The Chicago Bears had a very good start to the 2012 season. They defeated Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 of the regular season before losing to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. After that loss to Green Bay, the Bears went on a roll winning their next six games. This gave the Bears a 7-1 record heading in to their Sunday Night Football matchup against the Houston Texans.
Chicago lost that game against the Texans and that began a downward spiral to finish the season. The Bears went 3-5 the rest of the way and ended the regular season at 10-6, narrowly missing the playoffs. The Bears folded down the stretch and this caused general manager Phil Emery to fire head coach Lovie Smith. The firing was a little controversial because the Bears had a 81-63 regular season record in nine seasons under Smith, but the team only reached the playoffs three times.
Offensive guru Marc Trestman has been brought in to take over the head coaching duties for the Bears. He inherits one of the best defenses in football and a talented but underperforming offense. Although the defense is aging, I think they will still be very good this season. All of the question marks for the Bears are on the offensive side of the ball. Many people think that Trestman will help the Bears reach their offensive potential but that remains to be seen.
The Bears had one of the worst offensive lines in all of football last season. Bears’ quarterbacks were sacked 44 times in 2012, which was the 8th worst in the league. The offensive line also struggled to open up holes in the running game. The Bears addressed their offensive line issues in the offseason bringing in free agents at left tackle in Jermon Bushrod and left guard in Matt Slauson as well as drafting Kyle Long in the first round to play right guard this season. I think the Bears’ offensive line will be better in 2012, but the unit will need some time to gel together. Center Roberto Garza is the only offensive line starter from last season who appears to be the starter this season. There may be some bumps in the road as they learn to play together.
Aside from the offensive line, the biggest question mark on the Bears is quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler is a very talented player. He has one of the strongest arms in the game, and he is not afraid to try and fit the ball in anywhere. Unfortunately, this gets Cutler in to a ton of trouble. He is supremely talented, but Cutler has never been consistent enough to be considered an elite quarterback. Last season Cutler had a 58.8 completion percentage, 3,033 yards passing and a 19-14 touchdown to interception ratio. Not terrible but he has the talent to do so much more.
Many people think that Trestman can get the best out of Cutler. Only time will tell, but I am not holding my breath on that one. Cutler may actually reach his potential this season, but I think it is more likely that he continues to be an inconsistent player. I think bringing in Trestman was the right move for the Bears, but it is probably going to be another season or two before they become serious Super Bowl contenders.