LAKE FOREST – In the beginning was the defense.
The year was 1920, and George Halas’ orange-and-blue Decatur Staleys were nothing short of terrific in their inaugural season. They went 10-1-2, finishing second behind the Akron Pros.
The Staleys, who would move to Chicago 1 year later and change their name to the Bears 2 years later, allowed 21 points.
In 13 games.
On Sunday, more than 93 years after the birth of the franchise, it’s possible – and maybe even likely – that the Bears will give up at least 21 points in the first half against the New Orleans Saints. Because the undefeated Saints are really good, as almost every storyline this week has asserted, and their offense can achieve things that would impress even the biggest pro in Akron.
But don’t be alarmed.
After all, these are not your great-grandfather’s Bears. This group can light up a scoreboard, too. They will see your touchdown and raise you a touchdown in an effort to make you fold.
“Hopefully, we keep getting better and better each week,” said Jay Cutler, who seemingly has smiled more in the past 4 weeks than he did in his first 4 years on the lakefront. “But I think we’re definitely better than we have been in the past with new offenses.”
The numbers tell the story.
After 4 weeks, the Bears have scored 15 touchdowns and averaged 31.8 points a game.
Think about that for a moment. With Mike Tice directing the offense last November, the Bears scored 13 points in two games. A month later, they scored 44 points in three games.
This group can score 30-plus in a single game, and that’s a typical day at the office.
Two teams have averaged more points a game this season than the Bears: Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos (44.8) and Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers (32.0). The Bears scored 24 points in the opener against the Bengals, 31 points in Week 2 against the Vikings, 40 points the next week against the Steelers, and 32 points in Week 4 against the Lions.
When asked about all of those points, coach Marc Trestman made a good point.
“We need help from our defense to do that, and they have been part of that scoring each and every week, so we’ve got to take that into consideration,” Trestman said. “But we’re just trying to get better offensively and score more with the possessions that we have.”
That’s possible only if Cutler and his teammates cut down on foolish turnovers in the weeks ahead. Cutler already has thrown a six-pack of interceptions and lost a couple of fumbles, and he knows that he must be more careful to beat one of the NFL’s best teams.
Meanwhile, the Bears are eager to point out their warts whenever they’re asked about the offensive makeover going on at Halas Hall. The Bears rank third in scoring, but they are No. 13 in total offense with an average of 352.3 yards per game.
“Thirteenth isn’t good enough,” tight end Martellus Bennett said. “It’s not where we want to be. I think we’re an ascending team, and we try to make changes to make a bigger impact. …
“This is a defense-first organization, and it’s been that way for decades. The offense is coming to the point where we get recognized for the offensive side of the ball here with the Chicago Bears.”
Recognition is one thing. Rapid-fire scoring is another.
Is it possible to sustain this crazy pace?
“We would like to score enough to win,” Trestman said. “Let’s put it that way. Can we sustain? I don’t know. Each and every game is its own story.
“Every game takes on its own life – 7-0, 14-7, winning is winning. That is all you are trying to do is find a way to win on Sunday, and they all come out differently each and every week.”