I had a chance to catch up to Mike Burzawa of Bear Goggles On to discuss today’s game between the Bears and Bucs in London. Here are Mike’s answers to my questions.
1.) At 3-3 Chicago is in it but not where they expected to be, what plagues the Bears early on?
"I think the Bears are right about where I expected them to be at this point in the season, style points aside. They’ve had a brutal schedule early on having faced the Packers, Lions and Saints, the last two Super Bowl champs and a very solid and rising Detroit team. That said, they’ve been inconsistent on both sides of the ball. Jay Cutler and the offense have had trouble getting into any sort of a groove while the defense has shown lapses that have uncharacteristically allowed some big plays."
2.) Is your defense getting a little long in the tooth?
"The calendar doesn’t lie. The Bears’ best defenders – Urlachers, Briggs, Peppers and Tillman – are all on the wrong side of 30. I don’t think that’s why the defense has faltered though. The revolving door at the safety position and led to some breakdowns in coverage, allowing teams to move the ball too easily. Their reputation for taking the ball away precedes them, so their opponents are always very mindful of ball security."
3.) How has Jay Cutler been this season after the fiasco in the playoffs last year?
"Jay has proven time and time again to be one of the toughest SOB’s out there. He continues to take shots and keeps picking himself up and doing it again. He showed people what he can do with some decent protection in the last game against Minnesota, where some max protect schemes gave him opportunities to go downfield. There was a little flap with him telling offensive coordinator Mike Martz “F*** you” that got picked up by the NBC cameras last Sunday night that’s created a minor stir this week, but otherwise he’s been as good as you could expect with the lack of offensive talent around him."
4.) Much like the Bucs the Bears are in a divisional race with three good teams, right now given that the last two SB champs hail from the NFC North and South, which do you think is the better division?
"That’s a great question. I think I like the NFC North’s top end a little more with the Packers, Lions and Bears slightly better than the Saints, Bucs and Falcons. The Vikings are clearly on a steep decline while the south’s “cellar dweller” Panthers are definitely a team on the rise. Either way, it will be a challenge for the Bears and Bucs to make the playoffs with such tough competition. It’s what makes Sunday’s matchup so important for both teams."
5.) What’s yo’ pick for the football match, guvna?
"I have to warn you, I’m 6-0 in my Bears picks this season. I am worried that the Bears’ travel plans and late arrival in London will leave them a little jet lagged while the Bucs have had all week to acclimate to the time change. The Bucs don’t rush the passer particularly well, which helps the Bears offense. Look for a steady dose of Matt Forte on the ground and in the air. On the defensive side of the ball, I expect Peppers and the boys to try to pressure Freeman and try to force some turnovers. The Bears have struggled matching up with good tight ends, so Kellen Winslow could have some opportunities."
Bears 24, Bucs 21