The Bears will make a deep playoff run in 2012 in pursuit of playing in New Orleans. I think the Bears have a great chance of winning the NFC North, and securing a first round bye.
The Bears started the 2011 season 7-3, but injuries to their Pro Bowl quarterback and running back ended any playoff hopes. The Bears have made major upgrades in the offseason to improve their team.
The Bears have their franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler but had yet to give him a franchise wideout. Their receiving corps for the most part has been small and fast players but with no big red zone threats.
The addition of Brandon Marshall gives the Bears many more choices inside the 15. The offense will be that much better with Cutler able to choose from WR, TE, or check down to the RB.
With a big WR, you’re creating a mismatch on every down and you will have to double Marshall in the red zone. Now fast-forward to the Draft when the Bears added Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery stands 6’4 and weighs 229 pounds and now you have added two WR mismatches. Once you go to the point of doubling one guy, you still have to worry about the WR and TE on either a safety or a LB, which is once again a mismatch.
This game is all about creating mismatches and exploiting them, and the Bears have plenty of mismatches offensively.
: The Bears already have one of the best running attacks in the league. The best thing they could have done in free agency to assist their run game was adding a quality backup RB. The Bears not only have a great safety net, but they now have a player to come in on long drives on 3rd
downs. Michael Bush was a breakout player in Oakland last year, and should have a solid season as the backup in Chicago.
Strangely the Bears did not address this position in the Draft. With David DeCastro on the board, I couldn’t believe they passed him up in the first round. The Bears must feel confident in the guys they have for the system they want to run next year.
In reality, with Martz out of the picture the Bears will likely put less weight on the offensive line, having to pass protect from the shotgun on every down. If the Bears go back to a power run game and rely on play-action passes and bootlegs, this strategy could work.
I personally wouldn’t risk it, but when the opposing defense commits to the run, it puts less pressure on the O-line. When the Bears make it to the playoff they could be in trouble facing ferocious teams like the Giants, Cowboys, Eagles and 49ers. The Bears will have to look to keep a strong ground game to succeed come playoff time.
: This unit could have used a quality linebacker and given the strength of the Draft, it’s one more head scratcher. Now, the Giants did show us what could be done with a strong pass-rushing defensive line so this may be the direction the Bears plan on heading.
In a pass-heavy league it makes sense when you play against Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford four times a year; then going beyond that you have to play the Saints, Giants, and Eagles - so you have to be able to rattle them to win. The Bears added safeties and cornerbacks a little later in the Draft to help with pass coverage.
They still have a pretty solid unit defensively and with the additions in the Draft to both sides of the ball, less pressure will be placed on their shoulders.
Overall the Bears have a great special teams unit, and now with additions from free agency and the Draft, they should have a great team going forward. Bears fans should be very excited to get the year started now that they have quality backups at key positions, they shouldn’t fall apart due to an injury or two.
I can see the Bears keeping up with the Packers in the NFC North divisional race in 2012. Packers fans wont like it but they know how much tougher these matchups will be now. I can’t wait to see these teams go to battle next year.
Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what you think.