Jul 26, 2013; Bourbonnais, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) huddles with his teammates during training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears: Can they win the NFC North?

 

The Chicago Bears aspirations for success will be predicated on how well their quarterback, Jay Cutler, performs in the regular season.  While the Bears have a well-rounded defense (8th in the NFL In stopping the pass and rush) and a solid rushing attack (10th in the NFL), their passing game has been mostly abysmal (29th in the NFL).  Although defenses have historically been responsible for several teams’ illustrious success (see 1985 Chicago Bears), in this day and age, having a consistent and reliable quarterback has become a necessary attribute for any up and coming franchise.  Despite the fact that Cutler has proven to be an unremarkable passer at best, the Bears may have an underappreciated tool that could help Cutler reach new heights in his career.

Although the Bears new head coach Marc Trestman is widely known for his prominent achievements in Montreal (won back to back Grey Cups with the Alouettes), his brief successes as the Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach is what makes his return to the NFL all the more intriguing.  Under Trestman, The Cleveland Browns went 10-6 and made it to the playoffs where they beat the Colts in the Divisional round.  He was eventually named the Browns offensive coordinator and helped quarterback Bernie Kosar reach 3,533 passing yards while wide receiver Webster Slaughter accumulated 1,236 yards, a franchise record.  Although Trestman eventually left the Browns, his presence was felt throughout the NFL when he was the quarterbacks coach in Minnesota, San Francisco, Detroit, Arizona and Oakland.  Wherever he went, Trestman became known for his ability to help quarterbacks reach their full potential that in turn helped unsuccessful teams become dangerous competitors.

Even if Cutler becomes a rejuvenated passer under Trestman, the rest of the Bears roster will have to continue doing what they do best; play hard-nosed defense.  While the Bears lack their franchise defensive star Brian Urlacher, veterans such as Lance Briggs (2 FF and 103 combined tackles during 2012 regular season) and D.J. Williams (3 FF and 90 combined tackles during 2011 regular season) should be more than enough to fill his vacancy.

  However, while the bears intimidating defensive front is extremely crucial to their team identity, their well-developed secondary will also play an important role in the Bears defensive triumphs.  In the first seven games of the 2012 regular season, the Bears secondary returned six interceptions for touchdowns, the first team to accomplish this feat in NFL history.  Standouts such as corner back Christ Tillman (10 FF, 3INT’s and 3 TD’s) and safety Major Wright (1 FF, 4 INT’s and 1 TD) will be avid contributors to a dynamic Bears secondary that is both agile and persistent.  If the Bears defense can emulate last year’s impressive accolades, they’ll be able to valiantly compete game in and game out.

Yet, while the Bears defense has been nothing short of remarkable, the same cannot be said about their inconsistent offensive line.  Luckily, the Bears drafted a couple of solid offensive tackles such as Kyle Long and Jordan Mills.  While Long may not be able to contribute effectively as an immediate starter as he has had issues in stopping defensive rushes, Mills appears to have all the components in place to be a solid offensive tackle.  He is able to both protect the passer and strong enough to create holes for the Bears necessary running attack.  His balance and quick feet are ideal attributes that the Bears desperate need if Cutler hopes to develop into a reliable passer.

If the offensive line is able to hold up, the Bears star running back Matt Forte should have enough room to maneuver effectively which allow him to rush for more yards and garner more touchdowns.  During the 2012 season, Forte rushed for over 1,000 yards and found the end zone five times.  If Forte can stay healthy and upright, he’ll help provide relief for Cutler while being a useful offensive weapon that can both run and receive effectively.

While the Bears appear to have made the right call in terms of finding a suitable head coach, their draft prospects, specifically their young offensive tackles will have to step up and prove their value from game one of the regular season.  On top of that, the Bears will have to contend with their hated divisional rival the Green Bay Packers who have one of the best passers in the league in Aaron Rodgers.  Yet, despite this adversity, the Bears have all the weapons in place to win their division while humiliating their rivals in the process.  If the Bears defense remains stout and formidable and if Jay Cutler can develop into a solid passer under Trestman, they have a legitimate shot at both winning their division and making a intriguing splash in the playoffs.

Tags: Chicago Bears NFC North

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