As we do each week, we catch up with the SB Nation blog for the Skins' weekly opponent. Thanks to Windy City Gridiron editor, Dane Noble, for filling in some gaps with the Bears OLine and secondary:
1.) RGIII is going to play pretty much the entire first half. The Redskins are starting 3 backups on their OLine, what can you tell me about your front seven that most outside fans don't know. Obviously, Urlacher is out which is a big deal and your 2 DEs are solid. Is Briggs playing?
WCG: The Bears love to rotate their defensive linemen to keep fresh legs in the game, and right now they have a ton of defensive tackles on the roster. Rookie DE Shea McClellin has made a strong case as the #3 guy behind Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije, but during passing situations the team has been experimenting with Izzy at DT (where he's played before) with McClellin and Peppers on the outside. Sophomore NT Stephen Paea has a bum ankle and will be sidelined for the next couple weeks, so look for Henry Melton to get more face time to try and convince the coaches that he should be back in the starting lineup. The guy who sacked Brett Favre into retirement, DE Corey Wootton, has also had a good Camp so far, and should get significant playing time as well. As for LB Lance Briggs... He will be there.
2.) What about the secondary? It looks like the Bears are trotting out the same D as last year, which ranked 28th against the pass. Who are the strengths and weaknesses there?
WCG: The success of the secondary is predicated on the pass rush in Lovie Smith's defense, and the Bears just don't have the talent to make up for it when the pass rush disappears. Veteran cornerback Charles Tillman had a surprisingly good year in 2011, but outside of him, the Bears don't have any shut-down players in their secondary. Opposite of Tillman there will be competition, but neither Tim Jennings nor Kelvin Hayden will be world-beaters. At the safety position, Chris Conte, a 3rd Round selection in 2011, should lock down one of the starting positions. He's a big guy (6'2, 205) who showed up to camp more muscular than last year, and the coaches have all been impressed with his ability. The second safety position is up for grabs between Craig Steltz, Major Wright, and rookie Brandon Hardin.
3.) Who's impressed the most and least out of the Bears draft class so far. McClellin had some flashes I saw vs DEN and Alshon Jeffery from what I'm reading is a stud.
McClellin needs to bulk up and add some strength, but his speed off the edge is undeniable. It will definitely be interesting to see if he can develop into an every-down DE for the Bears. And if you listen to what the coaches, and even some analysts are saying about WR Alshon Jeffery, he might end up being another Brandon Marshall. Sure, that sounds like a stretch, but the guy has been impressing people all camp long with his aggressiveness and athleticism. This draft class is the first under new GM Phil Emery, and even though it might have a couple of head-scratchers, something tells me he will be better than his predecessor Jerry Angelo.
4.) Sounds like Cutler and Matt Forte will play...what are your expectations for the season given the circus with your OLine, especially LT?
If the OL could just be average... Hell, even slightly below-average, the Bears could put three offensive players in the Pro Bowl. The triple-threat of Cutler-Marshall-Forte could be a thing of beauty, despite the guys in front of them in the trenches. With Gabe Carimi coming back healthy, the line should be better than last season. How much better will depend on what the Bears figure out in protecting Cutler's blind side. Neither J'Marcus Webb nor Chris Williams is the answer, but one of them will unfortunately get the starting job.
Definitely Hanie. Grossman is more talented, but obviously inconsistent. He has proven he can be just as bad as Hanie, so I'd rather endure two years of bad play than four.
Dang. I should have said Orton/Grossman for two years.