It's incredible how things change in just the span of four weeks.
Since the Monday night loss at Detroit, the Bears have racked up three consecutive victories using a revamped play-calling belief.
The key to these three victories has been the offense’s balance of running and passing and the defense’s ability to force pressure and contain big plays.
With the third quarter of the season about to begin, what blueprint should the Bears follow for the remainder of the season? The answer is so simple–the blueprint from the last three weeks.
Dating back to the Sunday night home game against the Minnesota Vikings, the London game against the Buccaneers and Monday night’s game in Philadelphia, the Bears have passed nearly as often as they have run.
In those three games, Chicago has passed 31, 32 and 32 times while running 28, 33 and 34 times respectively.
But it’s not only balancing the offense that has been crucial to their success, it’s the types of plays being called too.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has elected to use quarterback Jay Cutler’s mobility as a weapon. Seeing Cutler run a play-action roll out is no longer a rarity. One of the reasons Cutler’s sack total has declined is because he isn’t glued inside the pocket’s boundaries.
The passing game has also developed more and more as time has progressed. Receivers Dane Sanzenbacher, Johnny Knox, Roy Williams and Devin Hester have done decently given the amount of talent they really possess.
The return of Cutler’s primary target, Earl Bennett, had a considerable impact in the Eagles game. Expect to see more of that connection in the following weeks.
Chicago’s offensive line has also evolved from a serious problem to an area of little concern. The Bears are getting protection, keeping Cutler upright and creating lanes for Matt Forte to gash.
And last but not least, how about the aforementioned Forte? Nobody means more to the success of the offense than Forte does for the Bears. Forte is basically responsible for half of the Bears’ total yards. His decision-making and improv skills make him a home run threat every time he gets the rock.
Defensively, the Bears need to continue doing what they’re been doing. Chicago is well known for its Cover 2 shells. The Bears are causing turnovers and confusion because they’re sticking with the Cover 2 but also rotating into some Cover 3 and single high safety looks.
The defensive line has been getting into the backfield and interrupting plays as well. The combination of Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, Anthony Adams and Israel Idonije has been working. The unit since has been producing sacks and disrupting opposing backs in the pocket.
The other giant elephant in the room that had to go prior to the winning streak was allowing big plays. Since making the change at free and strong safety to start Major Wright and Chris Conte, the Bears have yet to give up big plays of the 70- and 80-yard variety.
It’s hard to judge the change in the defensive backfield solely on their performances however, because they haven’t been tested yet. The defensive line is playing so well, there have not been many opportunities to defend big plays.
On the flip side, is the fact that there haven’t been any big plays by which to judge Wright and Conte a credit to their coverage taking away open receivers? It’s a glass half-full or half-empty argument.
Either way you look at it, the Bears are succeeding and there’s never anything wrong that comes from winning.
If Chicago can maintain this level of excellent play, limit mistakes and control the clock, they have a very realistic shot to catch Detroit and contend in the NFC Wild Card race.
Buckle up, Bears fans. It’s going to be a very exciting and nail-biting second half of the season.
Brett Lyons is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials.
Follow Brett Lyons on Twitter @BrettLyons670.