What a crazy first half it was for the Chicago Bears . The Bears started out with a dominating performace against the Atlanta Falcons. This was only followed by very poor showings against the Saints and Packers in which all of their weaknesses became clear. After a horrible showing on Monday Night Football against the resurgent Detroit Lions for the whole nation to see. The Lions game must have been the wakeup call the Bears needed as their play has improved dramatically and they have won three games in a row. Eight games in the Bears stand at 5-3 and right in the middle of the playoff hunt. Their second half schedule seems to be less difficult than the first half featuring three more division games, a home game with Seattle, and four games against the AFC West. Before the second half begins on Sunday against the Lions, it's time to grade the Bears through the first half of the season.
Coaching Staff: B-
Good- Dave Toub and his special teams still keep the Bears in every game. Mike Tice has done a great job with an ever changing offensive line and seemed to find the right combination. Lovie Smith made some changes to the secondary, including the release of Chris Harris, that seemed to give life to the back end of the Bears defense.
Bad- Mike Martz still doesn't appear to get it. He has one of the top running backs in football and yet he seems to still call too many pass plays. Lovie has done a decent job but some of his decisions in regards to replay challenges still seem puzzling.
Good- Matt Forte is slowly turning into one of the best running backs in all of football. The numbers show this and so does the eye test. Jay Cutler has had his best season so far in a Bears uniform. With an average at best group of wide receivers and a questionable offensive line, Cutler looks like a man with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.
Bad- The offensive line is getting better, but those first few games they were a revolving door. You just can't let your quarterback get hit that much if you want him to make it the rest of the season. The receiving corp is still very disappointing. Roy Williams is a bust, Devin Hester is below average, and Johnny Knox needs to step up. Having Earl Bennett back healthy can only improve the group.
Good- Nice depth on the defensive line led by Julius Peppers. Peppers has played a little banged up, but still putting together a nice season. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are still playing at a top level and should both get pro bowl consideration.
Bad- The secondary is still giving up way too many big plays. Chris Conte has been a nice surprise, but others need to step up. Chris Harris was a disappointment which resulted in his release. With games left against Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers the secondary is gonna need to step things up.
Special Teams: A
Good- The Bears still have one of the top units in all of football. Robbie Gould is automatic and as close to a sure thing as it gets. Adam Podlesh has had a nice season and has made the fan base forget about Brad Maynard. Then there is Devin Hester who continues to add to his hall of fame resume.
Second Half Outlook
I don't see the Bears catching the Packers, but they could easily grab one of the wild card spots. They should be able to go 5-3 or 6-2 in the second half. It will probably take 10 wins to get a wild card spot and 11 wouldn't hurt. One thing is certain. It should be a fun end to the season for Bears Nation.