The Chicago Bears may have had a disastrous end to the 2011 season, but that doesn’t mean 2012 won’t be a completely different story.
The team had hoped both players could return in time for the postseason as Cutler had already begun to throw the ball and was scheduled to have pins removed from his fractured right hand according to the Chicago Sun Times.
With the season officially over with Sunday’s loss to the Packers…September 2012 can’t come soon enough.
A year after reaching the NFC Championship game, the Bears were riding high at 7-3 with a stranglehold on a wild-card spot. In game No. 10, Cutler fractured his hand and wouldn’t play another one. By absolutely no coincidence, the team has proceeded to lose their last five behind two highly incompetent quarterbacks.
Cutler (2,319 yards, 13 TDs and seven INTs) had his best season as a pro and is going to be even better in 2012. As the Bears offensive line continues to improve and Cutler gets even more comfortable in offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s system, they will be right in the thick of things in the highly competitive NFC North. Once a quarterback has his system down pat (see Warner, Kurt) the offensive floodgates begin to overflow.
Forte will likely get franchised-tagged which means he’s going to be mauling defenders that stand in the way of receiving a lucrative new contract. While Forte may be incredibly angry with the Bears, he still has to go out and give a 100 percent effort to ensure he gets that long-term deal that every back dreams of. He will be one of the top three fantasy picks next season and the top playmaker a year after collecting 997 yards and three TDs rushing and another 490 through the air.
The defense continues to age, but most experts said that last year. Despite not getting any younger, the Bears were still sixth against the run and were one of the better teams in the league at making the first tackle. Assuming they add depth via the draft, this is going to be a top-10 unit yet again.
Sure it’s going to be an uphill battle with both the Packers and Lions in the ’11 playoff field, but I think Cutler has matured to the point where he is capable of reaching the postseason every year. Combine him with one of the top five backs in the league in Forte and if they add a free-agent receiver, the offense will finally be up to par with the defense.
I know it’s over a year away, but expect the 2012 Bears to find a way to make the playoffs and prove that 2011 was just a blip on the radar.