For days, the Bears have taken the field in Bourbonnais amid outside pressure and high expectations. It’s no secret that people are excited about this year’s team, more so because last season ended with such sudden disappointment. And while many have likely stored last season’s woes deeper in the back of their minds than say, Derrick Rose’s injury, it’s difficult not to remember when you see the pieces of this year’s puzzle seemingly coming together.
Of course, the biggest piece of that puzzle is quarterback Jay Cutler, who is making his return after a season-ending thumb injury last season. Now that he’s healthy, fans hope he stays that way, sparing them from another brutal Caleb Hanie-like experiment. But fans should feel a lot more comfortable this year, as new backup quarterback Jason Campbell has proven himself in camp, not allowing an interception thus far.
Wednesday, both Cutler and Campbell participated in short-yardage passing plays, with third and fourth stringers Josh McCown and Matt Blanchard getting reps as well. Cutler showed poise and control in the pocket throughout practice, but especially during seven-on-seven drills. The seven-on-seven demonstrated the newfound depth on this Bears offense. Brandon Marshall helps open up the field and takes pressure off of other receivers, making it easier for Cutler to find his targets.
And while camp is only the starting point of a very long season, it was obvious that the additions of Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Michael Bush will only make the offense better and more versatile. Bush has shown strength and power as a runner, and hopefully will be the ideal third-down running back, allowing Matt Forte some rest.
The Bears have always been known as a defensive team, but that may be changing with this new-regime offense. In the offseason, the front office placed obvious emphasis on improving the offense, which is interesting considering the aging veterans on the defensive line. Brian Urlacher, who injured his knee in the final game of last season, is 34 years old. He didn’t practice today, but likely was just taking a breather as he’s said he’s completely healthy going into this season. However, the defense may be in need of an overhaul in the coming years. Many believe that if the defense can keep it together this year, the Bears may have a shot at the Super Bowl.
But again, all eyes will be on the offense when the Bears take the field Sept. 9 against the Colts. While they have shown some flashes of brilliance in training camp, it is just that – training camp. The offense needs this time to gel and work out the kinks, and if they establish a good plan of attack these next few weeks, you may see the Bears in the playoffs come January.
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