Chicago Sun-Times

SI's King puts Bears in royal company in power rankings

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Peter King doesn't like the Bears' acquisition of Jay Cutler.

He loves it.

Weighing in this morning in his Monday Morning Quarterback segment for Sports Illustrated, King lists the Bears fourth in his post-free agency, post-draft power rankings.

Fourth.

That's a major step up in class for a team that has not reached the playoffs the last two seasons and has struggled with consistency on defense. The Bears missed the playoffs last season because they couldn't hold big leads in several games, and couldn't come up with key plays in some big games down the stretch--see Minnesota and Houston as examples. Few people doubt that Cutler is going to energize the Bears' offense, but it's pretty much the same characters on defense, one that slumped again in 2008 and led to a shakeup on the coaching staff.

But King points out that the Bears did well in three key statistical categories--yards per rush, turnovers and yards per pass. The Bears were also pretty solid on third down, ranking fifth in the league. But as the old saying goes, figures lie and liars figure. The defense may not have given up the big runs or the big passes, but it couldn't get off the field at critical times and you cannot come up with a single statistic to mask what was an abysmal pass rush. The Bears blitzed more than any team in the league, a lot of them run blitzes to help out a front that couldn't stop the run on its own. The Bears succeeded vs. the run because they stacked an eighth defender in the box. They struggled stopping the pass because of it. They didn't give up the deep ball often because that is what the Tampa Two stops. They did get picked apart by short passing attacks.

The bottom line is the Bears have reason to be optimistic, though, and King certainly has lofty expectations for them. Here is what he says:

4. Chicago


I may not like how Jay Cutler babied his way out of Denver, but by Labor Day, the football world will have forgotten, and by Thanksgiving, the most popular baby name in Chicagoland will be Jay. (Unless it's Jerry, as in Angelo, the man who stuck his neck out and made this deal.) Cutler's a big-time player, and I suspect we'll find out over the next few years if he has nerves of steel and can win the big game.
Now, there's two things we don't know about Cutler and this offense. There's not a great receiver in the house and no promise of one on the way (Angelo should have guaranteed Torry Holt more money to get him to come to the Windy City). So Cutler's going to have to make do with the Devin Hesters and Rashied Davises, apparently. (Not that there's anything wrong with Hester. But he should be a third receiver, using his speed to game-break.)

Two: How good of a leader can Cutler be, coming in with the knock that he chafes on some teammates. It'll be interesting to see if he meshes well with Brian Urlacher; I don't take for granted that he will. Because of the Cutler factor and because I don't love the defense the way I did two or three years ago, I didn't want to leap the Bears over so many other teams. But then I went back and looked at their 2008 numbers. The bedrock stats for a good defense, I've always thought, are opponents yards per rush, turnovers forced and opponents' yards per pass. The yards per rush, 3.4, was excellent, third-best in the league. Turnovers forced, 32, was very good, second in the league. And yards per pass play by foes, 6.20, was eighth in the league. All good. If Cutler can lead an offense that puts up 400 points, only a point and a fraction more than a year ago, the Bears should win 12.

For what it's worth, King ranks Green Bay next in the NFC North at 14th. Minnesota follows at No. 15.

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20 Comments

Pretty lofty expectations.

I hope the Bears don't let it get to their egos and heads with them thinking that all they need to do is step onto the field and the game is over with a Bears win. They had that mentality the last two years. The old philosophy of "finishing the games" playing every minute of a 60 minute game at 100% has to exist for the Bears to make it deep into the playoffs or even yes, win the SuperBowl. WOW what a thought.

Holes to fill in the pass rush, SAM coverage in passing downs, Free Safety play, pass coverage with slants, tight ends catching the ball everywhere that allows ball control by the opposing offense have to be corrected. Better coaching and play calling is also a necessity if you recall Carolina, Minnesota, Atlanta and Tampa Bay losses of a year ago where clearly the Bears were in the position to win but alas did not. With one of those a win last year it would have been a playoff year, but truly the Bears did not deserve it, nor did they have the heart of a champion.

However, 2009 is a brand new year, the Bears may come out of hibernation and make every team they play feel like they were just destroyed by a group of Marines with one intent and that is to not only win but totally dominate the other team as the 85 Bears did so convincingly.

But until that happens lets just assume that the 2009 Bears will have to earn the right to be considered a team even remotely as good and certainly not a team that at this point could carry the 85 Bears jock straps.

I believe that if this team can get the chip on the shoulder attitude they used to have, they could be very special.

I do believe they can achieve greatness but do they believe and are they committed? We will truly find out.

