Chicago Bears: Are Jay Cutler and the Offense Poised for a Big Season in 2013?
The 2012 Chicago Bears were hardly what one would call an offensive juggernaut.
They had an offensive line that again struggled to protect quarterback Jay Cutler, and they got absolutely no production from the tight end position.
Outside of Brandon Marshall, they didn't get a ton of production from their wide receivers either, but some of that lack of production can be attributed to injuries to rookie Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett.
Behind Forte, Michael Bush did a decent job grinding out the tough yards, but he too missed several games due to injury, and as we later found out, he was really playing injured the for most of the season.
On top of everything else, they had an offensive coordinator in Mike Tice that never seemed to be on the same page with Cutler and who seemingly refused to get one of his biggest weapons, Matt Forte, involved in the passing game.
Despite all of this, the Bears still managed to finish 10-6, but they ultimately missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
This led to the firing of former head coach Lovie Smith and the hiring of Marc Trestman.
Trestman has been labeled by many as an offensive genius, and the Bears brass is trusting that he will be able to come in and get the most out of Cutler and the Bears offense.
In order to help him do this, GM Phil Emery made some big moves in the offseason to help bolster the problematic offensive line, as well as the tight end position.
He added tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson in free agency while drafting Kyle Long and Jordan Mills to address the needs on the offensive line.
He also added free-agent tight end Martellus Bennett to give Cutler another weapon in the passing game and, in particular, to help stretch the middle of the field, which is something that has been clearly missing for the past few seasons.
What Trestman has returning is one of the most versatile running backs in the game in Matt Forte, along with a bruising running back who can grind out tough yards in Michael Bush.
In addition, he inherits the services of the best wide receiver in the division not called "Megatron" in Brandon Marshall, along with talented second-year man Alshon Jeffery and the sure-handed Earl Bennett. As I mentioned earlier, both Jeffery and Bennett were injured for a portion of last season, but if both of them can stay on the field, the Bears could have arguably the best receiving trio in the division.
And as crazy as it may sound, if the Bears can remain healthy, they may have the most complete offense in the division.
With that said, they still have to prove it on the field.
After all, they don't have the best quarterback in the division because he plays for Green Bay.
They don't have the best running back in the division because he plays for Minnesota.
And they don't have the best wide receiver in the division because he plays for Detroit.
However, they do have a very talented quarterback, an All-Pro running back, an All-Pro wide receiver and now a tight end who measures up to the others in the division.
As usual, the key will be the offensive line and their ability to protect Cutler.
If they are able to do a better job, then it's up to Cutler to deliver.
This season sets up to be a very interesting one for Cutler, as he is in the final year of his contract and is essentially playing for a new one.
He has a new coach in Trestman, another new offensive coordinator in Aaron Kromer, hopefully an improved offensive line and weapons at every skill position.
So, will this be the year that it all comes together for Cutler and the offense?
A lot will depend on how well, and how quickly, he and the offense pick up the new scheme under Trestman and Kromer.
And, obviously, how well and quickly the new line meshes together.
And, of course, injuries.
However, as I've said many times before when analyzing the Bears heading into training camp: On paper, everything looks great, but what plays out on the field is really all that matters.
In less than a week, the journey will begin.
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