With the Cincinnati Bengals kicking off the season against the Chicago Bears this weekend, we reached out to Dane Noble who runs the excellent SB Nation Chicago Bears site Windy City Gridiron. Fun Fact: WCG was one of the few NFL sites that was already in existence at SBN before Cincy Jungle went live in March, 2006. We asked Dane a couple of questions for some knowledge on Cincinnati's opponents this weekend.
What's the latest on Brandon Marshall's surgically repaired hip?
He will be fine. Last week, Marshall expressed some frustration with where he was physically, but this week has changed his tune. To be honest, he's incredibly competitive, and wants to be the absolute best he can be, so any slight hiccup is going to frustrate him. General Manager Phil Emery summed it up best:
"He’s going to get mad at me for saying this because I have been telling him this all summer: I see a guy that is better than he was last year," Emery said. "I see a guy that is more dynamic. I see a guy better in and out of his breaks. I see a stronger player. I think he made the comments that he was at 4.5 body fat percentage. He looks it. When you stand up behind Brandon Marshall, you realize how big that man is at the position that he plays. He’s at an elite level for his position in terms of size, dynamic ability, production. I don’t see any back-off.
"Actually, I see a better player. Obviously, he was a little frustrated about where he is at and he’s definitely shared that with (me). That’s just an athlete wanting to be elite, wanting to be the best at his game."
"I obviously know of Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall and am familiar with Martellus Bennet and Earl Bennet, but who are the other complimentary weapons around these guys? Anyone the Bengals defense may be overlooking?"
Keep an eye on sophomore WR Alshon Jeffery and rookie Marquess Wilson. Both are big guys, very athletic, and can make catches in traffic. Definitely big play potential that will hopefully take some of the pressure off of Marshall.
D.J. Williams suffered a calf injury, which gave Jonathan Bostic a chance to rise. Word is that Williams is back with the first team, but could split time with Bostic. Are there concerns of a defensive drop off against the run with the absence of Urlacher and the inconsistencies of his potential replacements?
Williams will start, for two main reasons: He is a veteran who has the ability to anchor an entire defense, if his head is on straight, and was brought in on a one-year contract to start at ILB. The job has been his for a couple of months now, but his leash will be short. Bostic has made some BIG plays in the preseason, and has impressed coaches since being drafted in the second round this April. But he's also a bit raw, and has some developing to do.
Overall, I don't expect any dip in defensive production. If anything I think the defense will be better than 2012. Scary thought, but Urlacher's on-field performance had been hampered by injuries and he was slowing down a bit. With Williams bringing a veteran presence, and Bostic seeing significant time as well, the defense will be just fine.
Putting on your prediction cap, what do you think of Marc Trestman, coaching his first NFL game Sunday, at this point?
I think I like him. He is leading an entire culture shift in Chicago. From a vanilla, get-off-the-bus-running offense to a dynamic, progressive approach. While we didn't see him let too many cats out of the bag during the preseason, we saw enough to be excited about. I think he's just what Chicago has needed for many years, at least on the offensive side of the ball.
Situation: Bengals have the ball at the three-yard line with one second remaining, while the Bears have a four-point lead. Who would you look to on the Bears defense to make the game-winning play?
Fantastic question. The Bears defense is known for turnovers, but in this scenario, I think Julius Peppers has a better chance at tipping the football than someone just flat-out scoring an INT. With active linebackers and a probable quick release from the QB, I could see someone on the DL getting a hand on the ball. But a 97-yard INT or fumble recovery for a TD by Tim Jennings would also be acceptable!
Situation reversed: Bears have the ball at the three with one second remaining, down by four. Who wins the game for the Bears?
Jump ball in the corner, Brandon Marshall vs sub-6 foot CBs. I'd say that might be a game-winning scenario right there.