The blogging community doesn’t appear to be giving the Chicago Bears the opportunity to take the field without condemning them to a week 1 loss. The Colts blog Naptown’s Finest has done a preview of the week 1 match up and feels pretty confident that the Bears offense sucks and the Colts can run the show. I went over to our central hub at Fansided Blogs and was even more disappointed. In preparing a suggestion on which team to bet on and which fantasy players to start, it suggests to sit Joe Forte. I was unaware that Bears running back Matt Forte had a relative on the Bears roster that was eligible to play this week.
There are a few certainties about Sunday night’s game that we can all agree upon. The Bears offense will struggle, not because of Kyle Orton or a young receiving corps, but because of a shoddy offensive line. The Bears have serious issues at the tackle position and there is no time table on if and when first round tackle Chris Williams will play this season. That being said, I think the result will be a lot more Matt Forte instead of less. Forte is a critical piece of the offense because he picks up blocks and excels as a receiver as well as running back. The first few weeks of the season are when NFL teams employ the screen pass when defenses are still getting into the flow of the game. By December, a screen pass usually results in no gain, but in September they can mean 30 yard bursts.
The Bears also have the ability to play to their strengths if they are smart. The list of Bears receivers lacks a speedy, deep ball threat aside of Devin Hester. The rest of the group are possession receivers that work in the slant. Orton works a different mentality from Rex Grossman because he likes to look for the short quick pass and get the ball moving. Add that up together and you have an offense that will employ a lot of diversion plays, slant passes, and dumps to Forte that will try to spread the Colts defense. I’m not saying it will necessarily look pretty, but they may be effective at times. The Colts have a very good defense and the Bears will have to be on their toes with an aggressive game plan. If the Bears offense can suck in the Colts defense and effectively run short pass routes for consistent gains, they could create momentum.
My counterpart seemed to ignore the Bears defense, the strength of the team. The Bears don’t have the luxury of playing good defense and letting the offense score. The Bears rely on the offense getting in field goal range and the defense dominating the game. All preseason the Bears defense showed a basic vanilla package and refused to give any team a glimpse of the packages they will use in the regular season.
The Colts have one Achilles heal that the Bears will attempt to expose. Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday will miss the game with an injury. There is an opportunity to over-dramatize the injury, but there has also been quite a significant ignorance of its implication. The center of the offensive line, especially a pro bowl leader like Saturday, leaves the rest of the line without their leader. In the NFL the center is often the player with the brains and leadership to keep the rest of the lineman in order. The Bears have admitted when pro bowl center Olin Kruetz isn’t on the field they struggle without his leadership to guide their blocks.
Add in the doubt with every snap if Payton Manning will have a solid communication with his new center as his old trusty center. I can tell you all about how a mis-snap here and fumbled snap there can throw off the flow of the entire offense and the ability to build a drive.
Lastly, mix in the fact that an unproven center will have to line up against pro bowl beast Tommie Harris and pick up blitzes from Brian Urlacher and there could be trouble in Indie. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the Bears attack the center of the line early and often from the linebacker or safety position. A healthy Mike Brown gives the Bears the ability to show blitz with Urlacher, drop him back, and let Brown fly in to attack the quarterback.
I’m not ready to roll over and assume the Colts can pick apart this Bears team. Yes, the Bears have several issues on offense but they always have issues on offense and have found ways to win. The defense is pissed off and poised to make plays and turnovers and they usually play extremely well in the beginning of the season when they are healthy. Last year they were one big play away from upsetting the Chargers to win week 1 and they were not a good team last year.
Oh, and they still have Devin Hester. That alone is enough to still give me hope.
I’m sorry Fansided, but it’s not quite over until it’s over. Let’s give a little respect.