The Bears have yet to take the field this preseason, but it is already easy to predict how they will finish the year.
This is not over-hyping the addition of Jay Cutler. That has been done enough. This isn't overestimating the impact of the change in coaching on the defensive end. Its bigger than just those things.
Remember those Eagle teams? They always seemed destined for greatness. They were stacked at almost every position. Let's see, they had a star quarterback in his prime, and they would win consistently. But in the end, they always fell short in the conference championship games or the Super Bowl.
The reason that Terrell Owens is so important to this comparison is despite his flaws, he was the tipping point for the team with his amazing talent at the position.
Owens gave them a star receiver, something that Philadelphia was lacking, and put them into the big game. The Bears of 2009 don’t have a Terrell Owens, sans how positive Bears personnel feel about Devin Hester.
Instead, the Bears have assembled the Midway version of a Todd Pinkston, James Thrash and Freddie Mitchell esque corps.
When you look at both teams, the comparisons are endless.
From 2001 to 2003, the Eagles had a healthy Donovan McNabb who was mobile and accurate. The Bears have finally added a quarterback that can do all of those things. He may not be as mobile as McNabb, but he also isn’t a stick planted in the back of the pocket without a prayer of escaping the oncoming rush like Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman.
At running back, the Eagles ran with Duce Staley and then upgraded to Brian Westbrook.
Westbrook’s explosiveness made him an asset running between the tackles, and he could still get outside and catch a pass if needed. He was a rookie in 2002, and started to get the majority of the carries in 2003.
Like Westbrook, the Bears grabbed Matt Forte with a non-first round pick, and turned him into a feature back that had other teams wishing they had pulled the trigger on the Tulane grad.
When Westbrook was in his prime, he was a top five running back in the league, and is currently still among the best. With Forte exhibiting as much skill as he did in his first season, he is currently right up there.
On defense, the Eagles sat near the top from 2001-2003 in points allowed.
Led by a strong, fast front seven that played well above their youthful experience, the Eagles were one of the toughest teams to move the ball against. The line totaled 135 sacks in those three seasons. With leader Brian Dawkins roaming the line as almost an extra linebacker, the Eagles still managed to play amazing pass defense to keep points off the board.
The Bears may not be as dominating as those Eagles teams were, but they could be close.
This is still one of the top teams against the run, and even a small improvement against the pass should have Chicago near the top of the defensive rankings again.
After all, the Bears are also sporting a young defensive front, and should have a dominating linebacker core again.
How many similarities can there be?
The Bears saw first hand how good the 2001 Eagles were, even though that team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. Philadelphia derailed one of the greatest dream seasons that Chicago has ever put together.
Given the way the Eagles performed that season and the next two, it would be no disappointment to equal those teams.
And if the Bears find their T.O., there is no telling what could happen.