I decided to combine the past two weeks into one piece because I had originally planned to skip week 5 because I couldn't watch the game because of work. But I think it is important to cover a two week jump like this because of the massive improvement we have seen from the offensive side of the ball, particularly the offensive line.
In the last three weeks we have seen the offensive line jump from 28th, to 23rd, and now it stands at 9th. The main reason for the big jump is because the first four weeks were absent of ranking our level of competition. So after week 4 that level of competition was implemented into footballoutsiders.com statistical rankings. In other words, because of our level of competition the first 5 weeks the DVOA was adjusted to show that the Bears offensive line did better based on the opponents defenses they faced.
But there is more than just the competition adjustment; there is also the adjustment by Tice to tailor a game plan towards our strengths and weaknesses. Tice is evolving and learning as the season goes along, as any good offensive coordinator should, especially a rookie one. Since the Packers game we have seen Tice get away from the long routes and go towards more slants, roll-outs, and running to set up the play action.
He has also given the offensive line more help against the pass rush. Webb is getting more help against the elite ends of the league, and it is showing in the amount of pressure that Jay is not seeing. This is allowing Jay to be more comfortable and as a result throw fewer picks and complete more passes. As Jay becomes more comfortable with the offensive line we will hopefully see more consistency from him, as we did in his early Denver years.
Right now the defense is playing so well that we don’t need the offense to perform at a high level, we just need them to improve little by little, and to get more comfortable with each other. The injury to Jeffery (ranked 34th on football outsiders) is going to put us back a step, but with Bennett coming back hopefully it will fill that void. We won’t need an explosive offense in the next few weeks and just need to focus on ball control and reaching that 20 point mark that usually makes a sure Bear victory.
With a relatively easy schedule the next 3 games it is the perfect time to continue to work on plays and to develop an identity on offense. After that we face Houston and SanFran and that will be the true test of where this team is at. Both teams boast a top 3 defense and are considered by many to be early season Super Bowl picks.