Pyle Ponders

Chad Hutchinson was a breath of fresh air against the Vikings, but how much is the coaching staff to blame for not getting him ready to play sooner?

When you've got it, you've got it. Even the plays that went sour for the Bears turned out well. What an amazing game. Who knew that Hutchinson could play like that? Certainly not the Bears offensive coaches or surely they would have put him in long before now.

But how could the coaches have missed that? We've suffered through game after game watching two of the worst quarterbacks in the league while all of the time Hutchinson was sitting there waiting his turn.

The offensive scheme was brilliant. When did the lights in the coaches' heads go on? The Bears looked more like the Indianapolis Colts than what Bears fans have been accustomed to seeing on the field. But why this change all of a sudden? I can't understand it. Even more amazing, the offense produced early in the game. Surprise plays, completed passes, a mobile QB, a balanced running attack. Who knew?

Hutchinson certainly is no Johnny Unitas at this point in time, but with a 115 rating, I'd start calling Canton right now. What a pleasure it was to watch a quarterback who actually could run out of the pocket. And I liked the fact that Despond Clark was finally utilized. Nobody knows for sure just how good Clark might be, but he gave us an indication on Sunday. The fact that he had six catches was to me one of the most important stats of the game.

I was glad to see the rotation of running backs, a move that was long overdue. It gave different looks to the offense and proved to be quite effective. That slow start of continual three and outs vanished. This was the first time all season that the Bears offense totaled more yards in the first half than in the second half.

There still was the problem of mediocre play by the offensive line yet somehow they were able to give Hutchinson enough time to get the ball away. We saw play action passes, end around, schemes that actually worked. I'm wondering if Terry Shea analyzed the skill level of his linemen and tailored the offensive scheme around that. If you adjust your plays around what your players can actually do, the results are oftentimes quite good, as we witnessed.

The question on just about every football fan's mind in Chicago is why Hutchinson wasn't put in earlier in t he season. I see a carryover from the John Shoop philosophy of protecting your young quarterback by not putting him in too early. That rarely works. Let it go, guys. While you are ‘protecting' you are often losing games in the process.

Moving on the defense, it isn't often that you will see Daunte Culpepper scrambling for his life like that. Coverage in the secondary was excellent as usual and the DL was outstanding. Culpepper was hurried and under pressure. His favorite targets were taken out of the mix. Excellent aggressive work by Ron Rivera.

And Brian Urlacher. This guy to me is a throwback to old time football. I loved that he told the media on Thursday that he wasn't certain he'd be able to play against Minnesota. As a former player, I can guarantee you that Urlacher knew perfectly well that he'd be out there on the field on Sunday. But what a great way to confuse the Vikings offensive staff.

Urlacher's play was a thing of beauty. He certainly seemed to be at 100% physically as he made the big plays but who knows, maybe for him he was only at 85% or 90%. He might have much more to show us. Having Urlacher in the lineup means so much to this team. Just look at the stats, as they haven't won without him on the field. He's skilled, tough and productive. Best of all, he clearly loves the game.

A few weeks ago I would have been the last guy to have believed this, but I feel that the Bears are going to do very well for these last few games of the season. That's what I had predicted early this fall, well before Rex Grossman went down and things certainly changed rapidly for the Bears.

Things were pretty bad for quite a while, but suddenly, the team seems to be back and I think they could end up with a shot at the playoffs. The coaches have good game plans, the players are executing and there is a capable quarterback in the lineup. It's really more than most of us could have hoped for just a short time ago.

Mike Pyle played for the Bears from 1961-69.


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