Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011Posted: 11:04 a.m.
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
The Bears schedule is a little nastier this year because of their winning the NFC North. The obvious rough opening three games Atlanta, New Orleans, Green Bay has been well chronicled.
Actually, its worse than you thought.
All three (Falcons, Saints, Packers) ranked in the top 11 for points per game. The Saints (No. 3) and Falcons (No. 4) were among the elite at keeping their quarterbacks un-sacked; the Packers didnt protect Aaron Rodgers as well as that, but the Packers seemed to manage just fine anyway. Green Bay and New Orleans ranked in the top 10 for yardage.
The Bears ranked no better than 21st in any of those departments.
But then it gets even more surly.
The Falcons (fifth), Saints (seventh) and Packers (second) all stand among the NFLs defensive elite as well. The Bears were fourth in scoring defense but ninth in yards allowed vs. Green Bays No. 5 and New Orleans No. 4.
Just to be clear...
The Bears offer to running back Matt Forte wasnt enough to get Forte to nod OK. But the Bears are not closing any doors even though GM Jerry Angelo told ChicagoBears.com that there are no current plans for negotiations before the end of the season.
And Angelo was explicit long-term: We want to have Matt play his entire career as a Bear. That was our intent when we started negotiations.
Reasonable assumption, but...
Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com has the Bears finishing out of the playoffs. Thats a very reasonable conclusion and Mike is among the best at assessing league-wide situations.
But as Mike said Wednesday on his 10 a.m. check-in with Dan McNeil and Matt Spiegel on WSCR-AMs The NcNeil and Spiegel Show one of his and others fundamental underlying assumptions is that the Green Bay Packers have to be the pick to win the NFC North. They won the Super Bowl and theyre getting a lot of injured guys back.
But Ive gone the other direction and picked the Bears to win the division again, in part because of the last 10 Super Bowl winners, only four have even won their division the following year. Life and the NFL dont always go in the straight line they look to be following.
As for specific Bears issues, Mike said he was concerned about the offensive line as a work in progress. Thats significant if the defense has trouble winning games for them early. And Mike admitted to the feeling shared by a lot of Bears fans last year.
I just feel they got lucky in early 2010 and the defense carried them through a lot of those games.
Well see. Mikes not alone in his take here. I do have a hard time seeing lucky getting you to 11 wins, though. Guess thats why they play the games.
If you wondered whether fourth preseason games matter and teams pay attention to who does what, the Bears replenished their fullback larder Wednesday with the signing of jumbo blocking back Tyler Clutts from the practice squad of the Cleveland Browns the Bears opponent in that fourth warmup game.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.