The team that no one wants to believe in is the Bears. Well, when I say no one, that means everyone outside of Chicago, outside of Halas Hall and outside of the true believers.
This team just isn’t sexy. Despite the fact Jay Cutler is at quarterback, running a Mike Martz offense, the Bears just don’t capture imaginations. The Bears haven’t been and aren’t going to be “The Greatest Show on Turf” with their group of receivers. It’s not who they are.
The Bears, though, have made adjustments from the wide-open offense from earlier this season. Cutler is getting rid of the ball quicker, Martz has adjusted the protections and is more judicious in spreading out the offense, and the run-pass ratio is more balanced. It has all helped.
And defensively, you can’t move the ball against the Bears. They shut down Michael Vick and the Eagles when no one thought it was possible. A healthy Brian Urlacher this season is a huge, huge difference.
The Bears are a sum of their parts. As a whole, this team is tough, gritty and while they don’t do a lot of exotic things, they’re very good at what they do.
What’s interesting is that their NFC North rival Packers, who the Bears play the final week of the season, had that exact same image under Vince Lombardi. They had a very thin playbook, but out-executed teams, and were very tough, physical and nasty. It’s what the Bears are now.
The current Packers seem to be the team to beat the Bears. People look back at their Monday night game on Sept. 27, and count 18 penalties as the difference maker in the loss instead of giving Chicago the credit for the win. People keep wondering why teams lose to the Bears, as opposed to why the Bears are winning games.
Well, it might be time to get on board.
Lovie Smith has done a tremendous job as head coach and a defensive mind, and no doubt has saved his job. The team has adopted his persona in being low-key and not worrying about what anyone says. People might be doubting this team all the way through the playoffs.
The only downside for the Bears is their schedule down the stretch which is a monster: Patriots (10-2), Vikings (5-7), Jets (9-3) and Packers (8-4). They will be tested. It’s a tough call if the NFC North gets two teams in the playoffs and the Bears make it, but I don’t believe anyone should think that they’re an easy out or are going to go away quietly.