Simple, right? Score more points than the other team and you win the game. This flawless logic applies to nearly every team sport, and pro football is no different. But it's something the Chicago Bears really need to improve upon if they want to start championships as general manager, Phil Emery and new head coach, Marc Trestman have stated.
For me, it ranks at the top of my list of things I want to see from the 2013 Chicago Bears. They need to score heavily. This past season we have seen teams give up a lot of points in a game, but still come out on top. Why? Because they still managed to score more than the other team. It's not an ideal situation, and the desired outcome is to never let your opponent score any points, but of course that is somewhat unrealistic.
Let's take a look at the four remaining playoff teams this year; the Patriots, Falcons, 49ers and Ravens. For a start, during the regular season, they all averaged more points per game than the Bears, with the Patriots topping the charts with a whopping 34.8 points per game. Compare this to the Bears 23.4, and you start to see why New England made the post season again and Chicago didn't. Atlanta averaged 26.2 points a game, which is to be expected given the receiving talent they have coupled with the stellar play of Falcons quarterback, Matt Ryan.
Now, the Ravens and the 49ers only averaged about one point more than the Bears per game, which goes to show that not every team has to score as heavily as the Patriots or any of the other big scoring team. But bear in mind, that of the top 12 teams in terms of points scored per game, ten of those clubs made the playoffs.
It's an almost identical situation when you examine the yards per game for each team. The Bears finished in 28th place, gaining just 310.6 total yards each week. That, is simply not going to be enough to get the job done in today's NFL. To put that in some perspective, the Patriots were top of the charts again in this category, averaging 427.9 yards. That's over 100 more yards each game, and that's what makes the difference.
Given that I have used New England as an example throughout this piece, you might say 'yeah, but Tom Brady plays for the Patriots, and he's a pretty special player'. And I would agree with you, but I would also say (as I frequently do) that one man cannot do it alone. It's play calling combined with coaching ethos and game plan that puts a team in a position to score as many points as the Patriots do.
As much as I refuse to get excited by coaching changes, I am looking forward to seeing how different the Bears offense will look this coming season. I think we all hoped that 2012 would be a good season, and although it started well for the Bears, the offense (and defense) pretty much nose dived for the second half of the year.
Now, unless something goes terribly wrong and Trestman and company start clearing out the players as well as the coaches, the lineup should be a familiar one by the time the season rolls around. Brandon Marshall will be there. Cutler will be throwing the ball to him, and hopefully others as well, and Forte will be the main man on the ground. Perhaps we see some different names on the offensive line and at tight end, but largely it should be the same bunch of guys. So what will be different? How can the Bears become that high powered, high scoring team that they need to be?
It has to be start with the play calling, and as Trestman has stated, he will be calling the offensive plays. So let's see what you got, Marc. And I'm excited about it, and so should all Bears fans. For parts of this season, watching the Bears offense was no more exciting than observing the drying of paint. And that's putting it kindly. I still put a lot of this down to an over-reliance on Brandon Marshall, and a failure to get other receivers more involved.
Let's use the Patriots one final time as an example. In the 2012 regular season, Wes Welker had 118 receptions. Brandon Lloyd had 74, Gronkowski had 55 and Hernandez had 51.
For the Bears, Brandon Marshall had 118 catches. Forte had 44, Bennett had 29 and Alshon Jeffery had 24. For me that says it all, and those kind of numbers link in directly to scoring a lot of points.
And that's exactly what the Chicago Bears need to do. Score a lot of points. And when they are done doing that, they need to go score some more.