Tuesday, September 28, 2010



The 2010 Chicago Bears are currently in first place in the NFC North and remain the only unbeaten team in the NFC. Wow, I didn't think I'd be writing that sentence after their first three games. It is a good day to be a Bears fan. Beating the Packers is a sweet treat whenever it happens, but it becomes a decadent dessert when it occurs on Monday Night Football during a season in which everybody and their sister predicted the Packers to win the Super Bowl. Who knows, that may still happen. But, the Bears showed at the very least that they'll be more than a speed bump in the NFC North.

Their offense got off to a pretty good start moving the ball, but deficiencies with offensive line (again) and a crazy, blitz happy Packer defense kept the Bears off the scoreboard for much of the first half. I was waiting for Martz to use some screens or dump offs early in the game to slow down the pass rush, but that part of the Bears game was oddly absent last night. Instead, Martz insisted on seven-step drops and long developing pass routes. I like the confidence, but he did the same thing early against the Cowboys last week and nearly got Cutler killed. I thought I was seeing a repeat in this game. Hey, Mike, why not start with some easy throws from short drops? Or, why not try to run the ball on consecutive plays? There is no doubt Martz brings some unique game planning to the Bears, and an offense that will have its fair share of explosive plays, but I'm starting to see why some people call the offense pass-whacky. If this team will go anywhere this year, Martz is going to have realize he doesn't have an offensive line that can consistently block pass rushers during seven-step drops. They've dodged many bullets these first three games, but it won't keep happening if Cutler continues to get hit as often as he did last night.

Cutler regressed last night. Whether it was the pressure of the Packers blitzes or their tight man coverage or playing in primetime (which Jay hasn't done well in his career), he reminded me way too much of last year's Jay. The interception was not only a bad pass, it was a bad decision. He was trying to hit Greg Olsen on a seam route between the linebacker and the safety. Olsen was covered so well, he basically stopped running his route. It would've taken a perfect throw and unbelievable catch to make that completion, assuming Olsen could've gotten to his spot. Cutler cannot continue to take that chance, especially inside opponent's territory. Inexcusable. Then, late in the game, he got bailed out by penalty after penalty. I won't say too much about the interception that got called back when he was crushed as the let it go. It clearly impacted the flight of the ball. But, that last interception that was called off due to the pass interference was HORRIBLE. You are driving late in the game to kick a field goal to win it, and you just heave the ball up towards your receiver who was pretty well-covered by a defensive back who also had safety help over the top? Seriously, Jay, what is wrong with you? That is pick-up game material. You're an NFL quarterback. STOP THROWING "HOPE" PASSES! On the other hand, he made two great throws to Knox early in the game and a great throw to Olsen late in the game. I guess I'm going to have to live with 2-3 mistakes a game.

Julius Peppers looks like he's going to be a force all year. That blocked field goal was HUGE. He's not getting sacks, but he's drawing penalties and forcing teams to account for him. I started to see some of the other lineman breakthrough in the second half. If they start to take advantage of their opportunities, their pass rush should improve. I'm still confident in the run defense, but their pass coverage is just horrendous. I understand the concept of their "Cover 2". Keep all of the passes in front of you, force long drives, and hopefully they'll make a mistake and turn the ball over. It happened exactly that way last night. But, at some point, defensive backs have to make a play on the ball. Most of Rodgers' completions last night were so easy because the Bears play such a soft zone coverage. I hate the Cover 2, which will be a recurring theme in this blog. It is effective for 3rd and long situations, but it is so frustrating when teams can complete six and seven yard passes at will. The Packers had a few really long drives basically paying pitch and catch between QB and receiver. Mix it up a little. Play some man under. Zone blitz. Corner blitz. Hell, even throw a 3-4 out there just to confuse the offense on occasion. Look at what Dom Capers does with the Packers defense. They never had the same look on consecutive plays and it held the Bears to 13 offensive points.

Is Devin Hester back? It sure looked like it last night. He almost broke loose on his first punt return, and his touchdown was a reminder of how electric he can be with the football. If he can continue to get upfield quickly after fielding punts, he may take a few more to the house this year. The blocking was tremendous, and it helped that the punter outkicked his coverage unit by about 15 yards. Amazing play by Hester and their special teams!

