Chicago Bears: The Good, Bad and Ugly Through 1st 4 Games
The Chicago Bears have been through a lot this season already, and it's only been four games. From injuries to statement wins to embarrassing defeats, it's safe to say that the first quarter of the season has been a roller coaster ride with no end in sight.
We knew coming into the season that things were going to be interesting. With new free agents, a new general manager, new coaches and some big name rookies being taken in the first few rounds, it was clear that the Bears wanted this season to be unlike any other season they have had a long time.
Did they succeed? Are the Bears, who through four games hold a share of first place in the NFC North, as good as we had hoped?
There is only one thing for sure right now: The Chicago Bears have had moments that were good, some that were bad and some that were just downright ugly.
Good: Tim Jennings
Tim Jennings is having the season of his career. He leads the league with four interceptions and has 18 tackles as well as six pass break-ups, two of which resulted in interceptions for teammates.
Jennings was named Defensive Player of the Month for the NFC and doesn't show any signs of slowing down in the future.
Jennings has been a bright spot for the Bears even in down times this season, like when he picked off defending NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers on national television while the rest of the team was getting slaughtered by the Green Bay Packers.
Jennings has helped return the defense of the Chicago Bears back to its dominant form. The team currently leads the league in takeaways with 14 through just four games; the closest team behind them, the Atlanta Falcons, only have 12.
If Jennings keeps playing the way he has this will be a standout season not only for him, but also for the entire Chicago Bears organization.
Bad: J'Marcus Webb
The photo above perfectly describes how J'Marcus Webb's season has gone so far and where it seems to be headed for the rest of the season. Webb has been awful on the offensive line this season. All of his teammates have taken notice as well.
By now, everyone has heard of the famous incident in which Jay Cutler shoved J'Marcus Webb after yelling at him—Cutler had been sacked numerous times by Clay Matthews that night.
Yes, Matthews is no easy player to block. Granted, Cutler should not have shoved him.
With that aside, Webb cannot continue to make excuse after excuse for why he has not been performing well this season. Webb has an important job: to protect the blind side of Jay Cutler. He has not been performing that task well this season.
If he doesn't change his play, he could have a different view of the team come playoff time: from the bench.
Ugly: Matt Forte's Injury
When the Chicago Bears went out and signed Michael Bush to be their backup running back, they had no idea he would be starting so soon.
Forte went down in the second game of the season against Green Bay. He was unable to play against the St. Louis Rams in Week 3. When he came back in Week 4, he played well. However, he was hit once and had to get his ankle examined again before coming back into the game.
We've seen Forte get injured in the past. It's safe to say fans don't want it to happen again.
Would the Bears be okay with just Bush in the backfield? Yes, but as well as the Bears play when they have Bush, they play even better with the dual-running back system of Bush and Forte.
That is why Forte going down is ugly for the Chicago Bears.
Good: The Defensive Line
There's been a lot of talk about the defense of the Chicago Bears lately, and how they have returned to dominant form.
The team leads the league in takeaways and has the Defensive Player of the Month on their roster, yet there has been little talk about what the defensive line has contributed to the team's overall success.
The Bears have the third-most sacks in the NFL with 15. They also have the third-ranked rushing defense in the league, allowing just 67.3 yards per game. They've only let one rushing touchdown occur through the first four games.
Last season, we saw what happened when the defensive line got pressure on the Detroit Lions—Matthew Stafford threw for four interceptions in one game. We saw a similar occurrence on Monday night when the defensive line once again got pressure and forced Tony Romo to throw five interceptions.
When the defensive line pressures opposing quarterbacks, good things happen for the Bears. That is why the defensive line has been good for the Chicago Bears so far this season.
Bad: Offensive Adjustment
Part of the roller coaster season for the Chicago Bears this year has been the adjustment of the offense to a new system under new offensive coordinator Mike Tice. It has certainly been a down part for the first three games.
The Bears were expected to come in on cloud nine, with an offense that was unstoppable and could run-and-gun with any offense in the NFL.
Once the season started though, fans were quickly brought back to reality. It has been a rough adjustment for the offense, who are just seeming to click and get used to each other.
