The Chicago Bears are the opponents this week for your 3-5 (but hopefully surging) Minnesota Vikings. To gain a little more insight into our second-most-hated rivals, I dropped five questions on Adam Oestmann from Chicago Bears Huddle:
The Viking Age: Julius Peppers was a huge off-season acquisition for the Bears. How much of an impact has he had on the defense?
Chicago Bears Huddle: Great question! And, I’m actually going to try and answer it without writing an entire column on Peppers’ impact on the Bears’ defense: Speaking in terms of sacks, Peppers’ numbers have been disappointing. However, there are zero complaints from the coaching staff – who rave about him – and truthfully, zero complaints from any fans who are actually paying attention. The Bears constantly move Peppers from sideline to sideline, and the attention that must be paid to him, opens up opportunities for other players. Consider that Bears’ DT Israel Idonije is currently making a case for the first Pro Bowl of his career. A long career, mind you. Idonije is currently in his 8th season in the NFL, and he owes much of his current success to Peppers’ prominent prowess. Bears’ defensive coordinator, Rod Marinelli, recently had this to say about Peppers: “Oh goodness, he (affects) the game in such a major way.” Going back to what I mentioned to start, Peppers may not have the sacks we expected, but he’s played the run exceptionally well, helping the Bears climb to the 3rd ranked defense against the run. Long story short: He’s had a HUGE impact!
TVA: Viking fans sorely miss Chester Taylor. His impact on the Bears has not – so far – been as great as people expected. Would you like to see more of him in the offense?
CBH: No doubt about it! Personally speaking, I’m a huge fan of Chester Taylor. He’s a veteran ‘back, with low miles. Kind of like a vintage – cherry-red – Mustang. In all honesty, I think the Bears made the right move by bringing him in. Full disclosure: I am the type of guy who actually finds more excitement in the run-game than the passing-game, so maybe my opinion doesn’t count but, Taylor is the perfect compliment to Matt Forte. Let me be clear here: Matt Forte is the more explosive ‘back, but Taylor is the more complete ‘back of the tandem. He’s essential in goal-line and short yardage situations, and is, by far, a better blocker than Forte. Not only “should” the Bears use him more, they “NEED” to use him more. Martz seemed to suggest this week that the Bears do intend to use him as a weapon against his former team by saying, “It’s a special game for him, and we want to make that special for him as well.”
TVA: Generally speaking, how to do you feel about Mike Martz‘ performance as offensive coordinator?
CBH: It would be hard for me to defend Martz at this point. While I want to believe he’s changed, my fan/work relationship with him reminds me of an abusive spousal marriage, and I have to believe – at some point – he will revert back to his old ways. We were all warned when Martz came strolling in that he would: A. Improve the offense, B. Increase sacks on the QB, and C. Abandon the run. He’s done all but one of those. And that one thing, is to improve the Bears’ offense. Things looked a heck of a lot better last week against the Bills but, we’re talking about an 0-8 Bills team. At this point, I am absolutely sure that Mike Martz is an egotistical maniac, so wrapped up in his own scheme, that he hasn’t even checked to see if the team he’s coaching has then same hall-of-fame players it did in St. Louis. And when you look at it that way, Martz’s system seems kind of foolish here in Chicago.
TVA: Jay Cutler is well into his second year as the Bears’ QB, and the results are still mixed. Is Cutler’s less-than-stellar performance more about Cutler himself, the offense in general, the offensive line, or something else?
CBH: Let me ask you this: What is a coach’s job? If you have “chosen wisely,” like Indiana Jones did, you would answer: “To put their players in the best position to succeed.” Cutler has not had that. In just five years, Cutler is working with his fourth offensive coordinator. He’s been to the Pro Bowl once and put up some impressive numbers throughout his NFL career. Through the Bears’ first three weeks of the season, Jay Cutler was the top ranked QB in the league. This, behind the worst offensive line in the NFL (statistically), and having been sacked more than any other QB in the league. I don’t care if the fans say I’m making excuses for Jay, he’s an excellent quarterback, who’s been set up for failure. And, despite that, he’s made the best of it. I promise you, put Cutler behind a decent o-line and he’s well on his way to becoming on of the top QBs in the history (yes, I said history) of the league.
TVA: Lovie Smith always seems on the verge of getting canned, yet he always survives. The players seem to support him in a way that Brad Childress can only dream of. What are your thoughts about Lovie? Like him? Wish he would go away?
CBH: I, very much, like Lovie Smith. I could care-less if he doesn’t “like” the media, or doesn’t tell us what we want to hear. I know that he is well aware of what’s wrong and he is also aware of what needs to be done to fix it. Having said that, he’s a terrible game-manager, he’s one of the worst coaches in the league in challenges, and he throws away time-outs like they’re going out of style. In addition to all of that, he often times doesn’t seem to know when it’s appropriate to go for two or take the field goal, instead of his chances, on 4th down. To answer your question, I think Smith is a good head coach who will have success with the right team, but that team is not the Chicago Bears anymore. It’s probably time for a change in the windy city.
Thanks to Adam Oestmann from Chicago Bears Huddle for sharing his knowledge. And don’t forget to head over to Chicago Bears Huddle to see what I had to say about the Vikings and all their on-going soap opera dramas.