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Bears only have one side, and it’s a fun side

Updated: January 23, 2014 6:22AM



The idea that the Bears are playing a game of import this late in the season seems almost beyond comprehension. With such a horrible defense? Well, yes, actually.

Offense is performance art in the NFL these days, all speed painting and riotous colors. Defense is the canvas, passive and accepting. Defenders sit there with a blank look and say hello to Antonio Brown, A.J. Green and all the other brilliant colors.

I know what I’m about to say is heretical in Chicago, where linebackers emerged from the primordial ooze and the ’85 Bears (genuflect) were defensive monsters, but . . . I . . . I . . . I kind of like this brand of lopsided football.

I’m looking forward to Sunday night’s Bears game in Philadelphia because I know the Eagles’ defense is compliant, too. It figures to be a shootout between Chip Kelly’s frenetic offense and Marc Trestman’s precision offense.

Think of it as a guilty pleasure until the Bears can rebuild their defense.

If a team is going to be imbalanced, let it be in imbalanced in favor of the offense. It’s much more entertaining this way, and the chances of success for a team are greater in a league that heavily rewards the side with the ball. Some Chicagoans never knew what offense looked like until this season. Now that they’ve seen it, they have a better understanding of what all the fuss was about. The forward pass sure is something!

We saw what a good defense could do under former coach Lovie Smith, and although it could be thrilling at times, the total package wasn’t. I’m referring to Rex Is Our Quarterback Grossman and the cast of would-be and never-in-a-million-years-could-be quarterbacks they had on their roster over the years.

I’ll take ‘‘Fun Offenses’’ for 500 yards, Alex. Anytime.

That the Bears were able to get to this point without quarterback Jay Cutler for an extended period is a major shock. That they were able to get to this point without a defense is something much less than that. Static electricity, maybe.

No defense is no problem in the NFL. Or at least it doesn’t matter nearly as much as offense does.

NFL rules favor offense. Wide receivers are allowed to run free. Quarterbacks are protected like museum art. Defensive players are confused about what constitutes a legal hit.

That’s how the NFL ended up with 763 points last Sunday, a one-day record.

Maybe we should just get it over with and have virtual defenses.

The Eagles and Bears are a lot alike. Both are 8-6 and in first place in their respective divisions. Both could use a victory to improve their playoff chances. But more to the point(s): The Eagles rank second in the league in total offense, the Bears seventh. The Eagles rank 30th in total defense, the Bears 27th.

The Bears’ defense not only has been bad at tackling, it hasn’t been good at forcing turnovers, which it did with regularity under Smith. Add it up, and you have one of the worst units in the league.

But there is lots of anticipation any time the Bears’ offense runs onto the field. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the best receiver tandem in the league. Martellus Bennett, a fantastic combination of blocking and receiving. Matt Forte, as versatile a running back as there is. And the continuing adventures of Cutler.

Something has to give Sunday, and it will, often.

The NFL took advantage of flex scheduling to move this game into prime time. NBC will get two high-wattage offenses and two cover-your-eyes defenses. If this were baseball, it would be batting practice.

What was supposed to be a day game will be a night game because the Bears matter — an incredible development considering they were without their starting quarterback for five weeks and without their defense for 15 weeks and counting.

And yet here the Bears are.

Flexed.

That’s a tribute to Trestman and his offense, second-string quarterback Josh McCown, a group of players who refused to look at the facts and a league that wants scoring rather than defense.

It’s also a tribute to Kelly. A college coach shouldn’t be able to come into the NFL and kick butt. He should have to pay dues and learn lessons. But Kelly’s offense has been nothing but a rousing success.

Two months ago, the concept of changing the schedule to allow more viewers to watch the Bears and Eagles sounded like some sort of cruel punishment. Now it just sounds fun.



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