Could the Bears exceed everyone’s expectations and be one of the “surprise teams” in 2010? ESPN’s John Clayton seems to think so. The Bears round out his Top 5 surprise teams for the upcoming season. Here’s his view:
5. Chicago Bears: Don’t underestimate the influence of new coordinator Mike Martz on offense. Jay Cutler’s first year was a disappointment, but Martz has been able to add three to six points to offenses with quarterbacks less talented than Cutler. The Bears averaged 19.4 points a game last year. If Martz can add about four or five points a game through Cutler’s powerful arm, the Bears might be 9-7 or better instead of 7-9.
The schedule isn’t easy because the NFC North plays the NFC East and AFC East. The Bears play a .504 schedule compared to .496 a year ago. The key is the improvement of the offense. Because expectations are down, the Bears have a chance to sneak up on teams.
The thing that J-Clay doesn’t account for is that for Jay to be effective, he’ll need to stay upright. Martz’s offense might kill Cutler if the Bears don’t get some protection for him.
In case you’re interested, the other surprise teams are 1. Washington, 2. Carolina, 3. Oakland and 4, Atlanta. The Bears get to face the top two supposed “surprise teams” this season.