The Atlanta Falcons offense looked puzzled and overwhelmed many times during Sunday’s game as the Chicago Bears defense came in hungry, as if Head Coach Mark Trestman had been showing the defensive units highlights from 1985. The Bears “D” limited the Falcons offense to 3.2 yards per carry rushing, and sacked Matt Ryan four times. Jared Allen finally got his first sack, and celebrated in a way fans are used to: knee to the ground, soup-stirring hand motion, then palms to the sky.
The Chicago Bears came ready to face a hostile crowd in Atlanta, as the Georgia Dome is known as a place where decibel levels in the NFL can be the highest. The Bears also knew they had to face a familiar face in all-time returns leader Devin Hester, who now plays wide receiver and punt returner for the Falcons. The Bears prepared for an already speedy, but especially motivated Hester and limited him to minimal gains on returns and one catch for 23 yards.
People watching the Chicago Bears take on the Falcons might have felt the game was neutral, as plenty of Bears fans surrounded the field. There were specs of blue and orange everywhere, and even chants of “lets go Bears!” were audible on the televised broadcast. Bears defensive players could be seen waving their arms upward, signaling to their fans to get loud. The Chicago Bears, one of the most storied franchises in sports, have never had trouble with making their presence known at road stadiums, and as Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall states, “We [Bears fans] travel well.”
So, the Chicago Bears all in all dominated this game, improved to 3-3 (3-1 away from home), and graced Bears fans with the opportunity to keep hope in the early season prospects of a possible Super Bowl alive. Can this version of the Bears honestly have that high of hopes?
This year’s version of the Chicago Bears looks very mediocre through the first six weeks, and the numbers taken from the first six games back up the mediocrity. Going into Sunday’s game the Bears ranked 22nd in rushing and 14th in passing, good enough for a 17th overall offensive ranking. The Bears ranked 16th in running defense and 17th against the air attack, resulting in a 17th place ranking. These rankings are certainly not as bad as they could get, but a team pursuing a Super Bowl, at least in terms of financial commitment, will usually not get to the promised land with the inconsistent numbers the Bears have earned so far.
In this game against Atlanta, Quarterback Jay Cutler threw 26-38 for 381 yards, no interceptions, and a touchdown. It was a great game for Cutler, and his best game in regards to passing yard. However, if the discussion was about Green Bay’s quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, the performance would seem like an average day at the office.
On a more positive note for the Bears is that Jay Cutler made better decisions than normal. He is still a work in progress, and Cutler would need to continue that trend to give the Bears a shot at the NFC North Division title, let alone a Super Bowl. Running Back Matt Forte had another game of well over 100 yards from scrimmage, and the Bears two massive and athletic wideouts, Brandon Marshall and
Alshon Jeffery combined for 249 receiving yards. The defense held its own without their defensive play caller Lance Briggs and two of their other linebackers proving that will and a good scheme can be enough to make all the necessary stops. The Bears truly do look like road warriors so far, and things can only get better can home.
It is certainly helpful for the fortune Chicago Bears that they have been dominant, if not timely, on the road this season, earning them a reputation for being road warriors. They must continue to grow as the season comes along, as they have not yet won a game against a very good opponent. Some say that the very good opponent the Bears beat this year was the San Francisco 49ers, but this year’s ‘9ers do not look completely convincing either. For the week Bears fans can cheer their team all the way back home until their game against the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field. The Bears should beat the Dolphins (2-3), “should” being the operative word. This will be a feel good week for Jay Cutler and the gang, as Chicago Bears Fans can be as cold as the winter in their city, as unpredictable as the climate, and as inconsistent as their football team. As far as a return to the Super Bowl, fans must first cheer their team on to a bid for the playoffs.
Commentary By LaBaron Jackson