I entered the 2013 Chicago Bears season as usual. Hoping for the best but with a healthy dose of skepticism. Many experts predicted that the team would finish around 7-9 or 8-8. Most predicted they would lose to the juggernaut Cincinnati Bengals at home in the opener. Personally I thought they would win the opener, and that they would finish this season better than 7-9 or 8-8.
How could they not finish better than 7-9 or 8-8? They were 10-6 in 2012. Their offensive line is greatly improved with the addition of a free agent, a Pro Bowl free agent and two rookies. They returned most of their defense and are using the same system that had been successful in the past. They hired a new coaching staff that understands offense better than any staff since Mike Ditka’s. They started 3-0, and true excitement was back for those brief few weeks.
Then, the following intervened:
- It’s immediately evident that the pass rush from the defensive linemen has dropped off from 2012.
- Peanut Tillman is not consistently healthy.
- As the team is wrapping up the third win in a row to begin the season, their Pro Bowl three-technique defensive tackle (Henry Melton) is lost for the season.
- Melton’s replacement, Nick Collins, for whom everyone had high hopes, is lost for the season.
- As the Bears lose three of four games following the 3-0 start, they lose starting quarterback Jay Cutler and defensive captain Lance Briggs for probably what will be longer than six weeks.
After this week’s bye, the Bears face the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field on Monday night. What looked to be a game that may determine the leader of the division instead is a game that may determine the Bears’ ultimate fate this year. Beat the Packers and this battered team may have a chance. Lose, and the 4-4 Bears may have to start looking to 2014.
Last Sunday at Washington, the Bears played a Redskins team they should have beaten. Instead it turned into the first game in Chicago Bears History in which they scored 40 points and lost (45-41). More on this as the season progresses, but this game reminded me of many from the 1989 Chicago Bears season. That year their offense was scoring points capably, but it seemed in every game there was no hope that the defense could hold the lead.