Hope Springs Eternal for the True Bears Fan

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“With Lance Briggs coming back will it be enough to turn things around on defense so the Bears are a Super Bowl contender? — @skinny2354 from Twitter

“No one thought the Giants would be a Super Bowl contender when they lost four games at midseason in 2011 to fall to 6-6. But they won three of their final four regular-season games to sneak into the playoffs and from there they ran the table. That team had a very strong pass rush that was a big factor in the postseason run. Briggs’ return isn’t going to necessarily help the Bears start wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Briggs’ presence will make the defense better but he can’t make up for the loss of Henry Melton and Charles Tillman. It’s going to be difficult for the Bears to play playoff-caliber defense against a high-powered offense, in my opinion. But like I said, few thought that Giants team was going anywhere.”

My first instinct when reading inquiries like this is to treat them with contempt.  I’ve been virtually ignoring the playoff possibilities for this team because logically, the Bears can do almost no damage in the playoffs if they get there.  I’ve hardly even thought about it.

The run defense has been a mess and the Bears just aren’t strong enough at the line of scrimmage.  You need only look at the St. Louis Rams game last month to see the problem.  The Bears were dominated by an admittedly very under rated defensive front.  Have you seen the San Fransisco 49ers defense?  Have you heard the noise up in that dome in Seattle?  As strong as that Rams front is, these teams field even better players.  Can the Bears win games against those teams?  Absolutely no way.

How bad do my instincts tell me this situation is?  Let’s put it this way.  I dislike the Lions right now with a passion.  They’re dirty, undisciplined and, not unrelated, their head coach and their defensive coordinator are both punks.  But I also know that if they play to the level of their ability, they are the only team in the NFC North with the talent up front to compete with the big boys.  Even I will admit that January could be a lot more exciting with them in the contests.

Bottom line, if I followed my instincts, I wouldn’t even bother to watch the games anymore.  But I do watch the games.  I watch becauseI love to think about how the Bears have arisen to meet the challenges of the week before and to see what new challenges will arise to meet in the coming week. I love to think, week to week, about how the Bears have improved, two steps forward, one step back.  I watch because, well, when you think about it, you never know…

The Bears do have a healthy offensive line and have been trying all season to do creative things things to apply leverage that will give them an edge over brute strength.  And with their skill position players, they do have the potential to score points in bunches.

Yes, they are missing Tillman and Melton.  Tillman is really irreplaceable but both Tim Jennings and Zack Bowman have stepped it up in recent weeks and they haven’t done badly.  And though the defensive line will not be a strength, it has stabilized considerably with the addition of Jeremiah Ratliff.  

Arguably safety is still a minor weakness but the addition of Briggs could very well stabilize the last major defensive issue.  The linebacker position has been without question the beating heart of the Bears defense for many years and Briggs will not only bring his ability to make plays but he’ll almost certainly provide some stability playing next to rookie Jon Bostic and his addition might even help cover for some remaining deficiencies there.

The Bears still have to play virtually perfect, mistake-free football.  No penalties, no drops and, especially, no turnovers.  But, if the defense peaks and comes together to play its best football right now, at the most important time of the year…

Is it possible that the Bears could end up in the Super Bowl?  Looking around at the rest of the NFC, it’s a totally ridiculous question.  But there’s always hope.  And hope leads to thoughts and thoughts lead to possibilities.  And anything is possible if your put your mind to it.

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