Dungy: Bears will be 'formidable'

The Chicago Bears may not be getting a lot of national praise as they open the season on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, but count Tony Dungy among their admirers.

The former Indianapolis Colts coach and current NBC television analyst doesn't see where the Bears will fall off from their 2010 season which ended in the NFC Championship Game.

"I think they will get better on defense," Dungy said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I think Jay Cutler with another year in coach [Mike] Martz's system, they are going to improve offensively. I think everyone is looking at their offensive line and maybe that's the reason, people are saying they lost Olin Kreutz, and they lost some key members there. But I like the Bears. I like they way they put things together.

"Now they are in a tough division. Green Bay obviously, is very very good. Detroit has impressed me in the preseason. So, maybe that's a thing people are looking at. Does Detroit catch Chicago this year? But I don't think so. I think Chicago is going to be very formidable."

Dungy, who was a critic of Cutler at times last season, said criticism of the Bears quarterback for sitting out most of the second half of their NFC Championship Game loss with a knee injury was unfair.

"I heard the criticism about him not playing at the end of the playoff game last year. I thought that was absolutely ludicrous," Dungy said. "Jay Cutler, you can question some things, but you can't question his toughness, his desire. I mean, I've seen the guy stand in the pocket [and] deliver balls while getting blasted, and I just thought that was totally unfair.

"I did think that he needed to mature as a quarterback when he got there, and I think he's done that. I think Coach Martz has really helped him. He's getting that chemistry with his receivers, and I do think he is playing better than he did two years ago."