After I watched the Chicago Bears last Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, I realized I might have to temper my excitement over a playoff run.
And yes, I know we shouldn't judge much from two preseason games.
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There have been some good things to note, such as Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall with great blocking and a touchdown. I also like the quick move to sign receiver Santonio Holmes and cut Eric Weems, who fumbled in the first quarter against Jacksonville.
Unfortunately, star returner Devin Hester is gone, and I'm not a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to my feelings about that guy. I was sorry when he signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
I still consider Hester a major weapon in the NFL, and losing a star returner for $3 million a year doesn't really make sense to me. I understand that not as many kickoffs can be returned due to the increase in touchbacks, but he was good for punt returns and his presence alone made the opposition consider kicking away from him or punting out of bounds.
Returns might not be touchdowns, but shortening the field for Cutler and the offense was important.
Losing Hester isn't the only issue with this team. The Bears might be strong on offense, but they are not strong on special teams and defense.
Remember, the blue and orange just managed to edge the Jaguars, 20-19.
I wrote a column recently saying the Bears would have to win every game by scores like 45-41 or 51-47.
Maybe the defense will be better, and maybe the signing of Holmes as a returner will help special teams, but it seems like there a lot of "maybe" situations in their future.
The Bears will also miss long snapper Patrick Mannelly, who retired after 16 seasons with the club.
Are the Bears destined to be like the "Air Coryell" Chargers of the late 1970s? Under San Diego head coach Don Coryell (1978-86), the Chargers put up big scores with quarterback Dan Fouts, but never won a Super Bowl.
Is Cutler going to finally get it and become this era's version of Fouts?
I doubt it. With their quick-strike offense, it also gives the opposition's offense the opportunity to strike back.
There are three units on a football team -- the offense, the defense, and special teams. Right now the Bears are only good at one of those.
Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota have their positives and negatives as well. While the NFC North might be the best division in the NFL, it's a long way from being the black and blue division it once was.
The air will be filled with footballs, and while I'm not saying the Bears can't win the division, I really can't say who will.
I do hope it's the Bears, but it's a crapshoot at best.
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• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.