To provide a little bit of a scouting report for the Bears this week, I chatted with Dane Noble, editor of Windy City Gridiron, the Bears' SB Nation blog. Here's what he told me about this week's Seahawks opponent.
1. With Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffrey out this week, how will the Bears look to generate offense? What will be their gameplan?
Hopefully the gameplan will be to limit the exposure of backup QB Jimmy Clausen and put the offense in Matt Forte's hands. Forte is still beasting, albeit not as beastfully as Marshawn Lynch, and is more than happy to be the workhorse for an entire game. However, the Bears have a pair of backup running backs, and the #2 guy Jeremy Langford will likely get at least two full series to give Forte a rest.
But, if the Seahawks jump out ahead early and significantly, and the Bears have to turn to the passing game to try and keep up, it could get really ugly.
2. Seahawks fans are familiar with Vic Fangio from his time in San Francisco -- how has the reception for Fangio been in Chicago? What type of scheme should the Seahawks expect to see on Sunday?
Of course, the base is 3-4, but depending on the offensive sets, they could shift into a 4-man front / nickel package pretty easily. Fangio's reception has been fine, but we simply don't have the personnel on defense to be successful right now. If I were Seattle, I would run Marshawn Lynch between the tackles the first 10 plays of the game, and throw in some trap blocks and pulls for good measure. Hit 'em right in the mouth, early and often, and see if they can keep standing. Then when they're sucking air, run a play-action pass and throw it to Kyle Fuller's man who is likely streaking downfield unattended to. Ta-da.
3. What is the Bears' main strength on defense and what is their most glaring weakness?
I DON'T WANNA TALK ABOUT THE DEFENSE, MAN. But if I have to provide an answer, I suppose the inside linebackers are not as bad as other position? Shea McClellin and Christian Jones are the leading tacklers on a defense that has generated zero sacks, zero forced fumbles, and only one interception. The biggest weakness honestly is just lack of depth and talent all the way around. The biggest area of concern is 1) Not being able to generate any semblance of a pass rush, and 2) not being able to cover anybody downfield. We could very likely see Jared Allen and Pernell McPhee sitting on the sideline for a few series as their backups step up to try and make something happen.
4. What are the main differences between this year's team and last year's squad? Big additions and subtractions?
The biggest difference isn't in the player personnel area, it's the coaching. For the first time since George Halas re-hired himself as HC of the Bears, the team hired a head coach with actual head vcoaching experience in John Fox, and he hired a couple of pretty solid coordinators to run each side of the ball- the previously-mentioned Fangio on defense, and Adam Gase on offense. Unfortunately, the roster is such a mess, even the best coaching can't put wins on the board.
5. Things haven't started out well for Chicago, but what aspects of the team are Bears' fans optimistic about?
Optimistic about next year, probably. Our 1st round draft pick, wide receiver Kevin White, had shin splints that devolved into stress fractures, and he had to have surgery that landed him on the PUP. Cutler is hurt, Jefferies is hurt, the defense is old... We're already thinking about next year, man.