Change is upon us. The 2013 Chicago Bears are not who we thought they were. Just three games into the Marc Trestman Era it is safe to say Chicago is now capable of lighting up the scoreboard in ways Bears fans have never seen. A traditional run first team since its inception into pro football, the Bears history is built on running the ball and defense. Defense was former Head Coach Lovie Smith’s calling card.
During his tenure as Head Coach everyone knew the Bears were going to be well coached/prepared, play championship defense, and play special teams better than their opponent on any given Sunday. The problem with Lovie Smith’s football teams in Chicago was that the offense was stuck in the 1960’s. Not only could Lovie not get a modern NFL offense to show up for the Bears on Sundays, he missed the playoffs five of his last six years as head coach. For that reason Lovie Smith was ousted as Head Coach. Championship defense plus an offense that annually ranked in the bottom 33% of the League is what led to Lovie’s demise.
The horrid offense that Bears fans became accustomed to was not Lovie Smith’s entire fault though. No matter who he hired to be his offensive coordinator Chicago simply lacked the personnel necessary to have an explosive, put up points on the board type of offense that is needed to win in the League these days. A lack of personnel is what led to the ousting of former General Manager Jerry Angelo. Jerry Angelo traded for Jay Cutler in 2009 and when he made that trade he had acquired the most talented QB to ever be on a Chicago Bears roster. But after the trade for the franchise QB Angelo did very little to surround Cutler with the talent needed for him to flourish.
The Bears essentially had a Ferrari engine sitting inside a Honda Civic. The sum of the whole is greater than the parts and for his first three years it felt that Jay Cutler, aside from his Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte, was the only part for the Bears offense. Jerry Angelo was content with a seventh round draft pick (J’Marcuss Webb) protecting his franchise QB’s blindside for 4 years.
Webb’s ineptitude at the left tackle postion was on display last season in front of national television audiences when he single handedly gave up 5.5 sacks to both Aldon Smith and Clay Matthews respectively in a single game each. Angelo also believed Devin Hester was a legitimate No. 1 receiver for the Bears and he felt no need to invest in a receiver via trade or first-round draft pick.
I am here to tell Bears fans that those days of bad offense are long gone. In what is just his second year as General Manager, Phil Emery has acquired the most talent on the offensive side of the ball for the Bears in over a decade. In Jay Cutler’s first four years as Bears QB he repeatedly took a beating year after year due to a horrendous offensive line. Second string players were essentially playing first string roles. In just one off-season Emery has replaced 80% of the o-line with Center Roberto Garza the only returning starter on the line from a year ago.
LT Jermon Bushrod, LG Matt Slauson, RG Kyle Long, and RT Jordan Mills are the most talented o-lineman to play in Chicago since the 2006 Super Bowl team that included players such as John Tait, Ruben Brown, and Olin Kreutz. With four new starters on the line Cutler has finally been afforded the time in the pocket he has longed for since joining the Bears. Extra time to throw has been a plus due to the options Cutler now has available to him. TE Martellus Bennett, WR Alshon Jeffrey, WR Brandon Marshall, WR Earl Bennett, and RB Matt Forte are nothing less than potent as an offense.
Many QBs in the NFL would love spreading the ball around to those targets. Cutler is now the man leading the ship for the Bears offense. Add in new Head Coach Marc Trestman, an offensive guru who has been a QB coach/coordinator for over 30 years, and Chicago’s offense is now its most dangerous unit on the team.
Cutler now looks like a leader due to the improvement of the unit he leads. It’s still early in the year which means Chicago is still learning the nuances of Coach Trestman’s West Coast scheme. That is bad news for the NFL as this potent attack is still growing offensively and getting better. Three games and three wins into the Marc Trestman Era and it is easy to tell that the Bears are not who we thought they were.