By Chris Emma-
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) — In the years before Marc Trestman became the Bears coach, Chicago lacked a high-octane offense to match its dominating defense. That all dramatically flipped form in 2013, when the weary defense couldn’t keep up with a powerful offense.
Alas, the Bears believe they have an ideal combination of unity on both sides of the ball. It’s an offense with another year of experience after a 2013 season in which is ranked second in the NFL in scoring, plus a defense that features better depth and new faces in positions that struggled last season.
As a result, expectations are high in Chicago. It’s why general manager Phil Emery didn’t shy away from the team’s true goal — winning the Super Bowl.
“That’s our goal,” Emery said. “We’re not going to apologize for it, that’s our goal. Our goal as an organization is to win championships.”
Added Trestman: “We recognize, as a football team, the excitement around our team.”
Chicago is buzzing with enthusiasm for its football team. The excitement is just beginning, but questions are aplenty. Could Jay Cutler take that step toward becoming an elite quarterback? Will Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery stay healthy again and complement Cutler in a top NFL offense? How will this bolstered defense with uncertainty at linebacker and safety fare?
A Bears team with too many flaws in 2013 had an average finish, an 8-8 record and playoff whiff. On paper, this roster is much more promising. The players are just as confident as their leadership, but they’re careful in their approach.
“We have to be careful about that,” Cutler said. “We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of things to prepare on. I think everyone in the NFL is confident right now.”
There’s reason for the workmanlike mindset of these Bears — they’re not coming off a storybook season, anything to take pride in. They had two chances to clinch a playoff spot in 2013 and faltered. It was a disappointing end, one leaving a sour taste in their mouths.
A sudden boost to the Bears’ roster isn’t anything to get their heads high. The team is still determined for more, taking to training camp with a chip on their collective shoulders.
“We can’t let (overconfidence) seep into our mindsets,” Cutler said. “We haven’t done anything yet. We have to take this game seriously and get out of it as much as we can.”
The reasons for optimism are warranted. One could argue the Bears are better — whether that’s marginal or significant — at each individual position. The Bears’ primary concern, a weak defense, has been addressed with new names like Jared Allen, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston and Kyle Fuller.
There’s great excitement in Chicago as the Bears appear to be a true contender. Yet 60 miles south of the Windy City, it’s a different sentiment. The confidence is understood but also tempered.
“For us here in Bourbonnais, we have to stay focused on the process,” Trestman said. “We have to keep our feet on the ground.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.