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Bears appeared to be promising team, but now we’re not so sure

Quarterback Jay Cutler says Bears still have some communicatiproblems offense. | AP

Quarterback Jay Cutler says the Bears still have some communication problems on offense. | AP

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The makers of Madden NFL 13 obviously haven’t seen the Bears’ offense during the preseason.

Simulation results for the EA Sports game have the Bears beating out the Packers on tiebreakers for the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 12-4 record. The Patriots earned the top seed in the AFC at 12-4.

Updated: September 29, 2012 6:14AM

The Bears are a good team.

The Bears are a good team?

That’s where Chicago is on the topic of its NFL franchise right now, somewhere between declarative sentence and question, between knowing and unknowing, between confidence and God help us all.

In a word, adrift.

None of us should be swept up in the preseason swirl of concern, which is as predictable as candy corn at Halloween. We should know better from experience. But here I am, shaking my head, wondering how the Bears are supposed to beat the Vikings, let alone the Packers, with the issues they have now. I sense your kinship in this matter.

Jay Cutler is talking about communication problems on offense, which would be fine if the season weren’t starting in less than two weeks. The offensive line looks average at best, the way it has for years. Trust me, somebody will call the O-line ‘‘a work in progress.’’ Just remember, though, that Adam Sandler’s ‘‘That’s My Boy’’ was a work in progress at some point, too.

Then there’s Brian Urlacher’s knee. Who knows what’s going on with that, other than the fact he now can spell ‘‘MCL’’ in English and German.

The Bears are a 10-6 team.

The Bears are a 10-6 team?

Coach Lovie Smith, you’ll be shocked to learn, says everything and everybody is going to be OK. That includes Urlacher, who Smith says will be ready for the opener against the Colts, even though the 34-year-old linebacker hasn’t practiced since July 31, also known as ‘‘since forever.’’

I think the Bears will be a good team in 2012, but I used to know that for sure. They were 7-3 last season before Cutler hurt his thumb. They finished 8-8 because former general manager Jerry Angelo was under the impression a No. 2 quarterback wasn’t necessary. Now the Bears have a legitimate backup in Jason Campbell. Did I mention Campbell struggled with his accuracy Friday against the Giants?

Now we come to Charles Tillman. It wasn’t just that the Giants torched him; it was that Eli Manning picked on him the way he would a rookie. This is what the preseason does to you: It plants doubts. Did Tillman simply have a bad (meaningless) game or, at 31, is he starting a downward slide as a cornerback?

You can see I’m fighting myself here. There’s always uncertainty and confusion in the preseason, especially in Chicago, where Bears angst is part of one’s being, along with arms, legs and eye paint. But this seems bigger than that.

Matt Forte hasn’t looked too hot, but no running back would behind that blocking. The most frustrating part about watching the Bears is knowing the team should have addressed the offensive line during the offseason but didn’t. And now we’re wondering once again whether Cutler will
be standing by the end of the season.

Smith likely would interrupt this fretting by pointing to the scoreboard, the one that indicates the Bears actually beat the Giants 20-17 in the game that has caused so much hand-wringing in town. And I’m almost positive he would mention the Giants are the defending Super Bowl champions.

He would be right. But, as we all know, logic and correct answers have no place at this time of year, not when a team is going either 16-0 or 0-16.

The one star has been Brandon Marshall, who we’re told has the ability to read Cutler’s mind on the field. So if Jay is thinking, ‘‘I hope the baby sleeps through the night,’’
Marshall will know and adjust his route.

Will Marshall be reliable this season, on and off the field? That’s the idea. Whether it’s the reality,
we’ll see.

It seems like yesterday I was convinced the Bears would be a very good team this season. What has changed? Urlacher’s situation, most notably. He hurt his knee almost nine months ago, and it’s still an issue. That’s part of why the freak-out factor is so high. You’re supposed to ignore his recent arthroscopic surgery. While you’re at it, pay no attention to the mushroom cloud over there.

This is a Bears town, and it can swing from Super Bowl-cocky to panicked beyond belief in a matter of minutes. Right now, it’s somewhere in the middle.

The Bears are a playoff team.

The Bears are a playoff team?

I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow.

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