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Chicago Bears 2013 training camp preview: Key questions

Even though it's only for practice, seeing NFL players back out on the field is a sight for sore eyes.

Even though it’s only for practice, seeing NFL players back out on the field is a sight for sore eyes.

Rejoice, WCSN brethren!  The long offseason is almost over, and actual football activities are back upon us!  Before the real games begin in September, or even the preseason games in August, we have training camp to look forward to.

This is the first in a three-part series previewing the Chicago Bears as they begin their official preparations for the 2013 NFL season with training camp, which opens in Bourbannais on July 25.  Today we will be focusing on key questions facing the Bears.

Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman faces a difficult challenge in his season as an NFL head coach.

Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman faces a difficult challenge in his season as an NFL head coach.

Can Trestman earn the respect of his veterans?

Head coach Marc Trestman enters his first training camp as an NFL head coach, and he does not face an easy job.  Trestman inherits a veteran-laden team that has been together for a while and was used to the way that the old coach, whom they all loved, ran things.

All Trestman has to do is earn their respect and motivate them to play well, all while teaching them a new scheme and trying to stabilize his erratic quarterback.  Oh, and he is expected to win now, as he inherited a team that has been at or above .500 three years in a row and has a lot of aging stars on defense who aren’t interested in rebuilding.  Sounds easy, right?

Trestman’s ability to get the veterans to buy in to what he is selling will go a long way to helping the Bears compete for the playoff spot they believe they should be able to earn in 2013.

What will the offensive line look like?

The offensive line is the one group whose progress I am most interested in.  The Chicago Bears brought in Aaron Kromer to be the new offensive line coach and a cadre of five new players — Matt Slauson, Jermon Bushrod, Kyle Long, Ebon Britton, and Jordan Mills — in an effort to fix what has been one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines the last few years.

Kromer, widely regarded as one of the premier offensive line coaches in the NFL, will have his work cut out for him trying to turn lightly regarded players into stars. He did it repeatedly in New Orleans; can he replicate his success in Chicago? How well this unit can come together to protect quarterback Jay Cutler will go a long way towards determining how the offense performs in 2013.

How will quarterback Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense perform in 2013?

How will quarterback Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense perform in 2013?

How will the new-look offense perform?

Chicago is installing a drastically different scheme to go along with the revamped offensive line. Instead of a deep-ball offense propelled by Jay Cutler’s cannon of an arm, Trestman has placed an emphasis on getting the ball out quickly, with short, crisp routes and precise passes. Between a new playbook and an infusion of new personnel, there are a lot of unknowns about the Chicago Bears offense in 2013. The only thing we know for sure is that it will look a lot different than it did in 2012.

At the heart of the offense’s performance will be that of Cutler.  In his four seasons with Chicago, Cutler has never been able to put together a consistently excellent season that establishes him as the true franchise quarterback some think he can be.  Trestman was hired for the express purpose of getting the most out of Cutler, and the offense will likely sink or swim with him in 2013.

How will the linebacking core perform with two new starters?

One of the biggest storylines for the Chicago Bears in 2013 was the departure of Brian Urlacher, the longtime defensive captain who has been the heart and soul of the defense for over a decade.  Strongside linebacker Nick Roach is also gone, leaving Lance Briggs as the only returning starter.  Four new faces (D.J. Williams, James Anderson, Jon Bostic, and Khaseem Greene) will compete for the two open jobs, while Briggs will be expected to call the defensive plays for the first time in his career.  For the first time in a long time, the Chicago Bears do not know what to expect out of their linebackers this year.

Cornerback Charles Tillman is one of many key Chicago Bears with contracts expiring after this season.

Cornerback Charles Tillman is one of many key Chicago Bears with contracts expiring after this season.

What will the future look like for the Chicago Bears?

The team has a plethora of players operating on the last year of their contract, so roughly half the roster will be playing for their jobs in 2013.  Seven projected defensive starters could be gone after the season, and Jay Cutler faces a make-it-or-break-it year that could cement him as Chicago’s starter for the next half decade or see him on a different team in 2014.  With a new coach and new general manager hired in the last two years, the Chicago Bears are in the midst of a franchise shift.  Fans and players alike cannot help but wonder as they watch in training camp and the preseason just how different this team will look one year from now.

Wrapping up

These five questions will be vital for the Chicago Bears this season.  How they are answered will help determine whether Chicago is a playoff team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations or a group that will underachieve and officially begin their rebuilding process next January.  After an offseason of upheaval, the Bears have a wider range of realistic possibilities this season than most NFL teams, and watching which path they begin down in training camp should be fascinating.

Buckle up, Bears fans: the season is almost here.

2124 comments
CONCHS333 IS BACK BITCHES
CONCHS333 IS BACK BITCHES

speaking of OL if the Bucs can stay healthy that would be a huge strength for us with Nicks and Joseph coming back Martin could be in for an even better yr

JVince 11
JVince 11

Lions bringing in Steve Breaston, Laurent Robinson, and Chaz Shillens for WR workouts...


I find that interesting.. that must mean that the prototype and possibly best #3 WR in the world Broyles isn't healthy enough at this point or that Burleson is a camp cut casualty?


Breaston would be nice if he returns to form... Shillins and Robinson are crap.. I played against Robinson in college.. He dragged one of our DBs holding onto his jersey by his stomach for about 10 yards up field.

nonstradamus
nonstradamus

I have that head-to-toe, extreme-achiness-bordering-on-real-pain sensation, accompanied by the sense of foreboding, that usually presages the onset of a high fever.

I'm headed back to bed to see if I can sleep it off. This is almost as bad as when I had chicken pox last summer.

G & G
G & G moderator

Good morning ,my fellow WCSN's citizens

 ✔ESPN OUTsider
✔ESPN OUTsider

In case anyone's wondering, the exclusive tag for Ryan is now $19.86M.


JVince 11
JVince 11

I didn't realize that ATL's OL is so low rated amongst NFL now.... they lost they starting C and LT from last year I thought I heard?  

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

So Peter King was listing the things he's looking forward to on his annual training camp tour and this is what he had for the Vikings...

Vikings (Aug. 12, Mankato, Minn.) Mostly I’m looking forward to Adrian Peterson’s annual handshake. It hurts. But this year, I’ve got a secret plan for him. (Don’t tell him.)

Poor Vikings...

JVince 11
JVince 11

@BUCS_BONG Penn has to lay off the Taco Bell too... TB does have a VERY solid OL.. who are their tackles and Center now?

G & G
G & G moderator

@NSD Get well,Rourke.

JVince 11
JVince 11

@BUCS_BONG @JVince 11 okay okay... I follow.. I pick up what you are putting down..  Didin't you guys have Faine as your Center until recently?

JVince 11
JVince 11

@falconsriseup19 @NSD @JVince 11 The Birds drafted him?  I don't remember that it was you guys... but I am sure you are right.. You guys also drafted that DE from Richmond that I played against... He was fucking good.