I went through the stats from the Bears earlier games this season to see just where they stand overall. Although there have been plenty of doubters who claimed that the Bears only had success against mediocre teams, it's simply not the case. Case in point, the win against the Panthers. And against the Bucs. And against a few other surprisingly strong teams so far.
Overall one thing stood out for me: Kyle Orton does not give up. He is visibly stronger both physically and mentally as the season progresses. But the best part? One way or another he finds a way to get enough points on the board to get the job done.
The Bears rank 28th in the league in total offense, which is not earth shattering and of course those stats could improve. But the arrow is moving in the right direction. Things are getting better every game.
RB Thomas Jones had workman like performance with 25 carries for 72 yards. But I do wish he'd get a little more than the 2.9 yards per carry average. Three of those does not equal a first down.
I have to give Ron Turner more credit than I thought I'd be offering earlier this year. The two-minute drill by the Bears at the end of the first half was excellent. Good execution and a strong game plan against the third ranked defense in the league. I find no fault with that whatsoever.
What can I say about the Bears defense? They were formidable. As I watched the game I found myself thinking back to the famed LA Rams' Fearsome Foursome, the defensive line with Deacon Jones and Fred Dryer on the ends and Merlin Olson with Rosie Grier inside. A lethal combination of tremendous speed and brute force that made my football life miserable during the ‘60s.
Going up against the Rams was a nightmare. I'd hide behind Bob Wetoska so he'd get the head slaps from the Deacon instead of me. And if they ended up getting to me, my head would hurt for the next five minutes. Ability like that throws off an entire offensive line, which is exactly what happened to the Bucs.
Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, Tommie Harris and Ian Scott. A force like this is something that Chicago has been trying to find for a very long time. Now it has finally happened. Just look at the difference this is making out on the field. They are tough, they're strong and best of all, they're fast. But please, Tommie no more dancing. You are not and will never be a Baryshnikov.
If I had been the guy opposite Brown, I'd have stopped the game and run out to the local sporting goods store for a fishing net. Clearly that would have been the only way to contain Alex. He was everywhere making tackles, sacks, batting balls. Is there anything this player can't do and do well? And I think that Ogunleye and Brown feed off of each other. They raise the level of their play accordingly. That's very good news for the Bears.
And the added plus of this entire scenario is that the ability of the defensive line is making the linebackers even better. Their power takes some of the pressure off of Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Brian Urlacher. That reminds me of the Green Bay Packers when I was playing. The combination of that front four plus Ray Nitschke were lethal. I'd get blocked by their guys up front, then Ray would come on through. No wonder his stats were so impressive.
Turnovers and field position the keys to just about any win and once again, the Bears defense came through. Early on Brown gave the ball to the offense at the Tampa 1 for an easy score, thus giving the Bears a much-needed cushion. That momentum carried on through the game and was pivotal in the win.
The only sour note was Bobby Wade. What in the heck is going on? A total of nine fumbles this year? Good to see him finally benched, the move was overdue. There simply is not an excuse for that in any NFL contest. If he can't get the job done, somebody else will to advantage of the chance.
I give the Bears all of the credit in the world for finding a way to come out of Tampa with the win. That's what great teams do. It may be a combination of good luck and skill, but the W is there in the record books and for that alone this team has earned our respect.
Despite the success, I think it's very premature to even be thinking Super Bowl for Chicago at this point, as there are a lot of offensive improvements yet to be made. The unit could take a step forward by blowing out a bad Green Bay team.
The Bears have scored 13 points in their last two games, but those outputs were against two of the best defenses in the league. Now it's time to take advantage of the Packers as they have the Bears in previous years.
Mike Pyle played for the Bears from 1961-69, including a Pro Bowl selection following the '63 season.