The 2012 Chicago Bears pulled off an impressive feat of incompetence, becoming the 3rd team in NFL history to miss the playoffs despite a 7-1 start. When futility-related records are set, heads will roll, and the Bears underwent an offseason overhaul after their disappointing finish. With a new Head Coach, the new-and-improved Bears are eyeing a division title in 2013. Let’s take a look at their chances.
Reasons to feel goods
Although he won 10 games last season, there wasn’t exactly widespread outrage in Chicago over Lovie Smith’s firing. The world’s foremost Rex Grossman supporter was replaced by CFL transplant Marc Trestman, bringing with him a highly-effective rendition of the West Coast offense. An annually-soft offensive line was bolstered through free agent additions Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson, as well as first-round-pick Kyle Long from Oregon. The Bears won’t exactly sport the league’s best O-line, but should improve upon last year’s effort.
Brandon Marshall gives Chicago a top-5 receiving threat, and he will be complemented by second-year-pro Alshon Jeffery, who Jay Cutler praised as the most impressive player in Bears’ camp. Former Giants’ tight end Martellus Bennett was added as a threat over the middle, and has quickly developed a report with Cutler since his arrival in Chicago.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears return a solid core, minus longtime MLB Brian Urlacher. The Bears sport one of the NFL’s best secondaries, led by CB Peanut Tillman, with Henry Melton and Julius Peppers anchoring a formidable front-four.
Reasons to feel not so good
Despite improvements, offensive line play is still a major concern for these Bears. Jay Cutler’s life remains very much in danger—and speaking of Cutler, there are still question marks surrounding the 8-year veteran. Cutler has only one postseason under his belt, continues to be erratic, and has spent most of his career under the impression that throwing to anyone but Brandon Marshall will result in instant death.
The Bears’ defense underperformed down the stretch and relied too heavily on turnovers, and with the offensive-minded Trestman in charge, it remains to be seen if Chicago will move away from the stellar defense they’ve built themselves on. And while we’re on the subject of Trestman, it’s a shame that no Bears’ executive had the courage to tell him just how creepy his hair is. To make matters worse, Trestman often wears a hat, giving him the distinct look of a guy who’s trying to blend into a crowd after assassinating someone in broad daylight.
Questionable hair decisions aside, the Bears face a difficult schedule, including non-divisional matchups with the Ravens, Redskins, Steelers, and Giants.
Trestman’s fast-paced offense is designed for Cutler to get the ball out of his hands before the inevitable offensive line failure, and if successful, the Bears will be a formidable threat in the NFC. With a strong defense and legitimate offensive weapons, the 2013 Bears will challenge the Packers for the NFC North crown.