In the loss to Green Bay, Cutler was sacked, he threw four interceptions, overthrew his receivers and, when he hit them, they dropped the passes.
Against the Cowboys in Week 4, the Bears looked like they were finally getting their offense under control, putting up 34 points in a prime-time game. Granted, 14 of those points were scored by the defense, but even without those points the Bears still would have won.
Even though they showed signs of improvement, the offense still has been slow to get going and that is why they were bad in the first quarter of the season.
Ugly: Jay Cutler
Even Bears fans still aren't sure what to make of their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler. He was praised when he was brought in a few years ago, yet is now being questioned by his own fans as to whether he has the mental capacity to lead a team to the Super Bowl.
Cutler has been good and bad this season, and has also shown signs of being a great teammate and leader while still managing to look like a player who is not fully matured yet.
When it's bad, it's really bad. Before the loss to Green Bay, Cutler said in a press conference that he "dared" Green Bay to get physical with the wide receivers of the Bears.
To make a long story short, they did and they got the better of them, forcing Cutler into four interceptions.
Then there's "good" Jay, the side of Cutler that fans get to see when he is playing well and seems to be happy. "Good" Jay was seen on the field last Monday against the Dallas Cowboys. However, even in that victory, Cutler was seen walking away from and ignoring offensive coordinator Mike Tice.
Cutler has shown us that he can be good. He can lead his teammates at times. In order to be elite, he needs to keep his attitude under control and be a good teammate to set an example for other players all the time.
If he cannot do that, it could be another long season for Cutler and the offense of the Chicago Bears.
Good: A Share of First Place
Who could have possibly seen this coming?
After four weeks of football, the Chicago Bears sit atop the NFC North, yet that is not the intriguing part. The intrigue lies with the rest of the division, where the Packers and Lions have a combined 3-5 record, and the Bears and Vikings have just two losses between the two of them.
The Bears have done well so far this season. With a victory over Jacksonville this weekend, they will enter into their bye week with a 4-1 record and, at least, a share of first place in the division.
The play of the Bears has been good overall so far. That is why they currently sit where they do in the division and the NFC standings overall.
If they keep this play up, there is no reason that they won't make the playoffs and go deep into the postseason.
Bad: Protection of Cutler
Going into this season, it seemed like the only area that the Bears chose not to improve was the offensive line. They were confident that they could make do with what they had.
Four games in, it appears that the line has to do a better job of protecting Cutler or we may see Jason Campbell take the field as a starter.
As unstable as Cutler may be at times, as much as his temper can get him in trouble, he is still the quarterback. The offensive line needs to do a better job of protecting him if they want to be successful.
We saw against Dallas that when Cutler gets protected, good things can happen. If the Bears want to be successful, Cutler is going to need better protection going up against players like Clay Matthews and Jared Allen in his own division.
Ugly: The Loss to Green Bay
When Lovie Smith came to Chicago, he said one of his main goals was to beat the Green Bay Packers, a goal that has not fared well for the Chicago Bears as of late.
When the Bears lost to Green Bay, it was a demoralizing loss that brought the team back down to earth and forced them to take a serious look at themselves, analyzing every part of their game to find weak spots that would hurt them in future games of more importance.
They may be 2-0 since the loss, but it still haunts every member of the organization in Chicago, from the players to the coaches to the loyal fans. A loss like that doesn't just go away the next time you win a ball game, it stays with you for the rest of the season.
Every single fan of the Chicago Bears received some sort of taunting message from a Packers fan that night, be it a call, text, or even a Facebook post making fun of Cutler and his four interceptions.
The words of Charles Woodson in his postgame interview still ring in the head of every fan, who can hear Woodson clear as day saying, "It's the same old Jay. We don't need luck. Jay will throw us the ball."
Bears fans, take note. The Packers will be in Chicago on December 16 with more on the line. Both teams will most likely be fighting for a playoff spot, not to mention that both will be in contention for the NFC North title.
While that loss may have been gruesome and atrocious, there is still one game left to be played against Green Bay. It's a chance for the team to redeem itself and turn this ugly memory into something great.
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