At 6-6, the Chicago Bears 2013 season is another disappointment. Sunday’s overtime loss to the now 3-8-1 Minnesota Vikings was another low point for the team this year, and the defeat had me ready to give up on the team. The last hope for any success this season relies on the return of Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman from injury before it’s too late to win the division. But I wouldn’t count on that happening.
With almost every Bears fan ready to give up on the season, now seems like the right time to highlight what did go right this season and what Bears fans can be optimistic about in the future. So wipe all your tears away and smile Bears fans, because, despite the record, this team is awfully good in some aspects.
1. Matt Forte is having the best year of his career
I remember a lot of Bears players and beat reporters mentioning how fit and strong Matt Forte was looking during preseason practices and drills. Many of those same reporters were predicting a big season for Forte, and they couldn’t have been more right.
Forte has been the best, most consistent player on the team for most of the seasons since he was drafted in 2008, and that has been no different so far this year. Forte is currently having the best season of his career with 971 rushing yards (fifth in the NFL), seven rushing touchdowns and 445 receiving yards with four games left in the season. Forte also has four rushes of 40-plus yards, tying his career best.
Forte isn’t as flashy as the league’s other top running backs, but he’s the anchor of Chicago’s offense. While it’s great to see him so successful this year, it’s sad the Bears are only 6-6 because of it.
2. Alshon Jeffery is becoming a monster
I knew Alshon Jeffery was good, but I didn’t know he’d become this good this soon. Last season I said Jeffery would become a “major asset for this Bears’ offense,” but I had no idea he would explode with such ferocity.
He currently has better numbers than Brandon Marshall with 1,109 yards (fourth in the league), has had two 200-plus receiving yard games in a row and he shattered the Bears’ franchise record for most receiving yards in a game with 249 yards against the Vikings on Sunday.
He also went all Calvin Johnson with the following touchdown catch on Sunday:
The future looks bright for Jeffery, and paired with Brandon Marshall the Bears are not short on talent at the wide receiver position.
3. Jay Cutler was actually having a good year
Before Jay Cutler injured his groin, returned only to injure his ankle, he was having a damn good season. He threw for 1,908 yards in only eight games. Only Week 4’s game against the Detroit Lions could be labeled a “bad game.”
That’s definitely an improvement for a player who is notoriously turnover prone and whose career is riddled with numerous “bad games.”
It was looking like a year where Cutler would silence a lot of his critics, so it’s disappointing to see him sidelined and stuck with an injured and practically useless defense, but fans should feel good about Cutler’s future production if the team has the same offensive weapons next season.
4. Martellus Bennett is the receiving tight end the Bears have needed
These days a good offense almost always includes a good tight end. For the Bears, Martellus Bennett fits the bill perfectly. He’s big, has no problem catching a fast-moving football and is everything former tight end Kellen Davis is not.
Bennett currently has 545 receiving yards and five touchdown catches. Those numbers are impressive, but they would probably be even higher if Cutler wasn’t injured, especially given Cutler’s love for throwing the ball to his tight ends.
The Bears should learn from their previous mistake of letting go Greg Olsen and keep Bennett on the team for as long as possible because he is going to thrive in this system.
5. Julius Peppers is still an A-List player
The first half of the season was a rough one for defensive end Julius Peppers. He lost most of his starting fellow defensive lineman and only had two sacks in the first nine games of the season. But things have vastly improved for Peppers since then.
He’s more visible in the defense with blocked passes and has 4.5 sacks in the past five games.
Peppers has more pressure on him after all of the defensive injuries the Bears have suffered. Though his efforts haven’t been enough to improve Chicago’s horrid run defense, Peppers hasn’t stopped being an impact player.