There is no doubt that this Bears team is flawed. They can't run the ball at all, and their offensive line continues to struggle with consistent pass blocking. Their red zone offense has been atrocious. Cutler is still prone to mistakes, and the Martz offense will be high-risk, high-reward all season long. The defense needs to make more plays against the pass, and the special teams needs to continue to make big plays, especially against good opponents. But, they've shown they can win tough games against talented teams by taking advantage of mistakes. That is a good formula for success, especially early in the season. As I've said previously, if this offensive line improves at all, they could be a dominant team. It hasn't happened yet.

The next five games are winnable (Giants, Panthers, Seahawks, Redskins, Bills). They could be 7-1 or 6-2 after they crush the Bills. Of course, anything could happen between now and then, but this is turning out to be a very interesting season!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Packers vs. Bears Preview

Being stuck in Cheeseland (I live in Wisconsin) makes it hard sometimes to enjoy the football season, especially when the Bears are struggling. I've lived here for 13 years, so I've had to endure much of Favre's career, which usually involved destroying the Bears. Now, the Packers have moved into the Aaron Rodgers era, which looks like it could give the Bears just as many problems as the Favre era! Cheeseheads have found another great quarterback. Yeesh. Can't they have a few bad years between good signal callers? Where is their version of Rick Mirer or Peter Tom Willis or Rex Grossman? At least it appears that we've found our own franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler. Let's hope he stays healthy and cuts down on the inexcusable throws like he's avoided since late last year. Then, maybe, Packer fans can whine about the Bears always having a great quarterback!


Monday night's game between the Packers of Green Bay and the Bears of Chicago will be the 180th meeting all-time between these two storied franchises. The Bears lead the series 91-82-6 since they started playing in 1921. The Bears dominated in the 40s and 50s and the Packers dominated in the 60s. The 70s were pretty equal, but the Bears started dominating again from 1983 through 1992 when they won 15 out of 20, including eight in a row from 1985 through 1988. But, the Packers dominated from late 1992 until 2003 when they won an astounding 20 out of 23 games, including a stretch of 10 in a row during Favre's vicodin-induced, womanizing--sorry, I mean, "heyday". I swear, I am not bitter. Well, maybe just a little. Since, 2004, the series has been pretty even, with the Bears leading 7-5.

After this preseason ended, it looked like these teams were headed in different directions. The Packers first team, second team, and third team dominated opponents during their exhibition games. Even before the preseason began, they were the chic pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. After the preseason, they were EVERYBODY'S pick to get to the title game. The Bears, on the other hand, looked awful in the preseason and most thought they'd be a 3rd or 4th place team (yours truly included). Lo and behold, both teams are 2-0 and tied for first place in the NFC North heading into Monday night. Are you ready for some football?

The Packers have an explosive passing game led by one of the game's best quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers is smart, mobile, and deadly accurate with the football. He has a top flight receiver in Greg Jennings and a solid number two in Donald Driver, even if he has lost a step or two. But, their most dangerous weapon so far this season has been tight end Jermichael Finley. He's leading the Packers in receiving yards, and he's averaging 18.8 yards per catch. Did I mention that he's a TIGHT END? He has freaky skills. The Bears will need to corral Finley and punish Jennings and Driver in order to stop this potent attack. Their running game took a big hit when they lost Ryan Grant for the season. Brandon Jackson is a capable backup, but they struggled to run the ball effectively last week because the Packers offensive line is a bit of a question mark. It sounds like veteran left tackle Chad Clifton is out with an injury, so rookie Bryan Bulaga will be protecting Rodger's blind-side. I don't know about you, but I can't help but smile when I hear "rookie" and "blind-side" in describing the player responsible for blocking Julius Peppers. Urlacher and Briggs should be able to shut down yet another running game. The Bears are giving up only 1.4 yards per rush this year, which is just over four-feet. That is the equivalent height of your average third grader.

The Packers defense has some ball-hawking cornerbacks in Charles Woodson and Nick Collins. They are aggressive players who are willing to take chances. That can lead to a ton of headaches for Jay Cutler, but it also provides ample opportunity to exploit them. They also have some explosive, play-making linebackers. Clay Matthews leads the NFL with six sacks. Yes, I said SIX. They've only played two games. If my math is correct, Matthews is on pace for 419 sacks. That's a lot. The Bears offensive line will need to play well for the Bears to be successful (stop me if you've heard this before). If Chris Williams is still out at left tackle, then Frank Omilaye will have to start where he left off against Cowboys.

