While my Philadelphia Eagles stole the show in free agency, and the AFC continues to gush over what the Patriots do best, the team that hosted the NFC Championship game last season is getting brushed off and overlooked. How scary is that? To face a team that is well aware of their low profile, but also a veteran team with multiple coaches on the staff that were once head coaches. Hmm…mixed with enough youth to keep them competitive for awhile, with a system in place that is working for them. These guys don’t back down, and they won’t go away, especially when they continue to get disrespected.
Sure, they didn’t beat Green Bay to go to the Superbowl, but they do have a defense that forces turnovers, elite special teams, and offensively they aren’t too shabby. No, they don’t have the greatest o-line in the world, probably around average, but Mike Tice is considered to be an elite coach in the trenches. And, in a Mike Martz system that gets the ball out quickly, Cutler could be better this season with a big target in Roy Williams.
Remember, he flourished with a big WR in Denver. Although he’s not Brandon Marshall, he is a good player that didn’t turn out to be the great player Dallas thought he was. Perhaps going back to Mike Martz’s system, where he had his best statistics years ago in Detroit, is not as big of a deal as the Jets getting Plaxico Burress (They chose him over Braylon Edwards, who is now in San Francisco). It has bigger impact than those acquisitions, because I think he will turn into Cutler’s #1 target. The other 2, will be 1 of 3 options on their teams, and with lesser-rated QBs at this point.
Urlacher and Briggs lead a ferocious defense, that ranked top 5 in points allow last season. Their offense, seemed to be improving as Cutler was adapting to Mike Martz. Matt Forte, a very underrated RB that can do it all. In my eyes, a poor man’s Stephen Jackson, but not as far as you would think. Johnny Knox and Devin Hester with speed, and Earl Bennett as a possession WR, and they added Sam Hurd (whom can play special teams). Tight end? Well, they are merely used in the run game with this new system, a run game that has Chester Taylor as a backup and that just added the bruising Marion Barber. Maybe Barber can stay healthy in a reserve role. I like this team and their chances to return to the playoffs, not to mention the special teams with Devin Hester and Robbie Gould is money.
This could be a dark horse team for a Superbowl run. No, it’s not what I’m predicting, but I am saying that this is a good and tough team being shoved under-the-radar. I mean, they did win their division (over the Packers) with an 11-5 record, and were one game away from the big game. If you’re a Packers fan getting your injured starters back, or an Eagles fan (like myself) that were elite and got noticeably better, the grass may not be greener on the other side. It could get ugly if the NFC has to go through Soldier Field again, because that exemplifies home field advantage.