BoltHype - At this point, it's clear that Rex Grossman has the physical tools to play the game; but he has been prone to making costly mistakes. Is this a do-or-die year for Rex Grossman? Has the team's success been in spite of Rex?
Chicago's Offensive Line - When you're a Bears quarterback it seems like every year is a do-or-die season. For Rex in particular, the organization is putting a lot of faith in him and he needs to show that it's not misplaced. He's entering the final year of his contract so his future as a Bear, even as a NFL quarterback, is riding on his performance this year. The Bears went to another level when he was on his game, and when he wasn't the team came back to being a good team that won the games they were supposed to.
That being said, with the experience that a full year as a starting quarterback brings and the weapons that the Bears have assembled around him this season I predict good things for Rex this year.
BH - The Bears are looking for more production on offense. Can Devin Hester at Wide Receiver and Greg Olsen at Tight End pay immediate dividends for the team, or are they going to be brought along more slowly?
COL - It's going to be interesting to see how both these players develop through the season. With his speed and instincts Hester could be a great wide receiver, but he's already an all-universe returner. With special teams contributing to so many of our victories last year, losing that edge is always a constant worry. I would look for the team to slowly work a few packages for Hester into each game, with that increasing through the season.
Olsen on the other hand is a different story. His size, speed, and ball-catching ability makes him an attractive target along the seam route that Rex favors so much. Stretching the field, whether in two tight end sets or Olsen in the slot, will open up downfield plays or clear things out for the running game. We'll see what happens with his knee injury, but thankfully it wasn't too severe.
BH - You guys signed Adam Archuleta in the offseason. Why?!
COL - The short answer, we ran out of players that date Playboy Playmates. Seriously though, Adam is a great fit for our defense. He's a physical player that plays the run well and has good football instincts. He took a lot of crap during his time in Washington, but people forgot how good he actually was in a system that fit him – namely the Lovie Smith brand of Cover 2 that he played in St. Louis. Add to that the question marks that tend to follow Mike Brown after the injuries he's had, and it just made sense.
BH - Some Bears players are feeling a little butt-hurt about the new Nike Zoom commercial featuring LT. Are Bears fans as heated about the portrayal of their team's defense? All Tomlinson was doing was the same thing he does to everybody!
COL - I don't know about everybody else, but I know that got me going. When it comes down to it, we all see it for what it is - LaDanian visualizing what he wants to do before the ball is snapped. After the initial shock of seeing your team get embarrassed like that, most of the fans I know started to laugh at the names and numbers of the players in the commercial. "Wait, was that David Terrell out there?" Stuff like that. I will say this though, Philip Rivers may want to watch his back.
BH - When you think about the Chicago Bears defense, you think about a fast group of guys who fly to the ball and tackle. We all know about Brian Urlacher and what he brings to the field. Who is the most underrated guy on that defense?
COL - Honestly? I would have to say Hunter Hillenmeyer, at least from the point that he is the defensive player most under the radar. In our particular brand of defense, the Sam LB is the least glamorous position on the field. They're supposed to close off that side and force everything towards the Will LB or downfield to the other areas of responsibility. Without him though, I don't think the other players would get to shine.
BH - How is the NFC North going to shake out? Will the Detroit Lions make some noise in the division? Is Tarvaris Jackson and the Vikings a team to be feared? Will Green Bay push the Bears for the NFC North title?
COL - I think the North will be more competitive this year with the distance between the Bears and the other teams in the division shrinking.
Detroit has always been long on talent and short on production, and I don't see them making any significant strides till next year.
With essentially a first year starting quarterback in Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota's offensive production is going to be put on Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor's shoulders…and one dimensional team don't usually fare very well in the league.
Green Bay is the most well rounded team of the bunch, and they'll give us problems. They have a top notch LB corps, their secondary is improved with Al Harris and Charles Woodson and their line isn't too bad either. I think Brett Favre is still dangerous, but much less so because he has no running game to back him up and his best receiver is Donald Driver.
That being said, the Bears will take the division handily again, followed by Green Bay, Minnesota and then Detroit.
BH - Gameday is coming up fast; Who on the offense should be keep an eye out for and what is your final score prediction?
COL - Keep an eye on the offensive line. They're one of the best and oldest in the business. They didn't do a very good job of opening up running lanes for Cedric during the preseason though, so that's definitely going to be a concern. I would also keep an eye on our No. 2 receiver, Bernard Berrian. The Bears will look to test the Chargers secondary with Berrian's speed in catching the deep pass.
In the end I think this game will be closer than people realize. I think the defense will play with an extra chip on their shoulder, the running game will wake up and the deep pass will be there for the taking. That said, it's still a road game, so I'll take the Bears 20 to 17.
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