Friday, April 3, 2009

We can handle our own expectations

Well, the moment has finally happened. For those of us who have been die-hard Chicago Bears fans, this is the moment we have been waiting for since 1985. We now have a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback calling the signals in Soldier Field.

The Denver Broncos traded QB Jay Cutler to the Bears and a 2009 fifth-round draft pick in exchange for QB Kyle Orton, a 2009 first-round and third round pick, and a 2010 first round pick. Orton was 21-12 as the starting quarterback for the Bears, better than Rex Grossman (19-12) who led the Bears to their last Super Bowl trip. Orton was steady but not a deep-ball threat, which limits the potential for a speedster like Devin Hester at wide receiver. It is no surprise that while Orton was under center, the running backs and the tight ends were the top receivers on the team. It will be interesting if he can stretch the field in Denver with quality receivers like Brendon Marshall and Eddie Royal like Cutler did.

Now it is Cutler's turn in Chicago to work his magic. Throwing for over 4000 yards last year and with a cannon for an arm, the potential for a higher scoring, more productive offense in the Windy City is welcome news. The Chicago defense, which has carried the team for years, is getting older, which means they cannot be relied upon to win games week in and week out. Therefore it was welcome news to Bears fans when General Manager Jerry Angelo pulled the trigger quickly to make this deal happen. Even though Grossman was at best erratic in his play, he showed that when the Bears have a quarterback that can widen the field, combined with their still above average defense, they are legitimate threat to win a championship.

Matt Forte, the Bears new star running back, even becomes more of a threat with Cutler on the field. NFL defenses have to respect Cutler's ability to make plays deep down field, thus they do not have the luxury of crowding eight men in the box to shut down Forte. Expect Matt to have a monster season running the football, as well as catching those quick slants from Cutler.

Now the experts are saying that Chicago fans should not get their hopes up, that Minnesota and Green Bay are still better teams. The Bears, with Orton, split the season with the Vikings and the Packers last year and were one game away from making the playoffs. Cutler will help get Chicago over that hump.

The experts are saying that Cutler will be flat on his back most of the time, but the Bears also picked up 7-time Pro Bowler Orlando Pace yesterday to help with that situation. So don't tell us not to get our hopes up, we know what we needed and yesterday our prayers were answered. Cutler is not a bad seed. He just needed to feel appreciated by the team he battled for, but with a new coach coming into Denver, conflicts developed and tensions rose. Cutler needed to get out and Chicago will welcome him with open arms.

We do have high hopes in Da Bears Nation, and no prognostication by the experts can diminish that. We know that a better team will hit the field in the fall and that finally, we have a quarterback in the truest sense of the word. Bear down, Chicago Bears.