MORRISSEY: Make a believer out of me, Bears
Rick Morrissey firstname.lastname@example.org | @MorrisseyCST September 28, 2013 12:54AM
Safety Major Wright returns an interception for a touchdown last Sunday against the Steelers. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Updated: October 30, 2013 6:22AM
For us Bears agnostics, for those of us who don’t know how good this 3-0 team is just yet, the giddiness around town has been a bit isolating.
When we delicately raise a question about the progress of the offense, we find ourselves in timeout, charged with communist tendencies.
The Bears have beaten two 0-3 teams (the Vikings and Steelers) and one 2-1 team (the Bengals). Now they face the 2-1 Lions in Detroit. This figures to be their toughest test yet, what with it being a division game on the road against a team with talent on both sides of the ball.
I like almost everything that new coach Marc Trestman has brought to the table. The offense is more dynamic, even though the results haven’t always been there. The defense still is making plays, even with the advanced ages of some of its players.
But I want to see more before I commit. Is that so wrong?
Please take this in the spirit it’s given: The Bears have a lot going for them, including that, aside from the Broncos and Seahawks, the NFL seems to be in a very flat cycle right now. Few teams look great. Some of the teams that
were good last season, such as the 49ers and Packers, aren’t playing so well. The Redskins are a mess. The Giants are 0-3.
Based on that alone, the Bears have every right to think they can compete.
But it still doesn’t prove how good they are. You might tell me that it’s beside the point, that 3-0 is 3-0. And you know what? You might be right.
But show me something more Sunday at Ford Field. Humor me.
It’s hard to make a case that the Bears are lucky when one of their best defensive linemen, Henry Melton, is out for the season with a torn knee ligament. And there’s a chance cornerback Charles Tillman, the one person standing between Calvin Johnson and a million receiving yards Sunday, might not play because of knee and groin injuries. If there are two injuries a cornerback doesn’t want, those probably would be 1 and 1A.
But even if luck has been on the Bears’ side, in the form of dumb penalties and bad turnovers by opponents, luck needs no apology. The Bears have had the luck of the draw schedule-wise so far, and now they’ll play a team Sunday that will be without wide receiver Nate Burleson, who caught six passes for 116 yards last Sunday. He broke his arm this week in a car accident after trying to stop a pizza from falling off a seat. (Ever get home and find the cheese piled up to one side of the box? There are times when you have to sacrifice your body to make a catch over the middle. This was one of those times.)
The Lions also will be without starting defensive end Jason Jones (knee). Running back Reggie Bush likely will play after missing the Lions’ victory against the Redskins with a sprained knee.
Now the big, bad stuff. The Bears have to figure out a way to deal with the Lions’ defensive line, specifically tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is to good manners what a sledgehammer is to a Hummel collection. He’s nasty, sometimes dirty and usually dominant. He’s not very likable. He just happens to be a hell of a football player.
The Bears’ offensive line has been very good so far, keeping Jay Cutler ‘‘clean,’’ the word of the moment in the NFL. Suh is its biggest challenge to date.
What if the Bears don’t force five turnovers on defense or run back an interception and fumble recovery for touchdowns, the way they did against the Steelers? If you’re a Bears fan, you’d love to see the opportunism continue, but how will your team fare if it doesn’t get those turnovers?
Might as well find out now rather than later.
It’s possible the turnover supply never will dry up for the Bears’ defense. I used to think that it couldn’t go on forever, but now I’m not so sure. It could be they’re just better than anybody else at making opponents look stupid.
But wouldn’t it be nice to know if the Bears can win solely on Trestman’s offense, if necessary? What a concept that would be in Chicago, where the forward pass still seems newfangled.
Then maybe I’ll be all in. In the meantime, I’ll marinate in my uncertainty. Quite possibly alone.