Last week Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh drew comparisons between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants. One big difference is that the Giants have a ring and are making their second trip to the Big Game (I love when radio and TV commercials can’t say Super Bowl, so they’re forced to say “Big Game” instead). Meanwhile the Bears are left wondering what might have been.
In Monday’s Trib, Steve Rosenbloom puts his spin on the Bears and Giants comparison and not surprisingly, it’s a more negative tone:
This season’s 49ers team seems modeled on Lovie Smith’s old Bears, which is part of the reason the Niners lost the NFC Championship Game to the Giants, who represent what Smith’s new Bears want to become.
At least, what Smith’s new Bears ought to want to become.
Problem is, the Bears almost never show the desire or talent evaluation to become that kind of team.
No, wait, check that: Smith has stressed some of the salient traits the Giants rode to the Super Bowl.
Follow me to the other side of the jump for my take on why the Bears should be encouraged by the Giants’ success.
What Rosie said is true; the Bears are in a transitional state from the old model represented by the Niners – run the ball, stop the run and play great defense – to the new model that the Giants more or less represent – pressure the quarterback, play good (not necessarily not great) defense but have enough offensive firepower to win a shootout.
Look at the last few Super Bowl winners. Last season it was the Packers, hardly a defensive juggernaut. The season before, it was the Saints, powered to a victory over the Colts behind Drew Brees and their aerial attack. Even the Steelers, winners of Super Bowl XLIII, have evolved from a run-first play defense team to a Big Ben led passing attack team. Sure, they make defensive plays (see James Harrison’s 100 yard interception return to end the first half), but overall, those Steelers were a pass-oriented team.
The Bears have some pieces in place. They have the big arm, big play quarterback in Jay Cutler. They have a versatile, dual threat running back in Matt Forte. They still have some players on their aging defense – Urlacher, Briggs, Peppers and Tillman – who are playing at a Pro Bowl level.
It’s easy to see what the Bears are missing when you compare them to the 2011 Giants. Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz. Add just one of those pieces to the Bears offense and you’ve got something. The reason the Giants have achieved where the Bears have failed is simple – the Giants are more talented in the skill positions.
What the Giants have proven by going on their run this season is that the NFC is very competitive. After last season everyone thought the Packers were going to run away with multiple titles because they achieved so much with so many players on IR last season and the young core built around Aaron Rodgers. Even after a dominant regular season, the Packers stumbled. It shows that there is no runaway winner; there is no dynasty in today’s NFL. The Bears are closer than you think but if they don’t make the right moves this offseason, they could also be farther than they think.