Previously CSNChicago.com looked at the Seattle Seahawks as the NFL standard on defense, a 4-3 scheme replete with moderate-sized athletes, with an eye toward the Bears and their pending makeover of a failed defense.
That was an assessment of what the Bears might become. A look at the 2013 Denver Broncos provides an intriguing look at what the Bears should have been, wanted to be, but fell short of being.
The Broncos are in Super Bowl XLVIII by virtue of having an elite offense that ranked No. 1 or 2 in virtually every passing measurement and a serviceable, mid-level rushing game. That served to offset a defense that stood a mediocre 19th in yardage and 22nd in points allowed.
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Simply put, the Denver offense of Peyton Manning was built to win games even in spite of defensive limitations or shortcomings. For the first 14 games of the 2013 season, according to beat guy Mike Klis of the Denver Post, the Broncos allowed an average of 26.6 points per game, 26th in the NFL — one point per game more than the abysmal Bears’ model. As Mike noted, the Broncos turned their defensive season around at that point, precisely what the Bears didn’t do to theirs, allowing 54 points in Philadelphia and 33 to Green Bay.
The Bears defense failed. Surprisingly, so did the offense. And that was where the Chicago “plan,” not altogether dissimilar from Denver’s when it secured Manning and Wes Welker, broke down.
The Bears, like the Broncos, were built to score a lot of points. They failed and are out of the postseason. The Broncos did, and they’re not.
The Broncos defense stiffened dramatically in the final two games after a disastrous loss to the San Diego Chargers that Mike reports completely rocked the Denver defense. But Manning and the offense were scoring 37 and 34 points in Denver’s final two games, both wins. That netted the Broncos the No. 1 seed and a home game in the AFC Championship vs. New England. Notably perhaps, the Broncos got back their injured all-NFL cornerback, Champ Bailey, after that game 14 loss to San Diego, from whence the turnaround started. The Bears never got Charles Tillman back.
Had the Bears scored 34 points in game 16, they leave Soldier Field with a 34-33 win over the Packers and the NFC North division title.
That was the plan when general manager Phil Emery traded for Brandon Marshall in 2012, traded up in that draft for Alshon Jeffery, used a No. 1 pick on Kyle Long and spent a lot of free-agent money on Jermon Bushrod and Martellus Bennett.
Had the Bears’ 2013 defense were simply bad, the Bears finish 10-6 or better. It was historically bad.
But the Bears were designed to be good enough on offense, even to the point of having the NFL’s No. 3 quarterback, behind only Nick Foles in Philadelphia and Manning, as their backup.
That “model” should have been enough.