There is still much excitement surrounding Monday's news that the Bears and Matt Forte finally came to agreement that will see the running back remain in Chicago for another four years. And no matter how frustrating the negotiations have been, it can only be a good thing that Matt Forte, one of the league's best running backs, is playing football for the Bears. Having said that, the NFL is increasingly becoming a passing league. Quarterbacks are throwing for huge numbers and teams are lighting up the scoreboard. With that in mind, this season will need to see the Bears offense take to the air like never before if they want to be contenders come the post season.
The Bears play in a tough division. The NFC North (and Central before that) has always been competitive. I do prefer the time when Detroit sucked (those days are gone, whether we like it or not!) and Green Bay weren't one of the best teams in the NFL. I think it's still fair to say that the Vikings are attempting to rebuild their franchise, but they could be looking good in a couple of years time.
Both the Packers and the Lions were in the top five last year in terms of passing yards and points scored. And even though the Bears might have done better had Cutler and Forte not gone down injured, they finished 26th in passing yards and 17th in total scoring.
This, quite simply, has to improve.
And I think it will. This year see Chicago having every chance of those numbers getting better. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been reunited with Jay Cutler from their days in Denver. And rookie Alshon Jeffery is expected to make an immediate impact. Couple that with the reliable Earl Bennett and the Devin Hester 'package' that we have absolutely no details on (but it sounds promising) and the Bears have all the ingredients that should lead to a potent passing game.
It's something that will seem very foreign to a lot of fans. The potential sight of the Bears going end zone to end zone with Cutler showing off his arm strength as he throws it all over the field and Chicago put up points quickly. But I believe they need to be able to do this.
Yes, we all know that offensive coordinator Mike Tice likes to run the ball, as does Lovie Smith. And that's fine. Chicago now possess perhaps one of the best running back tandems in the league with Matt Forte and Michael Bush. And a good, consistent running game can keep a defense honest, leaving them open to deep balls down the field.
Surely this should have all happened when former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz was calling the shots. I think the problem with Martz was that he was calling plays for a different team than the one that was on the field. He didn't tailor the offense to the weapons it had. Hopefully, we see Mike Tice make the most of the players he has, and structure the offense accordingly. It helps that Cutler and Marshall are also back playing under Chicago's new quarterback coach, Jeremy Bates, who coached them in Denver. That familiarity can only be a good thing. In his last year in Denver, Cutler threw for a career best 4526 yards. Lets hope we see numbers like that this year.
People are starting to talk about the Bears. In a way they haven't for years. The offense is beginning to gain the respect that most of us feel it deserves, and the defense still has enough talent to make it difficult for any opponent.
Of course, a ball hasn't even been thrown yet, but the Bears need to make sure that their passing game is one of the best in the leagues, otherwise I think they'll find it tough to make the playoffs.