Jay Cutler was sacked six times against the Saints. Is it the same old story with Chicago's offensive line and Mike Martz's love affair of the kind of five- and seven-stop drops that lend to quarterbacks taking a beating?
Martz threw 29 passes compared to two runs in the second half of last week's game. It allowed the Saints to pin their ears back and come after Cutler on nearly every play. For that, Martz should take the majority of the blame. After watching the tape, the front five actually played fairly well. It was the players around them who didn't perform, which includes Cutler, the tight ends and the wide receivers.
Yet the line likely will be without two starters on Sunday, including the team's first-round pick Gabe Carimi. Martz will need to game plan around those injuries and have a sound strategy in place to keep Cutler upright. Otherwise, the Packers are going to have a field day.
RB Matt Forte
Speaking of Martz, does he know that he's got a true lead back in the insanely underrated Matt Forte? What's the talk out of Halas Hall after the Bears chucked the ball 52 times against the Saints and ran it just 11 times? It's not like the Bears were getting whacked from the get-go.
Martz took all the blame for the play-calling, saying he couldn't get himself out of a two-minute mind frame once the Bears fell behind in the second half. It's a tendency of his we saw through the first half of last season as well. We all know he loves to pass and sometimes he goes overboard. Smith had to step in last year and basically force him to run the ball more, which I'm sure he did again shortly after Sunday's loss.
The coaches, players and media all know Forte's worth. He's easily the team's biggest weapon as both a runner and pass catcher. It's highly doubtful he'll be ignored again in the second half of any game like he was against the Saints. In reality, the only ones who don't understand Forte's value to the team is the front office, which failed to sign him to a contract extension this offseason.
Care to try to explain the decision to trade Greg Olsen, who was probably their best receiving threat, and then adding Roy Williams? Is Williams really an upgrade to a mediocre receiving corps? Or, is that receiving corps better than outsiders like myself think?
The Olsen trade was a product of Chicago pinning their hopes on Martz's offensive system. Under Martz, tight ends block. They're not supposed to catch a lot of passes. Nevermind the fact Olsen was arguably the team's biggest threat in the passing game, he didn't fit the system and was sent packing.
Roy Williams, in my opinion, is not the answer. From what I've seen, he's the same player he was in Dallas, one that drops far too many passes. The Bears were hoping he could reproduce the numbers he had under Martz while in Detroit in 2006 but the odds of that happening are slim to none.
The receiving corps isn't as bad as most outsiders would have you believe but no single player strikes fear into the heart of opposing defenses. In essence, they're all role players.
LB Brian Urlacher
Nobody stops the Packers' offense. Other than the Bears. That will be a big story line this week. Is there anything you can put a finger on after Chicago's defense allowed merely 41 points in three matchups against the Packers last season?
The Packers have a lot of success beating teams with the big pass play. Smith's Cover 2 scheme is designed to take away the deep pass and force opposing quarterback's to dink and dunk their way down the field. The Bears also have the speed on defense to matchup with Green Bay's receivers.
Yet the key for Chicago will be Jermichael Finley. The Bears didn't have to deal with his presence in the middle of the field last year, which allowed them to focus solely on the receivers. Chicago's defense will have their hands full dealing with Finley down the seams, while also trying to corral the wideouts.
When the new kickoff rule was announced, I thought the Packers were the big winners and the Bears were the big losers. For years, Green Bay couldn't return a kickoff or defend a return worth a darned. Chicago, on the other hand, has Devin Hester leading an always-strong special teams. So far, the Packers' special teams haven't been bad. What's the story in Chicago?
-The Bears led the league in average starting field position last year. The new kickoff rules have negated that advantage for the team. Yet the Bears still have a potent return game that has been within a shoelace of breaking two kickoffs for touchdowns already. The offense won't have the short field as much as they did last year but special teams are still an area opposing teams need to focus on.
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Jeremy Stoltz is publisher of BearReport.com. Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com.