Chicago Bears: Where We Stand After Preseason Week 3
The Bears are who we thought they were.
Well, perhaps more properly, the 'new' Bears are who we thought they might be.
There is a lot to like about the Bears but there are still some issues they need to resolve to make their hopes of a Super Bowl come true.
Here's where they stand as they head into the final stretch before the regular season.
Acquiring Brandon Marshall was still a steal as far as I'm concerned, and the change in the offense because of it is already easy to see. For the first time since arriving in Chicago, Jay Cutler has a true No. 1 wide receiver and the offense looks like it's going to sing because of it.
We've only had a taste of it so far, but all signs are positive. Add to it one of the better backfields in the league with the one-two punch of Matt Forte and Michael Bush and you've got a versatile, dynamic offense to play with.
With new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, we can also expect to see more from tight end Kellen Davis and a more effective offensive scheme.
There is a fly in the ointment, however. If you've read my stuff here you know where it is—the offensive line.
Tice vowed to simplify the blocking scheme and reduce the number of steps Cutler takes in his drop backs and has done both. Certainly ditching the seven-step drop has been effective, but the simplified blocking scheme doesn't seem to be helping.
Specifically, at left tackle—though honestly, across most of the line players are still getting beat. So far the result has been intense pressure, though not a tremendous amount of sacks. Pressure is fine to some extent (that's where the five-step drop pays off) but ultimately, there can be too much.
Cutler is by no means injury prone—multiple years under Mike Martz proven that. However, any player can only take so much and while he does move well outside the pocket, he isn't mobile in the way fellow NFC North quarterback Aaron Rodgers is.
The offensive line is still an issue and it's going to be hard to make any major changes now, which could mean the running backs and tight ends will be in and blocking more than they will be running or catching the ball.
In the end, the sacks may not come, but the result could be that the offense loses some weapons it might otherwise use well.
There's some turmoil at two spots—the linebackers, where Brian Urlacher's absence will hurt—and the secondary, which is still trying to find the best combination of players.
Losing Urlacher is rough though. As I explain here, he does more than tackle and the Bears have to be careful with him to make sure when he returns he truly is 100 percent and healthy.
If they can get him back by midseason there is plenty of time to get him back into the groove for a playoff run.
The secondary had an up-and-down year in 2011, but ultimately the bend-but-don't break philosophy worked. Not as much this preseason, which has seen them allow 31, 31 and 17 points in games. Some of that is, of course, on the backups, but the starters have been burned as well.
There is plenty of time for them to right the ship and by no means should a panic button be pushed.
Defensively this is still a very good team and they should be able to stop the bleeding as we hit the regular season.
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