By Greg Gabriel–
(CBS) The best way to look at the 2015 version of the Chicago Bears is that it’s a team in transition. Much like the Chicago Cubs were in transition when president of baseball operations Theo Epstein took over in in 2011, the Bears are now going through those same growing pains under general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox.
Through three games of the 2015 NFL season, it’s apparent that the Bears don’t have enough quality talent. In order for this Bears team to win, they have to be clicking on all cylinders. That hasn’t been the case in any of the first three games. In each contest, there has been a breakdown in at least one area that has caused the games to get out of hand too early.
In Week 2 against Arizona and Sunday at Seattle, that Chicago breakdown has been on special teams. Twice the Bears have given up a long kickoff return for a touchdown, and Sunday they also were caught out of position on a brilliantly played trick punt return.
The special teams breakdowns cost the Bears 10 points Sunday, and when you play a team like the Seahawks, there’s no margin for error.
it’s also obvious in the last two weeks that the Bears have no chance to win with Jimmy Clausen playing quarterback. At best, Clausen is a third quarterback in the NFL. He isn’t the quick decision-maker needed to put enough points on the board — or on Sunday, any. He’s slow to process reads and holds on to the ball too long. He finished Sunday going 9-for-17 for a measly 63 yards, and that won’t get it done in any game.
If Jay Cutler is going to be out another week, it’s time for David Fales to get a chance to run the team. While Fales lacks the ideal size that you want, he’s a quick thinker with a much quicker release.
On defense, the Bears finally generated some sort of pass rush. They finished the game with four sacks, two each by Jarvis Jenkins and Pernell McPhee, and had numerous other pressures. For the most part, the defense did a good job keeping Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in the pocket and making him throw.
What we didn’t see for the third consecutive game was any sort of pass rush from Bears outside linebacker Jared Allen. In the second half, linebacker Sam Acho was getting more snaps, and I liked the way he was playing. He’s a more physical ball player than Allen. Hopefully, we will see more of Acho in the future.
Also missing on defense is sturdy play from the inside linebackers. While both Shea McCellin and Christian Jones have athleticism and range, they aren’t strong point-of-attack players. In successful 3-4 defenses, there’s always a physical inside linebacker who can be relied upon to stuff the run.
Next Sunday, the Bears play an improving Oakland Raiders team, led by second-year quarterback Derek Carr, whom I felt was the best quarterback prospect in the 2014 draft. He has shown steady improvement in his short time in the league, and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes one of the better quarterbacks in the league.
If the Bears are going to beat the Raiders, Cutler and Alshon Jeffery have to be back. While the chances of Cutler playing appear to be slim, he was seen jogging along the sidelines Sunday before team warmups. That has to be a positive sign.
If Cutler can’t go, I’d like to see Fales at the helm. In 2013, Fales and Carr put on one of the best shows in college football. In one of the highest-scoring games of the season, Fales led San Jose State to a 62-52 victory over Carr and Fresno St.
In that game, Fales threw for 547 yards and six touchdowns, while Carr threw for 519 yards and six scores as well. There’s not much to cheer about in this Bears season, but maybe we’ll get a rematch of the young quarterbacks and a fun afternoon of football to watch Sunday.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who is an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.