A little insight on the Chicago team from Mike Burzawa of Bear Goggles On…
1. Bears fans seem to be pretty down on Mike Tice. Where do you stand on him?
Tice is starting to get painted as the latest villain in the “why does the Bears offense perpetually suck” movie. When they traded for Jay Cutler a few years ago, the Bears appeared to be making an effort to move their offense past the T formation and discover this novel concept called the forward pass. It’s been a struggle for one reason or another.
They had Mike Martz in here the last couple of seasons with Tice as the offensive line coach. The protection for Cutler was horrible, but the blame was laid at Martz’s feet because of his goofy pass happy offense and all the 7-step drops. So the Bears canned Martz and promoted Tice to get more balance and cater a system better suited for the Bears’ talents. It hasn’t worked so far and Tice’s seat is getting hot.
2. What’s going on with Matt Forte? He’s not having the kind of season you would expect.
Simply put, he hasn’t been getting the ball enough. Forte’s touches are way down from last season and that falls on the play calling and the aforementioned Tice. The Bears got Brandon Marshall this offseason and the offense has started to go through him way too much. He’s accounted for almost 40% of the Bears receptions. Sounds a little like that “Randy Ratio” you Viking fans should recognize.
Forte did get banged up early in the season, so it’s possible that he’s hurting more than he let on. In his sophomore campaign, Forte had a bad year and after the season ended, it came out that he was playing through a leg injury for most of the season.
3. A couple of the Bears’ great defensive players, Urlacher and Peppers, really seem to be reaching the end. Do the Bears have anyone in the pipeline to replace these guys?
Yeah, Urlacher especially has looked pretty slow and showed his age this season. It’s possible that losing the offseason due to his knee injury cost him in his conditioning and preparation. Unlike Purple Jesus, he’s not a freak of nature who can recover miraculously.
Peppers is unique in that he doesn’t show up on the stat sheet but has a big impact on the game. He creates openings for others on the defense. I think he’s got more time left than Urlacher.
The pipeline to replace those two as well as others seems to be pretty dry. That’s why the Bears fired Jerry Angelo last offseason and hired Phil Emery. He drafted Shea McClellin to play defensive end when most thought he was better suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Maybe he’s planning ahead?
4. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being totally unscrewed and 10 being screwed like Nic Cage’s movie career, how screwed are the Bears without Jay Cutler?
11! The evidence certainly suggests Nicholas Cage “The Wicker Man” bad. Last season they won one game without him after starting 7-3 and so far Jason Campbell hasn’t fared much better in his first chance albeit against a tough opponent in a hostile environment. When the Bears traded away the farm to get Cutler, they bet big that he would take them to the promised land, so if he doesn’t do it they’re on big trouble.
5. How does Lovie Smith hang on from year to year? And if the Bears fail to make a run this year does Lovie finally have to go?
Lovie has defied the odds to stick around as long as he has. The McCaskey family is extremely loyal to him despite the team missing the playoffs in four off the last five years. With a new GM in place, this could be the end of Smith’s run if they collapse again. I’ve gone both ways on Lovie (insert your gay Bears fan joke here). On the one hand his players are extremely loyal to him and play hard for him. He has firm control of that locker room and has helped create an environment for a troubled guy like Brandon Marshall to thrive. On the other hand, this is a results oriented business. Maybe it’s time to ditch the Cover-2 and get an offensive-minded coach in here as the Bears shift gears from a defense-focused team.
You didn’t ask for my prediction, but I’ll offer one anyway. Bears find a way to slow down Peterson and the defense gets back to scoring. Bears 27, Vikings 23.
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