Kreutz: 'We know they're a good team'

Aside from long-snapper Patrick Mannelly, nobody on the current roster has been a member of the Chicago Bears longer than center Olin Kreutz. A five-time Pro-Bowler, the former Washington Huskie recently signed a three-year contract extension. Kreutz was chatting it up in the Bears locker room on Wednesday, and Bear Report was there to hear what he had to say.

The Bears played an absolutely miserable first quarter against the Giants at the Meadowlands on Sunday Night Football, but they were able to straighten out the gameplan and utimately prevailed in convincing fashion 38-20.

The passing of Rex Grossman and the running of Thomas Jones got the majority of the headlines, but the offensive line deserves much of the credit for turning around the team's fortunes in that game. Grossman was intercepted early and hit the deck on several occasions because of the pressure from the New York defensive front, but he had more time in the pocket as the game progressed and threw three more touchdown passes. The ground game had only five yards on its first 10 carries, but Jones turned it on down the stretch and finished with a season-high 113 yards.

Naturally, All-Pro center Olin Kreutz deserves the lion's share of the credit.

The offensive line may have done a great job adjusting to what the Giants were doing in the second half, but it won't help them with their preparation for this Sunday's matchup with the surprising Jets.

"They're a different team," Kreutz said Wednesday at Halas Hall. "They play a 3-4, so it will be a little different."

The 3-4 defense - meaning three down linemen and four linebackers - is predicated more on speed and quickness than size and strength, and it presents some challenges that a standard 4-3 sometimes doesn't.

"It's very different, actually," Kreutz admitted. "But the Giants did a little what we call ‘slide defense', which turns into a 3-4, but they have more defensive linemen on the field. So every defense is different. We played a few 3-4 teams this year. Miami played a 3-4, so it's not like we totally haven't seen it this year."

Although many folks around the NFL were, Kreutz was not surprised that the Jets went into Foxboro and defeated the heavily-favored Patriots last Sunday.

"They're a good team," he said, "so we kind of expected them to give them a good game. They're 5-4 this year, so like it's was a shocker that they won. We know they're a good team. We know they played well."

Chicago's offensive line seemed to be caught off guard by some of the blitzes the Giants employed in the first half, but Kreutz insists that they weren't doing anything he hadn't seen before.

"No, teams do that to everybody," he said. "Every week you see something is new. The first time they do it, it works. Hopefully the second time they do it, it doesn't. Every offense has the same problem. We don't see blitzes that nobody else sees. They just run something different. Every defense has something different for every offense."

Thomas Jones started slow but ran the ball down right down the Giants' throats last Sunday, and Kreutz attributes that success on the ground to changing their approach in the second half.

"We adjusted to what they were doing a little better," he said, "and we just started playing a little better. We kind of settled down. The Giants had us on our heels in the first half, and a lot of credit goes to them. It wasn't like they were doing something totally different. They were just playing really good defense, and it took us a while to settle down, adjust to it, and we started playing a little better."

The Bears should be feeling very good about themselves with an 8-1 record and a two-game lead on the rest of the NFC, but the veteran Kreutz knows that there is still a long way to go this season.

"You just realize that we have eight wins," he said. "But it really means nothing right now. This game is the only thing that counts."

The Bears unveiled the shotgun for the first time this season against the Giants, and although speculation had been swirling that Kreutz isn't a fan of that wrinkle on offense, he insists that he's fine with it.

"I don't really care," he said. "I ran a shotgun with [former Bears offensive coordinator Gary] Crowton. We ran it almost every play. I ran it with Terry Shea. We ran it almost every third down, so it really doesn't bug me one way or another."

Should Kreutz have the final say on whether or not they continue to use the shotgun in obvious passing situations?

"It all depends how the quarterback feels back there."

According to Grossman, "The shotgun is no big deal for me either way. It's just a way to get the ball in my hands."

Grossman is already tied for ninth-most in franchise history with 17 touchdown passes this season - Bears legend Sid Luckman threw 17 TDs in 1946 - so it doesn't seem to matter much how Kreutz gets the ball to his maturing quarterback.

JC


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