On Sunday the Chicago Bears traveled to Atlanta and soundly beat the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. Here are my thoughts.
In games where Jay Cutler has zero interceptions the Bears are 3-0, and in games he throws at least one the Bears are 0-3. The Chicago Bears were desperately in need of some error-free ball by their offense heading into this game, and the crew, led by Jay Cutler, delivered. At 381 yards, 1 touchdown, no interceptions and a 109 passer rating, “Good Jay” temporarily quieted his detractors in helping both Marshall and Jeffery to 100 yard games. Week-to-week Jay Cutler is the fine line between this team being a winning franchise and them being a laughing stock. Of course, it really helps to be facing a floundering team such as the Falcons. With the defense doing their job Cutler and the offense need to play more like this every week.
Many pundits and Bears fans alike were expecting this to be a much uglier game for the Bears defense. With Chicago missing all three of their starting linebackers as well as the first guy off the bench it was widely assumed that the Falcons were going to carve up the interior of the Bears injury riddled defense. Instead, what we saw was the back ups filling in quite admirably. Linebackers Khaseem Green,Darryl Sharpton and Christian Jones managed to not get their names called for the wrong reasons in this game, but what more could you ask from those three being tossed into the fire like that? The defense had their best game of the season getting consistent pressure on Ryan and harrying receivers all day. Willie Young had 2 sacks and continues to be a menace while Paea and Allen each added a sack. Kyle Fuller continued his run toward DROY with another PD and five tackles.
Atlanta had a hard time getting anything done against the Bears. Between the receivers having a serious case of the dropsies and the defense not being able to slow down the Bears offense in any way, Atlanta was doomed. Any team with aspirations of greatness needs to be able to take care of struggling teams like the Bears. Instead the Falcons have just given the Bears a hand up off the floor. Prognosis is not good going forward. Even in a division in a state of shambles like the NFCS Atlanta looks to be in trouble.
Matt Forte- With 157 yards of total offense and two touchdowns, Forte was a constant threat both rushing and receiving. It was tempting to give it to Cutler, but that felt too soon after a couple games in which he was less-than-fantastic.
Falcons receivers – With no less than seven drops Atlanta’s receiving corps did little to help Ryan win this game.
The Bears have two of their next three games on the road against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium and Green Bay at Lambeau. Before they get there they face a Dolphins team in Chicago that the rival Packers struggled to get a “W” against. I don’t particularly think the Bears should fear the Dolphins but Bears fans are justified in being extremely skeptical. The Bears offense has been Jeckyl and Hyde up to this point, and I expect them to continue to have wrinkles to iron out. That said, if the offense plays like they did yesterday the Bears can win a lot of games. The defense needs to continue to pull its end in the meantime. This Bears fan is not holding his breath until I see the offense and defense showing up in consecutive games.
Atlanta has less to be hopeful for than the Bears right now. I hope for the sake of my friends who are Falcons fans that they manage to get their act together. Hard to say how much better the game looks for the Falcons without all those drops. They likely score some more points and we have a much closer game. Atlanta is embodying the dysfunction of the NFCS as much as every other NFCS team. The Falcons have a game at Baltimore next week followed by a visit from the Detroit Lions and then mercifully, their bye-week.