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Halloween 2013: Five Horrifying Realities for the Chicago Bears

Yahoo Contributor Network
COMMENTARY | While the Chicago Bears have been enjoying their bye week and preparing for the Green Bay Packers on November 3, the approaching Halloween holiday reminds us that the Bears are facing a few terrifying truths surrounding the team.

Here are five of those terrifying truths:

Jay Cutler is out for at least a month (Terror Factor: 7/10)
No team likes to lose its starting quarterback. Despite Josh McCown's decent showings that have led to Bears fans eliciting semi-confidence in the veteran, this is a major blow for the Bears. Yes, Jay Cutler can be infuriating as a signal-caller at times, but he's more good than bad and was currently in the midst of arguably his best season -- 12 TDs, 7 INTs, 91.7 passer rating.

What keeps this loss from being higher on the "Terror Factor" meter is that the Bears actually have a coach in Mark Trestman who seems to be able to coax results from most quarterbacks, the offensive line is much-improved, and the Bears are still loaded with weapons at the skill positions. Throw in that the Bears expect Cutler to be back (Brandon Marshall says two weeks) and the terror shrinks a little more.

But do we remember back in 2011 when we all said the 7-3 Bears would be just fine when Caleb Hanie took over for Cutler?

Lance Briggs is out for six weeks (Terror Factor: 9/10)
The loss of Briggs is a big deal whichever way you look at it. He's a perennial Pro-Bowler and is the captain of the unit -- that role was vacated with the departure of Brian Urlacher. The problem of Briggs' injury is compounded when you stop to realize the defense was pretty terrible with Briggs.

The Bears are 26th in yards allowed (391 per game), 28th in points allowed (29.4 per game), 30th in sacks (9), and 26th in rushing yards allowed (117.3 per game). Without their abnormally high number of forced turnovers (18), this would arguably be the worst defense in the league. That's not something we're used to hearing in the same sentence as the Chicago Bears.

The NFC North is pretty darn good (Terror Factor: 8/10)
Much like last year, the NFC North is three teams deep. That depth could very easily be what keeps the Bears out of a possible playoff spot. The Detroit Lions did the Bears an enormous favor by losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, but the injuries the Bears are facing could be enough to knock them a couple of games back with divisional games against the Packers and Lions forthcoming. And in this division, there might not be any recovering from that.

The Bears' defense has only nine sacks in seven games (Terror Factor: 10/10)
The previously mentioned abhorrent sack numbers are indicative of why the Bears have struggled where they have -- primarily on defense. It isn't to say that they can't continue improving and manage a productive second half, it's that their depth is all but gone.

Season-ending injuries to Henry Melton and Nate Collins, nagging injuries from Stephen Paea, and a major lack of production from Julius Peppers all have contributed to the Bears' pass rush being nearly nonexistent. The Bears' defense, like many other units, relies almost exclusively on an effective four-man pass rush to be an effective scheme. Without it, the rest of the unit crumbles. A quick glance at the above numbers illustrates that that is exactly what has happened.

Jay Cutler might be gone after this season (Terror Factor: ??)
With Mark Trestman at the helm, everyone has been intrigued what he might be able to get out of Jay Cutler. And true to form, working with Trestman does seem to have Cutler playing better overall -- though having a competent offensive line alone should increase production. But his injury-riddled history with the Bears is enough to give pause to a possible extension.

Overall, Cutler has been exemplary by Bears' quarterbacking standards. And though those standards are laughably low historically, Cutler's successes have been exceptional by most standards when he's been on the field. In 2010, Cutler led the Bears to the NFC championship. In 2011, the Bears were 7-3 before Cutler went down with an injury and the Bears fell apart. And, in 2012, the Bears were 7-1 before Cutler began having concussion trouble, along with a neck injury.

Cutler is far from perfect, but Bears fans can be quick to forget just how abysmal traditional quarterback play has been in Chicago. So while the idea of a fresh young quarterback to be molded by Trestman is intriguing, with no viable candidate in place, even the chance of going back to the days of Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Shane Matthews, Kordell Stewart, Todd Collins, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, and generally horrendous quarterback play is something Bears fans should be concerned about. Cutler may not be awesome, but he looks awfully good if the alternative is the list above.

Count your blessings, Bears fans. Thanksgiving is coming up.

Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bears follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him an opportunity to closely follow Chicago sports and has allowed him to contribute to Yahoo Sports,Yahoo Voices, and various independent sports blogs. Brian is also a senior in college majoring in creative writing.

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