Seriously, was there anything more confounding than a franchise in the year 2010 hiring Chan Gailey? Oh. That same franchise hiring Dick Jauron. Fair enough.
Today didn't teach us anything we didn't already know. It probably didn't change your perception of the 2010 Bears at all. Those of us that think this team is more than capable of making the playoffs in a year where mediocrity abounds saw a team that played well defensively and ground out a win on offense against a team that has pushed three straight five win teams to the brink. Others will bemoan a 3 point win against a winless team and continue to forecast doom on the horizon. That's fine.
This game played out pretty much as I expected. The offense continues to be a work in progress, but, while I won't praise them for playing Bear football and maintaining a 50-50 pass-run ratio (because it's pointless when you can't run), they were smart to slow things down and simply avoid turnovers. I've bitched about balance the last two games just like everyone else, but, as a proponent of the pass, I meant more of a 60-40 ratio or even 65-35. Just not 80-20. They need to give Forte more than 8 carries simply to keep Cutler alive. They don't need to run him and Taylor 24 times for 62 yards. The best chance this team has to score points is to throw the ball. They just need to work in a few runs to keep the defense honest. Hopefully they can learn to adjust the gameplan based on how opponents play them during games, rather than stubbornly stick to a preconceived plan of attack, which is what I think they've done for at least the last few weeks.
But, they won, and I was happy with the way in which they did it. You can bitch all you want about playing like this against Buffalo, but the thing I've learned this year is that the Bears are just as capable of beating Buffalo 22-19 as they are of beating the New York Jets 22-19. They do nothing but ugly, and like it or not, they've uglied their way to a victory in 5 of 8 contests this year. Next week they get Minnesota at home, and only a fool would tell you the Vikings aren't beatable. The Bears then go to Miami, where the Dolphins are winless and will struggle to run the ball against Chicago's front 7. They rest of the schedule (Eagles, Lions, Patriots, Vikings, Jets, Packers) consists of teams that, if Cleveland's curbstomping of the Patriots is any indication, are certainly not locks in either category. So...we'll see.
Jay Cutler: The numbers aren't impressive, but he did everything he had to do to move the chains, avoid the sacks and interceptions, and managed to get this offense past the evasive 21 point threshold. If Cutler can lead this team to 21 points or more the rest of the way, this team will be in the playoffs. I guarantee it.
The Defense: Yeah, I'd have appreciated it if they could have gotten a few more sacks and ended some drives faster than they did, but Fitzpatrick's 299 yards look less impressive when you note that it took 51 attempts to get there (5.9 YPA) and they forced 3 turnovers. That'll do. The stout run defense held Buffalo to just 46 yards rushing and is now allowing just 83 YPG in that category. If they can keep that kind of effort up against Minnesota and Adrian Peterson next week, you'll see the old Dongslinger just having fun out there and piling up interception after interception.
Izzie Idonijie: Technically part of the defense, yes, but he deserves a shoutout for continuing to take advantage of being the guy opposite of Julius Peppers. He only had half a sack to show for it today, but he was a menace in the backfield all game long.
Earl Bennett: He's been excellent as the slot receiver since his return from injury, and today he had 4 big catches for 52 yards and a TD. (Rick Morrissey impression: AromashoWHO?)
Tim Jennings: Nice pick. Saved the game in a big way.
Frank Omiyale: I was tempted, once again, to just throw the entire offensive line on here as usual, but today I want to single out Frank. The only sack allowed all game? Frank's guy. Cutler's fumble? Frank's guy. Two false starts, one of which helped turn the 3rd and 3 at the 4 yard line into the 3rd and 13 which became the missed Robbie Gould FG? Frank. You suck, fatty.
Tim Jennings: Yes, he was on the good, too, and his pick was huge. And yes, the Cover 2 does dictate that Jennings should allow most of the underneath stuff that he did, but Jesus, how do you allow some guy named Stevie to torch you for 145 yards?
The Fox Crew (again): Jesus. "Here's a guy who's underrated as a coach: Chan Gailey (career NFL coaching record: 18-22). In my mind I think of him as a Norv Turner type." Really? You try to think of someone positive to compare him to you and you come up with NORV TURNER?
Well, that's all for now. Go Bears!