This is the game that I think the Bears will finally get their running game going. They should be able to have some success against the Packers front seven. The Bears are averaging less than four yards per carry this year. You can win a few games throwing the ball on every down, but you can't do it consistently. Forte and Taylor need to average four yards per carry if the Bears are going to keep winning. Cutler has looked like a machine this season, but this team will need balance to take some pressure off of him. I don't think he'll ever completely lose the gunslinger mentality, but an effective running game behind him would certainly help. I don't blame the offensive line for all of the problems in the running game, though. Forte needs to hit the hole quicker, and stop tip-toeing up to the line of scrimmage. At times, he reminds me of Herschel Walker. Not good. The Bears would be smart to run some zone-blocking, cutback plays that were so successful a few years ago. The Packers are aggressive. Why not use that aggression against them?

If the Bears can beat back-to-back teams that had real Super Bowl aspirations heading into the season, what does that say about their own potential? I'm not sure, but I'm damn excited to find out.


Bears 24, Packers 20

Monday, September 20, 2010


FINAL SCORE: Bears 27, Cowboys 20

Raise your hand if you can honestly tell me that the Bears would win the game after those first two or three series. The offensive line was destroyed by DeMarcus Ware and their exotic, all-out blitzes, and Cutler was taking a Rocky Balboa beating. But something very strange happened. Something that us Bears fans haven't seen much of under Lovie Smith. They actually made ADJUSTMENTS. Mike Martz, the mad, jolly-genius, started exploiting the blitzes with quick passes and, before you knew it, the Bears were scoring touchdowns. Very strange. Jay Cutler looked not only confident (which he always does), but he looked certain. As if it didn't matter what the Cowboys would do on defense because he knew their offense would have an answer. It was so much damn fun to watch that I'm still sort of in disbelief.

It's one thing to watch your team win, but it's a completely different thing to watch them outplay and outsmart another team. After last week's "win" against the Lions, I was almost hanging my head in shame. I had to answer a number of questions from friends and family if I thought Calvin Johnson made the catch. What could I say? Of course he made the catch. It's a terrible rule. The refs got it right, but come on, how can I feel good after winning like that? But, today I walk with pride and I carry my head high. We beat a talented football team. They made mistakes, we didn't. Our quarterback played like a freakin' machine. Our defense made them pay for completing passes. Our receivers made plays (see, Hester, Devin). I rarely yelled at the television besides the occasional, "I hate the Cover 2".

I think that is enough of the rosey discourse. As much as I'm enjoying this win and looking forward to the showdown against the Packers on Monday Night, there are still some things that concern me about this team. For example, the offensive line can't continue to get off to slow starts like they did these first two games. It will either lead to interceptions and fumbles (see Lions game) or the potential death of our quarterback (see Cowboys game). They MUST do a better job of preparing during the week for whatever defenses will throw at them. Yesterday, they looked sluggish and confused in the first quarter. That CAN'T happen against the Packers or they will be down 14-0 quickly. Also, can somebody on that line please, please run block? I know that Matt Forte struggles getting through the line of scrimmage with his tall running-style and tip-toe steps, but he has had very few holes to work with. I assumed teams would back off the line of scrimmage with Cutler having success down the field, but it hasn't happened. Linebackers and defensive backs are still crashing the line. But, even when the Bears are facing seven men in the box, they still can't open up any holes. This has to improve.

As hard as their defense played yesterday, their pass rush and secondary play is still a problem. Yes, Romo is hard to sack, but he had way too many dropbacks with a clean pocket to throw from. Peppers was double-teamed most of the game, but no one else stepped up to get consistent pressure on him. This exposed our suspect secondary, and allowed Romo to throw for a ton of yards. Yes, some of them were in garbage time, but much of it was when the game was still close. You can't count on turnovers to win games. At some point you have to consistently stop teams on 3rd and long (which they didn't do well yesterday), and your defensive backs have to make a play. D.J. Moore had a couple of nice picks, but they were tipped balls. I would love to see a Bears DB actually break on the football and step in front of a receiver. But, that's the nature of the Cover 2. Sit back, let them catch it in front of you and hopefully strip the ball or punish the receiver. It worked yesterday (thank you Charles Tillman). I'm not sure it can work all season.

Now, on the other hand, their run defense was ridiculous. Urlacher and Briggs have been blowing up every running play through two games. And, their defensive line is doing a good job staying in their gaps. It is good that they are forcing teams to become one dimensional, but they have to improve their pass rush and tighten up their coverage if they want to be a dominant defense.

