The Bears offense has emerged as one of the best in football in only seven weeks. Seven weeks was all it took to seemingly erase a decade of offensive futility. Yesterday it took a devastating injury to the starting quarterback for that fact to become apparent. As Josh McCown stepped into a high-pressure, low-probability scenario, Bears head coach Marc Trestman dialed up smart play after smart play. He put the football in the hands of his Emery-assembled weapons and they rewarded him with a near-flawless second half. For Jay Cutler’s tenure in Chicago, an injury to the lead signal caller meant an offensive implosion and consistently dreary output. Yesterday they rallied – on the field and on the sideline.
Now Cutler is gone for the next four weeks at least. It will probably be longer as the man tore his groin. If the offense continues to perform at their current level under Josh McCown, Trest may be something of a genius. The expectation should be a significant drop-off because, I mean, come on. He’s Josh McCown.
But with every offensive starter expected back in 2014 (Emery has already mentioned re-signing Matt Slauson) and the franchise tag available to secure Cutler, the Bears fan can expect the Trestman era to be chockfull of two things: points and entertainment.
Can the Bears salvage anything from this 2013 season? Who knows. With the defense playing at an organizationally historic low level and losing it’s best player (Lance Briggs) for six weeks it is hard to imagine the Packers, Lions and even Ravens not putting up thirty plus in each of the next three outings. The season now falls squarely on the shoulders of Trestman, McCown and the Bears offense. They must score points by the boatload. They must win shootouts. The Bears must stay .500 or better during Cutler’s time away for them to be considered a contender in the cold month of December.
The Bears entered the modern NFL in just seven weeks and unfortunately the modern NFL is defined by two significant traits: (1) high-scoring, passing game driven offenses and (2) injuries. They must use the former, with a backup quarterback, to survive the latter if they are going to be playing meaningful games down the stretch.