Now that we have 8 games under our collective belts, I thought it would be a good opportunity to revisit the Ten Questions Heading into the Season:
10) Will the injury bug bite us again?
To this point, I would say no. We've had people miss games, but I don't think it has cost us (yet). The closest you can come would be to suggest our depleated secondary cost us the Atlanta game. However, looking forward, Sunday's injuries could be far more significant in affecting future games. Grossman and Steltz did fine replacing Orton and Brown, but it was against the Lions. How those two fare over the next few games may be signifcantly different, given the competition we'll be facing the next two weeks.
9) Can Mike Brown stay healthy this season?
Through 29 quarters, we thought he struck gold. Then we found out he wouldn't be returning. Post-game reports from the man himself seem to indicate he'll be back soon, but his familiarity with the IR list makes a few weeks sound like "soon."
8) Will Hester's regular usage on offense affect his return game?
In a word, yes. I don't know if he's tired, if he's trying to do too much, or if teams have figured him out - but he's not producing how he has in the past two years. We're 24th in average kickoff return and 26th in average punt returns, not the numbers you'd expect from the greatest returner ever. Can you positively blame this on playing WR - no. But it is likely a factor.
7) Will Ron Turner actually use the vaunted 2 Tight End formation this season?
A resounding YES! I have never been so ecstatic in praising Ron Turner, but you have to admit he's gotten this one right. Both Clark and Olsen see the field a ton at the same time. They are lined up all over the place - the backfield, on the line, in the slot, and split far wide - and we're running a ton of different plays from each formation. Hopefully Rex will find the same amount of confidence in out TE corps that Kyle has shown to date.
6) Does our collection of "ehh"-inspiring wide receivers suffice?
I think we chalk this one up in the Yes column as well. We're not sending anyone to the pro bowl from our WR corps, but haven't seemed to lack production from the edges. Before his injury, Lloyd looked to return to his U of I form. Davis has outperformed any arena league expectations. We have 6 guys averaging over 11 ypc and are one reception away from having 6 guys with over 200 yards receiving.
5) Has Tommie Harris completely healed from last year's injury?
He's probably healthy. The question is, does that matter? Occasionally, we've seen his name pop up after a big play. But normally he's been part of of a defensive line that seems to do just enough to not get everyone pissed about their lack of production. Our lack of pressure from the front four has been a large reason why we've had the defensive issues that have cost us 3 late game leads.
4) Can a Matt Forte/Kevin Jones backfield produce?
Yes. Forte has performed above everyone's expectation and has made most people ever forget the word "Mendenhall." He's averaging 108.5 total yards per game, just behind Chris Johnson for rookie production this season and fourth overall behind Johnson, Gore, and Westbrook.
3) Will Chris Williams's back let him start this year?
Will it let him start - probably. Will we start him - who knows. He finally dressed last week and will likely get worked in at some point, but St. Clair and Beekman have been a pleasant surprise. Enough to keep Williams off the field? That remains to be seen...
2) Can Devin Hester develop into a #1 Wide Receiver?
I don't think anyone would say that Devin has made the leap, but he is certainly on his way. He doesn't seem lost after the huddle or even during the hurry-up. Devin isn't putting up #1 numbers, but he's pulling his weight in out wide receiver by committee plan.
1) Will a real Bears quarterback please stand up?
I think everyone would agree that we have our quarterback, once his leg heals up. Orton has created something we haven't had since Erik Kramer wore the blue and orange - a passing game that opponents have to game plan against. If Rex Grossman fails to perform well these next few weeks, Kyle Orton will never have known the love he'll receive longing for his return.
I think the big reason we're sitting in first place is because of the positive ways most of these questions hav ebeen answered to this point. Here's to hoping the second half goes even better.