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After five games and heading into the bye, the Bears are right where they should be, and right where most people expected them to be; 4-1 and tied for first in the division.
Yesterday's 38-point victory put the Bears right where they want to be heading into the bye. It's right where they should be too. The Bears are in control of their own destiny and are right now in the driver's seat for the division. Make no mistake, though, the Bears still need to work to get better during this week's opening on the schedule, but they are in a great spot.
I can only imagine what the game thread's looked like at halftime of yesterday's game. Tied at 3, the Bears didn't look awful but they didn't look good. They hadn't punched it in, their third down conversion rate was awful and both sides of the ball were looking bad. It was as bad as it could have been and about the worst anyone could expect for a team coming off a short week and on the road.
The team bounced back though and exploded for 38 second-half points on their way to a rout. It was a thing of beauty! The best part is, the Bears have now survived their toughest challenge on the schedule to this point.
The Bears have three very winnable games coming up; home vs. Detroit, home vs. Carolina and at Tennessee. Then comes the toughest two games of the year; vs. Houston and at San Francisco. While that's still a ways down the road, the Bears could easily be 7-1 heading into the Houston game, but likely no worse than 6-2.
The best part about all this is, unlike the previous two seasons, the Bears didn't limp into bye week. There is no need for an intervention of the minds; no "come to Jesus" talk to get the offense more balanced.
The Bears have 156 passing attempts and 151 rushing attempts, it's about as balanced as you can get. Bush and Forte each have 58 carries, Cutler is completing 57.7% of his passes. The offense is getting itself together.
There is no reason to think that after five games this offense won't improve. They are as deep as they are talented. If Alshon Jeffery's hand injury is serious, Earl Bennett should be back, Bush filled in admirably for Forte when he needed to.
One of my favorite stats right now is that the Bears are showing they are getting on track with halftime adjustments (something Lovie has been criticized for in the past); in the first half of games this year the Bears have outscored opponents 47-40. In the second half it jumps to 102-31.
Cutler said after the game yesterday that the offense doesn't panic when it starts slow because the defense always keeps them in the game. That's a good thing too, because we've seen Jay start out slow in almost all of the games this year but he's had only one implosion.
During the bye week I think the Bears need to improve at having better starts on offense; whether that is an issue of playcalling or rhythm, or better game-planning, I don't know, but it jumps out to me as the worst area of this team.
This season, six of Cutler's seven TD passes have come in the second half. The team has to work to get it's offense going in the first half better so that it can stop relying on the defense to set it up.
Overall though, this team is is in great shape heading into its bye and the best part is the Packers are struggling. Their schedule gets a little easier heading into their bye (at Houston, at St. Louis, vs. Jacksonvllle and vs. Arizona). The Bears don't face the Vikings, who are also 4-1 and tied with the Bears for the division lead, until week 12. Their schedule remains relatively easy until then (at Washington, vs. Arizona, vs. Tampa Bay, at Seattle, vs. Detroit).
So the Bears need to take the bye week, get better and keep grinding until their showdown with the Vikings at Soldier Field. There is no reason to think they won't though.