The Bears can’t really count on that though, according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright, the squad worked out six punters at Hallas Hall on Tuesday.
- Coaching – I do have to say that I like what I’ve seen so far out of Head Coach Marc Trestman. He seems to be very aware of the fact that the Bears have had to fight to get the three wins they have and I don’t foresee him becoming complacent with just getting wins this season, I think he truly wants to make this team the best it can be. With more time, hopefully he and Cutler can find a rhythm and lead this team to success. I also believe that Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis has done a good job with what he has to work with. Adding another punter to compete with Podlesh would definitely get my nod of approval (not that it’s needed). Defensive Coach Mel Tucker promised to keep the defense the same with just a few added twists and I do think that consistency has been beneficial so far, but injuries are always prevalent to throw a monkey wrench into things.
I realize that the Bears only have one loss so far, but Sunday’s game against the Lions was very telling. I am looking forward to this week’s match-up at home against the 4-0 Saints to see if they can bounce back from the loss against a very good team. It’ll be a true test of Trestman’s leadership and Culter’s resilience. Tune in to FOX at noon on Sunday to hopefully witness Chicago give New Orleans their first loss of the season.