This is the end of the road for the 2011 season. One more to go versus our rival Chicago Bears in a game that has no playoff implications whatsoever. Before this battle we sat down with Lou DeCola of Bear Goggles On (www.beargoggleson.com) and had a nice little chat…
1. Bears have lost 5 in a row. Obviously losing Jay Cutler and Matt Forte were huge losses, however was it just those injuries or were there other things us fans of other teams didn’t obverse?
Cutler and Forte were HUGE losses and given the Bears were on a 5 game win streak when Cutler went down, shortly followed by Forte, I would say their losses meant everything, especially Cutler. If we had a backup QB who was at least relatively competent, we could have perhaps scraped out 2-3 wins and been in position for the playoffs, but Caleb Hanie certainly was not the answer and we paid for it. Kahlil Bell has shown that he can do some of the same things Forte can do, but there is no other QB on the Bears roster that is worthy of carrying Cutler’s jock.
2. Is Matt Forte going to be hit with the franchise tag this offseason and what’s ahead for him in these contract disputes?
I think the quick answer is yes, he will be hit with the Franchise tag. In hindsight and possibly foresight for those not in the Forte negotiating camp, this was good business on the Bears part. They offered him $14M guaranteed which will be the same amount they will not have to pay him for each of the next 2 seasons, because the Bears can Franchise him in 2012 and 2013. I love Forte and hope something can get worked out, but taken as a whole, I wouldn’t want his contract to prohibit what the Bears can do to address other areas.
3. Jared Allen is 4 sacks away from Michael Strahan’s single season record. I know 4 sacks is steep for one game, but when records are on the line we pay attention. Does he have a chance going against the Bears o-line?
I would hope the Bears O-line has more pride than to allow that to happen. If Hanie was still the QB, I would say the chances are greater, but Josh McCown is a little more polished in the pocket when it comes to knowing when to throw the ball away, so I feel fairly confident that this record is safe for another season.
4. Another contract that has gotten a bit of attention is Mike Martz. Is he gone at end of season?
The growing sentiment is that he will be, but personally I hope that isn’t the case. Cutler was beginning to thrive in his offense in only the second year since Martz joined the Bears, so I would like to see a healthy Cutler with some added talent at WR roll in this offense for another season. Also, Mike Tice is next in line as the favorite in house candidate, but I think Tice’s value is with coaching the offensive line. He has been making chicken salad out of chicken poop for 2 seasons now.
5. Since this game (unfortunately) is the end of the season for both teams… What’s on the Bears wish list for better days in 2012?
The window on our defense is closing rapidly. Urlacher has a couple of seasons left playing at the level he is today and Briggs isn’t too far behind. After that, we have nothing in the LB core to fill in. Also, Charles Tillman is one of my favorite Bears of all time for his play on the field and contributions off of it, so CB would be another position we need to take a hard look at. Of course, we can use all the able bodied WRs and OL-men we can find to create competition and provide options.
Bonus Question: Game Predict?
The typical Bears pessimist would say the Bears will complete the collapse and lose this week, but I think our defense has just enough pride to make things tough on the Vikings. The fact that AP won’t be out there also bodes well for us, so I will say Bears win 17-13.
Special thanks to Lou for taking the time to answer our questions. Feel free to check Bear Goggles On for my answers. Skol!
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig