“Nothing stands out as a major weakness”: Patrick Sheehan of Midway Madness talks Chicago Bears
- Updated: September 4, 2013
After a long offseason full of many changes (and many corresponding articles), I know that most of you here at WCS are somewhat sick of hearing my opinions on the Chicago Bears. So I thought we’d bring in a fresh voice, one who has more experience covering the team and has had the advantage of getting up close and personal with the Chicago Bears at training camp.
Let’s all give a warm WCS welcome to Patrick Sheehan of Midway Madness, who has graciously agreed to share some of his Bears wisdom with us. Patrick was kind enough to answer some questions about the state of the Chicago Bears (and a bit on the NFC North as a whole) heading into the 2013 NFL season. If you like what you see here, you can check out his excellent Bears coverage over at Midway Madness. While you’re there, check out their other stuff too. They have a great staff giving you all the coverage you could want for all things Chicago sports.
WCS: A lot has been made about how this is a make or break year for quarterback Jay Cutler. What do you think he needs to do this year to earn a long-term extension, and do you think he will do that?
PS: I think a lot of the talk about what Jay Cutler has to do to earn an extension is overrated. The Bears have no leverage here. A team built to win right now isn’t letting their quarterback walk without one in the pipeline to develop. Cutler has the Bears over a barrel and I think everyone involved knows that. With that said, Jay is 30 years old, entering his eighth season. How many quarterbacks have changed who they are at age 30?
Cutler is still going to make throws he shouldn’t. That doesn’t seem likely to change, but with a better offensive line in front of him, he can be that 3,500-yard, 25-touchdown guy. I think that’s a realistic goal to go along with 15+ interceptions. The biggest thing for Cutler is staying healthy and that is entirely up to the line.
When the season comes to end, I see the Bears and Cutler reaching an extension or they have to franchise him at that $15 million number. Either way, I don’t see a scenario that doesn’t have No. 6 behind center in 2014. (WCS note: for a more in-depth look at Patrick’s thoughts on the Cutler situation, check out his article at Midway Madness).
WCS: What do you see as the biggest roster weakness for the Bears heading into the season (assuming everyone is healthy)?
PS: Nothing really stands out as a major weakness. In the past it would be easy to say offensive line, but I like the way that unit has come together during camp and the preseason. Linebacker was looking like a major problem when [Brian] Urlacher was not offered a deal and Nick Roach went to Oakland, but James Anderson, Jon Bostic and D.J Williams is looking like an upgrade. Really the biggest problem is how many guys are entering their last year under contract which is going to lead to some turnover next season.
Cutler, Henry Melton, Corey Wootton, Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Robbie Gould, Roberto Garza, Major Wright and Devin Hester are all free agents at the end of the year. The Bears will have a fair amount of cap space, but when you factor in a new deal for Cutler, some of those guys on that list are going to walk.
WCS: Talk a bit about Chicago’s depth. Where do you like the depth, and where does the depth concern you?
PS: I think offensive line depth is an issue. While I agree with and understand the release of J’Marcus Webb, when you add in the release of Jonathan Scott, it leaves the Bears really thin at tackle. Right now, the Bears only backup tackle is Eben Britton and with a rookie right tackle starting, that’s a little scary.
Kyle Long looks great at guard, but I think his future is at tackle, so I guess technically he is a backup as well with a few adjustments if Jordan Mills were to go down.
WCS: What player do you see as being poised to have a breakout years, and who do you think is likely to disappoint?
PS: I am certainly not alone, but the breakout candidate has to be Alshon Jeffery (or Jeffries for the mouth breathers). I loved what I saw at camp as a rookie and his confidence level when talking to him. This year he looked even better; plus he has let Marshall take him under his wing.
One thing I got a kick out of at camp was watching Tillman and him working together after practice. What could be better for your development than going against Tillman and Jennings every day during the summer? I think he is in for a big year and the Bears should be pretty intimidating in the red zone with all these big bodies.
