NFL 2012 Season Preview: The NFC North – Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears offense is going to light up the skies at Soldier Field. No, really. The passing attack Bears fans envisioned when they traded for strong-armed Jay Cutler has finally emerged. Just about the time that they acquired Pro-Bowl MVP WR Brandon Marshall, a two-headed rushing attack and, oh yeah, an offensive line. Did I mention that Mike Martz got fired?

2011 wrap-up:

  1. The closest thing that the Bears had in the pre-Marshall days to a first-class WR was Johnny Knox—and he has still not recovered from a brutal back injury. He will be out at least the first six weeks of 2012.
  2. A complete lack of sideline energy in that ill-fated NFC Championship game gave a somewhat inaccurate picture of the Bears QB. Jay Cutler is tough. He is an elite NFL quarterback with Type I diabetes. He has also sustained some serious injuries behind an offensive line so horrendous that even the most casual football fan had heard of their ineptitude.
  3. Robbie Gould is one of those kickers who carried his team for ages while waiting for a quarterback. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the year he made 32 FGs is the year they went to the Super Bowl?

2012 offseason

  1. Former Falcon Eric Weems has been added to Devin Hester in the return game. Look out! For those of you who don’t think way too much about football, Weems made the Pro-Bowl as a return man in 2010. Yeah, he’s good. Especially for an undrafted free agent who went to college at Bethune-Cookman. I had never heard of it either.
  2. As for that passing attack? 31-of-45 preseason first downs were through the air. Cutler and his receivers had quite a few miscues against the Giants, but they will get better and better with time.
  3. The Bears run defense is missing Brian Urlacher (out with a knee injury that will supposedly heal by regular season). On average, they’re only giving up 3.9 yards per carry, but the Giants rookie David Wilson made the starting D look a bit silly.
  4. RB Matt Forte finally received a new contract and seems completely healthy, while the team added Michael Bush from Oakland, who is a starting-caliber rusher.
  5. Rookie safety Brandon Hardin is now on IR after a neck injury. He was injured after tackling someone with his helmet.

Storylines:

  1. Rookie WR Alshon Jeffery was considered a risk since he had a tendency to be a bit…fat. So far, so good as the young man has not only shown up in shape and worked hard, he has also become a useful new weapon in Cutler’s expanding arsenal. Take a look at him: he’s No. 17 and he’s built like Plaxico Burress. Jay can choose from two RBs who can catch, Hester, Marshall, Jeffery and Vanderbilt buddy, Earl Bennett.
  2. With this kind of aerial assault, the Bears should contend well with both the Lions and the Packers, neither of whom possess a running game.
  3. That is, if they can protect their franchise QB. There were no sacks of Mr. Cutler against the Giants. The Giants. The same team that won two Super Bowls in four years by hitting Tom Brady. This is progress. Watch the LT position, which has been a hotly contested spot this summer. It looks as if J’Marcus Webb is going to supplant Chris Williams. The team also welcomes back RT Gabe Carimi, who was showing “the right stuff” before ending up on IR.
  4. Everyone seems quite disturbed about the lack of rushing success out of Chicago’s highly regarded RBs. Hello? The Bears know how to run the football! It was passing they needed to work on. New offensive coordinator Mike Tice (former O-lineman, O-line coach and Vikings head coach) will call plenty of running plays when the games count. Preseason is for team building and for practice.
  5. Generally, the selection of DE Shea McClellin in the 2012 draft was not applauded. McClellin has effectively silenced critics with excellent preseason play. Fine defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is thrilled with his new pass rusher.
  6. While Nick Roach is no slouch, the passing defense also missed Brian Urlacher when faced with Eli Manning and company. You wouldn’t think that a MLB’s absence would affect the secondary that dramatically. It does when it’s a HOFer.
  7. This defense is loaded with stars—old stars. Watch their health and stamina. Like the Baltimore Ravens, the Bears need their offense to get up to speed before their defense heads to the retirement home.
2012 NFL season previews for the NFC East:

2012 NFL Season Previews:  The AFC

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