Most people thought that a game between the Bears and Jets in late December would be a low scoring defensive battle. As I like to say quite often--nobody knows anything. I was worried about the Bears offensive line getting mugged by the blitz-crazy Jets defense, but the line played like champs. They protected Cutler, opened holes for Forte, and started to show what they are capable of week in and week out. If they continue to improve, this line could go from a liability to a strength next year. For the rest of this year, they might be good enough to carry the Bears to a playoff win. The defense, though, took most of the Jets game off.
Sunday's game is why I will never be a big fan of the Cover-Two. If there is little pressure by the front four, and the opposing offense has done their film work, it is just too easy to complete slants, dig routes, and dump-offs. It's one thing to give up a few easy completions in a game, but the Bears made Sanchez look like Tom Brady in the first half. The Jets knew where they could attack on the field and they went to it over and over again. Plus, Tillman (who I respect the hell out of) just isn't athletic enough anymore to be an effective coverage corner. He knows this, too, because he plays very soft coverages most of the time hoping to take away the deep routes. Part of his technique is scheme, but part of it is fear. Most of the time, it just doesn't look like he trusts his ability to play receivers tight. Every once in a while, I would like to see the Bears mix up their coverages just to keep the other team honest. The defense played better in the second half, but they can't afford to play that poorly against the Packers this week and win.
Luckily, Cutler played great (besides his typical dumb interception). I'm not sure I trust this offense in the playoffs to score 30+ points and win a shootout, but I guess they are starting to show that a 10-14 point deficit isn't insurmountable anymore. That, I like. Martz's playcalling continues to be effective, and Cutler is dominating when given time to throw down the field. The pass to Forte down the sidelines was incredible.
How good are the Bears special teams? Teams are so scared to kick to Hester that the Bears are consistently getting superb field position, which is really helping their offense. I can't recall the Bears going on many long drives lately because they are usually starting at or near midfield. This will continue to be a huge advantage as the Bears head towards the playoffs. Hester is playing as well as ever, and it looks like the rest of the special teams are feeding off his energy.
It was a fun win against the Jets, and I'm truly shocked that the Bears have won 11 games this year. If they beat the Packers next week, they'll lock up the #2 seed in the NFC and secure a bye in the first round. I really like the sound of that.