Go Bears, Chicago deserves another championship and why not make it be you?

Well if the offense could have sustained some drives last year to keep the defense rested lots of stats could have changed. I think with Lovie taking the helms this season, and with Cutler on offense everything will be better.Babich always had the players playing out of possition, and never to their strenghts. I just wanted to say thanks Brad for doing this blog. It deffinatly gives Bears fans something to read when there is no football on.

Just goes to show how the media loves stats and doesn't get it...lmao

The rush stats were low because teams passed against the Bears, didn't need to run. The defense faced only 4 teams with a top 10 rushing offense. All of those teams out ran the defenses ypg. avg. except for Tennessee and Atlanta, but Tennessee threw for 284 yards., Atlanta threw for 301. Minnesota torched the Bears rush defense and Carolina ran for more than the season ypg., but it was only week 2.
The yards per pass was low because teams threw underneath ALL DAY LONG...LOL They may have been held for short yardage, according to King, but he failed to mention all the first downs the defense gave up...lol
The defense was 23rd giving up first downs, 13th in rushing first downs and 30th against the pass. Where the stats are even more skewed is 3rd. down %, they ranked 5th., but that fails to show how many first downs they gave up on first down, and more importantly; when it was 2nd. down.
So King can take his stats and shove them. The guys doesn't really know a teams strength or weakness, he watches highlights and looks at the stat sheet.....lol

Just goes to show how the media loves stats and doesn't get it...lmao

The rush stats were low because teams passed against the Bears, didn't need to run. The defense faced only 4 teams with a top 10 rushing offense. All of those teams out ran the defenses ypg. avg. except for Tennessee and Atlanta, but Tennessee threw for 284 yards., Atlanta threw for 301. Minnesota torched the Bears rush defense and Carolina ran for more than the season ypg., but it was only week 2.
The yards per pass was low because teams threw underneath ALL DAY LONG...LOL They may have been held for short yardage, according to King, but he failed to mention all the first downs the defense gave up...lol
The defense was 23rd giving up first downs, 13th in rushing first downs and 30th against the pass. Where the stats are even more skewed is 3rd. down %, they ranked 5th., but that fails to show how many first downs they gave up on first down, and more importantly; when it was 2nd. down.
So King can take his stats and shove them. The guys doesn't really know a teams strength or weakness, he watches highlights and looks at the stat sheet.....lol

Also, offenses making a defense tired is one of the most overused and flatout wrong statements when it comes to football.
The stats are there to prove so. Why wasn't Tamapa's defense struggling, or the Ravens when they didn't have offense. I could go on futher. Also, the players looked out of positions because they don't play smart. The defense hasn't looked any different since Lovie took over, and I'm not blaming anyone in particular. It was the same when Rivera was coaching. The only reason they looked good in prior years, soft schedule. Against top offenses in the league, they've never played a solid, shut-down type of game. The weaknesses and issues have been the same prior to the superbowl. Only difference now, no pass rush at all, and offenses have made the proper adjustment to attack the lack of talent on the defense. The film desn't lie.

ahhhh....teh bears should be raked #1!!! we have CUTLER and the BEST GM iN THE WORLD>>>ANGELO!!! loosers i allredey put cutler on my team in madden ans i played on rookie mode ans went 16-0 ans won teh superbowel!!! so taths waht will hapen for teh '09 bears!!! but waht can i say ive been a fan of da bears for as long as i can remeber ans allwas say good things abot teh team...not like some of you FAIR WETHER FANS who allways say negitive things abot teh bears!!! you suport teh theam feelas..thru thivck ans thin!


but you guys now me...er i mean you dont now me...we never met! (shhh..shh its your old buddy...im going undercover sense brando is so mean to me ans i am affraid of him!)

ps somtimes i sniff my own doo-doo ans my mom hits me with a newspaper befoer i can eat it....ans i HATE it!!!!!

Yards per pass does not mean much if you can't stop the pass. If a team throws the ball twice as much as it runs the ball and has a completion percentage of 50%, then you would be gaining 12.4 yards every three downs with a 6.2 yard per pass. King does not seem to realize the Bears gave up the short pass to stop the run by stacking the box with thier mug up look. Numbers are great and can give you an idea of what is going on with a team but unless you watch the games to see how they got those numbers you don't really know how good or bad a team is.

Ranking the Bears 4th seems a little high, I think 5th or 6th would probably be a better spot. I would put the Bears right in thier with the Eagles, I think he ranked the Titans a bit low at 10 and Dallas was way to high as well as Indy who are on the decline. Arizona, Carolina and Houston all deserve better spots.

