Looking at the enemy: Chicago Bears

Looking at the enemy: Chicago Bears
May 19, 2013, 10:00 pm
Share This Post

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) walks off the field after defeating the Detroit Lions 26-24 at Ford Field.

(Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

Now that the schedule is set and the draft is over, CSNBaltimore.com is taking a chronological look at each of the Ravens 2013 opponents.

Week 11: Chicago Bears

Date: Sunday, Nov. 17, 1 p.m., Soldier Field

2012 Record: 10-6

Key offseason losses: DE Israel Idonije (unsigned); OLB Nick Roach (to Oakland); TE Matt Spaeth (to Pittsburgh); LB Brian Urlacher (unsigned)

Key additions: OLB James Anderson (from Carolina); TE Martellus Bennett (from New York Giants); OT Jermon Bushrod (from New Orleans);  G Matt Slauson (from New York Jets); LB D.J. Williams (from Denver); S Tom Zbikowski (from Indianapolis)

Top 5 draft picks: G Kyle Long (1st round, Oregon); ILB Jon Bostic (2nd round, Florida); OLB Khasheem Greene (3rd round, Rutgers); OT Jordan Mills (4th round, Louisiana Tech); DE Cornelius Washington (6th round, Georgia)

Overview: The Bears are coming off a 10-win season, but that wasn't enough to save Lovie Smith's job. After starting 7-1, the Bears went into a tailspin, losing five of six games, and missed the playoffs.

Out goes Smith, and in comes Marc Trestman, direct from Montreal and the Canadian Football League. Granted, he spent 17 years as an NFL assistant coach, including eight as an offensive coordinator. But a lot of people will be watching to see whether he can make the switch to the NFL from the CFL, where he won back-to-back Grey Cups in 2009 and 2010.

In Chicago, they will also be watching closely to see whether Trestman can unlock the potential of enigmatic quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler's new position coach, incidentally, is former Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh.

Cutler (3033 yards, 19 touchdowns, 14 interceptions ) had a quarterback rating of 81.3, which ranked 20th in the league. With his contract expiring next year, he will be highly motivated to improve those numbers.

The Bears return superb dual-threat running back Matt Forte, who was drafted by the Bears in 2008 11 spots before the Ravens took Ray Rice, but they need to improve a passing game that ranked 29th in the league last season (187.4 passing yards a game).

Brandon Marshall tied for second in the league with 118 receptions last year, but the Bears badly need to find a No. 2 receiver to complement him. No other receiver had more than 30 catches, and Forte had a career-low 44 receptions. The addition of former Giants tight end Martellus Bennett should help.

Cutler was sacked 38 times last year, fifth-most in the league, and the Bears made a concerted effort to upgrade the offensive line, bringing in former Saints (and Towson) tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson  and drafting guard Kyle Long in the first round.

The Bears defense will move on from Urlacher, the 13-year veteran who left the Bears after refusing their one-year, $2 million offer. (He made $7.5 million last season.) Former Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams could step into Urlacher's role in the middle of the Bears' 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.

The Bears defense ranked fifth in the league overall, and they return a formidable front four led by defensive end Julius Peppers (11 1/2 sacks last year) and defensive tackle Henry Melton, who received the franchise tag.

The Bears secondary features cornerback Tim Jennings, who led the league with nine interceptions last year, and one new face in the Bears secondary should look familiar: Former Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski has signed with his hometown team.