Behind Enemy Lines: Inside the Bears

An inside look at the major Chicago Bears storylines heading into the Week 1 matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

If there’s one reason why the Packers have dominated this series in recent years, it’s Aaron Rodgers vs. Jay Cutler. Cutler has put up some big numbers against Green Bay, but those numbers include far too many interceptions. Has a change in coaches meant a change in Cutler?

At this point in his career, it’s doubtful anyone is going to “right the ship” for Cutler, who after 10 NFL seasons still struggles mightily with his mechanics and decision-making. At 32 years old, Cutler is what he is, but there are signs he’s moving in the right direction. He did not throw an interception during team drills in training camp and was turnover free during the preseason. It’s not much to go on but if Cutler continues to be judicious with the football, it will go a long way toward keeping pace with Rodgers and company.

The Bears used to play basketball on offense with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Martellus Bennett. Marshall’s with the Jets and his replacement, Kevin White, is injured. So who are Cutler’s targets?

In a normal week, Alshon Jeffery would be expected to carry a heavy load in the passing attack and while he practiced today, he won't likely be 100 percent due to a calf injury. That leaves Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson, both fresh off their own injuries, as Cutler’s main wide receiver targets. Yet there’s no doubt he’s going to lean heavily on his two security blankets, Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery, who will likely pick up most the slack through the air.

I know when the Packers went from the 4-3 to the 3-4 in 2009, there were a lot of round pegs and square holes. How does Chicago’s personnel work in the new scheme?

The Bears’ defense is definitely a work in progress, with guys like Jared Allen, Willie Young, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton who have never before played in a 3-4 system. A few players looked like fish out of water during OTAs but there has been substantial development the past four months, particularly along the front seven. That said, I fully expect a lot of assignment mistakes early in the season.

Longtime playmaking corner Charles Tillman is gone, which is good news for the Packers. Stardom has been predicted for Kyle Fuller. Is he ready to take that next step, and how does the rest of the secondary look against Green Bay’s revamped passing attack?

Fuller has struggled mightily since midway through his rookie year and did not look any better during the preseason. He appears to have lost confidence, and he’s been hesitant and slow to react on the field. There are concerns with the rest of the secondary as well, with veterans Antrel Rolle and Alan Ball showing their edge, as well as rookie safety Adrian Amos, who will be making his NFL debut on Sunday. Unless a miraculous shift happens in the next three days, Rodgers should have no problem carving up Chicago’s secondary.

Some projection here, but how does John Fox succeed where Marc Trestman failed? Is this an instant turnaround? 2016? Even longer?

The mind set in Chicago’s locker room changed the moment Fox and the new coaching staff took over. It’s no longer romper room inside Halas Hall, with structure and discipline replacing the free-for-all atmosphere of the previous regime. Yet despite the high level of coaching, the player talent just isn’t there yet. The Bears are going to need at least one or two more solid drafts before they can legitimately compete in the NFC North.

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