I’ve been to many Bears games in my lifetime, but last night was strange. I wanted to chalk it up to Halloween, but I could feel the difference outside the stadium while I was doing my Sports Feed live shot. Not a lot of positive buzz around the stadium, only the wrong kind surrounding the organization. Entering the game, the Bears were 1-6 on the season and have become the forgotten franchise in Chicago. The Bears will have to send the Cubs a nice gift for playing baseball into the month of November. The inside had a different feel about it. It felt like Bears fans entered Soldier Field with the mentality of, “Here goes nothing.” I watched a Bears team play a solid game of football for 4 quarters with all 3 phases of the game. The question is: Will we start seeing things turn around for this ball club? I hope so because I had fun watching the Bears last night and I haven’t said that in a long time. Let’s get into my takeaways.
Jay Cutler is back
Good old number 6 was back under center for the Bears. I have to be honest, I was excited to have him back. I will always have a soft spot for Cutler in my heart, no matter what happens after this season. My expectations of Cutler were always reasonable. He is a good QB with all of the bells and whistles — but probably not going to win us a championship — thus the reason for that soft spot. However, all the things Cutler does so well can’t overshadow his deficiencies. Last night Cutler wasn’t outstanding, but he was efficient going 20 of 31 for 252 yards and a touchdown. All of this after spraining his thumb in week 2 and having his head coach not wanting to confirm if he would get his starting spot back. Cutler will likely never get the respect he’s wanted since he put on a Bears uniform. The truth of the matter is Cutler is on his 6th offensive coordinator since being in Chicago. He has never been able to have any sense of stability with the Bears. Now with the writing on the wall that this will probably be his last season here in Chicago, I hope he goes out with a bang and lights it up. John Fox said he never told friends that he was “done” with Cutler as QB of this team. Like my dad would always say, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” The funny thing is, Fox needs Cutler to be at his best because from the sound of things going on at Halas Hall, Fox could be on his way out if he doesn’t turn things around.
The defense came to play
With Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Dick Butkus in the building, the Bears defense went back in the time and played like the Monsters of the Midway. They held the Vikings to 95 yards of total offense in the 1st half. The Bears did something on defense that I’m not accustomed to seeing and that’s get off the field on 3rd down. The hardest thing for a defense that is hampered by injuries and a lot of young guys playing is to be on a field most of the game and when it comes to the 3rd and 4th quarters you’re gassed with nothing left in the tank. The defense played with a swagger that I haven’t seen all season long. What was most impressive was how they hunkered down in the red zone. The Bears D held the Vikings to 2 of 12 on 3rd downs and 258 total yards. Vic Fangio had a great game plan for a Vikings offense that isn’t outstanding, but very balanced when you look at the run to pass ratio this season. One of the biggest things about his defense is they are getting healthy and their best defender is back…Pernell McPhee. When McPhee is on the field the Bears defense is so much better. With him back in the lineup it had an evident impact on Leonard Floyd. Floyd put together solid back to back games and showed why the Bears selected him in the first round of this year’s draft. The message from the locker room after the game was this defense can get better. Sometimes it takes guys to believe before you can achieve.
Jordan Howard makes the Bears offense go
I’ve been on record saying this, but I’m going to say it again. If Jordan Howard can stay healthy, he has a chance to be something special for this organization. His understanding of the game at such an early age is what excites me. If you study his tape you will see his ability to execute all the runs on the run tree (if there is such a thing). His forward lean and his pad level when he runs are something to marvel at when you watch him play. He’s not the fastest, but he gets to the hole quick and he makes his decision on where he wants to go. Not a lot of choppy feet in the hole. There’s not a lot of east and west running with him, he wants to get north and south quickly. Not only can he turn the rock, he has shown that he has soft hands and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Howard would end the night with 153 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. He also added 49 yards on 4 receptions. Like I tweeted last night, “If the Bears want to win, put Howard in and let him spin.”
If you read my pressers religiously you will see me talking about the foundation of this organization. With any house you have to have to build on a strong foundation. Some of the young pieces of this ball club have real potential to be something special. The season hasn’t turned out like most of us would have liked after 8 games. But the season is not over and this team has a lot of room to grow. Now the Bears head into the bye week and get a chance to get some rest and injured bodies back on the field. With all of the news out of Halas Hall this week I was very proud of this team and how they came out and played football. They were well coached and prepared. They beat the best team in the NFC North and that has to strike a fire under this ball club that they can play with the best of the best. Pernell McPhee said after the game that he thinks his team can dominate the league. That’s the mentality to have and I think winning last night is going to spark something in this team. Hopefully we will continue to see more progress in the future, Bears fans. #BearDown