Chicago Bears

MUSICK: Super Bowl? It’s now or never for Bears

The Bears' Brandon Marshall snags a Jay Cutler pass against the Titans on Nov. 4 in Nashville.
The Bears' Brandon Marshall snags a Jay Cutler pass against the Titans on Nov. 4 in Nashville.

Here’s the deal.

The Bears could be really good this year. They could be really bad. They could be somewhere in the middle.

You’re welcome for that insight.

Hey, they didn’t name this project What do you want from me?

It’s time for the Bears to go to training camp, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Mostly because I have no idea what will happen.


Holy Sherrick McManis. The Bears are going to the Super Bowl.

You bring the chips and dip. I’ll provide the hot wings and plenty of drinks.

Do you know why it’s possible that the Bears could advance to play for a Super Bowl title at the Meadowlands (or whatever that stadium in New Jersey is called now)?

Because this is the NFL: Where Weird Things Happen.

Follow my bouncing ball of optimism.

Marc Trestman turns out to be a genius. Like Doogie Howser, but way older and with darker hair. Also, he wears a headset instead of a stethoscope.

Anyway, Trestman the Genius figures out a way to unlock the tremendous ability of Jay Cutler on a consistent basis. He moves Cutler around in the pocket, he dials up a bunch of innovative plays to use Matt Forte out of the backfield, he shifts No. 1 stud Brandon Marshall from flanker to slot to flanker like some muscled up chess piece.

It all works. So do the offensive linemen – hello, Jermon Bushrod! So do the tight ends – goodbye, Kellen Davis!

When the defense is on the field, Trestman and Cutler stand next to each other on the sideline like best friends. They respect each other. Thank goodness.

Speaking of the defense, that’s good, too. By relying on the same Cover-2 backbone that has worked here since the Middle Ages, new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is able to preserve a top-10 defense while fans enjoy a top-10 offense. Sure, Tucker will sprinkle in some Cover-1 and take advantage of versatile athlete Shea McClellin, but the bread and butter of this group will come down to a powerful front four, a physical secondary and a much faster linebacker corps without Old Man Urlacher

See you at the Super Bowl party. You’re good for the chips and dip?


Well, that was terrible.

The Bears stumbled out of the gate, stumbled through the middle of the season and stumbled down the stretch to finish in the bottom half of the NFC North.

Let’s hope Trestman turns this thing around in 2014 or he might end up on the hot seat. We hear that Lovie Smith is available to coach.

Do you know why it’s possible that the Bears could transform from a 10-win team on the verge of the playoffs to a six-win dud?

Because this is the NFL: Where weird things happen.

Follow my bouncing ball of pessimism.

All of our worst fears about Trestman turn out to be true. He’s a nice enough guy, but he’s in over his head as an NFL coach.

His playbook is too complicated. His personality is too stiff. His ultra-super-duper-fast practice pace wears thin on players.

Worst of all, his relationship with Cutler quickly deteriorates into TurnerMartzTice-ness.

We’ve watched this movie before. Cutler starts out by saying all of the right things. The Bears hang in there for a bit. All is well – or, at least, all is well enough.

But then injuries strike – hello, Brandon Marshall’s hip! The offensive line reverts to being a mess. Cutler slips into his bad habits, floating passes off of his back foot and trying to weave passes into double or triple coverage when a smarter alternative exists.

Oh, and the defense is officially old. Buy it a retirement gift.

Maybe in another division, things could have been different. But the NFC North is tough. The Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions all have talent.

The Bears have questions. Big ones. And that championship window is closing fast.

• Tom Musick is a sports columnist for Shaw Media. Write to him at

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.