Pittsburgh
New England (How can they win without McDaniels? Hahahaha)
Arizona (Not sure how he had Arizona rated so low, they did look good in the Super Bowl and they have not gotten worse)
Tennessee
Philadelphia
Chicago
San Diego
Carolina
Baltimore
Houston (This is a team to watch)
Atlanta (Will continue to improve)
Indianapolis

Yards per pass does not mean much if you can't stop the pass. If a team throws the ball twice as much as it runs the ball and has a completion percentage of 50%, then you would be gaining 12.4 yards every three downs with a 6.2 yard per pass. King does not seem to realize the Bears gave up the short pass to stop the run by stacking the box with thier mug up look. Numbers are great and can give you an idea of what is going on with a team but unless you watch the games to see how they got those numbers you don't really know how good or bad a team is.

Ranking the Bears 4th seems a little high, I think 5th or 6th would probably be a better spot. I would put the Bears right in thier with the Eagles, I think he ranked the Titans a bit low at 10 and Dallas was way to high as well as Indy who are on the decline. Arizona, Carolina and Houston all deserve better spots.

Pittsburgh
New England (How can they win without McDaniels? Hahahaha)
Arizona (Not sure how he had Arizona rated so low, they did look good in the Super Bowl and they have not gotten worse)
Tennessee
Philadelphia
Chicago
San Diego
Carolina
Baltimore
Houston (This is a team to watch)
Atlanta (Will continue to improve)
Indianapolis

Our D was gashed most of last year. It's wait and see time. I don't know if the D line can rebound. I don't know if the secondary will cover anyone. I'd guess the D line doesn't improve, and the secondary improves slightly...because the D line doesn't improve. I don't like it. I like that the right positions were addressed in the draft, but I don't see immediate impact. Love what has been done with the offense, but this D might just be passed its prime. Hope I'm dead wrong.

Anonymous,

The bad spelling leads me to one conclusion Creighton has gone into hiding because he won't MAN UP.

Come on Creighton no one put those words in your mouth and now you won't acknowledge that you wrote it. Just man up then you can come out of hiding. I don't always agree with you but I like your support of the Bears. So get it over with and we can all move on.

Post it on YouTube or give to Brad to prove you did it. No I won't fly in to see you spank yourself. But a tatoo on your forehead in support of JA would be nice.

We want poor speller Creighton back but he can't post until he makes good. Make good Creighton.

As someone who has hijacked ownership and whined and sulked his way to extortionate contracts, Urlacher will have no issues with Cutler. I'm guessing they will be sharing notes. In fact, most athletes will agree with Cutler: hey, if your boss doesn't value him, screw him. You don't own him a thing. Pro football players can all agree on one thing: it's us against the team.

I believe last year the experts had the Patriots beating the Cowboys, or the other way around. Don't put much stock in this.

Nicely put, David. As far as Peter King's assertion that the Bears will win 12 games though, I couldn't agree more. But I don't agree for the same reasons.

When I think back to the Bears offense in the first half of '06, they weren't beating opponents, they were destroying them by huge margins. They were able to embarass their opponent's defenses because they had an excellent running game and a QB that threw an accurate deep ball. However, once teams realized Grossman's weakness was his inability to throw accurately to his short and intermediate routes if he had to move, the gig was up.

Jay Cutler does NOT have this problem. His athleticism allows him to escape pressure AND throw accurately on the run. But I feel it's his accurate deep ball, or more specifically the THREAT of his accurate deep ball, that's going to most directly affect the Bears this season.

After Matt Forte absolutely embarassed the Colts D in their brand new stadium during last season's first Sunday Night Football game, D-Coordinators realized if they didn't put 8 or 9 guys in the box on virtually every play, Forte was gonna kill 'em. A season later, enter Jay Cutler. No D-Coordinator in his right mind is gonna put 8 guys in the box anymore, unless it's short yardage or goal-line. They can't. They simply can not justify having 8 guys in the box with Olsen and Hester threatening deep.

Now, Forte becomes far more effective and breaks bigger runs and also will be fresher with Kevin Jones fully recovered from his knee injury and spotting him far more often than last year. This offense is dangerous short, intermediate and deep; both in the pass and the run. I believe Dan Patrick said it best; you can't stop them, you can only hope to contain them.

I've been wrong before, but I think the Bears will have a top 5 offense this season. That may sound like pie in the sky to some, but I think the Bear's D also plays perfectly into this as well. If there's one thing a Lovie Smith defense can do, it's create turnovers. And the more opportunities this offense gets, the more points they're gonna rack up. This will force many opponents to be one-dimensional as they take greater risks just to try and keep up.

