With 0-3 all but inevitable, better days lie ahead for Bears

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I know it’s easy for Bears fans to bang their heads on their keyboards this morning analyzing the results of yesterday’s 26-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

But there is reason for optimism even if it is difficult to comprehend after an 0-3 start to the 2015 season.

When the schedule was released this past spring, you’d be hard pressed to find many Bears fans who expected the team to win any of the first three games on the docket. The Packers, Cardinals, and Seahawks all were playoff teams last year and still remain some of the top teams in the NFC, if not all of football. Losing to these teams was all but expected.

So a more accurate gauge is to analyze the manner in which the Bears played against the teams and look for signs of progress. The Bears have some less formidable opponents on the schedule in the coming weeks and months, and improvement can certainly make the Bears more competitive against those teams.

Progress is a difficult criterion to assess when your team is playing without three of its better players. Quarterback Jay Cutler has missed the past six quarters of action with a hamstring injury, but when he was actually playing, he was accurate and efficient in helping the Bears keep pace with the Packers and Cardinals. Sure, he threw two costly interceptions in those games, but what else is new? The fact is that he did more good than harm and yet the Packers and Cardinals were just better teams.

Even if Cutler remained healthy to this day, there’s still that little dilemma that he lacks his two best receiving options. Number one wideout Alshon Jeffery has missed the past two football games and rookie receiver Kevin White has been out since training camp. I don’t care which football team you are — unless you’re one of the handful of teams in the league with elite quarterbacks — if you lose your two best receivers, you’re going to struggle offensively.

And yet, even without their top two targets, the Bears have found ways to generate offense by using Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett.

When you consider how much firepower the Bears will have on offense when the Bears get Cutler, Jeffery and White back, there’s reason to be optimistic about Adam Gase‘s offense.

On defense, the learning curve will be a slow one, but the Bears have shown some tenacity. They just need consistency now. It’s the first year of 3-4 defensive scheme change, so it’ll take more than a season to get where the Bears ultimately want to go. But when they play with focus and passion, the defense is more than watchable — which is a lot more than we can say about what we witnessed the past two years.

There will be better days ahead, Bears fans. Sure, not making the playoffs stings, and I’m just as tired as you are about the Bears not seeing the postseason since 2010. But after years of poor draft picks, the Bears are paying the penalty right now. It’s going to take a few years to be Super Bowl contenders, but there’s no reason the Bears can’t make the playoffs next year with continued improvement this season and a good offseason next year.

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