To start off opening week, we welcome in Brett Solesky of Midway Illustrated to help us break down the Chicago Bears.
Brett will give us insight into the Colts’ first opponent of 2012.
You can check out my interview with Brett here.
C/A: How has the Bears line stabilized? It’s been a big issue for some time, right?
Solesky: The Bears’ offensive line has two new starters in Chris Spencer at left guard and Gabe Carimi at right tackle. Carimi at times hasn’t looked like he’s 100-percent back from his knee injury and Webb won the left tackle battle despite his inconsistency. Spencer started at right guard last year and now has been flipped over to the left side where he struggled to acclimate in the preseason.
What has helped is going shot gun more (Bears used the shot gun less than any team in team in the NFL according to the FBOA) and three and five step drops for Cutler. What should help the most is Tice is now designing protection schemes around his offense rather than protection schemes for Martz’s offense.
C/A: The Colts’ corners really only run two deep. Can the Bears take advantage of bad Indy corners by going 3-4 wide?
Soleksy: The Bears showed a willingness to go three and four wide in the preseason but always put a TE out wide when they went four wide. Earl Bennett is an extremely underrated slot receiver who had the lowest drop percentage in the NFL last year according to PFF. Brandon Marshall has been all that was advertised of him and Alshon Jeffery has been better than a lot of rookie receivers I’ve seen coming out of college. Jeffery is probably the catalyst of this group, if he comes on strong and plays better than any number two receiver the Bears have had recently this offense could be really explosive in the passing game.
All the signs from Jeffery in the preseason have shown he could be a special receiver sooner rather than later. I also would say don’t underestimate how good of a TE Kellen Davis is, he’s not elite but he is a big fast strong target that is difficult to cover. His inclusion in the passing game for the first time in two years further opens up the field for Cutler.
C/A: Will Brian Urlacher play this week? What impact does missing Urlacher have? Is he still the same player he used to be?
Soleksy: During an interview with ESPN Radio Chicago this morning Urlacher stated “he can still play at a high level.” However a couple of days before that in a TV interview on Fox Chicago (via the Chicago Tribune) he stated his “knee will never be the same.”
So which is it? My best guess is Urlacher won’t the 100-percent ready to go on Sunday against the Colts, but he will play (barring an unforeseen setback) and even if Urlacher isn’t completely healthy he’s still better than the majority of the middle linebackers in the NFL when he’s not at full speed. What happened this offseason is Urlacher was 100-percent for training camp and then aggravated the knee during camp, after the aggravation he had a debridement procedure which was designed to clean out the knee from what was causing the aggravation. If the procedure did what it was supposed to do, and Urlacher doesn’t suffer a setback he could bounce back and play at a high level.
C/A: What should Colts fans know about the Bears that they dont?
Solesky: The Bears are getting much younger and stronger up front on defense even with Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije both over 30. The defensive tackles are better than last year and could really spark the pass rush. Henry Melton is an underrated pass rusher at the 3-technique, and Shea McClellin is enough of a threat as a pass rusher that it allows Israel Idonije to slide inside to play the DT in the nickel rush package. The pass rushing depth has been remarkably improved from last year and that could make Julius Peppers better late in the game.
The Colts are in a very unfortunate situation from the standpoint that the older players are extremely fresh and well rested and ready to go. The Bears’ defense absolutely destroyed the Falcons in the opener last year with a far more potent offense than the Colts will have. The Bears’ offense may have improved but this defense will be in peak condition in week one, even if Urlacher isn’t 100-percent.
C/A: What do you expect the final score to be?
Solesky: The Bears are extremely tough during their season opening games at home. According to the Bears media information “Chicago enters Sunday’s contest versus the Indianapolis with 63 wins during home-opening contests, most in NFL history. Chicago’s 63-25-4 (.707) record is the best in the NFC all-time and second-best in the NFL. The Bears have won ﬁve of their last six home openers.”
Add to it the 2008 opener on the road, against Peyton Manning in Indy, (the last time the Bear faced the Colts) the Bears held the Colts to 13 points. While I have a lot of respect for Andrew Luck, he’s not yet Peyton Manning of 2008 and the Colts team around Luck isn’t as good as that team. Therefore I see the Colts struggling to get things going on offense and have the Bears winning this one going away 34-13.