Jay Taft: At this pace, Bears could be 7-0 at bye
None of the coaches or players will admit as much, but the Chicago Bears are looking at a clear path to a 7-0 record by the time they reach their Halloween bye week.
First they must take care of the Giants (1-2) on the road this weekend, but will face a team in disarray, one with 10 turnovers (tied for the second-most in the league) on offense and with a defense that has allowed 85 points (third-most in the NFL).
“One game at a time,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said when prompted about his team’s upcoming stretch of games. “We don’t look anywhere past this week.”
I do, and I see a lot of potential victories. They travel to Carolina (0-3) on Oct. 10, then return home to face the Seahawks (2-1) and the Redskins (1-2) before the bye.
Cutler on record pace
Quarterback Jay Cutler has thrown for 870 yards. He already has more yards than any other Bear QB through three games to start a season and is on pace to throw for 4,432 yards.
The Bears’ record for passing yards in a single season is 3,838, set by Erik Kramer in 1995.
Dating back to Week 16 of last year, Cutler has 1,419 yards through the air, fifth-most out of
all NFL quarterbacks. No. 1 on the list: Former Bear Kyle Orton (1,698), but his Broncos are off to a 1-2 start.
Cutler absorbs hard hits
Bears QB Jay Cutler has been sacked eight times so far this year (and 94 times over the past five years), but he keeps bouncing up and leading Chicago to victories.
He was knocked around six times against the Packers last week.
When asked how many times he thinks he got hit in the head against the Packers, Cutler answered with a smile: “I don’t know. I can’t seem to remember.”
No worries. He has proved throughout his career he is tough enough to withstand the pressure.
Cutler hasn’t missed a game because of injury in his football life, and while at Vanderbilt, he started all 45 games over four years, and missed just one practice.
Briggs ‘licking his chops’
This week’s opponent for the Bears, the N.Y. Giants, have 10 turnovers, a stat that has some of the Bears’ defenders excited to hit the field.
“We’re licking our chops. As a defense, if a team is turning the ball over you want to get the ball out,” Bear linebacker Lance Briggs said. “We pride ourselves on stuff like that. When we get the opportunity, we have to do it.”
Giants wary of Hester’s skills
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin knows exactly what an explosive return man like Devin Hester can do to a game.
“Any time they have a guy that puts the ball in the end zone or sets up a touchdown, he’s a weapon,” Coughlin said in a teleconference. “We’ll try and find any way we can to neutralize that weapon.”
Not always an easy task. Hester returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown against Green Bay last week — his first TD return since the end of the 2007 season — giving Chicago a 14-10 lead. They went on to win 20-17.
Jay Taft covers the Chicago Bears for the Rockford Register Star. He can be reached
at 815-987-1384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.