When the opportunity to converse with insightful editors of other team-oriented sites arises, SeahawkFootball.com will take full advantage. As crazy as it might sound, fans of other NFL teams are just as passionate for their club as the 12s are for the Seahawks. In a new feature we'll call Speaking with the Enemy, we'll share five Questions and Answers with the editors from this week's opponent.
This week, we exchanged questions and answers with Jeremy Stoltz, editor of BearReport.com, Chicago's affiliate on the Scout network.
Here are my questions and his answers:
1. Jay Cutler's hamstring injury has been characterized by some as likely to keep him out Sunday against the Seahawks, though John Fox said Wednesday that may not be the case. What's the latest there? Is offensive coordinator Adam Gase likely to change the offense much if Jimmy Clausen is the starter?
John Fox is hiding behind protocol. I don't think there's any chance Jay Cutler, who has not practiced this week, will start on Sunday. With Jimmy Clausen under center, I think the Bears, who have the 5th ranked rushing offense in the NFL, will lean even heavier on Matt Forte, whose 202 rushing yards are 4th most in the league, as well as rookie Jeremy Langford, whose role in the offense is growing. With the receivers banged up, the Bears are unlikely to push the ball deep down the field against Seattle, especially with Kam Chancellor back in the fold. I expect a lot of short passes, swing passes and screen passes to help create high-percentage looks for the club's backup quarterback.
2. While the injury news has focused on Cutler, Bears' wideouts Alshon Jeffrey, Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson and running back Matt Forte all are battling issues of their own. Who of these do expect to play and how have they performed in the past when battling pain?
Alshon Jeffery has not practiced this week and I do not expect him to play on Sunday. That's a big loss for the Bears facing a Seattle secondary that has led the league in passing defense the past two seasons. The good news is that Eddie Royal did return to practice today and Marquess Wilson appears healthy as well. I expect both to play, as well as Matt Forte, who did not appear inhibited by the knee injury during today's practice session. Forte has always fought through injuries, so I don't expect him to be limited - in terms of snaps or production - this weekend.
3. The fans in Seattle are cautiously optimistic that the Seahawks are better than the club's 0-2 record indicates. Is the feeling in Chicago that Fox and Co. are willing to "suffer" through a losing season in an effort to start all over or is this a good team that just ran into hot opponents and struggling through some tough injuries?
This is not a good team. The roster is littered with holes on both sides of the football due to poor drafting and horrible veteran contracts (Jared Allen makes $12 million this year) doled out by the former regime. This is a rebuilding season in Chicago in every sense of the word. If the Bears keep Sunday's game in Seattle competitive, it will be a shock to me.
4. What is the latest on Bears' first round pick Kevin White, following his surgery to repair a stress fracture in his leg? Have there been any bright spots among Chicago's other rookies so far this season?
White will be eligible to begin practicing with the team in about a month but I'm told he's still a long way away from recovering fully. With the Bears trending toward one of the worst records in the NFL, there may be no point in activating White this season and putting him at further risk of injury. Second-round nose tackle Eddie Goldman is a quality two-gap run defender who can anchor Chicago's line going forward, while fourth-round running back Jeremy Langford appears to be the club's workhorse back of the future. Third-round center Horniss Grasu has struggled and has been inactive the first two regular-season contests. Fifth-round safety Adrian Amos is in the starting lineup but he's been very inconsistent and struggled last week against the Cardinals. Overall, Bears rookies have had minimal impact this season.
5. Though the Seahawks' offensive line fared much better in Week Two against the Packers than in the opener against the St. Louis Rams, blocking remains very much a concern. Who should Seahawks fans (and Russell Wilson) be watching out for among Chicago's pass rushers?
The Bears are one of two teams in the NFL without a sack, so Russell Wilson and company shouldn't have much too worry about. Chicago's best edge rusher is Pernell McPhee, who has had a number of flash plays and has been very close to picking up at least three sacks. Jared Allen is useless on the other side, while both Lamarr Houston and Willie Young are recovering from major lower-body injuries and have played like shells of their former selves. And with Jeremiah Ratliff suspended, the Bears don't have a single interior defender who can collapse the pocket in the face of the quarterback. If the Seahawks can keep McPhee in check, Wilson should have plenty of time to deliver passes down the field.