The Chicago Bears, like any other team in the NFL, has just as many questions as they do answers. Perhaps, the Bears have many more questions than most.
We have seen this team undergo a lot of changes since going to the Super Bowl in 2006. There has been a lot of turnover in the coaching staff, there are players who have come and gone, and the philosophy has changed from one of a strong running game with an overbearing defense, to one of a passing offense and a cross your fingers hope it works defense.
Now, with jobs on the line and the hopes of another chance at a Super Bowl slipping, both head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo believe the Bears have a lot to do to right the ship and get them back on the right path.
There are so many questions heading into the preseason with the Bears—way too many to list here—but I thought that I would take a stab at answering the five biggest questions heading into training camp and beyond for the Chicago Bears.
Here is a look at the five biggest “Bear” questions heading into the preseason this summer.
1. Can Jay Cutler cut down on his interceptions?
The promise of a new offense is always exciting for a quarterback, but this offense in particular is going to have Cutler throwing the ball more than he has ever thrown it in his career.
So what does that mean?
More opportunities for interceptions, thats what it means.
The key will be whether or not he and his receivers learn the system well enough to run the proper routes, make the proper reads, and take full advantage of what the system has to offer. Granted, they have had several months to learn the new system, but they haven’t spent a lot of time on the practice field in practical application of the offense. There will definitely be a learning curve, but hopefully things will be better and Cutler won’t make as many mistakes as he did last season.
2. Can the Bears get the running game going?
Last year, the Bears pulled away from their usually effective rushing attack and went to the air much more often. Granted, they figured that since they had Cutler at the helm and his big time arm, they would be able to throw the ball much more than they had in the past (and throw it more effectively) even though that wasn’t the case.
Last year’s starter Matt Forte appeared a little tentative when running the ball and would, at times, “dance” around in the hole and not run straight through it. He was also the victim of some minor injuries as well as bad run blocking from his offensive line.
The Bears are going to want to pass the ball a lot again this season, but they also want to run the ball in certain situations to keep the defense off balance. They have gone out and grabbed some decent talent at the running back position (Chester Taylor is a good example) to help keep Forte healthy and keep a change of pace in the backfield. Keeping two fairly fresh running backs in the game will help the Bears out a lot and give opponents fits.
3. Can the Bears generate a pass rush this season?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Peppers will be eager to show his stuff in a new division and make his presence felt. Hopefully this will end up being enough to light a fire under defensive tackle Tommie Harris and Mark Anderson, making both of those guys much better (or helping them revert back to their previous form).
It is imperative that the Bears are able to generate a pass rush this season. Their secondary is experiencing growing pains as well and could be considered a weak point on defense this season. They could use all the help that they could get and a good pass rush would be a huge help for them.
4. What do the Bears do with Greg Olsen?
Greg Olsen is much more of a pass catching tight end than he is a blocking tight end, but knowing that the new offense is going to require tight ends to block much more than they have in the past, can the Bears use Olsen much?
His presence on offense would most certainly tip the defense to the fact that the ball will probably be coming his way. The defense can then blanket him (with coverage) and take him out of the play.
It will be interesting to see what the Bears do with him during the preseason. You can almost bet that if a team comes along with anything close to a decent trade offer then the Bears will probably bite on it.
Olsen didn’t really work his way out of a job in Chicago, it’s more like the team and the new philosophy may have gotten him out of the job. He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on in training camp as a trade could come along at anytime and he could be gone.
5. Will Peppers Produce?
There have been some that state the newly acquired defensive end Julius Peppers is not an every down player (meaning that he takes plays off and doesn’t always play his best). Some feel that he was just looking for a big payday and now he is going to sit back and not play to his fullest potential. Granted, there is always a chance that he will turn out to be much less than expected, but Peppers has certain motivations to play at a high level in Chicago.
First, not many people realize that Pepper’s contract does have some pretty significant incentive laden bonuses in it so his performance is key to just how much money he will make. That being said, the more Peppers wants to get paid the more (and better) he has to play.
Another reason why he will probably step it up and play hard in Chicago is that he wants to prove that he is the best pass rusher in the NFC North. With Jared Allen holding onto those honors for the past few seasons, Peppers may want to try to find a way to be the guy that is tops in the division in sacks. That could make things pretty interesting as well.
There are many more questions that weren’t covered here and we have only scratched the surface of all that can be asked about the Bears and what they are going to do in 2010. Some people feel that they could be headed for greatness while others feel that they won’t even be able to get past the Lions in the NFC North.
We will soon find out just how good or bad the Bears will be this season. Hopefully things will get better so fans have something to cheer about in 2010. We will all find out very soon.