The time is finally here, football fans. Early September means a start to classes, a last chance to enjoy the summer sun and more importantly – Chicago Bears football. Time to get out your jerseys, fly your flags proudly and break out in a rousing rendition of “Bear Down, Chicago Bears.”
The Monsters of the Midway have had a fairly quiet offseason, bringing in Roy Williams, a veteran wide receiver who enjoyed some success within the Mike Martz offense in the past, and Marion Barber, a tough running back who will provide a much-needed remedy to an ailment that plagued the Bears last season – power running in short yardage situations. Newly signed center Jason Spencer will replace the veteran Olin Kreutz. Another key departure is tight end Greg Olsen, who was traded to the Carolina Panthers on July 28. His replacement, Matt Spaeth (formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers), is a better fit for the Mike Martz offense as he is a bigger and better blocker.
Questions still remain, however. Will the offensive line play with cohesion and improve on their horrible performance last season? Can the defensive line do a better job at getting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback? Will someone step up to the plate and become a real go-to receiver? Throughout the preseason there have been no real answers to these questions, leaving many Bears fans with the familiar ‘we’ll have to wait and see’ feeling.
Despite all the lingering questions, this Bears fan is optimistic for the season at hand.
It is true that the Green Bay Packers, winners of the 2010 Super Bowl, are a very good team but the Detroit Lions, traditionally the punching bag of the NFC North, have been gaining steam and look like they could be contenders within a few years. The Bears remain, in my eyes, the second best team in the NFC North – a good enough team to secure a place in the playoffs as a wild card team.
The first three games of the season, against the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and reigning champion Packers, could go a long way in forming the shape of this team’s year. To take all three games against playoff quality teams would be a great accomplishment, and even taking two of three would be something to be proud of, but should the Bears drop two or three of the games they might be in a spot of bother.
All in all, this Bears fan predicts that the season will show the Bears to be a good but not great team. A record of 10-6 and a playoff berth as a wild card team seem to be in the cards, but football is an unpredictable sport and anything can happen. So, fellow Bears fans, let us cross our fingers and hope for the best during the 2011 season.
— Serek Hahn , Staff Reporter