National Football Post’s Matt Bowen popped in on Lovie Smith and the Bears in Bourbonnais. You remember Bowen, don’t ya? We’ve relied on his expertise as a former player in Lovie’s Cover-2 scheme to get some great insight on the Bears’ defense last offseason and how to beat it. Let’s see what Bowen thinks about how the Bears look:
On the Bears offense:
Overall, I’d say Bowen likes the look of the Bears receivers. He thinks Hester looks sharp on his routes and Johnny Knox has speed to burn. Most interesting for me was his assessment of Devin Aromashodu:
WR Devin Aromashodu has great top end speed and once he gets past press coverage at the line of scrimmage, he can separate down the field. Stiff in the hips and not the type of receiver who can run multiple breaking routes, but the ideal player for the 9 route (go route) 8 route (deep post) and the 7 route (flag route) in this offense. Should be the vertical player for Cutler.
You got that Fantasy Footballers out there?
Bowen agrees with some early reports out of camp that the TE’s and Greg Olsen in particular will play a major role in Mike Martz’s offense. On the ground, Bowen seems to like Forte a little more running inside while he gives a big thumbs up to Chester Taylor’s lateral quickness and getting to the outside.
Let’s face it, the offense will sink or swim on the arm of Jay Cutler. Here’s what Bowen thinks about Cutler’s progress:
The Bears QB can sling the football. In the 3-step game, the ball comes out quickly and has some heat on it. And, just like last season, he will challenge the defense down the field—because he has the arm to do it. At times, I saw the same QB who will throw into coverage and can get carless with the football. But, there were also situations in practice when Cutler would fit the ball between two defenders and put the throw on the up-field shoulder away from the defender. Martz is going to push the envelope on offense and Cutler is the right QB for this system because he will take chances. Enormous talent, now he just has to learn how to produce and limit the turnovers in this system.
Like I’ve been saying, it’s going to be boom or bust. Some insight on the defense after the jump.
Bowen thinks that Urlacher looks lean and mean and sees some burst left in Tommie Harris’ legs. As Bears fans, we can only hope that’s true. Not to mention that Julius Peppers will add some big athleticism to that D-line.
It’s been reported that the Rod Marinelli’s defense is ahead of the offense. Bowen agrees:
No surprise here, but the defense under Rod Marinelli is ahead of the offense at this point of camp. We will see that around the league, but it is more evident in Chicago as the offense is still learning Martz’s system. And, we have to remember that Martz is still learning his personnel as camp rolls along. The O-Line under Mike Tice needs time to work on protection schemes and the offense in general is still developing. Marinelli’s defense challenged the receivers in the blitz periods and didn’t make many mistakes. I saw a lot of the Tampa 2, some Cover 1 schemes and plenty of zone blitzes—and they played fast. What we should expect from a defense that has years of experience in this scheme.
If you want a good source to comment on the secondary, who better than a former Cover-2 safety:
With both Chris Harris and Major Wright out with injuries, I had some time to focus on Craig Steltz. The former LSU safety doesn’t have great top end speed, but he has good instincts and showed some solid range out of the middle of the field. He was technique sound in his run/pass reads and I didn’t see him taking false steps or playing too deep in coverage. He trusts his skills and was around the football. Big position of need for Chicago, and as long as the Tampa 2 is a core coverage for this unit the safeties will have to get off of the numbers and make plays on the football.
Ugh! If we’re left to rely on Steltz this season, it could be a long year.
Great stuff from Bowen. Catch up on other camp visits at his Player’s Page.
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