5 Reasons the Chicago Bears Offense Will Take Big Leap in 2012
To say that the Chicago Bears struggled on offense at the end of last season is probably one of the biggest understatements of year. After Jay Cutler was lost for the season in Week 10, the Chicago offense completely collapsed.
For the first 10 games, Cutler threw for more than 2300 yards, had 17 passing TDs against only seven interceptions. Over the last six games of the year, Caleb Hanie and Josh McCown combined for just 1027 passing yards, five passing TDs and 13 interceptions.
The rushing offense also suffered without Cutler at the helm. Matt Forte averaged over 130 yards from scrimmage for the first 10 games of the season. But without Cutler, he dropped to less than 80 before he was lost with a knee injury for the final four games.
This year, the expectations are high for the Chicago offense, and Bears fans are thinking that a playoff spot is not out of the question. Here are five reasons why the Chicago offense will take a big jump ahead next season.
1: Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice Is NOT Mike Martz
Under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz, Jay Cutler was sacked 75 times in 25 games. Martz refused to adjust his offensive game plan, even though the offensive line was struggling. Cutler wasn't allowed to call an audible if he saw that the Bears didn't match up well.
With problems at both right and left tackle, rather then move Jay Cutler around to give him more time, Martz continued to call five- and seven-step drops, serving Cutler up on a platter for opposing defenses.
Enter Mike Tice. While Tice was partially responsible for the offensive line last season, he remains convinced that these guys have what it takes.
While the tackle positions remain huge question marks for the Bears this season, Tice has created an offense that will allow Cutler to move around more, creating plays and buying time for his receivers to get open.
Best of all, he's giving Cutler the chance to audible again, allowing him to take advantage of defensive mismatches and option out when the defense makes the right call to stop a critical third-down play.
2: The Addition of Wide Receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery
The Bears haven't had a 1,000+ yard receiver since Marty Booker did it in 2002. Brandon Marshall has five consecutive seasons with more than 1,000 yards receiving and is coming off a Pro Bowl season in Miami despite a revolving door of bad QBs.
The top two receivers from last season for Chicago will probably not play a down for them this year. Roy Williams is no longer with the team and Johnny Knox will start the season on the physically unable to play list. Knox probably won't play at all this season, and his career as a Bear may be over.
While Marshall definitely made up for this loss, the Bears also added rookie Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina in the second round. Jeffery has some great physical skills and should become the No. 2 wide out for the Bears this season by the time everything is said and done.
He's been dinged up a bit in the spring mini-camps, but he should be 100 percent by the time the Bears open camp in late July.
3: The Addition of Running Back Michael Bush
Although Matt Forte is currently holding out for a long-term contract, he has already mentioned that he will be in training camp with his team and be ready for the regular season.
Forte has been the workhorse of the Chicago offense for the last four seasons, and he broke down with knee injury at the end of last year. While he claims to be 100%, he needs to get into camp and show the Bears that he's ready to be their workhorse again.
Bush has similar skills to Forte, being dangerous as a runner and a receiver. He posted almost 1400 yards from scrimmage and eight TDS last season for Oakland.
When Forte returns, Bush will definitely take a back seat. But after what he did in Oakland last year and how impressive he has looked in the spring OTAs, the Bears can move from the 'All Forte, All the Time' offense to the one-two punch that has worked so well for teams like the New York Giants or the Carolina Panthers.
4: Backup Quarterback Jason Campbell
Now Campbell is no Jay Cutler, and if Cutler is down for an extended period of time like last season, the Bears may be in trouble.
However, what Campbell gives you as a backup is NFL experience and the ability to let Cutler sit out a game if he's dinged up.
He gives Chicago the insurance at QB that they never had with Hanie as the No. 2 guy, and it gives Campbell a chance to redeem himself after a few bad seasons in Oakland.
5: Offensive Line Stability
Rookie RT Gabe Carimi played five quarters last season before he was lost for the season due to an injury. The Bears had great expectations for the kid last season, and his return will be a welcome sight.
He has been practicing in a limited basis during the OTAs and minicamps, but he should be 100 percent by the time the season starts.
The Left Tackle position will be a battle between J'Marcus Webb and Chris Williams. Neither Williams, nor Webb were standout linemen last season, and they were moved around between Left Guard and Left Tackle, in the hope that one would emerge as a legitimate starter. It failed miserably.
This year, Williams and Webb will both play left tackle, but only one will be a starter. With the threat of the bench hanging over their heads, both Webb and Williams will be motivated to raise their playing level this season: something many Chicago fans believe is long overdue.