Chicago Bears Bye Week – Week 8 Preview

Cutler Chicago Bears

Week 8 – Bye Week

Part 8 of a 17 part series analyzing each week of the Bears’ season

 

The Chicago Bears have reached their bye week. Bye weeks are a time of hope and rest for every team, and the Bears could definitely use both of those at this point. The season has been up and down up to this point, and this mid-season bye week could not have come at a better time. The team is nearing disarray, and this should be a good opportunity to get things back on track.

 

Getting Healthy

The Bears hobbled their way into the bye week after injuries completely decimated the team last week against the Washington Redskins. Seven players would end up leaving that game, and most of them did not return.

Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs are both going to miss at least four weeks, while Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Charles Tillman, Major Wright, and Blake Costanzo, among others, can use this week off to recover from recent injuries. Every player on the team could use the break both mentally and physically after some very emotional games in recent weeks.

Players often get nicked up and worn out as the season goes, so having a bye week near the middle of the season is advantageous. It will allow older players such as Julius Peppers and Roberto Garza to rest up and recharge for the remainder of the season, while it lets younger players such as David Bass and Jordan Mills to have an extra week of practice to improve their game’s for the home stretch.

The Bears desperately need their injured players to heal up as quickly as possible. It is extremely rare that a team is able to lose its best offensive and defensive player for an extended amount of time and still play strongly.

Even the less severely injured players need to be back at 100-percent to keep the team afloat. The first game after the bye will not be an easy one, so the healthier the team, the better.

 

Preparing for the Packers

After the long week off, the Bears will face the Green Bay Packers for the first time this season. It will also be the first time Marc Trestman faces the Packers, and he knows the importance of this matchup. It could set the tone for the remainder of both the Bears’ season, and Trestman’ career against the Packers.

If the Bears go out and get run over and blown out, the team’s confidence will be as low as ever. If they can come out and give the Packers a run for their money, despite their injuries, it could definitely help the team rally around their substitute players and gain at least some momentum for the rest of the season.

Preparing for this game is going to be very difficult for Trestman. The Packers are having another strong season, despite many injuries of their own. With the additions of Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin in the draft, the Packers have quietly become a top 10 rushing team, adding a dimension to their offense that has been missing for quite some time.

They have lost their second, third, and fourth leading receivers, although James Jones may be back in time for this game, so Aaron Rodgers is quickly running out of playmakers. Still, Rodgers has been known to be successful with limited talent around him, and as long as number 12 is still under center, the Packers offense will be tough to stop.

It would take a lot for the Bears to win this game, but it would still mean a lot if they can keep it close. Expectations are very low in Chicago for the next four-plus weeks, so staying competitive will mean a lot more than it usually would.

Even a healthy Bears team would struggle to come away with a win in Green Bay, so coming in as banged up as they are, they are going to really have a tough time in this one. Thus, why a big performance in this game would do wonders for the remainder of their season.

 

Reflecting on the first half of the season

From the get-go, the Bears looked like a completely new team. Within the first five minutes of the first game, the Bears were in the endzone, and it was clear that Trestman had really taken control of the team. Gone were the days of inefficient offenses and painful three-and-outs.

What also appears to be gone is the elite defense that the Bears have grown to rely on. Whether it is from age, personnel changes, or over-inflated expectations, the defense on the field this year has been one of the worst in Chicago in recent years.

All in all, the first half of the season boasted a much-improved Bears team. They started off the season with three straight, grinding wins before a messy loss to the Detroit Lions. That was followed by a rough game against the New Orleans Saints, before a surprisingly close, bounce-back win against the New York Giants.

That was the last game with a mostly healthy squad. It was apparent at that point just how much the defense was struggling, allowing the then-winless Giants to get within six points with over a quarter remaining in the game.

The Redskins game is when things really fell apart, but up to that point they lead their division and were riding the momentum they had built up. Unfortunately for them, the second half of the season does not look like it will go quite as well.

 

Looking ahead to the second half of the season

The second half of the season is not looking very bright for the Bears. With Briggs and Cutler expected to miss at least half of the team’s remaining games, stringing together wins is going to be difficult. To make things worse, the upcoming schedule is not all that favorable.

After traveling to Green Bay, the Bears face the Lions and Baltimore Ravens at home. It lightens up with a road trip to St. Louis and Minnesota, before returning to Chicago to host the Dallas Cowboys. Then they are on the road again to Cleveland and Philadelphia, leading up to the season finale at home against the Packers.

With a relatively healthy squad, it would not be a terribly difficult stretch. Certainly it would not be easy but very manageable. With the team in the state it is, it will be a tough road ahead. The way it looks now, going .500 to finish the season is going to be a challenge.

It all depends on how long key players will be injured, and if the other players can stay healthy until Cutler and others return. It is too early for the Bears to completely give up on the season. It is going to be tough, but Trestman has done some remarkable things in Chicago, and in the NFL, you never know what can happen.

 

Remaining Games Record Prediction – 4 Wins, 5 Losses, Finishing 8-8