We did a Q&A exchange with Brett from Midway Illustrated. His answers give us some very good insight into the Chicago Bears.
1) Giants fans have been frustrated by the weak playcalling, schemes and adjustments of our Offensive Coordinator. The Bears, on the other hand, went aggressive and hired Mike Martz. What is your impression of his impact on the team and on the offensive players?
Martz has definitely been a lot more aggressive with his play calling as compared to Ron Turner. Martz allows Cutler to take risky shots down the field and Cutler is playing with a lot more confidence than he ever did during his first year here in Chicago. The offense has been more productive after three games but it has been shaky on third down conversions and in the red-zone.
2) Julius Peppers was your big offseason splash. Is he worth the money? How has his play been, ie is he making a difference for the rest of the line and LBers?
I think Bears fans would like to see more sacks from Peppers overall, but his play has been good enough to help the Bears win games. He was disruptive enough against the Packers that he was held and the resulting penalty called back a touchdown....he sacked Mathew Stafford and forced a fumble in the win over the Lions. Whatever rumors there were circulating around about his lack of effort have seem to be exaggerated as he's given a full out effort on each and every play for the Bears and has been nothing but a complete professional.
3) Devin Hester is making plays at WR. What was his problem before this year, and is he going to be a real and credible threat at WR?
The idea that Devin Hester not making plays at WR prior to this year strikes me as odd as Hester was producing at a higher level in 2009 to this point than he has to this point in 2010. Hester had more yards and more TDs in 2009 and caught the game winning touchdown pass against the Seahawks in week three of 2009. Hester was on pace for over 1,000 yards receiving in 2009 prior to going out with an injury for the last four games of the season in 2009. The difference between last year and this year, this year the plays have been more high profile. Hester made a phenomenal grab one-handed grab against the Cowboys and then had the punt return for a touchdown against the Packers last week.
4) Either you love Cutler or you hate him. So where are you on the QB, and why?
For me I love Cutler when he plays great and I hate him when he throws INTs, at this point last year Cutler had five INTs, this year Cutler has two INTs and six touchdowns and has led the Bears to their first 3-0 start since 2006. He has made some pretty ballsy throws and has been allowed to play within himself a lot more than he did under Ron Turner. The most underrated part of Cutler's game is his escape ability and ability to run with the football to get big chunks of yards when everything breaks down around him. Outside of perhaps Michael Vick I'd argue Cutler has the best ability to avoid pressure than any QB in the NFL.
5) While the Bears are 3-0, it can be argued that this team could easily be 0-3: Game 1 gift from Calvin Johnson, Game 2 gift from the underachieving Dallas Cowboys and Game 3 gift from Mike McCarthy and the Packers. Are the Bears forcing their opponents to make mistakes, or are they indeed getting a little luck?
The Bears' defense is making their own luck. I previously mentioned the Julius Peppers forced fumble and a sack that helped kill momentum for the Lions. With the Cowboys driving down the field in the final minutes to potentially tie the game Charles Tillman forced a fumble on Roy Williams that the Bears recovered, and lastly against the Packers Brian Urlacher forced a fumble as the Packers were driving for a potential game winning touchdown or field goal late in the fourth quarter on Monday Night.
With all the fuss about how "lucky" the Bears have been I think the national analysts have missed the fact that the Bears haven't put together a complete game as of yet and haven't played much better than their opponents but have still come out with the win.
6) What is the Bears' greatest strength and greatest weakness coming into Sunday night.
Strength- The linebackers. The Bears lead the NFL in run defense and a healthy Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are to this point having Pro Bowl caliber seasons. The year off due to injury for Urlacher likely extended his playing career and gave him a fresh outlook on his career....he's playing at a high level, probably a level arguably as well as when he won the DPOY in 2005. Urlacher himself stated he feels better than at any other point during his career.
Weakness- If the patchwork offensive line made up of a couple has been players and a never will be in first year starter Lance Louis. There is really no good offensive lineman on the Bears the unit is a mish mash pile of cr*p that struggles to protect Cutler, is horrible in short yardage situations and is arguably the worst run blocking unit in the NFL. Matt Forte hasn't been able to get going in the running game primarily of how poor of a run blocking unit this offensive line is.
Due to a bulging disk in his neck
, Mathias Kiwanuka will not play on Sunday. Another setback for the Giants. Based on the color from Brett, thus far, the Bears offensive line has struggled with their pass protection. With Kiwi out (leads Giants with 4 sacks), Cutler has one less guy to worry about. On the other hand, for us Giants' fans, this injury appears to be grave. ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting Kiwi could miss up to TWO to THREE months.
And as per Newark Star Ledger's Mike Garafolo
, if surgery is performed, Kiwi will be done for the year.
As a result of Kiwanuka's injury, JPP will most likely get more playing time. We will be rooting for JPP to shine on Sunday Night Football.