Pyle Ponders: Headed in the Right Direction

It doesn't really matter who the Bears are playing, who they win against or how they end up on top. It's all part of the learning process and if the team can learn to pull together and get it done, well that's the best possible outcome.

The coaching looked good Sunday. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner was making the right calls. Clearly defensive coordinator Ron Rivera got things turned around for the Bears defense at halftime. I can only imagine what he must have said to his guys after they let the Saints run the ball all over the field during the first 30 minutes. But look what happened. The Bears came out and stopped the Saints cold in the second half. That's the way good football is played, and that's how you make a good team better.

So I'd guess that whatever Rivera did or said during the game made a tremendous difference. When the defense finally woke up, the Bears began to take control of the game.

Overall, this wasn't a clean game with turnovers, sacks, and moments of careless play. Watching from home, I didn't know what was going to happen as things progressed. But slowly the game began to come together as the Bears gained confidence. Rushing for 183 yards without Thomas Jones for part of the game showed a commitment to the running game, which is a vital part of this football team.

The offensive line was excellent, giving Kyle Orton the time he needed to make his moves. I saw communication and a coordinated effort which is something you must have to succeed. And I'll take a moment to mention Orton in particular. I've liked this guy since the first time I saw him.

The usual standard when judging quarterbacks in the NFL is by gauging just how confident they are. Attitude is a requirement at this position. And while I don't see Kyle as being overly cocky, he exudes confidence and that's making a tremendous difference in this team.

Orton seems to have the ability to make a play, good or bad, then immediately move on mentally. Whether he connects with Muhsin Muhammad for a 30-yard reception or throws way over his head, Orton just turns around and heads back to the huddle, ready for the next series. That's a sure sign of maturity and ability. If Orton can play that well during his rookie season, marvelous things are in his future.

Muhammad, what can I say about such a great player? He makes the catches no one else can. If I were Orton, I'd be on the phone with Muhsin day and night asking him to practice passing patterns with me. Clearly things are coming together here as far as timing and communication, but the more these two work together, the better things will get for the team.

Cedric Benson was right on the mark, getting good yardage and making an impact. With every step he took, I could hear the Bears cash register going 'cha-ching, cha-ching'. Who knows, Cedric might be worth the money after all?

I couldn't figure out what Brian Baldinger was talking about during the telecast when he referred to Adrian Peterson as the "third string RB". There's no way that Peterson is third string as far as I can tell. The Bears are fortunate to have him as an option to rotate in and out with an often-injured Thomas Jones and Benson still learning. Adrian has the poise, the desire and the skill and is a heck of a special teams player.

What would I work on this week in practice if I were Lovie Smith? Fundamentals. Tackling, blocking, pass patterns, the basic things that usually aren't addressed much by pro teams after training camp. The reason? Most teams don't need refresher courses. After some of the sloppy play against the Saints, clearly, the Bears do.

I'd also concentrate on third down conversions, a glaring weakness for the Bears for a long time now. It's important to keep the chains moving. They concerted just 4-of-15 against the Saints and that's usually not going to get the job done.

Next up on the schedule is a terrible 49ers team. The Bears should come out on top. Looking ahead on the schedule, I see a battered Packers squad, while the Vikings are in disarray. The Bears should win those as well. The Panthers, Steelers, Falcons and the Bucs might be a different story. But if the Bears continue to play to their strengths and improve on a weekly basis, just about anything is possible.

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


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