Miller: Bears' offense may be better than you think

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Miller: Bears' offense may be better than you think

The 23-22 victory over the Panthers can be summed up pretty simply: Chicago had three turnovers in the first half which killed drives, then killed five more drives the rest of the game by simply dropping passes. Its hard to log yardage and score points when eight total drives were essentially wasted by nothing more than lack of execution. Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester, Matt Spaeth and Jay Cutler all played a role, but they also all turned on the offensive switch when the Bears needed to score.

As of right now, Chicago boasts a top ten rushing offense averaging 124 yards per game. The Bears will soon face two highly ranked teams in terms of rushing the football: No. 6 Houston (140.9 ypg) and No. 1 San Francisco (166.6 ypg). Both teams are similar to Chicago in that they aim for the early lead and pound opponents into oblivion running the football.

That wasnt the case for the Bears this past Sunday as the offense was forced to throw the ball to get back into the game. When a team is down two scores--as the Bears were 19-7 with only 5 minutes to go in the game--the running game is placed on the back burner.

It does hurt the Bears not having wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the lineup. Jeffery is still third on the team in receptions with 14 and two touchdowns while recovering from a hand injury. The Red Zone presence of Jefferys game is what is sorely missing.

As for explosive offense, the Bears are right where they need to be and it will only get better. The Bears have 22 explosive plays of plus-20 yards. San Francisco has 24 and Houston has less than the two teams with 18. Everyone thinks the Packers are an explosive offense, well guess what? The Packers offense is tied with the Bears with only 22 plays of plus 20 yards. The Bears only have one while San Francisco (4), Houston (3), and Green Bay (4) have all hit on some big passes. If Cutler leads Marshall on the deep first quarter post route against Carolina, its a touchdown and not an interception. Its a game of inches but the Bears are close to hitting on those plays and its encouraging seeing them attempted.

Yes, the Bears' schedule gets tougher moving forward, but so will their offense. They have proven they can come from behind throwing the football when down two scores, and Houston and San Francisco have not. How did Houstons two minute drill look in their 42 to 24 thrashing by Green Bay? How did San Francisco look coming from behind verse the Vikings (24-13) or the Giants who lambasted San Francisco 26-3? All three of them were losses when playing from behind and forced to throw the football.

The Bears have the advantage, along with their great defense.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Austin O'Connor

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Austin O'Connor

Four years, four state championships. 

That's what St. Rita senior wrestler Austin O'Connor accomplished over the past four years, becoming the 15th wrestler in IHSA history to do so. The Mustangs' grappler went undefeated this season and finished his IHSA career with a record of 181-4. 

O'Connor is planning on continuing his time on the mat at the University of North Carolina next season. Learn more about O'Connor in the video above. 

In the Gym at EFT: Vertical jump training

In the Gym at EFT: Vertical jump training

In the latest installment of In the Gym at EFT, performance specialist Kerry Neal teaches some valuable techniques to improve an athlete's vertical jump. 

Former Western Michigan Linebacker Grant DePalma gives an assist by demonstrating the drills. An athlete's vertical is an important tool and can be the difference during evaluation.

Learn some valuable tips above and be on the lookout for the next edition of In the Gym at EFT.