The Chicago Bears have officially reported to training camp for the 2013 NFL season. As they prepare for the year, there are some burning questions surrounding the team.
1. Will the offensive line finally be able to hold up?
Phil Emery and the rest of the front office knew that the offensive line was one of the biggest weaknesses last year, if not the biggest one. Knowing that, they knew that some changes needed to be made. Chicago brought in Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson; along with first round draft pick Kyle Long and fifth rounder Jordan Mills. Bushrod and Slauson will likely step into immediate starting roles, whereas Long and Mills will have to prove themselves in training camp. However it shakes out, it is sure to be better than last season. After allowing the fifth most sacks in the league in 2012, Chicago is hopeful its new-look offensive line will be able to protect quarterback Jay Cutler. On paper, it looks much better.
2. What kind of impact will new head coach Marc Trestman have on the team?
Lovie Smith’s tenure came to an end after the 2012 season, despite a 10-6 record. The knock on the former Bears coach is that he could never take the team to an elite level and win a Super Bowl. Smith also did not seem to be getting the best out of Cutler, who many believe still has great potential if paired with the right coach.
Enter Marc Trestman. He is coming over from the Canadian Football League where he coached the Montreal Alouettes. But don’t judge him based on just that. Trestman has spent 17 years as a coordinator and assistant coach in the NFL, including working with some high profile quarterbacks. He spent time working with Hall of Famer Steve Young in San Francisco, and he also helped lead Rich Gannon to the 2002 NFL MVP award and an AFC Championship title while he was the offensive coordinator in Oakland. Trestman’s experience with quarterbacks should help Jay Cutler and the rest of the offense run much more smoothly in 2013. He may not have been the flashiest name hired in the offseason, but he may prove to be the most effective moving forward.
3. How will the defensive perform with the loss of Brian Urlacher?
Fan favorite and eight-time Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher was not brought back at the end of the 2012 season, and he opted for retirement without any appealing offers from other teams. As great as Urlacher once was as the leader of the Chicago defense, his loss may not leave as big of a hole in the defense as some may think. He had begun to slow down in recent years, and Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers began to take over the leadership roles. To fill the void that Urlacher left, former Denver Bronco D.J. Williams was brought in on a one-year deal. Williams clearly isn’t the long-term answer however, so the Bears also drafted Jon Bostic, former Florida Gator, in the second round. Not having No. 54 in the middle of the defense is something that will take some getting used to, but don’t expect too much of an impact performance wise.
Next week we will take a look at two more questions surrounding the Bears as they prepare for the 2013 NFL season.