Q&A Session with Midway Illustrated

It’s once again time for our weekly Q&A session with an opposing blogger. Up this week is Midway Illustrated, a great Chicago Bears blog that was one of the first football blogs to join up on the Bloguin Network. I asked the site’s lead writer, Brett Solesky, a series of questions about Da Bears, and he, in turn, asked me a few about the Pats.  His responses are below, followed by a link to Foxboro Blog’s Q&A session on Midway Illustrated.

1. The big storyline coming into the season was the Cutler-Martz connection? Now that we have played 3/4 of the season, how would you assess that relationship and Cutler’s level of comfort with the offense?

Cutler and Martz have a love affair of sorts going on, to the point it’s almost grotesque.  The level of respect they keep talking about having for each other in public is almost sickening.  That being said Martz has been unable to get his full offensive playbook going because of the offensive line problems.  He’s had to eliminate a lot of his seven step drops and as a result Cutler hasn’t been taking as many down the field shots as you typically see from a Martz offense. 

2. How has the offensive line improved after they were giving up sacks left and right earlier in the year? Is it more reps in practice or the re-emergence of Matt Forte as a playmaker?

At one the Bears had a pass to run ratio of 80-percent pass and 20-percent run which put an extreme amount of pressure on the offensive line.  Since the bye week the Bears have been running a much more balanced attack even if the run hasn’t had the level of success that might be expected, Smith has kept on Martz to keep it balanced.  The result has been the five game winning streak the same O-Line group sticking together and getting better each week and Forte has run the ball better.  

3. The wide receiving corps was seen as a weakness coming into the year, but looking at the numbers, Cutler seems to be spreading the ball effectively. Who is Cutler’s go-to guy in this offense that the Pats’ secondary should keep an eye on?

If there was one player the Pats are going to have to focus in on the most it would be Johnny Knox who is on pace for over 1,000-yards receiving for the first time since 2002.  The Bears have not had a 1,000-yard receiver since then and Knox is dangerous with the ball in his hands.  He’s one of the fastest players in the NFL and if the Bears get the chance they will take shots down the field with him.  The past two games however Earl Bennett has stepped up his game and become a solid option for Cutler.

4. With the addition of Julius Peppers to the pass rush, Chicago averages 2 sacks a game. Will they have enough pressure to make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket?

Peppers has been a great addition to the defensive line, but he’s had some help up front from Israel Idonije (6.5 sacks) and the Bears have been getting a push from their defensive tackles.  During one game all four members of the defensive line had a sack one sack each from the DTs and from Peppers and Idonije. 

5. The condition of Soldier Field was able to slow down the Eagles’ speed two weeks ago. Will the condition of the field affect the Pats’ offense on Sunday considering it could be like the old field conditions of Gillette Stadium before the turf?

The weather forecast calls for snow on Saturday and Sunday with temperatures in the 20s around kickoff with a low for negative two on Sunday night.  The turf will be brutal for both teams as is always the case in December at Soldier Field.  It slowed down the Vikings last year in a game the Bears weren’t supposed to compete in nor win, and the Bears did just that.   Long cleats will be in order and there could be a lot of slipping and sliding by both teams in the game. 

6. Will two teams make the playoffs out of the NFC North? If so, will Chicago win the NFC North in your opinion?

It’s looking as if the week 17 game between the Bears and the  Packers in Green Bay will determine who makes the playoffs out of the NFC North.  The Bears face the Pats, Vikings on the road, Jets and then the Packers.  The Bears currently have a one game lead in the standings and a tie breaker with a win over the Packers earlier in the season.  With the Saints’ record and the Bears having lost to the Giants earlier in the season and those Giants  owning that tie breaker over the Bears I don’t think the Bears make the playoffs unless they win the the North.  As it stands right now yes I believe the Bears will win the NFC North….I see the Bears beating the Packers in Green Bay and finally earning the national respect they deserve.

7. What is the weakness in New England that Chicago will exploit and likewise for Chicago’s weakness the Pats will exploit?

Weakness in the Patriots?  The Bears will likely have enough success running the ball to keep the Patriots defense honest.  It won’t be the type of rushing attack that the Pats have seen from the Jets, but it will be just enough of a threat and enough of a balance that the Bears will be able to move the ball.  However the Pats are going to figure out a way to get enough pressure on Cutler to cause problems.  If Cutler does what he has done the last five games the Bears can keep it close, that means Cutler doesn’t throw INTs and makes plays by running the ball.  Cutler is one of the most underrated scramblers in the NFL.  He can get keep drives alive with his legs and teams need to be constantly aware of that option. 

8. Is this going to be a Super Bowl Preview?

No I don’t believe so, I don’t believe the Bears can make it to the Super Bowl they don’t have an offensive line that can get them to the Super Bowl.  At some point the Bears are going to be exploited again.   That being said the Bears are fully capable of making a run and fully capable of holding on to the number two seed in the NFC.  If the Bears do hold on to the number two seed they are a team that matches up well with the Falcons. The Bears have played the Falcons better than any other team in the NFL the previous two seasons in 2008 and 2009.  Turnover problems derailed the Bears’ victory against the Falcons in 2009 and in 2008 only  miracle play from a lack of a pass rush allowed the Falcons to kick a last second field goal.  If the Bears find a way to make it to the NFC Title game against the Falcons then I’m taking the Bears to knock off the Falcons in Atlanta.  No one will make that  pick, but put me on the record right now if it’s Bears versus Falcons for the NFC Title….I’m going with the Bears. 

9. What is the one main key for this game and your prediction?

Jay Cutler has to play  up to his capabilities and his production has to match his talent.  If he plays like he did against the Eagles or the Cowboys earlier this season the Bears can win.  The defense is going to keep the game closer than anyone expects, My pick Bears 28 Pats 24 with the Bears finding a way to force Brady into throwing an INT.  The key factor will be the Bears at home and the slop that is Soldier Field.

Ricky Keeler

About Ricky Keeler

I am a senior at St. John's University, where I am majoring in sports management. I have been writing game previews here at Foxboro Blog for each of the last four seasons. Plus, you can catch my Yankees' coverage over at YanksGoYard.com.

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