I didn't think this team would be 2-0, and I didn't think the passing game would look this good this early. I'm more optimistic than I've been in awhile, but I'm not ready to buy Super Bowl tickets. This was a good win on the road against a good, albeit struggling, Cowboys team. I'm going to enjoy this week and look forward to the 180th meeting between the Chicago Bears and the hated Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football. It should be a good one...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bears vs. Cowboys Preview

How great is it that the NFL is back? There is nothing better than spending an entire Sunday watching wall-to-wall football. I enjoyed some delicious Turkey Chili and homemade cornbread that Super Spouse prepared. And, she also thought it wise to run some errands during much of the Bears game. This saves her from witnessing irrational behavior from her usually subdued husband. My TiVO remote still has scars from an "accidental" dropping during the Bears/Cardinals game in 2006 (that's the infamous Dennis Green, "they are who we thought they were" game). I am a lucky, lucky man...


Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys will be an opportunity for the Bears to prove that their offensive and defensive performances (yards gained, yards prevented) last Sunday were no flukes. The Cowboys are a much more talented football team than the Lions, and they will be hungry to get a win after their debacle on Sunday night versus the Redskins. The Cowboys committed awful penalties at inopportune times, and they committed costly turnovers. Wow. You could substitute "Bears" for Cowboys in the last sentence and it would still be true. Both teams showed they could move the ball pretty well against their opponents, but they were unable to stop shooting themselves in the foot.

After one game, it appears that there is enough talent on both of the teams to make this a competitive game, even if the Vegas odds-makers give the Cowboys an 8.5 point advantage. I'm not a gambler, but that line seems absurdly high. I'm hoping the Bears players see that before the game. A little extra motivation, perhaps.

Tony Romo is a first tier NFL quarterback (in the regular season, anyway). He is not really a classic pocket passer, but he is extremely mobile and very difficult to sack. This allows him to extend plays and turn nothing into something. This could be a problem for the Bears. The Cowboys injured offensive line looked a little lost against the Redskins. I think they'll perform better against the smaller, standard four-man rush that the Bears use rather than the creative blitzes Haslett was calling for the Redskins from a standard 3-4 defense. Peppers should flush Romo out of the pocket a few times, especially if they line him up on the left side. But, that may not be a good thing. Miles Austin and Jason Witten might be able to find gaping holes in the Bears secondary.

I still feel confident in the Bears ability to stop the run. I think Briggs and Urlacher should be able to keep Barber, Jones, and Choice in check. Jones scares me a little more than the rest due to his riduculous speed. If he has a big game, the Bears will be in trouble.

The Bears offense will struggle this week to move the ball like they did last Sunday, which means they can't make anywhere near as many mistakes. Cutler will need to play a smart game, and the offensive line will need to improve, especially in the running game. I like Forte and Taylor to continue to excel the passing game. Martz isn't dumb enough to go away from what works. If they don't turn the ball over more than one time and have fewer than five penalties, the Bears could pull off the upset. Sadly, I don't see that happening.


Cowboys 23, Bears 17

Sunday, September 12, 2010


FINAL SCORE: Bears 19, Lions 14

This game will be indicative of what Bears fans can look forward to for the rest of the season. The offense looked unstoppable at times. In the first half, Cutler was finding wide open receivers and the Lions defense looked befuddled. But, as expected, mistakes were everywhere. Aromashodu dropped an easy touchdown pass on the first drive, which wasted a perfect throw from Cutler on a deep corner route. The Bears proceeded to move the ball inside the Lions 5-yard line, and had to settle for a field goal. Omiyale was completely blown off the ball on one of the Forte runs.

Cutler's interception on the next drive was inexcusable. On a 3rd and 19, he threw deep down the middle into triple coverage. Thankfully, it was his only interception on the day. I still can't figure out what he was thinking. Great quarterbacks don't throw that ball. Let's hope Martz chewed him out on the sidelines. That pick led to a Lions touchdown.

The offense genearlly looked sharp for most of the first half, but fumbles by Forte and Olson killed drives. Forte made an incredible catch and run late in the half that finally put the Bears on the scoreboard. Forte looks so damn fast on the second level, but he has a hard time getting there. The offensive line had real trouble consistently opening holes for Forte and Taylor.

The defense was solid in the first half. They did give up 14 points, but the Peppers hit on Stafford gave the Bears the ball back late in the first half, which led to a Gould field goal. It also knocked Stafford out of the game, who was starting to get hot late in that first half.

