Behind Enemy Lines - Chicago Bears

Introducing the a new BoltHype feature called 'Behind Enemy Lines.' Each week I'll have some questions answered by a premier blogger/insider in regards to the Chargers’ upcoming opponent. Call it a mini scouting report for the fans. For week 1 of the regular season, I chatted with Joel from Chicago's Offensive Line, a Chicago Bears blog.

Joel sent over the first batch of questions:

COL - How tired are you of Ron Burgunday and San Diego being referred to as a whale's vagina?

BoltHype - To be honest with you, I'm just glad that we are back on people's radars. For the longest time, San Diego was almost a forgotten little place on the bottom of the map. Now we are in the spotlight with an MLB team and a NFL team winning a pile full of games. Besides, Anchorman was funny as hell!

COL - The Bears travel well, so there will probably be a lot of Chicago fans visiting San Diego. Where should visitors, especially four handsome men such as ourselves, go while in San Diego?

BoltHype - If you are into the nightlife, then the Gaslamp District is a must. Check it out here ( Lots of great restaurants, bars, and clubs. If you go to the right places, you are bound to run into a Charger or two (even a Bear, for that matter). Pacific Beach and Mission Beach is a great place to catch some good weather and sight-see (wink-wink). You'll definitely want to each some authentic Mexican food while in town – San Diego is known in particular for our excellent fish tacos.

COL - Nationally, when it comes to the San Diego Chargers everyone knows Ladainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates and Phillip Rivers. Aside from them, who else should football fans be watching when the Chargers offense is on the field and why?

BoltHype - Well certainly the guy who most of the national media is looking to for a breakout season would be Vincent Jackson. He is expected to emerge as the team's first legit number-one receiver in some years. It'll be interesting to see who emerges from the pack, as the Chargers have a very talented group of receivers, especially with the addition of first round draft pick Craig Davis.

Of course, if you are a team with a suspect running game, watching Michael Turner is sure to make you drool. In case Bears fans forgot what he did to your team last year, watch till about 28 seconds into this highlight clip: ( Turner will be a free agent next season and he will attract many suitors.

COL - Both our teams have young quarterbacks entering their second full seasons as starters. Rivers threw for 3388 yards, 22 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in 2006. What strides do you see Rivers making this year and how do you compare him to the other young quarterbacks in the league?

BoltHype - The best comparison I can make to Rivers would be Carson Palmer with a dash of Brett Favre. Palmer and Rivers were dominant college players who are the prototype for and NFL QB. They were both NFL-ready coming out of school. Both are natural born leaders who can command sophisticated offenses and are smart with the ball. Rivers has a splash of Favre with his gunslinger mentality (Rivers is not reckless though) and confidence to bring his team up from behind. Rivers is one of the best fourth quarter QBs in the game but I think Norv will work with Rivers in being more consistent for all four quarters. He'll also look to improve on Rivers' footwork and quick decision making.

COL - Norv Turner makes his return to San Diego, this time as head coach. When he was named head coach there was a collective "What the…?" around the country. Do the players and fans believe that Turner is the man to effectively use the talent around him to get the Chargers to the Super Bowl?

BoltHype - Oh there is no doubt that Turner can get the job done. I ran a poll on BoltHype and almost 95 out of 100 votes cast showed confidence in Norv's ability to lead the team to a Super Bowl this year. As fans have had the opportunity to hear Norv Turner talk about the team and their goals for the season, confidence grew in the man's abilities as a head coach. He clearly understands the game and has more than enough weapons to win games. Players like Antonio Gates have expressed excitement in Turners' offensive schemes. Rivers is eager to improve as a QB and knows the track record Coach Turner has with quarterbacks. And LaDainian Tomlinson is already familiar with Turner and greatly respects the fact that Turners' resume includes Super Bowl victories and working with Hall Of Fame players.

COL - Who on the Bears makes you nervous? How do you feel the Bears offense matches up against the Chargers defense and vice-versa?

BoltHype - Brian Urlacher is obviously a guy who presents the team with some problems. He is a versatile player who matches up well with everybody the Chargers have on offense. He is certainly a guy who we'll want as far away from the ball as possible. I'm expecting the offense to be well aware of where #54 is at all times.

Of course, the Bears' secondary is experienced and opportunistic, and that presents problems for what is a very young Chargers receiving corp. Tillman, Manning, and Vasher are going to want to make plays on the ball and its those kinds of gambles that can either win or lose a game for you. And of course, the Bears have some athletic D-linemen who have speed and power so it'll be interesting to see how well they perform at containing our run game.

The Chargers are going to be the most dangerous offense in the league in 2007, so even if the Bears force a number of three and outs, the Chargers will still have their fair share of big plays to move the ball down field. And our kicker Nate Kaeding is one of the leagues' best, so as long as we can move the ball fairly well, we'll be in scoring territory often.

COL - Last season the Chargers had the best record in the league at 14-2 but lost in the first round of the play-offs. There was a lot of offseason movement, especially in the AFC. Are the Chargers still the team to beat in the AFC and how will the Chargers do overall this season (playoffs included)?

BoltHype - I personally feel the Chargers are still the best team in the NFL. They are probably the best balanced team in football. With a top 5 offense, a potentially top 5 defense, and a stellar special teams, the Chargers can compete with anybody. Experience is something they lacked but with 2 playoff losses in 3 years, I think its time they take the next step and go deep into the post season. My prediction is 13-3 regular season record with a Super Bowl victory.

COL - The Chargers seem to have a knack with #1 draft picks. They had the #1 draft pick in both the 2001 and 2004 drafts. The 2001 pick was traded to Atlanta for the fifth pick, which ended up being Ladainian Tomlinson, and the 2004 pick was traded for Phillip Rivers, and eventually Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding. Be honest, wouldn't you rather have Michael Vick and Eli Manning right now?

BoltHype - Hah! I guess those are two prime examples of the importance of investigating a player's character and passion for the game. Do your homework on a guy and you'll find out real quick what kind of baggage he carries and whether or not he is a natural leader. Watching a guy tear it up on Saturdays is the easy part. Timing a guy's 40 is even easier. Finding out what motivates a guy – what makes him tick – that's the hard part.

COL - Last question: What's your prediction for the Bears-Chargers game?

BoltHype - I like the fact that San Diego is finally a place where the Chargers have true home-field advantage. Seeing the point the team put up in the preseason without Ladainian Tomlinson even suiting up is highly encouraging. Ron Rivera will know the Chicago Bears scheme like the back of his hand. 31-13 Chargers.

Thanks for the interview Joel! I'll be sending you my set of questions and they'll be posted here at BoltHype tomorrow.

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September 4, 2007

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