Pyle Ponders: Still Room for Improvement

The Bears win. That's certainly good news. But don't get carried away praising the offense of this football team. They only gained a total of 192 yards. That's pretty near the bottom of the league as far as moving the ball is concerned. Still, that was enough to get the Bears a victory over a Vikings team in complete disarray.

The first half was pretty much the 'same old, same old' that we've seen just about every week. Still a lackluster effort surprisingly resulted in a halftime lead.

There was one piece of startling news. At last, the mysterious offensive code has been broken. The Bears used a tight end in goal line situations, and look at the results. Desmond Clark had two scores and was no longer the forgotten man. He had potential all along, but offensive coordinator Ron Turner seemed to have forgotten before yesterday that he was actually on the field. At least that situation was remedied.

I was horrified while reading some newspaper accounts of the game that one Chicago writer awarded the Bears coaching staff an A- for effectiveness. A more appropriate mark would have been a C. The players are good, the coaching still lags behind the team's abilities at times. I saw nothing original or particularly productive in the Bears schemes, and certainly nothing overall that would merit a top grade for the staff.

I like to think of Paul Edinger as the Bears 'Trojan Horse'. Paul is a player who used to be with Chicago, went to the Vikings, then did the Bears a favor while he messed up Minnesota's FG scoring attempts. With the exception of the chip shot conversion in the first half, Edinger's kicks were short, wide or blocked. And better still for the Bears, was that brand new rookie kicker Robbie Gould never got on to the field. We don't know for sure what Gould can accomplish, but he did look good on his kickoffs.

The new nickname for Cedric Benson should be '3-2 guy'. I call him that in reference to the few times he's been in and the short yardage he's achieved. If I were Benson, I'd be embarrassed at that kind of production. Think back to his astronomical salary and start calculating his price per yard. It's out of the ballpark.

Roberto Garza and John St. Clair stepped in yesterday and did well. I know they're just keeping the starting jobs until John Tait and Ruben Brown return, but from what they were able to do, I'd say that they are positive additions to the offense. Protecting a rookie QB is key in any game. From what I saw, Orton never appeared rushed and seemed to have plenty of time to make decisions. Credit the entire offensive line for that.

One thing that did bother me was the lack of production by the Bears offense in the first half. By now, we're accustomed to Chicago's slow starts. This week, they had a total of 16 first downs, the majority of which came in the second half. The few that Chicago was able to get in the first half were concentrated in that late two-minute drive that ended with a score. That the team was able to come back with good production in the second half was encouraging, but again, this came against an opponent with problems on and off the field.

It's clear to this point at least that Benson just isn't as good as Thomas Jones. Even when injured, Jones is in there improving on a weekly basis. Cedric spends his time on the sidelines. We've seen this scenario before. What's happened to your first round pick, Jerry Angelo?

Michael Haynes was also inactive yesterday and there is talk he could be traded. It looks like another case of a top pick that didn't workout in Chicago.

Although the Vikings controlled time of possession, the Bears defense shutdown Minnesota's scoring opportunities. The defense had excellent red zone production as they held the Vikings an Edinger field goal. The secondary still needs work but played much better yesterday. Chris Harris and Charles Tillman stepped up.

The refereeing yesterday drove me wild. There were countless unnecessary calls that came close to ruining this game. The pace was slow and frankly, pretty boring. I hate it when he refs think that they are the stars of the show. That's been a problem in the league since I was a player, and I can see that the situation has not improved with time.

So now we move on to the Ravens, a stronger team than the Vikings and one that could give the Bears problems. I saw a lot of positives to build on but the Baltimore defense will provide a stiff challenge. A second win in a row is vital for this team. That's how you build momentum that carries you through a successful season. Will the Bears come out on top once more? That's an answer we won't have until next Sunday.

Mike Pyle played for the Bears from 1961-69, including a Pro Bowl selection following the '63 season.

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