Going into halftime, down by one point, I felt really confident the Bears would dominate the second half. But, the offense struggled to move the ball. Luckily, the defense played tough. They completely shut down the running game, and backup QB Hill couldn't do much for most of the second half.

The most frustrating moment happened in the fourth quarter. Lance Briggs shot through a gap and caused a fumble in the backfield, which he recovered on the one-foot line. The Bears only had to move the ball less than a yard to take the lead. First down, Forte was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line got no push. Second down, Cutler play faked but was rushed. He threw it out of the end zone. Third down, Forte stuffed again. This is where Lovie should've kicked the field goal. They were down by one and the defense was stuffing the Lions. Nope. He goes for it. Martz uses the same damn formation, and I think he ran the same play they ran on first down. Forte stuffed for no gain. PATHETIC. They struggled mightily in the red zone last year, and they were 0 for 4 in the red zone on Sunday. Good teams can't fail like that when knocking on the door.

Another thing I noticed is that those running plays on the goalline seemed to call for their guards to pull. That is INSANE. I've never coached football at any level, but when you've got to move the ball 1-yard, and everybody is crammed in close, why are guys pulling? Seems like an over complicated plan.

So, the Bears defense holds a few more times, and Cutler gets the ball back. This time, he drives them down, throws a perfect pass to Forte, and the Bears FINALLY take the lead after outplaying the Lions the whole game. I looked at the clock. There was about one-and-a-half minutes left. Uh oh. Lions get the ball, completion, completion, completion. Soon, they're inside the Bears 30. Hill goes back to pass, throws a jump ball to Calvin Johnson and he catches it. I couldn't F**KING believe it. The Bears were going to blow this game. WAIT! The announcers say it was ruled incomplete. It goes to review. They explained the rule, and the refs made the right call based on the rule. But, seriously, we got lucky. Two more incompletions when the Bears finally decided to double cover Johnson and Bears win.

No, you shouldn't really complain after a win. But, the Bears made WAY too many mistakes (4 turnovers, 4 sacks against, and 100 penalty yards). Some of those are correctable, but if they were playing even a mediocre team, they would've lost. They racked up a ton of yards, and the defense played pretty good, especially against the run, but their overall pass rush was anemic and the offensive line still has lots of problems (holding penalties, sacks, no push in the running game).

My opinion hasn't really changed. This is pretty much exactly how I thought they would play this year. Explosive plays will be common, but so will mistakes. The defense will do some good things, but they will be mediocre overall. If they can somehow go about 4-4, the offensive line should be better in the second half of the season, which gives me a little hope. I'm not sure they can do that, though.

This is a talented, mistake prone team. I fear there will be lots of frustration this year, but it should be entertaining frustration, unlike the Jauron years or the late Wannstedt years when they just weren't talented.

Bears 1-0.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lions vs. Bears Preview

The season is now officially underway after the NFL kicked off its season last with the Saints beating the Vikings 14-9. Sorry Vikings fans (not THAT sorry, though). Favre looked rusty, but Adrian Peterson looked great, and the defense was stout. Unfortunately, for Bears fans, the Vikings will again be a good team. I was kind of hoping for a Transformers 2-type debacle where Favre and Chilly went at it on the sidelines like Sean Penn and Wycleff Jean. No such luck. Ok, that's enough about the 0-1 Vikings. Let's talk about the 0-0 Bears!


Will the Bears let the lowly Lions spoil their season and home opener? At first glance, this looks like an easy game for the Bears. The Lions haven't won on the road since Justin Bieber was born, and they have managed just two total wins in their previous 32 games. This should be a cakewalk for the Bears. Yet, those stats don't tell the whole story. Detroit has managed to add some talent due to their "favorable" draft position these past few seasons (Stafford, Best, Suh), and they added some quality defensive lineman via free agency and trades (Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams). Plus, they've still got Calvin Johnson, one of the most freakishly talented receivers in the game. There are only seven players remaining on the roster from their 0-16 season. To say these are the same Lions would be to ignore simple facts. This is a different team.

So, does that mean the Lions will come into Soldier and "upset" the favored Bears? Due to the reasons listed above, there are a fair amount of people predicting exactly that. I don't see it going that way. The Bears will be able to throw the ball against a suspect Lions secondary. Cutler will probably get sacked three or four times, but he'll also make some plays down field while escaping the pocket. If Lance Louis can slow down Suh at all, Cutler could have a big game. Forte had only two games last year when he rushed for more than 100 yards. Both came against the Lions. I don't think he'll rush for a hundred on Sunday, but he and Taylor should be effective, if unspectacular. I also see them both being used effectively on screen passes and dump offs. There is also a small chance that this game could be Johnny Knox's coming out party as a top-flight NFL receiver. Cutler targeted him often during the preseason, and Knox's speed could cause huge problems for Detroit.

