Yesterday, at Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears won the type of football game I never imagined they could win. They got into an old fashioned shootout with a good Jets offense, scored thirty-eight points and after refusing to tackle all game saved their best defensive effort for the final minutes. But yesterday was not about the defense – which was being coached off the field by Brian Schottenheimer for most of the afternoon. Yesterday was not about the special teams, as Brad Maynard continued his inconsistent ways and Robbie Gould missed a pivotal field goal late. Yesterday was about the the emergence of several of the team’s most derided units.
Ask yourself this. When is the last time you saw Bears wide receivers win man-to-man matchups the way they did yesterday? Jay Cutler has shown that he will trust his receivers, even inexplicably at times, and finally they paid him back. Devin Hester and Johnny Knox beat good corners for touchdowns and dominated when the ball was in the air. The Bears don’t have your prototypical number one receiver on this roster but they are proving weekly they might not need one.
The offensive line blocked. Not well, but brilliantly. As the game progressed, Rex Ryan tried a million different ways to get to the quarterback but Mike Tice’s significantly improved unit almost managed to get to the final whistle with a clean sheet. The only significant flaws were Chris Williams’ drive-crushing penalties but even those were not enough to detract from Omiyale and Webb’s work on the perimeter, allowing Cutler enough time to dissect a complicated defensive system.
And when that final play was needed it was made by Chris Harris, member of the Bears’ oft-maligned Safety Club. The Bears safeties have not been perfect this season – Daniel Manning essentially handed Santonio Holmes a touchdown by biting on a Sanchez fake underneath to Dustin Keller – but they have had a propensity to make the big play in the big spot. And in the cover two system, that can be the different between winning and losing.
The Bears are a good football team, if not a better than good one. And while the defense yesterday was porous, it’s impossible to ignore that the Bears are developing into one hell of a well-rounded club.