The Bears were tipped to be the weakest team in the NFC North going into the season and after three losses in four games that’s exactly where they are. Still, they were one dropped catch away from 2-2, so what should we make of Chicago? Dave Usher answers the questions…
Are the Bears where you expected them to be after four games?
More or less. I wouldn’t have been shocked if they’d lost every game but 1-3 is about what I would have gone for. The mad thing is the Bears could, and indeed should, be 2-2 because they had the Falcons beat in Week 1 only for Jordan Howard to drop a routine catch at the goal-line. If he makes that catch the Bears start looks a lot different, but if we’re honest there’s no way the Bears are a 2-2 team right now. The two games they lost were blow outs and they looked awful.
What’s been their best and worst performances?
The best was the win over Pittsburgh in week 3. They were good against Atlanta too, but the Steelers game was very satisfying because it was exactly the kind of football the Bears want to play. Solid defense and a ground and pound offense with Howard and Tarik Cohen running the ball effectively. Those two were great that day and the win was fully deserved.
The worst was last week’s spanking in Green Bay. The loss in Tampa was fairly hideous too, but losing in Green Bay was inexcusable for a number of reasons.
Firstly, you shouldn’t get blown out in a divisional game as the two teams know each other so well. Even the Browns usually make a game of it in their own division.
Secondly, it’s a rivalry game and you never want to get embarrassed by a rival. This loss put the Packers one ahead in the all time head to head with the Bears so it was even more painful than usual.
Thirdly, the Packers were severely depleted and should have been there for the taking. They were picking up offensive linemen off the street for goodness sake, they had guards playing tackle and they lost both of their frontline running backs during the game. Yet they still had their way with the Bears.
Who’s been your best player?
Difficult one this. Probably Akiem Hicks so far, although he wasn’t too visible against the Packers. He had been questionable with a foot injury so perhaps that slowed him down. Generally he’s been solid though. Kyle Fuller has been marginally better than expected so far, while on offense Cohen has flashed and looks really exciting.
Special mention to Howard too, who has been battling through a shoulder injury all year but has still been productive, with four TD’s and averaging four yards on limited carries.
And the biggest disappointment?
Cody Whitehair has surprisingly struggled at center while defensively I expected more from Leonard Floyd, but let’s not sugarcoat this, the biggest disappointment has been Mike Glennon. I don’t think anyone thought he was going to be great but he has been so much worse than expected. He was supposed to be a game manager, yet he leads the league in turnovers through four games.
He can’t hit downfield throws and he’s had some terrible interceptions. Not just that, he’s like a statue back there and he’s been a sitting duck for even a below average pass rush. It took four games for the Bears to bench him, and that was at least two games too long.
Wide Receiver Markus Wheaton has been a major disappointment so far too, but it’s hard to be too critical of receivers when Glennon has been so bad. Wheaton really needs to deliver now that Mitchell Trubisky will be behind center.
Where do they most need to improve?
Passing offense, but hopefully that will happen now that Trubisky is getting the chance to show what he can do. The passing game has been garbage so far and while Glennon has been largely to blame, it’s also fair to say that the Bears have nothing at wide receiver. Not only do they not have a number one receiver, they don’t even have what you’d describe as a two either. They’ve got a bunch of threes and fours at best.
Glennon was unable to get anything out of them but that may have been on him more than them. Last year Matt Barkley managed to hook up pretty well with Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson, so you can move the ball with them out there (despite the all too frequent costly drops). Hopefully Trubisky’s mobility and ability to escape pressure will buy them that extra second or two they need to get open.
The Bears really need to get something from the tight end position too. We know Zach Miller is good, the only knock on him is that he’s always hurt. He’s healthy now though but hasn’t been getting the ball because Glennon couldn’t get it to him. Maybe Trubisky will, and maybe we’ll finally see what 2nd round pick Adam Shaheen can do. The Bears have weapons at tight end, it’s time they started using them.
Will you make the playoffs?
Ha! Of course, we’ve got Mitchapalooza starting now so we’re going undefeated the rest of the way. 13-3 should get us in as divisional winners with home field advantage in the playoffs.
Serious answer: no we won’t. But at least it’s going to be interesting now with all the young offensive players. We’ll beat the Vikings on Monday, you can quote me on that.