I think Peppers will harass Stafford most of the day. With this being his first game in a Bears uniform, he'll be extra motivated to strut his stuff. There is also an outside chance that 2005 Tommie Harris will make an appearance. If that happens, I pray for Stafford. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are both expected to play, so the run defense should be stiff. I think Jahvid Best will make a play or two, but I don't think he'll take over the game. Calvin Johnson will likely catch seven or eight balls and probably score at least once. But, I can live with that, as long as the Bears' secondary limits the other options. Brandon Pettigrew should struggle against Pisa Tinoisamoa and Urlacher due to their range and coverage skills.


I think this will be a tight game. The Bears offense will likely turn the ball over one or two times, and Calvin Johnson will make plays against the secondary. But, I think Cutler makes enough of his own explosive plays that the Bears squeak by while adjusting to their new offensive line and scheme. Robbie Gould might get the game ball.

Bears win 23-20

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chicago Bears 2010 Season Preview

Hello fellow Bears fans. After much debating, I have finally decided to get off my lazy butt and start a Chicago Bears blog. I have been a Bears fan all of my 34 years (despite a slightly misguided stint rooting for Lynn Dickey as an impressionable 8-year old). My true fandom probably occurred shortly after the "Lynn Dickey" phase when I learned of my grandfather's stint with the Bears on their 1943 World Championship team. He was a starter at Notre Dame and got the chance to play for the Bears when some of the team was fighting in WWII. I was named after him, which is why I chose "Born to Bear" as the title of this blog (my obsession with Springsteen probably has something to do with that as well).

I plan to write about the Bears before and after each game (possibly during them, too). Since I live in Wisconsin and decided to give up DirecTV a few years ago, I am sometimes forced to watch Bears games in sports bars. This is probably a good thing because being in public forces me to act with a modicum of decorum during the game rather than a raving lunatic, which doesn't help my marriage. I plan to write many, many irrational things throughout the course of the season, especially if 2010 heads down the path that I fear it will. My only real goals are to continue to post every week regardless of record and keep my irrational rants somewhat lucid. I am a very harsh critic of my team, but I will not call for Cutler to be traded if he has a bad game. And, I won't be calling for Todd Collins following a loss. I'm a fan, not a moron. I will chastise Cutler relentlessly if he continues to make bad decisions with the football, but even fan blogs should be discredited with ultra-ridiculous statements. Of course, I'm saying all of this BEFORE the season starts. We shall see how well I stick to these lofty goals.

If nothing else, this forum will allow me to vent my frustrations every Sunday throughout the season which should, in turn, help me sleep better at night. I've spent too many nights tossing and turning as my mind's eye replays Chris Carter's overtime touchdown, Cedric Benson's fumble in the Super Bowl, and Rex Grossman, um, being Rex Grossman. I'm pretty sure this blog won't actually help improve the team, but it should help me sleep better. Now, here's my preview of the 2010 Chicago Bears.


I watched most of the starting offense in the last three preseason games online thanks to this wonderful interweb thingy. Based on what I saw, their offense could be a complete and total disaster. The offensive line gave up a ton of sacks, receivers were not making plays, and Cutler threw two horrible interceptions that reminded me way too much of last year. A quarterback losing faith in his protection is probably worse than bad protection itself. Cutler admitted that he was feeling skittish because of the sacks and pressure he felt during the Raiders game, which lead to some poor play during the Cardinals game. That really scares me. I think it will take a number of games for this offensive line to come together, but Cutler has to play as if they already have. He can't be looking at or worrying about the pressure when trying to run a timing based offense. His arm can buy him a little extra time, but that's not what Martz wants. He wants the ball to come out quickly and accurately. Those aren't words I'd use to describe Jay's passing style. At this point in his career, he still seems like a young power pitcher who is still learning how to "pitch". And, despite all reports of his high intellect, it doesn't always show during the game. He is too willing to throw what I call "hope" balls rather than just throwing the ball away. If he cuts down on those, the sky is still the limit for him.

