Were you surprised with the outcome of the Chicago Bears home opener? With the ease in which they handled the Atlanta Falcons? I know most NFL experts/analysts were, and every odds maker was, as they had the Falcons as the road favorite. I really should have called my bookie with the Bears playing as a home dog. But I knew the Bears had this one in the bag. I thought the match ups favored Chicago. I can honestly say nothing really surprised me in the game.
There were three big points of contention from those "in the know" about what the Bears were looking to overcome. These were universally the three go to points in just about every thing I read, watched, or heard leading up to the game. They were;
- Will the Bears offensive line be able to protect the quarterback better than in 2010?
- Will the Bears lack of a #1 receiver hurt the passing game.
- Will Jay Cutler be affected mentally after leaving the NFC Championship game with an injury?
None of these concerned me. Not in the least. I'll start with Midway Jay first. He was hurt, some d-bags ripped him, his teammates had his back, it was over. The Bears, organizationally from top to bottom, moved on from the incident fairly quickly. I'm sure if pressed the Bears would like to go back and announce in the 2nd half of that game that he was ruled out and revealed the nature of his injury, but they didn't and they moved on. Internally the Cutler injury was a non issue, externally it's all you heard about. Every one had an opinion, and you know what they say about opinions...
I'm flabbergasted at how anyone one can wonder if the Bears o-line would improve. Last year they were an absolute wreck before they moved a few guys around and changed philosophies. In the second half that wreck became a fender bender. They improved as the year wore on, and I had supreme confidence that group would build on the tail end of the season. They drafted Gabe Carimi in the 1st round to play tackle. Upgrade. They moved their promising rookie tackle from the right to the left side, and at the worst it would be a wash in comparison to Frank Omiyale. J'Marcus Webb is athletic enough to handle the job. Chris Williams, the lone positional holdout from last year. has guard traits, and will get better with more reps. Roberto Garza is a pro's pro at either center or guard, and who ever won that other spot would be fine under Mike Tice's tutelage.
And the ever popular receiver debate was something I never got too worked up over. In my opinion year 2 in the Mike Martz offense would solve most of the passing game's timing issues. Roy Williams was talked up as a true #1 by some, and he may well be that, but if not, the Bears have enough talent to be OK. I'm a big fan of the way Earl Bennett plays the game. Devin Hester is an explosive play maker that has to be accounted for on every snap, and Johnny Knox is a young up and coming talent that nearly became a 1,000 yard receiver with Cutler throwing to him.
I'll add in one more reason why this game didn't worry me. The Bears defense is of of the leagues best, and they have one important piece that wasn't there when Matt Ryan played against the Bears before. Julius Peppers. He's a pretty good football player...