Chicago, IL. With just three weeks until the 2012 NFL regular season kicks off, the Chicago Bears have become a very popular and trendy pick to be a playoff team this coming January. With the additions of Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush, they have bolstered the offense and given the team some nice, new weapons. This is a team which was really hitting their stride in 2011, and looked to be a dangerous foe for any opponent down the stretch. Then came the injury to Jay Cutler, which completely derailed any serious plans that the Bears had and ultimately ended their hopes of a deep post-season run. Heading into this year, there is a renewed sense of optimism. Cutler is healthy, Matt Forte is under contract, and the defense still appears to be very good. Although the Chicago Bears look to have everything necessary to be an NFC power, there are several reasons why they will come up short once again.
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A few years ago, the Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall connection in Denver was developing into one of the NFL’s best. They were both young, and seemed to have great chemistry together. Enter Josh McDaniels. Soon after his hire, he blew everything up, getting rid of Cutler and Marshall in the process. So now these two are back together in the Windy City, and look to pick up where they left off. Although both players are very gifted, they have both had their sour moments as well. Cutler has shown many instances of being immature, both on the field and in press conferences. He has also shown at times that he can be surly and arrogant. His moody temperament and body language that gives off an overall indifference towards the game he plays occurs all too often. To me, he is this generations Jeff George. A guy with a rocket arm and tons of ability, but doesn’t live, eat, and breathe football. He has, and always will, show glimpses of amazing ability, but something will always get in the way of him and his team reaching their goals. It’s a frustrating situation to be in if you are a fan of the Bears. On paper, he has all of the attributes you want in a guy leading your team. However, Jay Cutler is a guy who will lead countless fans to believe he is legit, when in fact he always seems to prove that he is nothing more than fools gold.
The Chicago Bears could not be in a tougher situation when it comes to their division. Green Bay is the class, and as long as Mr. Rodgers is there, will be an enormous obstacle to have to deal with. He is probably the best QB and leader in the game today, and he has many years left to torment the rest of the NFC North. Detroit is coming off a nice year, one in which they made the playoffs and showed they should be formidable for years to come. The Lions are extremely young, and if they can avoid any more off-field issues, they will be a factor as well in the forseeable future. Minnesota is a mess, as it would be pretty stunning if they didn’t finish last in the division in 2012.
The Bears offensive line has been one of the NFL’s worst for several years now. Many times, Jay Cutler has had to run for his life shortly after receiving the snap from center. If Chicago wants to contend and be a true force in the NFC, this front line has to improve immensely. The unit as a whole doesn’t appear to have any top-notch talent, so it should be a huge question mark as we head into September. It won’t matter how good the skill position players are. If the guys protecting Cutler and opening holes for Forte and Bush aren’t any better, the Chicago Bears will be on the outside looking in once again.
The defense has always been a staple of Chicago Bears football. Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, and Lance Briggs are the heart and soul of course. At times the past few years, they have dominated and been one of the leagues best units. The rush defense was one of the best in 2011, but the pass defense was one of the worst. The defensive backfield has been disappointing, and ultimately put too much pressure on the front seven to do too much. Facing Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford four times a year won’t help matters at all in this regard. Getting in shootouts with Green Bay and Detroit will not be an ideal situation for Chicago to be in.
The Chicago Bears will have games this season that will make fans take notice and wonder if they are an elite NFC team. They have nice talent on both sides of the ball, and guys who can make plays. This team, however, has too many question marks to really give Green Bay a run for their money for the division title. The Bears will look brilliant at times throughout this upcoming season, and look to be a 9-7 or 10-6 squad. But the fact that Jay Cutler is the guy leading the way means anything more than a wildcard berth and early playoff exit is foolish to expect.
Denver Sports by J Simp