Rapid reaction to the Jay Cutler addition to the Chicago Bears continues to be plentiful. As usual with professional football fans, everyone has an opinion. Some have insightful opinions, some don’t. But the bottom line here is that the Bears’ offense is better.
But the offense is not better simply because of the addition of Jay Cutler. The offense is also better because of the addition of OT Orlando Pace. It's better this year because up to six of the offense’s primary weapons have been seasoned a year more, yet still have the fortune of youth. Dare I say this offense has the potential to be (gasp!) very good?
Don’t believe me? Let’s think about it.
Throughout the media, much has been made about what we will see out of the Bears' offense in 2009 in comparison to the Broncos’ offense last year. Critics say that Cutler will not have the type of production this year because the players around him are not of the same caliber.
The Broncos offense is very well put together. To their credit, the Bears’ 26th-ranked offense is far from Denver’s second-ranked brigade in 2008.
ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth had an opinion on this very thought:
“[The Bears] are on offense what the Denver Broncos are on defense, and that’s Swiss cheese. They got a lot of holes to fill,” he said in a recent broadcast. “Jay Cutler got traded to a position where the strongest arm in the world is not going to help you when you’re laying on your back looking up and going, “Man, why am I in Chicago right now?” They got a lot of work to do on offense…to fill those holes.”
Now, the Bears offense will not automatically become the most prolific offenses ever just because of the last two days. They still may not reach a top-10 ranking. But they will be good. As far as having a lot of work to do to fill those holes...do they really? This writer sees it a bit differently.
Even with the signing of Orlando Pace, many “analysts,” including Schlereth, believe Chicago’s offensive line is in shambles. Let’s analyze.
Pro Bowler Orlando Pace joins a line anchored by Pro Bowler Olin Kreutz featuring first-round pick Chris Williams and a steady Roberto Garza. The left guard spot is yet to be decided, but may easily be Frank Omiyale’s job. Granted, Chris Williams hasn’t taken a snap, but no one should doubt his ability. He is a 6-foot-6-inch 312-lb. beast who already has chemistry in Cutler's huddle from their time at Vanderbilt.
Sure, Orlando Pace is on the downside of his career, but he is still Orlando Pace. And Pace is good—a continued upper-echelon lineman in the league (quick, would you rather have Kory Lichtensteiger or Orlando Pace right now?). Roberto Garza has established himself as a solid, dependable guard with the Bears since their run to the Super Bowl and has built chemistry alongside Kreutz to reliably plug up the middle.
Then, you have Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark at the ends, who can successfully force those outside linebackers to keep up with them instead of blitzing. To me, this line is just fine.
As far as an attack, not much has to be said about Matt Forte after the type of year he had. A threat from scrimmage any way you look at it, Forte can run and catch. With fewer defenders in the box because of Cutler, Forte will get more running room and should surpass his 1,200 yard effort from last year. Did you know Forte’s 1,700-plus yards from scrimmage broke Gale Sayers’ team record of 1,374 yards?
The only area I see that has holes is the receiving corps. However, with Cutler’s addition, this “hole” has shrunk significantly. Cutler’s ability to shake the pocket should get his receivers more time to make room off their man-to-mans and find holes in the zones. With any NFL receiver, including even Rashied Davis, more time means more gaps.
As a No. 2 receiver, Earl Bennett has several accolades from college, including All-SEC teams. The SEC is pretty good, last I chcked. Another SEC player may be the first pick in the draft and will also join his old quarterback from Vanderbilt in the huddle. Jay Cutler is pretty good, isn’t he? Chemistry is a beautiful thing and a major part in all the championships of major sport.
As stated, Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen are both being productive in Bears uniforms. Olsen is quickly becoming one of the best tight end targets in the league. But even beyond them, Kellen Davis is a decent tight end as well. Lastly, there is this guy who any team would love to have. His name is Devin Hester. He’s pretty good, too.
Though the judgment is still out on his transformation into a receiver, Hester can break out this year. Again, he is a year more into the league, a year more knowledgeable. And he's still very fast.
The magic of it all with the receivers is this: Youth. With the exception of Desmond Clark and Rashied Davis, no other major target (out the backfield or otherwise) is over the age of 26.
But 26 isn’t that young, either, which leads me to my point. With a young and talented quarterback, a young and talented running back, a young and talented tight end, along with a seasoned, dependable, experienced offensive line, this Chicago Bears offense is better. The receivers will be hitting their stride soon. Once they do, this team has the potential to be very good.
Now, the Bears just have to do something about Ron Turner.