The arguments against haven't stopped, but the Chicago Bears keep finding more and more reasons not to listen. Will this team with a long history of NFL offensive futility surprise pro football in the 2012 season?
History proves fears on Matt Forte and offensive line are overblown
If it weren't for two particular spots on the Chicago offense, expectation for the Bears would go from good to outstanding. The first, of course, is the contract problems with Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte. Many fans fear the man who chewed up 38% of the offensive touches in 2011 will hold out into the regular season if he doesn't get the long-term deal he wants. The other is the much maligned offensive line who gave up 105 sacks over the last two seasons. Recent reports show, however, that those fears are understood but not exactly valid. John Mullin of Comcast Sportsnet wrote that the line doesn't deserve so much heat since they helped Chicago Bears running backs rush for over 2,000 yards last season. Also before starting quarterback Jay Cutler broke his thumb, the line had allowed only five sacks over five games, none in two of the last three. All five games were wins. If those stats hold true with the line in a more friendly offensive system with talents like Gabe Carimi coming back, logic says things will improve. As for Forte, his threats of a holdout focus on training camp. When the time comes to play real games teammates and experts think he will play.
Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall already got incentive from their peers
The real spark for the Bears offense lay with Cutler and his reunion with Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall. Together they formed one of the most explosive combos in the NFL before they broke up after Cutler got traded from Denver. Marshall went on to say his connection with Cutler goes past the usual trust. He said in an interview that the two of them have a feel for the game few others have. The only thing they needed was some help to make their second go-around work. General Manager Phil Emery did that when he drafted receiver Alshon Jeffery and signed free agents Eric Weems and Devin Thomas. The biggest help though may have come from the rest of the players around the league. A popular show called the "Top 100 Players of 2012" has aired on NFL Network for the last few weeks where the best players in football voted from 100 to 1 by each other. Neither Cutler nor Marshall made it on the list. Jay led the Bears to a 7-3 record before his injury while Brandon pulled in over 100 passes for over 1,200 yards. To understand why they should feel disrespected, Tim Tebow made the list as a quarterback while Hakeem Nicks made it as a receiver. Cutler had an easily higher passer rating than Tebow while Marshall caught far more passes than Nicks.
The Chicago Bears are all about defense, but their new offense has good reasons to strike fear in team this season. Matt Forte will play unless something catastrophic happens, and the offensive line has history to show it can play well. If that's not enough, fans should watch to see what Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall do with their newfound motivation.