Dane Noble is an SB Nation uber-mensch, all around good guy, and the managing editor of WCG, the Bears site here on SBN. We exchanged 5 questions regarding today's game, and although he got them to me yesterday, I've been unable to get to them until now. You can find my answers to his questions right here. Apologies to Dane and to you, but here they are. Please enjoy:
1. So what are your thoughts on new coach Marc Trestman? He's quite a departure from Lovie Smith, and there seemed to be some friction early on between him and Jay Cutler. How is their relationship, and is Trestman going to succeed?
Trestman is definitely different from Smith, primarily due to Lovie being a defensive coach and Marc being an offensive guru. Cutler stated after the victory over the Bengals that Trestman's approach was 'ballsy', primarily for him taking some chances and not being conservative in his approach.
Jay is not used to plays quickly coming in from the sideline, and Trestman's speed and preparation are probably a great match for Cutler, who is known for being a cerebral player with a strong sense of urgency. With a new OL and yet another offensive system to learn, there is a pretty surprising cohesion early on... So far, so good.
2. Kyle Long, your first round pick out of Oregon, was a very surprising pick at the time. His selection was received with a fair amount of angst by most Bears fans...but hey, at least you didn't draft Manti Te'o, amirite? (High five on neither of our teams selecting him, WOO!) Granted, Long was a guy that was a big position of need, but there was some serious talent on the board that Chicago passed on. Was Long the right pick, or is there still a fair amount of doubt about him?
While an offensive guard has never won a championship for an NFL team, the most ideal situation for an interior lineman is when you can plug them in and let them hold their post for several years without ever having to worry about them. Long has shown all of the qualities that Chicago likes in a football player-- toughness, physicality, and athletic. He had a terrific preseason camp, and a solid showing in his first regular season game. Again... So far, so good.
3. Brian Urlacher was the heart and soul of the Chicago Bears for over a decade. Who picks up the mantle of leadership and becomes the face of the franchise now that he retired?
To be honest, I think the idea of a 'face' of a franchise is a bit overplayed, but in Urlacher's situation, he was it. Marc Trestman has instilled a culture of 'team' since he arrived-- playing for your teammates, doing everything you can do to contribute to the bigger picture, etc.-- but there are both veteran players and rookies alike that have a chance to stake their claim as leaders in that locker room. Lance Briggs will continue to carry the torch on defense, supported by Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman, and Henry Melton, and offensive players like Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Roberto Garza are all helping carry the torch. I think the new version of the Chicago Bears will be more about the group rather than individual personalities.
4. Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and Brandon Marshall are the three guys that everyone knows about on the Bears offense. Give me an under the radar guy that when the game is over I'm going to be going 'who the hell was that guy, and how did he do what he did?'
WR Alshon Jeffery or TE Martellus Bennett could both make a huge impact, but a potentially overlooked guy could be rookie RT Jordan Mills. He was a 5th round selection this past April, and unseated J'Marcus Webb as the starting right tackle. That's right... The starting right guard and right tackle are both rookies, and both maulers. And don't forget about LT Jermon Bushrod. He was a previous Pro Bowler in New Orleans, and is now in charge of protecting Cutler's blind side.
5. Okay, this has nothing to do with the Bears or the Vikings, but with Soldier Field. Seriously, how can a stadium in this day and age have such consistently crappy field conditions? Chicago did a great job at renovating the stadium several years ago, but the playing surface is awful. Has this issue ever been brought up by the players, and are there any plans to install field turf, or at least fix the problem once and for all?
Soldier Field is in a unique situation, in that both the team and the Chicago Parks District is in charge of keeping things together. To spare the boring details, the city isn't willing to invest the money, and the McCaskey family isn't willing to pay for something they shouldn't have to. It's not ideal, but at this point it's just an understood challenge. Luckily, the Bears will be more used to it than their opponents each week, so there's that.
Thanks Dane! Here's to an injury free game, and SKOL Vikings!