Week 1 of the NFL season is finally upon us and to kick off another season of Sunday awesomeness is a game that puts a strong, veteran defense against one of the most promising rookie quarterbacks in recent memory. The Chicago Bears will be defending the home turf of Solider Field against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday with kickoff set to take place at 1p.m. (EST) on CBS.
The Bears made big splashes over the summer by bringing in veteran wide out Brandon Marshall along with proven running back Michael Bush and capable back up quarterback Jason Campbell. Bears’ General Manager Phil Emery also drafted a strong rookie receiver in Alshon Jeffery to help give the offense the most firepower it has had in decades. However, one cannot overlook the obvious holes in the offensive line that went unaddressed in the off-season.
Going in to Sunday’s opening match up there are several key areas of the Bears game plan to stay focused on:
The Offensive Line
Anyone who is a Bears fan knows this area of the offense was the black hole of the team in 2011. Unfortunately, Emery decided to focus his attention on the skill positions while ignoring the obvious and glaring holes on the left side of the line. With jokers like J’Marcus Webb, Chris Williams and Chris Spencer anchoring down the left side, all Bears fans knew this was going to be an on-going issue throughout the season.
This game, the line will be going against veteran pass-rushers Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. While these guys don’t possess the speed and power they once did, they will still provide a solid test for the Bears. If the tackles can keep the pressure off Jay Cutler long enough the aerial attack should flourish.
Cutler and the Wide Receivers
In one of my more recent articles, I wrote that this was the time for Cutler to put up or shut up. Cutler no longer has excuses that the necessary talent on the outside is not there. With the additions of Marshall and Jeffery and the stall worth slot receiver Earl Bennett, there is no reason this team shouldn’t be making it rain early and often.
Of course, there is the issue of the offensive line. Supposedly, offensive coordinator Mike Tice has designed the aerial attack to provide mass protection for Cutler. If Cutler can remain upright, the Bears will be bringing the pain.
Urlacher is one of the most dominant middle linebackers of all time. To be without him is a huge blow for the Bears. While he did practice most of the week, the team sat him on Thursday he had a full practice on Friday and is listed as probable for the game this weekend.
Now, it will be interesting to see how Urlacher performs. He is only a few weeks removed from getting his knee scoped and is still recovering from the MCL sprain he suffered at the end of the 2011 season. My thoughts on whether he should play or not are well documented but I have to believe the coaching staff will be smart about playing Urlacher. If he is showing sings of fatigue or his knee starts to bother him at all, I guarantee he will be taking a seat.
One thing is for sure though: It sure will be nice to see 54 out there again in a Bears uniform smacking people around.
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