Know Your Enemy: The Chicago Bears


Each week, I contact the editor of the Fansided blog that covers the Seahawk’s opponent, and ask them a few questions. This week I’m joined by Mike of Bear Goggles On.

In the interest of common sense and my own personal sanity, I wont mention Tim Tebow, Marian Barber, or last week’s game. I also was unable to ask about Hurd and his recent arrest, since that happened after I sent him these questions.

1. Caleb Hanie looked surprisingly good in the playoff game last season, but has looked awful so far this year filling in for Cutler. Are you surprised that Hanie hasn’t been more successful this season? 

Hanie has definitely been a disappointment this season.  It’s funny because there was a day in training camp when Mike Martz demoted Hanie to the third string and Bears fans were up in arms.  Maybe Martz should have gone with his first impression and followed through on that move?  Given the pounding that Jay Cutler took last season, it’s shocking that the Bears would come into this season so ill-prepared behind Jay Cutler.

I think part of the problem with Hanie is that teams have film on him and they’re game planning for him; something that Packers didn’t have the benefit of in the NFC Championship game.   The most frustrating part about the Caleb Hanie Experience has been that fact that he’s regressed over the three games that he’s started and the offensive output has been on steady decline.

2. The Bears’ usually stout defense is ranked 20th this season, and is giving up 4.4 yards per carry on the ground. Is it a scheme problem, injuries, or just players who are starting to get old? 

I think it’s a combination of things.  The Bears had some breakdowns in the scheme early in the seasonthat led to some big games that bloat the numbers slightly.  How else do you explain letting Jahvid Best go off for 163 yards rushing and an 88-yard TD?  After that game they sent safety Chris Harris packing and reshuffled their secondary which has helped minimize some of the big plays they were giving up early.

People keep bringing up the age of the Bears defense and there’s no denying that Father Time is coming for Urlacher, Peppers, Briggs and Tillman.  I think the bigger problem is the lack of quality depth behind those guys and at other positions in the defense.  The Bears definitely need to find someone to anchor the defensive end spot opposite Peppers to help hold that edge and maintain containment.

3. After their fast start, if the Bears slide out of the playoffs this season is there a chance that Lovie Smith will let go after the season?

I hate to say it, but I think Lovie is safe for at least another year, especially after the Jay Cutler injury.  The Bears were 7-3 and on a 5 game winning streak before Cutler went down and the Bears offense had a total collapse on their current 3-game losing streak.  I was a big “Fire Lovie” guy a couple of years ago when the Bears went belly up after their Super Bowl appearance, but I’ve grown to respect Smith.  His X’s and O’s still infuriate me at times and his game day execution with clock management and challenges needs work, but his teams are always prepared and will never give up on him.  I like to say that he’s a very capable Monday – Saturday coach but falls short on Sundays.

The Bears free fall may end up costing Jerry Angelo his job more so than Lovie.  There have been rumblings about Angelo retiring after this season and from what I’ve heard it may not entirely be his idea.  As we discussed in my questions, your old friend Tim Ruskell may be in line to replace Jerry.

4. Matt Forte has been one of the game’s premier backs for a couple seasons, and before his injury was having one of the best seasons by a RB in recent memory. Why have the Bears allowed his contract situation to be dragged out like this? Do they not value him, or is he perhaps overvalued by those outside Chicago?

The whole #PayForte Twitter movement got a little overblown.  There’s no denying that Forte started the season on fire, but was coming back down to the Earth when he injured his knee against the Chiefs a couple of weeks ago.  The Bears offered Forte a pretty sizable offer, in the neighborhood of $14-$15 million guaranteed, but in a world where DeAngelo Williams gets $43 million in guarantees, the Bears’ offer wasn’t enough for Fotrte.

From a Public Relations standpoint, the Bears look like the Misers of the Midway on this deal but I hate to admit that they are handling this one right from the business side.  After this season, they can slap the old Franchise Tag on Forte for two more years at approximately $8 million in 2012 and roughly $9 million in 2013.  That’s less than what Forte has been seeking in guaranteed money with zero added risk for the Bears.  After those two season, Forte will most likely be on the decline as most feature running backs in the league start to drop off after the pounding they take early in their careers.

5. What’s your final prediction for Sunday’s game, including the score?

The Bears have their backs against the wall.  Each of the last couple of weeks have been “must win” games for them but this time they really can’t afford another loss if they hope to pull off a playoff miracle.  I expect Mike Martz and the Bears offense finds the right mix of plays for Hanie to execute and the Bears defense find a way to slow down Marshawn Lynch enough to force Tarvaris Jackson to make a few mistakes in the passing game.  The Seahawks are coming off a short week and traveling across country for an early game which doesn’t do them any favors.  The Bears find a way to keep hope of a Jay Cutler miracle return next week on Christmas night in Lambeau alive and pull off the win.

Bears 24 – Seahawks 20

bonus question: Soldier Field used to be one of the best looking stadiums in America. Now it looks like a giant UFO landed on top of it. Is there any plans to fix the stadium and return its look into something that isn’t a complete eyesore? (Note: I loved how it matched the Field Museum and other buildings down on the waterfront, and, obviously, hate the changes)

Many folks around Chicago refer to the new Soldier Field as the “mistake by the lake.”  It’s a classic example of allowing city hall to get involved in the business of renovating that stadium.  Then-mayor Richard Daley cave to pressure from veterans groups to keep the colonnades and other features from classic Soldier Field and drop that bowl over the top of them.  It looks like the Jetsons meet the Flintstones if you ask me.  The renovated Soldier Field is only 8 years old, so I don’t expect any major overhauls to come any time soon.