Bears fans could not have asked for a better home opener. A dominating win by 20 points with the franchise offense looking like a dream for once instead of a nightmare.
Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and surprise rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery could combine for one of the most dominant offenses in the NFL. Is this a bit of a stretch with the high flying Packers, Patriots, Lions, etc.? Maybe, but the Bears have the talent and potential to join these elite offenses.
Granted, the Bears were playing against a Colts defense that gave up the fifth most points per game in 2011, but it was still an impressive performance.
The Bears are a trendy dark horse Super Bowl pick, and for good reason. They definitely have some work to do before this is attainable and need to stay healthy, but what team doesn't?
Let's take a look at what the Bears showed us in Week 1.
Ever since Jay Cutler's stellar year in 2008 he has been tight roping the line between being an elite quarterback and being a "Carson Palmer-like, just wait till next year and he will be great" quarterback.
I still firmly believe that he is an elite quarterback. If you give Cutler more than a fraction of a second to get rid of the ball and real receivers then he can do magical things, and this is exactly what he has this year.
That being said he is very similar to Brett Favre, in both good and bad ways. Cutler, like Favre, has a cannon of an arm, and uses it to constantly force passes in windows where they don't fit. Sometimes he looks like a god, and other times even a washed up high school quarterback says, "Why would he throw that pass?"
I hoped we had seen enough of this inconsistent play, but Cutler showed he definitely needs to mature when he threw an ugly pick-six to Colt LB Jerrell Freeman on Sunday.
He also had a rough start to the game going 1-10, but he showed he has elite capabilities as shook off the slow start and finished 20-25 with 333 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Cutler just needs to settle down, use his legs to buy him some time if he needs to, and not force passes.
The Bears defense held the talented rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to just 21 points and forced three interceptions. On paper it looks like they had an impressive game, but unfortunately statistics never tell a full story.
Lovie Smith bases the Bears defense on a bend-but-don't-break philosophy. This philosophy works very well when there is a significant pass rush and great linebacker play.
Generally, they also don't care about the play of their defensive backs, as their job is to gamble and not allow big plays.
In most years this defense works very well. Even the aging defense is not my biggest concern. The scariest part of this defensive style is that we are in a pass happy NFL, especially the NFC North, and it is far too easy to move the ball in the air against the Bears. The bend-but-don't-break philosophy's greatest weakness is the pass.
Luck was able to rack up 309 yards against the Bears, and could have easily had close to 400 yards. He has several miscues and overthrows that could have kept the Colts drives alive and led to more points. A veteran quarterback like Rodgers or Stafford will not make those silly mistakes.
Unless the Bears defense is able to pick it up, Cutler and the offense will need to put up 40-plus points every game to have a shot at making noise in the playoffs.
Tim Jennings is the Bears' most talented defensive back. Jennings had two spectacular interceptions against his old team, which matched his interception total from last season.
Jennings' first interception was honestly one of the best interceptions by a Bear I have seen in several years. He is going to easily rack up between five and eight interceptions this year, which should be good enough to get him to the Pro Bowl.
As I said before, Jennings is going to gamble because he has been given the license to do so, which will allow him to pad his stats.
Jennings is a vet and he has probably already reached his ceiling as a player, but with the lack of stars and consistency in the Bears secondary, he has the potential to have a great season.
Matt Forte looks healthy, excited, and ready to play. He had 120 total yards and a touchdown against the Colts, and picked up right where he left off last season before his injury.
Forte was initially upset about the Bears bringing in and giving Michael Bush a long-term deal before his own deal was inked. Now that they are both signed and content, Forte should be thrilled. Bush can come in and give Forte a much needed breather.
This will allow Forte to not only be fresher in games this season, but the reduced touches will most likely extend his career.
Bush himself looked great in his first game as a Bear. He came in and did exactly what he was signed to do: get the ball across the goal line and be a change of pace back. Bush averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, but scored two touchdowns.
Forte fantasy owners might not be happy about Bush taking caries and touchdown opportunities away, but he will help the Bears win tough games.
Brandon Marshall is a top-five wide receiver, no doubt about it. Question is whether Jay Cutler can get the ball to him (i.e. can the offensive line allow him time) and if he can keep his off-the-field issues to a minimum.
Cutler targeted Marshall 15 times in the Bears win. They connected nine times for 119 yards and a score, and if it wasn't for a few pass interference calls in the endzone, Marshall probably would have snagged three touchdowns.
I don't think anyone questions Cutler's dedication to get Marshall the ball, but I think people forget just how deadly of a combination they really are when they are on the same field.
In 2008 and 2009 in their only two full seasons together, Marshall caught 206 passes for 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns. During this time span Cutler also had the best season of his career, throwing for over 4,500 yards in 2008 and earning him a slot at the Pro Bowl.
The Bears have shown that they are willing to take more shots deep, and rookie Alshon Jeffery should help to free up Marshall even more.
This Bears offense should finally be explosive, and if their elderly defense can be respectable, this team is going to be very dangerous in 2012.