This week I asked Mike Burzawa of Bear Goggles On to give us some additional insight into the team that he knows best – the Chicago Bears. Mike took some time to talk about Jay Cutler, Matt Forte’s injury, and playing in arguably the toughest division in the NFL.
With that said, let’s go Inside the Villain’s Venue with Bear Goggles On.
Q: Broncos fans were really looking forward to seeing Jay Cutler back in Denver this week. It was a game circled on our calendars long before his injury. With Cutler leaving the NFC Championship last year and then being lost for the season this year, do you think he’s injury prone, and are fans starting to question his durability and toughness?
A: As Bears fans, we were excited to see Jay’s return to Denver too, so we’re equally disappointed he’ll miss this matchup.
Cutler faced a rough offseason after his departure from the NFC Championship game with a torn MCL but he came back after the lockout noticeably trimmed down and with a greater sense of ownership of the offense. His new and improved physique and attitude along with his great play on the field has really changed fans perceptions for the better. It only took about halfway through his first game out against Oakland that Bears fans realized just how good he is and how much he’s missed. That’s quite a turnaround from last January.
Q: The NFC North is a tough division to play in with the Packers and Lions in the mix. Argue your point for this being the toughest division in football. Sure, you can bring weather into the mix.
A: No need to bring weather into the mix because the argument is strong when you just consider the teams. The Packers are hands down the class of the league and they make it look easy every week. (You don’t know how much it pains me to write that as a Bears fan.) Even though the Lions have come back down to Earth a little bit after a hot 5-0 start, they have an explosive offense and a tough, physical defense. Of course the Bears were one of the hottest teams in the league until Cutler’s injury and with their defense and special teams, they can compete with anyone. The Vikings bring up the rear in the division, but they’re still no slouch with Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen as they rebuild and figure out their quarterback position. When three teams from the division are serious playoff contenders this late in the season, the argument makes itself.
Q: You lost a huge weapon in Matt Forte last week. He leads the team in rushing and he’s second on the team in receiving. How can the Bears make up for his absence this week.
A: Losing Forte is a HUGE blow, especially since the Bears are already without Cutler and the offense has definitely struggled to find a rhythm. Look for Marion Barber to pick up most of the slack at the running back with third stringer Kahlil Bell coming in to give him a breather. I expect Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett to pick up the slack in the passing game and don’t be surprised if tight end Kellen Davis tries to find some mismatches, especially in the red zone.
Q: I’m sorry that I have to bring this up, but Brett Favre. Would the Bears entertain the idea of suiting up the oft-retired QB. How do fans feel about this concept?
A: Never. Going. To. Happen.
In all seriousness, the Bears have made their bed with Caleb Hanie. At this point in the season, anyone they bring in would only see the field if Hanie were to get hurt. No one, not Favre or McNabb, is coming in and learning Mike Martz’s complex offense to make any serious contribution.
Q: Finally, your prediction for Sunday’s matchup?
A: I can’t believe I got through that whole Q&A without one mention of Tebow. I’ll be sure to rectify that in my questions because this game will boil down to how the Bears defense does against Tebow. If somehow the Bears are up in the fourth quarter but it’s within a touchdown I won’t rest easy because Tebow has found a way to get it done in recent weeks. That said, I think the Bears linebackers will be ready for Tebow and his brand of offense. The defense finds a way to slow Tebow and score one in the process. The Bears are pretty desperate for a win and they find a way to pull out a 16-13 win.
Thanks again to Mike for taking the time out!