It is time again for five questions with the opposing team blog as part of our game previews. Dane Noble, who is the man who runs Windy City Gridiron, was kind enough to answer some for me. He calls the lat few years for the Bears a "clown show" and says the key to beat them is still containing Matt Forte and Jay Cutler
So the Bears were able to hang with the Packers in Week 1. What was the level of surprise from Bears fan, and what are the expectations for the team entering this season with a new coaching staff?
The level of surprise was pretty significant. The last few years in Chicago have been a clown show from a coaching and preparation standpoint, so it was a little surreal seeing the Bears come out with their stuff together.
The Packers clearly have a better roster, but we saw the game plan that new head coach John Fox put together, along with OC Adam Gase and DC Vic Fangio. The Bears have plenty of holes in their roster and depth concerns everywhere, but good coaching kept them in that game versus the Packers.
How is the transition to a 3-4 defense going so far? Which players are a natural fit up front and which ones will need some time to adjust?
So far it is okay, but we've also got one of the best in the business, Vic Fangio, orchestrating everything. The Bears have some talent in the DL and LB rotations, but they've also got some serious issues. Last week versus the Packers, I don't think anyone ever laid a hand on Aaron Rodgers, and they won't be able to make any sort of run for the NFC North without that. It is also worth noting that the Bears weren't able to set up in their base 3-4 for much of that game, having to shift into nickel coverage throughout the game.
For the game this week, pay attention to OLB Jared Allen and OLB Pernell McPhee. Both guys have a big bark, but didn't do much of anything against the Pack. It wouldn't surprise me to see backups Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, and Sam Acho get some snaps this week.
What would be the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the team thus far through the offseason, preseason and one week of the regular season?
The biggest strengths by far is the running game, and the coaching staff. Matt Forte came out chewing up yardage against Green Bay, making a case for another potential offseason contract extension. But he knows he'll have to stay healthy and be consistent, as he's got his potential heir sitting behind him in Jeremy Langford. Langford was a 4th round pick by Chicago this year, and will be providing Forte with some breathers during each game, so Forte knows he'll have to keep those numbers up to have any leverage for the future.
Just how much will Matt Forte see the ball? How effective could he be against Arizona?
Forte will continue to be a workhorse, and he wouldn't have it any other way. He'll probably take 80-90% of the snaps with the offense, with the aforementioned Langford giving him some relief. Also, the team may work in Jaquizz Rodgers on a play or two, as he worked hard during the preseason and turned some heads.
If you were the Cardinals, how would you go about attacking the Chicago defense and defending the Chicago offense?
If I were the Cards, I would come out and hit the defense right in the mouth. Run the ball right up the gut repeatedly and see if they get tired. We've got a shaky secondary, so I'd definitely make a point to set up some play action after a series or two of ground and pound.
On the Cards' defensive side of the ball, it will be all about containing Matt Forte and Jay Cutler. Forte is shifty, and if they bottle him up in one spot, he can change directions in a heartbeat and find a seam to squeeze right through. Containment will be the key for Forte.
Jay Cutler had a good game versus the Packers, save for the one critical 4th quarter interception. He looked good all game long, making his reads, setting his feet, and throwing with intention. The Bears won't open him up too much, and will likely focus on 6-15 yard clips at a time. His 3rd down passing was almost perfect, and he can still make a defense pay with his legs. So containment will be key here as well.
Bonus -- prediction:
23-20! (I am guessing he picks the Bears)