LAKE FOREST, IL - MAY 12: Tight end Evan Rodriguez #88 of the Chicago Bears catches a pass during rookie minicamp at Halas Hall on May 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Rodriguez was the Bears' fourth round pick in the 2012 draft. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
This may go without saying around here, but the new-look Bears offense, at least on paper, looks to be the most balanced and complete offense in the division. If you don't believe me, follow the jump and let's see what's what.
Did you know that the Packers haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2009? And that their leading rusher last year had only 578 yards? The Packers offense is pretty lopsided, obviously, it's not hard to go one-way with one of the league's best passers and the league's reigning MVP. They passed the ball 58% of the time last season. Hardly balanced. The Packers have two running backs on their roster with more than a season of experience. One of these is John Kuhn, who is more of a FB. They have five rookie RBs on their roster currently. If they think one of them will somehow take the place of Ryan Grant and make up for his production and James Starks' shortcomings, that seems like a lot to ask.
The Lions aren't much better. They haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2004. They passed the ball 65% of the time last season! A lot of this was due to injuries at the RB position (their leader in rushing yards had 390), but having a young gun slinger who was healthy for the first time certainly helps, as well as the best receiver in the game. The Lions could have a better backfield next season but that would require their backs to stop smoking pot.
The Vikings were 3-13 last season, in case you haven't heard. They were much more balanced than their NFC North foes mentioned above, throwing only 53% of the time. This more likely would have been more balanced if Adrian Peterson hadn't blown his knee out. The Vikings at least sniffed a 1,000 yard rusher with AP's 970 yards. AP's status is still up in the air as for the start of the '12 season, but if he misses any significant portion of the season, the Vikings run game will be in trouble. Toby Gerhert is decent, but he's no AP. While Christian Ponder should improve in year two, he still doesn't exactly strike fear into me as a Bears fan. One thing that I do find interesting, is that as bad as the Vikings were last season, and for as good a season as Jared Allen had, did you know that the Vikings defense was 31st in points allowed while their offense was 19th in points scored?
Lastly; the Bears. The Bears weren't much better than the Vikings as far as points scored, ranking 17th. However, the Bears' defense has chops. But I'm not focusing on that today. The Bears didn't have a 1,000 yard rusher last season, just like their divisional opponents, but they came the closest with Matt Forte's 997 yards. The Bears had the most balanced offense in the division, throwing 50.9% of the time. Now much has been made of the Bears' new offense system, but hopefully, ideally, the balance won't change, merely the plays and the protection schemes.
All of the NFC North had injury problems at the running back position, but the Bears have the second best RB in the division and arguably the most complete. No doubt the Bears have the most complete one-two running back combo in the division. The team now has the second or third best receiving corps behind Green Bay and maybe Detroit. They certainly have the tallest corps with 6'3" Alshon Jeffery, 6'4" Brandon Marshall plus 6'7" TEs Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth.
Sure, it's May and we haven't even seen the offense in preseason action or against a real defense. Nor do we have an inclination of what kind of a play-caller Mike Tice is. However, if he can get the offensive line to improve by say, 10 fewer sacks allowed than last year and the weapons with the division's second or third best QB, then I see no reason the Bears couldn't have the best or second best offense in the division and no doubt the most balanced. Even if they don't lead the division in points scored, with their defense (the best in the division and unlikely for that to change), the Bears should, theoredically be right at the top of the division.
Is it September yet?