The Chicago Bears played their best game of the season on offense in their win over the Minnesota Vikings yesterday. From a statistical standpoint it wasn't as eye popping as the game against the Colts, Cowboys or Jaguars, but in terms of overall efficiency this was likely the best of the season.
Jay Cutler played his best game of the season, primarily because he didn't have to force the ball down the field.
The Bears ran the football 39 times for only a 2.9 yard per carry average, but stuck with it and it helped lead to 28 points on the board.
The defense got back to pressuring the quarterback and forcing turnovers, and the offense in turn cashed in and put points in the board.
On defense all three defensive tackles played well, Nate Collins was disruptive, Henry Melton played a good game and Stephen Paea played one of his best games of the season.
The biggest difference was the efficient play calling that allowed Cutler to get the ball out quickly to Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett. This led to the Bears converting on 57-percent of their third down opportunities on offense, notching 11 out of 19.
The strategy of getting the ball out quickly led to better pass protection of Cutler from the offensive line. Less pressure on Cutler means more plays down the field and Cutler is one of the toughest receivers in the NFL to bring down in the open field.
Yesterday's game was a winning formula going forward and a step in the right direction. This is the type of game the Bears should have played within the first three games of the season, a strategy that would have worked well against the Packers. While that doesn't matter now, what does matter is this game serves and a building block for a more completely all around effort moving forward.
Baby steps are important, and while it's a shame this offense is taking incremental steps at the end of November, it's a small sign of hope. Going forward the game plan needs to include more of what we saw from the Bears on Sunday coupled with more play action pass combined with the deep developing routes we saw this season.
The firepower is there and if the Bears combine all the things that they do well on offense they can be competitive in January. This game does not mean that the offense has turned the corner, but it does mean they know where the corner is and can now start walking towards it and hopefully start turning it in January.