Only one preseason game lies between your beloved Chicago Bears and the start of, what could be, a glorious run to the Super Bowl. Now I know it is hard to take away much from the preseason. Especially this one where the Bears have looked less-than stellar in their three previous outings. But it is hard not to look at this team and expect greatness. Most of the pieces are there, it is just up to a few select players and groups to put the puzzle together.
The defensive secondary is the bane of my existence and has been for the last few seasons. What started out as the unstoppable force known as the Tampa-2 has turned in to a defenseive scheme where quarterbacks go to pad their stats. Seriously, I am pretty sure I could put up at least 200 yards in the air against this scheme and possibly even run one in on a naked boot.
Aside from Major Wright, I think the Bears have excellent secondary play makers who possess sound coverage skills and above average quickness. The only problem is Love Smith’s unwillingness to change up the zone coverage. I know he is afraid to get beat on the deep ball, but you have to take risks sometimes. Constantly running a zone coverage allows good quarterbacks to sustain drives, win the field position battle and score points. No bueno.
Of course, if the defensive line could supply some pressure to the quarterback, I might not be making the argument that the Bears need a new defensive scheme. I think if first round pick Shea McClellin is as good as Phil Emery hopes he is and Julius Peppers starts snappin’ necks on the blindside, the secondary won’t be much of an issue going forward.
When you turn your attention to the offensive side of the ball, you will see the Emery made substantial upgrades to the skill positions. For years, Bears’ fans have been begging for a true #1 wide receiver and we finally got him in Brandon Marshall. Supplement him with rookie Alshon Jeffery and we no longer have to live the lie that is Devin Hester being a #1. Hester is good at one thing: Forrest Gump-ing himself into the end zone on punt returns. I am glad we finally get to stop kidding ourselves.
Matt Forte finally got paid so hopefully he plays to his potential and puts up some solid ground numbers. Toss in his back up Michael Bush and you have a 2-headed monster of a running back combo back there.
While I am expecting big things out of all these guys this season, their outcome depends solely on the play of two separate individuals: J’Marcus Webb and Jay Cutler. When you break it down even further, it really only comes down to Webb. This team will only go as far as Webb and Cutler can take them. If Webb can’t block (which we all know is the case) then Cutler can’t throw. If Webb can’t block, then Forte can’t run. If Webb can’t block, then the Bears don’t stand a chance.
It is a lot of pressure to put on the guy, but Webb really needs to step it up. In all honesty, I don’t see Webb making it past the first 3 weeks as a starter. The only other option is Chris Williams. In my opinion, it is lose-lose.
With the way this team is set up, the Bears will have two years to win a Super Bowl. After that, the window is closed as they will enter rebuild mode. The defense will be too old to be considered elite and the line will have to be completely overhauled (save Gabe Carimi).
The Bears posses the players and the coaching to transform the talent into results. However, it is on the shoulders of a select few to take them to the promised land. I for one will not be happy with anything less than the Lombardi Trophy. I hope they feel the same way.
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