When the Green Bay Packers march into Soldier Field on Monday night, there will be a lot of talk about Chicago's offense. This isn't unusual: Packers fans have vivid and overwhelmingly positive memories of Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel and Rex Grossman. They may have a soft spot in their hearts for Jay Cutler after Green Bay's sweep of the Bears in 2009. But this time around, the buzz from their counterparts in the second city has the unfamiliar tone of cautious optimism.
At first glance, it doesn't look like much about the offense has changed: starters Devin Hester, Greg Olsen, Matt Forte and Cutler remain from last year. Despite the familiar faces, the Bears' offense has started out the still-young season with a passing attack ranked ninth in the league according to Football Outsiders' advanced DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) metric. That includes a 277-yard, three-touchdown performance by Cutler against the potent Dallas pass rush. While the ground game is inconsistent, Cutler's performance was a far cry from last year's four-interception opener against Green Bay. The team's improved prospects are supported not by a flashy free-agent signing, but by the team's new offensive coordinator, Mike Martz.