Okay, Bear fans. It is time to get the 2012 season underway. Bear Nation, as I will call it, have higher expectations this season. Last season had too many question marks to be confident from the very beginning. But with the 7-3 start last season and the replacement of Phil Emery at GM, who has brought in talented receiver Brandon Marshall, Bear fans are much more confident with the direction of the franchise. In the back of everybody’s mind is, "How much longer can #54 and this veteran Bear defense play at such a high level?"
Let’s talk Week 1:
Colts are a tough team to prepare for. Many Bear fans are not threatened by the Colts. They did go 2-14 last season. They do have a new GM, Head Coach, QB, Defense, etc… The previous sentence makes this a difficult preparation week. Bears, and every other team in the NFL, don’t have a lot of film on QB Andrew Luck. Bears also don’t have a lot of film on the Colts in the new 3-4 defense. Even Jay Cutler adds to this, "It’s not the easiest thing," said quarterback Jay Cutler. "You are kind of doing educated guesses. You are looking at some stuff in the past that coaches did with other teams and what they did successfully last year as a Colts organization, so you kind of have to mix and match your film."
Even Lance Briggs chimed in, ""It can be tougher game-planning for teams that you don’t have a lot of film on because you’ve got to go off of things that they’ve done before, the few snaps that you’ve seen in preseason and what you know about their coaches," Briggs said.
Here are some more changes from the 2011 Colts to the 2012 Colts. 28 new players on its 53-man roster. First year head Coach Pagano brings his new 3-4 defense that is similar to the scheme operated last season when he was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.
What have the Bears done to prepare? The Bears have studied film of the Ravens and Steelers. Not only does the Ravens tape give an example of what Bears might see from the Colts defense, but also the Steelers give the Bears an idea of what Colts might do on offense. Given that the new Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was the the same position for Pittsburgh from 2007-11.
When Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice was asked how he is preparing, he said, "You have to read between the lines a little bit and you have to look at what’s the bloodlines of the coaches that are there and where have they cut their teeth and what kinds of schemes have they been in," said Tice, who is preparing for his first game as Bears offensive coordinator. "You have to have a little bit of foresight you hope and guess right and then be able to adjust on the go." It is all about putting Bears players in positions to succeed.
When asked about his offensive line, Tice was positive. Earlier in the week, Coach Lovie Smith echoed the same optimism about the offensive line, which seems to be the #1 factor in holding back the Bears offense. Gabe Carimi, starting right tackle, has improved his stamina, but will be a big key for the rest of the season. Chris Williams is the backup tackle that can give breaks to either tackle, Jamarcus Webb and Carimi. Tice finished his pregame comments with the importance of setting his players up for success by analyzing individual matchups. Paying attention to where the Colts defense is lined up will determine where blocking help will occur. This is critical to developing a stable offensive line. If Jamarcus Webb needs help blocking Dwight Freeney, then the Bears need to adjust to send a second blocker. This adjustment is what the Bears didn’t do a lot of under the Mike Martz offensive attack, hence all of the sacks. "We have one goal, and our goal is to put or players in a position to succeed and minimize the amount of times we put our players in position to fail," said Tice, who is entering his 17th season as an NFL coach after playing 14 years in the league with the Seahawks, Redskins and Vikings.
Defensively, the Bears are paying attention to Luck’s preseason performance. , Luck completed 41 of 66 passes for 522 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions and an 89.3 passer rating. Pay attention to Brian Urlacher, who has completed his first practices this week since the first week of training camp. Look for the Bears to stuff the Colts run and force Luck into 3rd and longs. This should give the Bears the good field position that Lovie uses as his strategy.
Bears really think they have a chance to get into the playoffs and be a contender this season. This season is critical, because we aren’t sure how long this window of opportunity will be here. Nothing better than a 1:00 EST in Chicago Soldier Field. BEAR DOWN
S Chris Conte (shoulder) and P Adam Podlesh (hip) did practice Thursday on a limited basis. These two players will be available Sunday. RB Lorenzo Booker (head) is the only player to not practice for Bears.