How good can 2012 Bears really be?

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How good can 2012 Bears really be?

One simple truth after five games of 2012 is that underneath it all, it is still unclear just how good the Chicago Bears can be.

Not how good they are. They are 4-1 and you are what your record says you are.

But in each of the past two seasons the Bears from about this point of the year began to go inexorably up. After game five last season the Bears reeled off five straight wins, stopping only when Jay Cutler fractured his thumb. After the off week in 2011 the Bears won their next five and seven of their next eight.

A measured appraisal now is that, whereas a team like the Minnesota Vikings is very likely to have some stumbles and even a fall, the Bears on the brink of moving from good to very good.

The Bears have reached a 4-1 mark with a succession of jaw-dropping performances by a defense that scored five touchdowns on takeaways in the last three games.

But heres the thing: They hit 4-1 despite special teams, a perennial strength area of Lovie Smith teams, playing pedestrian football.

And despite the offense standing at 10th rushing yards per game but ranking in the NFLs top 10 in only that and third- and fourth-down efficiency. The No. 10 ranking and average of 123.6 yards per game were boosted by the 214 rushing yards against hapless Jacksonville.

Thats not a negative. What it says is that the 2012 Bears are a good team even without anything close to elite play from two of its three core phases.

But after the break

The rank for the rushing yardage is significant in part because this is precisely the point at which the Bears clicked into another gear in this bedrock area.

But in 2010 the Bears ran for 100 yards in just two of their first seven games. They then rushed for 100-plus in eight of their final nine.

Last season they rushed for an inept 161 combined yards in their first three games. Then came a 224-yard effort against Carolina, 122 in the loss at Detroit. From that point the Bears ran for more than 105 yards in eight of the next 10 games, even without Matt Forte for the last three 100-yarders, and one of the two sub-100s was the Kansas City game, when Forte was lost in the first quarter.

Even in the run game, we started off a little bit slow, but they improve week in and week out, Forte said. As long as we keep improving up front and give Jay Cutler time back there to throw the ball without being rushed or getting hit, hes going to be fine.

This is indeed the point of the year at which the Bears have begun to dominate with balance built on a run game. This year the run game already has been in motion with Mike Tice admittedly still learning how to truly coordinate an offense.

I haven't looked at how we're improving. I don't look at the up and down, Tice said. I kind of take it like a number of things each week. And I think we're getting better, and that's really what I look at.

How much better that can be will be closely watched throughout the NFC for the rest of this year.

Bears Talk Podcast: Reacting to acquisition of QB Mitch Trubisky

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USA TODAY

Bears Talk Podcast: Reacting to acquisition of QB Mitch Trubisky

In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bears traded up to No. 2 overall and drafted QB Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. Chris Boden, Alex Brown, and Hub Arkush sat down and talked about the moves made by Ryan Pace and what this means for the franchise's future. 

Also, hear from Trubisky himself speaking at the podium in Philadelphia as well as his former Tarheel Head Coach, Larry Fedora on what the signal caller can bring to the Bears. Finally, listen to the full podium availability of Pace after day one of the draft.

Listen to the Bears Talk Podcast below.

Bears will not have quarterback competition: ‘Glennon is our starter’

Bears will not have quarterback competition: ‘Glennon is our starter’

The Bears’ aggressive decision to trade up and draft Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 pick won’t create a quarterback competition this summer and fall, general manager Ryan Pace said. 

Pace made it clear that Mike Glennon, who the Bears signed in March, will be the team’s starting quarterback when they open the 2017 season Sept. 10 against the Atlanta Falcons. 

“There’s no quarterback competition when Mitch gets here,” Pace said. “Glennon is our starting quarterback. We’ll focus on Mitch’s development and Mike Glennon winning games for the Chicago Bears.”

Both Glennon and Trubisky, though, are no strangers to quarterback competitions — and coming out on the wrong side of them. Glennon, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lost his starting job midway through the 2013 season to Josh McCown, then permanently was relegated to backup duty when Jamies Winston was picked first overall in 2014. 

Trubisky, too, was unable to beat out Marquise Williams for North Carolina’s starting quarterback job in 2014 and 2015, only taking over after the graduation of Williams, an undrafted free agent who didn’t stick on an NFL roster. Pace pointed to Williams having “chemistry” within the Tarheels’ offense, though, which powered North Carolina to an 11-win season in 2015. 

Pace said the Bears don’t have a timetable for when they expect Trubisky to take over as the team’s starter. But given Glennon’s contract is structured so the Bears could cut him for $2.5 million next year — bringing his guaranteed money to $18.5 million — there could be an opening for Trubisky as soon as 2018.

It’s worth noting, too, that it’s rare for quarterbacks in the same range as Trubisky to not play in their rookie years. The last quarterback drafted in the top 10 to not start a game their first year in the league was Tennessee’s Jake Locker (eighth overall) in 2011. And the last time a quarterback effectively was benched his entire rookie year was 2004, when fourth overall pick Philip Rivers appeared in two games and attempted eight passes for the San Diego Chargers.

But the Bears won’t plan on Trubisky taking playing time away from Glennon this fall, and feel they have an ideal situation set up to develop their highest draft pick since the AFL-NFL merger. 

“I talked to Mike tonight, he understands the competitiveness of our business at every single position,” Pace said. “Mike also understands he’s our starting quarterback. Mike’s been here working hard all the time, already developing leadership with his teammates. I’m extremely excited about Mike Glennon this season and I’m extremely excited about adding Mitch to our roster.”