Chris Conte is a guy who looks really comfortable out there too. He no longer is a guy who lines up 30 yards away from the line. In his third season, I think things are slowing down for him and he could be in store for a breakout himself. Stephen Paea is somebody I am really looking forward to as well. He has looked great during the preseason. I know that was cheating, but those three guys all look primed for a break through season.
I think a few big hits from [linebacker Jon] Bostic have set expectations a little too high from fans. The first depth chart released has D.J. Williams starting if healthy. I like the potential for Bostic, but he has a lot to improve on at this level.
WCS: What is your prediction for the Bears this year? How many games do they win, do they make the playoffs, and if so, how far do they go?
PS: Everybody seems to be all over the place with Bears predictions, but considering the talent on the roster, I don’t see how they don’t win 10 games. With an improved line and offensive coaching staff, this team should put up points. The defense is all coming back and has a lot of guys playing for contracts in their last season. I think the Vikings and Bears flip positions next season.
WCS: Branching out to the rest of the NFC North, how do you see the division ending up?
PS: The North may not have a “great” team, but it is still a pretty loaded division.
I don’t believe in [quarterback] Christian Ponder, so outside of another historic season from Adrian Peterson, the Vikings look like they are going to take a step back.
Detroit is talented, but they still do so many dumb things that I think is a reflection of the coach. The stupid penalties don’t seem to be going away and their secondary still looks very beatable. The Lions will scare you, but ultimately will be on the outside looking in.
Green Bay are still the favorites, but eventually that offensive line has to catch up to them, right? With a top three quarterback in the game that just may be wishful thinking. The Packers got better defensively and still look like the class of the division.
WCS: Thanks again to Patrick Sheehan of Midway Madness for doing this interview! I think we all can join Patrick in saying we are more than ready for the 2013 NFL season to finally begin.
LOL, this is tooooooo funny - any golfers out there? ISFW
Eddie Lacy 156 yards rushing Kaepernick 156 yards passing
Cutler 2 ints Dalton 2 ginger beatings.
Jennings 36 yards recieving Stafford 36D tits.
UGH we have to predict NFCS games too?
Bears over Bengals - 34-31
Lions over Vikings - 24-14
49ers over Packers - 38-31
Saints over Falcons - 41-38 (OT)
Seahawks over Panthers - 27-21
Bucs over Jets - 30-13
Glad we cut that guy. Lewis arrested again
@EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T. delete this shit.
He's just bored since he doesn't have a job.
@Brees be unto you Mine haven't been legit yet anyway. i just want to play the game
@andylet445 if Lacy goes off from 156 against SF... i would cream my pants.
@Nardolicious this whole equal rights movement is bullshit!
@It's queen... to make a funny Same page.
SF in a blowout, eh?
@andylet445 Are the Bears the Yellow-haired ladies? I think it's the Chicago Canadiennes now.
@Les_Grossman Brrhew? what kind of fucked up birds live by you?
@BearsSaveLives I'll allow it
@EyesrDirtyBird red I see Seattle as winless until week 3
vs. San Fran
@ St. Louis
vs. Tampa Bay.
9-0 going into wee 10? Yeah, no. I think they'll be somewhere between 5-4 and 4-5. Best case scenario, 6-3. Worst case, 3-6.
I'll buy that but when my article gets posted you will see how the Falcons saints game will go down
@MIBearFan Did the league decide to give the Jets 1 point per pick thrown? Only way they score.
@Lionskillpack Dumb fuck.
@Preparation_A GB 35 - SF 24
but ... but ...
@rocketman6969 Panthers better beat Seattle....
@andylet445 even more than usual.
Yep. Too physical up front for the Packers. They bullied them in the playoffs last year, I see this game being no different.
@Preparation_A could be lack of faith in Kaepernick, who didn't look that great in the preseason.
@Preparation_A Cin will beat Chi also
@Nardolicious even with that the Bears don't score 21
@MNvikeinNC so Johnny Jolly, Datone Jones, Nick Perry, plus the young guys improving, make no difference at all?
I SEE THIS GAME BEING DIFFERENT, ASS.