Chris Williams, Roberto Garza, Olin Kreutz, Lance Louis, Frank Omiyale. Why do I get the feeling these names will be mentioned too much during Bears games? This offensive line will be the biggest factor in determining the outcome of the Bears season. If they can protect Cutler and execute the multitude of pass blocking protections that Martz requires, I'll be a very happy Bears fan. Mike Tice has a solid track record of developing young offensive lineman, and I think this group will develop nicely...in time. I'm not sure it'll happen this year, though.

Mike Martz. Hmm. I wonder how many times I'll type that name over the next four months? Yes, he has run some really powerful offenses. And, he turned Jon Kitna into an upper-echelon QB for a few seasons. But, I'm not convinced his offenses have the most important goal in mind...winning! Don't get me wrong, it was time for Ron Turner to be fired. His offenses were predictable and dull. They required perfect execution to be successful. He never out coached his opponents. I could predict the play based on the formation and I'm just a schmuck who never got closer to playing in the NFL than Super Tecmo Bowl. I can imagine how much fun it was for defenses to game plan against Ron Turner and his nine offensive plays.

I do think Martz can game plan and scheme. He knows how to attack defenses. I like the aggressiveness of pushing the ball down the field. But, based on what I've seen over the years, he has a tendency to abandon the running game. He also allows his quarterbacks to be punished. And, he doesn't seem overly concerned about turnovers. Even us lowly fans know that turnovers are generally the most important factor in determining the outcome of an NFL game. I agree that you can't be plodding and dull (Ron Turner), but you also can't be batshit crazy (Mike Martz).

The wide receivers are an intriguing mystery. Knox and Hester can both fly, and Devin Aromashodu has size as well as some speed, but Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo are certainly asking for these young players to make a HUGE jump this season in order to save their jobs. I fear Knox is too small to stay healthy for an entire season. Hester just doesn't look like anything more than a #3 receiver in my eyes. He apparently makes huge catches in practice, but I don't see him consistently using his speed and quickness while running routes. D.A. looked incredible during the last few games in 2009, but that was a West Coast-style offense. Greg Olsen is a solid TE, but how much will Martz use him? Like I said, an intriguing group of players with potential, but lots of unknowns.

As down as I am on the passing game, I think the running game could be solid. The offensive line does appear to be quicker and more athletic this year than they were last year. I think the Bears will run more traps and draws this year, which should slow down the pass rush. Some of their screen passes this preseason were quite impressive, too, especially compared to previous seasons when a screen pass meant a guaranteed pickup of two yards. Matt Forte appears to have his burst back after the injuries last year, but he will need a little daylight to utilize it. I don't think he'll get space consistently, but it should be better than 2009 when the holes were tighter than a Phil Mickelson golf shirt. Chester Taylor is a solid all-around back. A lunch-pail guy. Blocks well, catches well, and runs decent. Should help spell Forte and be a good insurance policy.

If Martz can mix in some running plays and Cutler can trust his protection, they have enough TALENT to be a solid offense. But, I fear mistakes (sacks, INTs) will ultimately doom them. I think they'll have some huge games, but won't consistently make plays in key situations (red zone, 3rd downs).


Let me just say that I miss the 46 defense. For all of its deficiencies and its tendency to give up the big play, at least it wasn't boring. I HATE the cover 2 or Tampa 2 or whatever the hell Lovie calls it. This base defense is not effective unless you have great pressure from the front four and a really solid, disciplined secondary. This defense has been outdated for at least three years. Teams have adjusted to it. The Bears haven't been able to get pressure the last few years, and their weak secondary has been exposed by an unbelievably predictable scheme. When the Bears had superior athletes in 2005 and part of 2006, this defense was great. Their speed and lack of size was a huge advantage. Now, it's a liability. Lovie has started blitzing a ton to overcompensate for the lack of pass rush, and this just exposes an already suspect secondary. Yeesh. I see more of the same this year.

Adding Julius Peppers was necessary, even if they overpaid for him. They haven't been able to develop a dominant defensive end in years, so this move was inevitable if Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo were serious about keeping their jobs. Like many Bears fans, though, I was stunned that they actually did it. The McCaskeys don't normally allow for big splashes like this. Let's hope he can be a consistent force and help Tommie Harris find some of the magic from the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Israel Idonije is a solid player with a great motor. He always seems to make plays when given the chance. Same with Anthony Adams. But, I'm not sold on Marcus Harrison and Mark Anderson. I keep reading about how talented they are, but it hasn't translated into much production lately. Sure, Anderson had a monster rookie year, but he has disappeared since then. Matt Toeania looks like he's ready to contribute after a great preseason. Corey Wootton and Henry Melton probably won't get on the field much this year. Overall, this group should be better than last year. But, I sure would've liked to have seen Alex Brown play opposite Julius Peppers.

