After Sunday’s win over the Raiders, there is one thing for certain; the Chicago Bears will not end the season 0-16. Over the first 3 weeks of the season I have been on a roller coaster ride with this Bears team. In the week 1 loss versus the team from Wisconsin, I saw a team could not match the firepower of their opponent, but fought to the end. Week 2 they got beat down by Arizona, who seem to be one of the best in the NFC, and the Bears also lost their starting QB in the process. Week 3 against the Seahawks without Jay Cutler under center and you know how that ended up, zero points. So this week I was ready for another let down and disappointment. The Bears spared me from those feelings and brought me joy for the 1st time in 2015. I understand it was against Oakland, but sometimes it takes games like this for a team to believe they can win. This first win of the year doesn’t mean I’m going to change my win total on the season, but I’m encouraged and understanding about the building process.
The last few weeks it has been hard to pick out positive things when the Bears lose. Sunday I saw some good things and some bad. Let take a look at 5 things that stood out as the Bears beat the Raiders 22-20.
1. Welcome back Cutler. Week 3 versus the Seahawks showed me one thing about this team. If they want to win or be in games at all, they need Cutler. Cutler was very efficient completing 28 of 43 passes for 281 yards, 2 touchdowns and an INT. Another stat that jumps out to me was what he did on 3rd downs. He went 9 of 14. That is critical for an offense that is not running on full speed because of injuries to keep drives going. The INT that Cutler threw in red zone late in the game could have been the storyline, but he put the team on his back and got them in position to get the win. On the final drive he went 5 of 8 for 41 yards. That would set up Robbie Gould’s game winning field goal.
2. Matt Forte is special. Every week I get a chance to watch Forte I say to myself how lucky we are as Bears fans to have the Swiss Army Knife of running backs. Not sure there is anything he can’t do. Number 22 came into Sunday’s game needing just 20 yards to surpass the 8,000-yard mark on the ground. He would achieve that on his 5th carry. He would finish the game with 25 carries for 91 on the ground and 4 receptions for 64 yards. I woke up Sunday morning to read reports that the Bears are open to trading him. I understand where they are coming from a business perspective. If he’s not going to be part of your future, why not see what you can get for him. As a fan I’m going to keep enjoying every game I get to watch him in a Bear uniform. The dude is a beast.
3. Improvement on the defensive line. The Bears knew that switching to the 3-4 this year would be a challenge. The first two weeks of the season the Bears defensive line couldn’t play patty cake with opposing QB’s. Week 3 and 4 I’ve seen the emergence of a few guys. Rookie Eddie Goldman finished the game recording 1 sack. The youngster is finding his way in the NFL. I said when he was drafted the one thing he would need is reps. He’s getting those now. The other guy who has captured my attention is Jarvis Jenkins. The first year Bear is showing why most people think he could be a fixture here in Chicago. Sunday finished with a sack as well and now that Jeremiah Ratliff coming back off suspension this DLine might have something to work with.
4. Note to Adam Gase, use Martellus Bennett more, please! I have found myself tweeting this every single week. The Bears have a weapon in Bennett and I feel they don’t use him enough. I understand that sometimes the game plan changes when you are down as the Bears have been in most game this season. The thing that gets me is he is a match up problem for most teams. He is part of the new day and age tight ends that can play effectively with his hand down or flanked out as a wideout. Sunday was a great time for the Bears to get him going. The Raiders have been one of the worst teams guarding against tight ends. Hence the fact Bennett finished the day with 11 receptions for 83 yards and 1 touchdown. You can’t hold down the Black Unicorn, you can only hope to contain him. Gase, get him the ball more please…Thank you.
5. The injuries keep piling up. Sunday the Bears would end the game with some key players hurt. Center Will Montgomery would leave the game and later be diagnosed with a broken fibula. Safety Antrel Rolle left the game with an ankle injury. The offensive line is the big concern moving forward. With Montgomery out Matt Slauson had to move to center and Patrick Omameh would move out to left guard. Injuries happen in the NFL, but this Bears team can’t afford anymore of them.
The win yesterday wasn’t pretty and it was against the Raiders, but the Bears took a step in the right direction. They needed to dig deep and find a way to win the game. These are the types of games that build a team’s character. I have to be honest I was smiling from ear to ear after the win Sunday. Why you ask? The reason is I’m so invested in this organization. When they hurt I hurt, when they win I win. I’ve been one of the biggest supporters of the new regime and they are showing me that they are never giving up on the big picture. I know one thing I’m never giving up on the beloved. The next task at hand is flying to arrowhead and finding a way to beat the 1-3 Kansas City Chiefs. I’m not looking for a bullseye, I just want this team to stay on target. #BearDown