Here is our weekly series “Interrogating the Enemy”. Mike Burzawa was kind enough to take some time away from editing Bear Goggles On to answer a few questions.
1. The Bears have a new offensive coordinator, do you feel that this will also help the offensive line?
As last season’s offensive line coach, Mike Tice knows that positional group inside and out. Since the Bears didn’t make a lot of personnel changes to address one of their biggest weaknesses, Tice promises to address the concern through scheme. Look for a lot of rollouts, moving pockets and short drops; a distant departure from Mike Martz’s 7-step dropbacks in the pocket.
2. Tell us about the young players on your team, and who we should watch for Friday night.
A couple of high round draft picks are worth keeping an eye on. On the offensive side of the ball, Alshon Jeffery has been impressive throughout camp. He’s caught just about everything in sight and looks to be the real deal to play opposite Brandon Marshall. Look out for him in the red zone.
On the defensive side of the ball, rookie Shea McClellin has been under the microscope. The Bears have been looking for a pass rush specialist to take advantage of the constant double teams that Julius Peppers draws. The jury is still out on McClellin. He’s shown some good speed and a motor to match and picked up a couple of sacks through speed and determination, but he’s not out-muscling anyone. In the run game, he’s gotten mauled at the point of attack as he needs to bulk up and get used to playing with his hand on the ground.
3. What match-ups are you looking forward to against the Giants?
The matchup that interests me most is the Bears’ offensive line vs the Giants’ defensive line. The G-men arguably have the best front four in the league and can bring pass rushers on in waves. The Bears offensive line bounced back in their second preseason game against the Redskins after a clunker in their first outing against the Broncos. In the always important third preseason game, I’m interested to see if the line is improving and can hold up to a relentless rush like the Giants will bring or if they’re still a work in progress. I just hope for Cutler’s sake, it’s not another 9-sack outing like a couple of years ago.
4. Is the loss of Brian Urlacher concerning fans in Chicago?
Urlacher has been the face of the franchise for the better part of a decade and represents a key cog in Lovie Smith’s Cover-2 defense, so it’s natural that people a getting a little fidgety thinking about the Bears defense without #54 patrolling the middle of the field. This Bears team is built to withstand an injury to Urlacher better than previous versions had been. With Peppers, Briggs and Charles Tillman, the Bears still have Pro Bowl players at all levels of the defense while the offense is ready to blow up like we’ve never seen in Chicago with Cutler, Marshall and Forte ready to lead the way. For me, I’m less worried about the loss of Urlacher than I am about his effectiveness when he does return. I think he’ll be back, but if he’s lost a couple of steps, can he still cover the ground he needs to cover without hurting the defense.
5. How has Matt Forte looked in pre-season, and will we see a lot of him Friday night?
We haven’t seen too much out of Matt Forte this preseason. Forte missed the preseason open as the Bears opted to sit out their stars from a rain-soaked night vs Denver and used him only sparingly last week. He’s kind of the forgotten man on the offense, while Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have been fine tuning the passing attack. Forte looks like he’s bounced back from a late-season knee injury in better shape than ever. I expect him to do what he does and pile up the yardage in the running game and in the short passing game during the season and wouldn’t be surprised to see him get 5-10 carries on Friday vs the Giants.