Johnny Knox in 2010 & 2011. Devin Hester in 2008 & 2009. Bernard Berrian in 2007. A past his prime Muhsin Muhammad in 2006. These are your leading Bear WR’s over the past 6 years. While the rest of the league realized a decade ago that the NFL was trending toward a version of Arena Football, the Bears seem to have missed the memo.
In 2009 Jerry Angelo decided he had enough of the Moses Moreno, Steve Stenstrom, & Kyle Orton’s of the world and traded for the first legitimate franchise QB since Sid Luckman, Jay Cutler. Then Angelo seemingly stopped working. The drafting of Earl Bennett aside, Angelo surrounded Cutler with a cast of “playmakers” that only their Mothers & Grandmothers could get excited about. Hell, even Dane Sanzebacher’s Father knows he sucks. While the team up north was drafting Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, & Jermichael Finley, the Bears were drafting Mark Bradley, Juaquin Iglesias, & Marcus Monk. Puke.
Enter Phil Emery.
In less than a year, Emery has replaced Knox, Roy Williams, & Marion Barber with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, & Mike Bush. LESS THAN A YEAR! What Jerry Angelo couldn’t do in a decade of work, provide a Chicago quarterback with dynamic playmakers, Phil Emery did in 5 months.
This brings us to week 1. QB Jay Cutler and OC Mike Tice showed off their full arsenal of shiny new toys against the hapless Colts. Marshall with 15 targets, Jeffery making tough catches in traffic, Earl Bennett being dependable on 3rd down, and battering ram Mike Bush finding the end zone twice on the goal line. Clearly, there is work to be done, but it was a very promising start.
Most say the proverbial Super Bowl “window” is closing. #54, #55, #33, & #90 are all on the back end of their careers, it’s true. But the NFL has changed. Defenses no longer win championships. Is it crazy to think that with a dynamic young Bears offense, led by a QB who is entering the prime of his career, that the Bears Super Bowl window could just be opening?
This is what 21st Century NFL football looks like; it’s a shame that it took 12 years for Chicago to figure it out.