Behind Enemy Lines: Part I

Our Scout.com experts, Jeremy Stoltz of Bear Report and Nate Caminata of Roar Report, go Behind Enemy Lines for a closer look at Monday's contest between the Bears and Lions at Ford Field.

Cam Newton and the Panthers rolled up over 500 yards on Chicago's defense last week, and had trouble corralling WR Steve Smith. Is that a direct indictment of the Bears' defense? Is there concern in Chicago with Detroit's receiving corps and Calvin Johnson?

-The Bears have dealt with injuries to their starting safeties, but overall, it is an indictment of the defense. In man coverage, the cornerbacks are getting beat on a fairly regular basis. The front four haven't been able to put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. And the team is giving up big chunks of yardage on the ground.

Now they face arguably the best receiver in the game in Calvin Johnson. Bears coaches are very concerned about Megatron, especially since Steve Smith and Greg Jennings have lit up the defense the past two weeks. Opposing tight ends have also had a lot of success, so there should be plenty of opportunities for Brandon Pettigrew as well.


DT Ndamukong Suh
Tom Dahlin/Getty

The Panthers only tallied one sack against Cutler, but Chicago's offensive line has dealt with injuries and has caught the brunt of criticism this season. Are they as shaky as advertised? How has a Mike Martz offense that relies upon time in the pocket adapted?

-The offensive line is without its best player, Gabe Carimi, and the coaches have to do some shuffling on the right side. That said, the group has looked much more in sync the last two games. Still, the Bears haven't faced anyone as dominant as Ndamukong Suh, so I expect the Lions to get good pressure on Cutler.

Martz has slowly been dialing back the seven-step drops but he still puts his quarterback in harm's way too often. The best way for the offense to avoid getting Cutler killed is to run the ball successfully.

Speaking of Martz, his aerial attack didn't put up any points against the Panthers and Jay Cutler enters the Monday night contest with a 77.8 QB rating -- 26th in the league. Is that a reflection of the team's lack of receivers, protection, or a combination of both? Is he on the hot seat in Chicago?

-It's a reflection of a few things. Cutler was getting hurried, rushed, sacked and generally beaten up through the first three weeks. It's hard to gain yards through the air when your signal caller is on his back.

Martz bailed on the run for two straight games, forcing Cutler to throw more than 40 times in each contest. Opposing defenses didn't have to worry about the run, which made it easy for them to shut down the pass.

And the receivers have not played well at all. The constant blitzing gave the wideouts a lot of one-on-one matchups with corners and safeties, yet they couldn't do anything with those matchups and failed to get open. There has also been a ton of drops so far, probably a side effect of having Roy Williams on the team.


PR Devin Hester
Scott Cunningham/Getty

Unlike most individuals at his position, Devin Hester continues to get better with age. What is the secret to his success, and just how valuable is he to Chicago's 2011 season?

-The Bears use special teams as a way to beat opposing teams and not just as a transition from offense to defense. Because of that, only Matt Fore is more valuable as a point-scorer than Devin Hester. Hester's combination of speed and field vision on punt and kick returns is unmatched in the NFL.

Yet a lot of his success is due to special teams coordinator Dave Toub, one of the best in the business. His special teams units annually rank at or near the top of the league. Hester and Toub will continue to have success for as long as the two are together.

What is the perception in Chicago, both in the locker room and in the media, of Detroit's 4-0 start?

-At 4-0, there is some surprise, but it's not shocking. The Lions bandwagon started getting pretty full this offseason and it appears at capacity now. Everyone knows they have a talented roster and will continue to have success for as long as Stafford stays healthy.

The most surprising aspect of their 4-0 start is the manner in which they've won their games. Three road wins so far is one more than they had all of last season and their ability to comeback from big second-half deficits the past two games shows a lot of heart and desire.

Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport


Jeremy Stoltz is publisher of BearReport.com. Nate Caminata is publisher of RoarReport.com.


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