The linebackers are definitely a strength, despite an aging Brian Urlacher. The good news with Urlacher is that missing a season may have allowed his body to heal from the nagging neck and back injuries. If he stays healthy, he could be comeback player of the year. Lance Briggs is likely to end up in the Pro Bowl again, and Pisa Tinoisamoa is a good strongside linebacker. Plus, with Nick Roach, Hunter Hillenmeyer, and Brian Iwuh on the bench, this unit should be able to handle any injuries that may happen.

Now, we get to the group that looks like they'll be as big of a question mark as the offensive line--the secondary. Charles Tillman is a gamer. He plays hurt, he's always causing fumbles, and he's great supporting the run. But, he is not a shutdown corner. All of the injuries over the years have robbed him of some athleticism. He's still a cagey veteran, and a solid player, but I'm not sure if the Bears can count on him to consistently break-up pass plays down the field. Zach Bowman has shown flashes, and he led the team in interceptions last year. He has good size, and he ran well coming out of college. Some people are predicting big things for him this year, but I think he's reached his ceiling. He'll make some plays, but he'll also get beat more often than a starting corner should. If the pass rush is suspect, he can be exposed. The safeties continue to be huge question marks. Danieal Manning is an insane athlete and a great kick returner, but it doesn't appear that he has the instincts to put those skills to good use at a position. He's back at strong safety to start the season after a stint at nickel back, free safety, cornerback, H-back, flanker, and Lovie's personal chef. Unfortunately, I'm only joking about a few of those. Chris Harris starts at free safety after a brief move to Carolina. Anybody care to bet that neither of these guys will be in these same positions by the end of the year? If there is one thing you can count on it's Lovie changing his safeties. I've read that he's made something like 40 changes since he's been with the Bears. Continuity is highly overrated at the back end of your defense...apparently. Major Wright we'll be starting within four games. He seems to be a natural. D.J. Moore is the new nickel back. He's small, but quick. He didn't play much last year, which worries me that he's suddenly a starter. This group will likely cause the throwing of many remote controls throughout the season, but secondary coach Jon Hoke has promised changes to their coverages after last year's disappointing play. I don't believe it. We'll see the same zones with huge holes and easy completions. The defensive line can help this group with a consistent pass rush, but if they have to cover for longer than three seconds, it'll get ugly.


The special teams looked awful in the preseason, but I trust Dave Toub more than any other coach on this staff. The Bears special teams will be good, even very good. They have great returners and solid kickers. Gould and Maynard are two of the best, even though I see Maynard slipping a little bit. Patrick Mannelly is also great, if he stays healthy. He was banged up during the preseason and missed some time. It was revealing how important he is in the kicking game. After Desmond Clark, the back long snapper, misfired on a few during the Raiders game, Mannelly should've renegotiated his contract! Hopefully Hester can find a few lanes and bring a punt to the house. If he gets one, watch out. It could be the confidence he needs to return to form. I believe Manning and/or Knox will be handling the kick return duties. Both can go the distance on any given play.


Most professional prognosticators have the Bears finishing in third or fourth place. I want to say they are wrong. I REALLY want to say they are wrong, but, alas, I cannot. It will take Cutler and the offense too long to get comfortable with the new scheme, and the defense won't be good enough to shut teams down. I think they'll win some exciting games this year, and I think they'll lose some really ugly games this year. They have some talent on both sides of the ball, but it won't translate into more than 7 wins. The Bears will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season (after being in the Super Bowl). Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo will lose their jobs, and Cutler will have to learn his fourth offense in four years next season when a new coach is brought in. I hope that they prove me wrong. Please prove me wrong, guys. PLEASE.


And, just for the fun of it, I have made my own predictions for the rest of the NFL. It would be too easy to pick the Packers and Ravens in the Super Bowl, like everyone else has done, so I have decided to be much bolder. See below. Here is who I like for each division and the playoffs. Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any ridiculous betting that may take place based on these absurd predictions.

AFC Division Winners:

NFC Division Winners:

AFC Wild Cards:

NFC Wild Cards:

AFC Championship Game:
Ravens vs. Titans

NFC Championship Game:
Giants vs. 49ers

Super Bowl XLV
Titans vs. Giants

Super Bowl XLV Winner:
Tennessee Titans