I guess when I look at the '09 Bears I see a synergistic effect, where the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts, because each part compliments the others very well.

wish Peter king better health, but SI is way over-rated.Dr. Z had the Bears listed as one of the worst teams before their Super-bowl run. Can't wait to hush the nay-sayers!

Wow. We didn't make number 1. What does King know? We should be number 1.

I'll go back to my kool-aid now...

I can fantasize with the best of them -- OK, I have been ever since the Bears got Cutler and Pace -- but let's get real. The Bears still 1) haven't fixed the interior of their offensive line (no one knows if Omilaye will be a good run blocker, the book on him is that he's more of a pass blocker), 2) have no receivers for Cutler to throw the ball to, and 3) have done nothing except change coaches to fix their defense (rookies don't count, they're unknowns and usually don't contribute much their first years). One thing King is right about is that the Bears probably didn't do enough to get Torry Holt, though we'll never know (Orlando Pace said that he wanted to play in warm weather, so maybe there was no chance of him going to Chicago).

That all said, the Bears are certainly a significantly better team on paper than they were last year, and should be better on the field, too. But in order to be a serious Super Bowl contender you have to have a good defense and interior offensive line at the very least, and the Bears might not have either.

The NFL is a passing league and the bears finally have a QB that strikes fear in the other team. The Bears WRs will look much better with a QB that can make all the throws and escape pressure to open up big plays. This in turn will make the run game more potent.
it will also cause the D to spend less time on the field. that along with a few personnel moves and better coaching will turn the d from a liability to solid. I love the Bears chances this year.

How much can one read into the ranking anyway? C'mon he has the Pats at #1 just because Brady is returning. One year removed from a season ending injury and not having thrown any passes at all. He has called Brady everything short of God. I hate Peter King for that very reason. It is as if Belichick, Brady can never do anything wrong. Nauseating! What do the Pats have on PK that he praises them to no end? And just to prove how brown-nosed he is, he moves into Boston!
Although the Bears have added new weapons as people pointed out Offense is anyone's guess and the D have to step up for the Bears to be considered serious contenders. Cautiously optimistic. Go Bears!!!

Brad,

Is there anyway you can ask Lovie if he has any idea how to stop the slant pattern that KILLED the Bears last year? How is he going to stop that? Because until he does opposing offenses are going to be able to stay on the field. I believe i read somewhere that stopping the slant isn't a high priority for Lovie.

Remember that Dr. Z picked the Bears as the worst team in the NFL in 2005. Noone had the Steelers even getting to the playoffs with that schedule last year. Predictions generally suck, and are generally wrong. BUT I AM HOPEFUL!!

I like Dahlillamas first post, and it brings up a good point. The "chip on the shoulder" attitude needs to be on the coach, and it needs to start day 1 of training camp. It can't be built up in Training camp, it must be day 1. The motivation is there. The same players that wrecked havok throughout the league in 05 and 06 have been called has beens the last two years, and everyone now thinks they are the weak link of the team.

I think they are capable of being a top 10 defense, and this year, that is all the Bears will need to win 12 games. But that is pretty much the same thing King said in his rankings. Even thinking that happens, I still think Philly, Atlanta, the Giants, and probably the Cards are still better in the NFC. But Ditka used to say "just take care of your division, and everything will fall into place." And that is a great fact. Just be better than anyone else in the division, get into the dance, and maybe you get hot at the right time.

Go Bears!!

Ryan:

Amen, the chip on the shoulder is absolutely what they need from day 1, like they had in 2005 and 2006.

The pride seemed to be with the defense that no team was going to dominate them and most teams didn't. But that chip and the intensity have been absent the last two years. The intensity of going a full 60 minutes at 100% seems to have been gone the last two years. Too many lapses with the players and the coaches have not gotten it done either.

It is Lovie's team and Lovie needs to be held responsible for the Bears performance. And in my opinion this team should have been a playoff team the last two years and they weren't. Angelo has provided the talent albeit without top QB until the Cutler trade, but regardless the team has not performed to their level of talent. The D has been a huge failure the last two years.

If the Bears don't do well this year at least 10-6 and go deep into the playoffs then maybe it is time to find a coach that can keep the team motivated the full 60. Lovie has it in him to get this team back on track, we will see?

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on May 11, 2009 12:12 PM.

Four Down Territory, May 11: Pisa Tinoisamoa a good fit for Lovie's D was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears reel in blocking tight end Michael Gaines is the next entry in this blog.

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