1. Defensive turnovers. The defense as a whole has been impressive and pretty much as good as advertised. They have keep the bears in every game and they are creating turnovers like the '06 bears. No one is better than Peanut Tillman at punching the ball out and the pressure created by Peppers and Co. have forced errant throws and made it hard for the quarter to identify the coverage. Urlacher and Briggs are still at the top of their games and the defense is getting valuable contributions from Idonje, Jennings, and Chris Harris. Perhaps the 2 most impressive things have been the bears ability to mask coverages and therefore confuse opposing offenses. (Lovie's defense has never been big into disguising what they are doing). Danieal Manning has been very surprising with his safety play. He has played great in run support and his coverage has been so good on TEs that none so far have had a good day against the Bears.
2. Matt Forte and Chester Taylor. I know the bears dont run the ball much (see below) but this combo of backs has really impressed me with their versatility and consistency. They make people miss and are great runners after getting the ball in their hands. In my estimation, these 2 guys are the best play makers on the offense and need to touch the ball more either on running or passing plays. I would like to see these 2 get 30+ touches combined a game as we saw in the Carolina game and the Bears will win those games.
1. O-Line. I understand they have not started the same O-line in more than 2 games but that is not an excuse. These guys are paid professionals and are just getting beat on a consist basis. There really arent encouraging signs for this group because it is mostly low draft picks/free agents without much potential. They have been unable to communicate more than getting beat 1 on 1. I would say half the sacks so far are attributable to miscommunication or lack of communication in pass protection which is really only shooting yourself in the foot. This communication has to be fixed right away because this line is gonna get beat some based on their talent level. This line will never be good. It can maybe an average offensive line but it has a long way to even reach that. Prayers are welcome to try and improve this.
2. Jay Culter & his WRs. I said in my season preview that Martz's offense depends heavily on the QB & WRs being on the same page. Well from their play Culter and the WRs might have been given different playbooks. I know Martz's offense is very complicated and has like a million plays but these guys are professionals and need to sort this out. The 4 picks yesterday half were the WRs fault and half were Culter's. Cutler has played alright this year minus yesterday's game considering every time he drops back he has to believe that his head has a chance of being removed from his shoulders. Culter can play better and the WRs have to play better and make the tough catches that make their QB look good. *Sidenote: I think Earl Bennett has been the only WR that has performed better than expected. He seems to get the offense and runs very precise routes and has great hands.
3. Coaching................or lack there of. This isnt just Lovie that I'm talking about. This falls on every coach on the team especially the offensive coaches. Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith have said many times that they have the talent needed to win on this roster. But there are some major problems that are lacking with this roster. Either Lovie & Angelo are full of it (entirely possible) or the bears' coaches arent coaching up or getting the best out of the players. Martz has refused to compromise his system to the talent he has on this roster. His offense is running the ball 36% of the time (if you exclude the Carolina game). His offense is not scoring either. Once they get inside the 30, they have shown an inability to put the ball in the endzone. Shouldn't the genius that we were all told Martz was be able to dream up plays to score? Mike Tice's offensive line is a mess. Darell Drake's WRs are running the wrong routes and dropping passes. And Lovie is letting Martz run the offense totally on his own and now looks like a tool because he doesnt know what is going on on that side of the ball. Plus, Lovie is a bad in game coach. He makes terrible challenges (see this week) and is terrible, terrible at managing the clock.
I dont know where this team goes now. I think they have the talent to compete and win this division but not the coaches or the system. In an earlier post, I said that if the bears could go into the bye week 5-2 they will be likely to win the division. Now, at 4-3, their record is the same as the packers and their schedule is incredibly tough the 2nd half of the season. Unless there are great giant steps made over this bye week, the bears are staring directly at a .500 record and being left out of the playoffs for the 4th straight year.