Pyle Ponders: A Complete Team

Well, what do you know? The Bears are finally a team. And in football, which of all sports is the true team game, this is an incredibly important step.

While it was far from a perfect game against the Packers, overall things are finally coming together for the Bears. What I noticed most of all was a synergy making the whole much more than the sum of the parts. If any of the individuals with the Bears had been playing for other teams, they wouldn't have done nearly as well. But in playing together, they made things happen. That's what you tend to see in a playoff caliber team.

The other factor that I noticed was that the Bears have a winning attitude. During the first half, the Packers kicked the Bears to hell and back. They had 200 yards on them after the first two quarters. But the Bears finally became an opportunistic team, coming back right back after halftime and taking advantage of everything that came their way. They created the ingredients for a win.

An example: The Packers had a 15-play drive in the second half that they should have scored on. Chicago's defense stepped up and Green Bay couldn't get it done. Then the Bears came right back with a three play drive for 7 points. The momentum turned around. Right then and there, I instantly thought, "The Packers are dead meat."

You aren't going to find any better two-minute quarterback then Brett Favre. The guy is the consummate professional who just never quits. When he had his team on the move right at the end of the game, things were a little shaky for the Bears. Again, Chicago was opportunistic with the two sacks that stopped Green Bay right in their tracks. Terry Johnson and Alex Brown weren't going to let the game get away. Synergy and opportunism, pure and simple.

The Packers, back when I played, always had this attitude that there was no way they would lose a game at home. I remember one of my football idols, Willie Davis, who was an outstanding player for Green Bay. If by chance the Packers would be behind during the second half, the guy would whine-to his teammates, to the refs, to anybody within earshot. He couldn't stand the thought of losing. The entire team was that way.

If we were ahead of them near the end of a game, they just knew that they could win-and they often did just that. And that attitude right now is what I am seeing from the Bears defense. The game might be close with the opponent moving down the field, but the Bears simply won't allow that momentum shift to happen. That's great football.

I liked the way the offense of the Bears started to mix things up. The unexpected was happening more often than not. Rex Grossman starting with a deep pass. That approach was surprisingly effective. I could just see the Packers defensive coordinator back on his heels rethinking his game plan after that one. I just wish the Bears wouldn't look so surprised when things go right.

Bernard Berrian and Grossman have brought another dimension into the Bears offense. They can spread out the field and get things going. I know Berrian is coming back from a thumb injury, but at least he's in the mix right now and the production is impressive. And don't forget Thomas Jones, Muhsin Muhammad, and Adrian Peterson. They were all in there and playing well.

Grossman was surprisingly good even with some inaccuracies every now and then. I was surprised when he came in last week just how strong he was. This week there were some misses, but he is progressing and clearly improving with game time. I'm not sure that other teams know how to defend against him just yet which is very good for Chicago. From the time he took his first snap against Atlanta, he changed the dynamics of the Bears offense and the results have been obvious.

I was somewhat concerned with the reports that Lovie Smith planned to rest some of the offensive players against the Vikings next week. Don't forget that the Vikings don't like the Bears. Don't even think of leaving Rex alone out there.

The offensive line, excellent work. They're dynamic, smart and at least so far, relatively healthy. It's easy to see how different things are with that unit this year as opposed to last season. At last, the quarterback has time to make his decision and you can see what a difference that makes.

As a former center myself, I can't say enough about Olin Kreutz. That guy is tough. He got hurt then came right back into the game. He's not one to complain and you can be sure he'll be in for every play as long as he's able to stand up.

Lance Briggs. A Pro Bowl pick and a well deserved one. As Doug Buffone played in the shadow of Dick Butkus, Briggs is in a similar situation with Brian Urlacher.

The secondary? Marvelous. If they can stay healthy, they'll be a force for years.

Where the Bears will go from here is hard to predict. Remember, they are still ranked 29th overall in league offense and 31st in passing. It's hard to go deep into the playoffs with those stats but those numbers are misleading with Grossman now leading the offense.

I just don't know how far they will go. Their components for success are in place but there are some tough teams out there. Whatever happens, I think they will be even better next year. For this year, a home playoff game and a week off is a definite advantage. I don't foresee see a repeat of what happened in 2001 where the Eagles came in and beat up on the Bears at Soldier Field.

Again, it's the matter of synergy and opportunism. The Bears have a winning attitude and they are finding ways to get the job done. It's fun to watch right now and I think the future is bright for years to come.


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