First of all, I'd like to thank Lester A Wiltfong Jr of Windy City Gridiron, our SBN partner site that covers all things Chicago Bears. Excellent site they run over there. I urge you to check it out. Let's dive in to the Q&A!
The cornerback corps looks to have a solid three man rotation. How is the secondary depth shaping up? Most publications are down on the backups.
Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman will be the starters, unless there's an injury. Kyle Fuller should compete for the nickel with Kelvin Hayden and Isaiah Frey. Hayden is a veteran who is coming off an injury, and Frey was in his 1st year playing, but he didn't exactly wow anyone. Safety was an issue last year, but I see that as more of a front 7 problem. They were forced into some bad situations.
Do you expect Fuller to start or take over later in the season? Would the Bears be better off with Tillman or Jennings at the nickel?
This regime seems to be willing to start the best man for the job, regardless of experience. I really like the skill set Fuller brings to the Bears, but I don't think he'll unseat either starting Pro Bowl corner. I see him winning the starting nickle job, and eventually taking over once Tillman hangs them up. If there is an injury however, all bets are off, and I could see the Bears throwing Fuller out there at CB.
Do the Bears go after kicks? Do they play starters on their special teams at all?
The Bears have always played some starters on special teams, and when the situation arises, they will go after some kicks/punts.
What kind of impact do you expect Mel Tucker to make in his 2nd season as Defensive Coordinator? He has a background coaching defensive backfields, and played CB for Wisconsin in college.
He kept the Lovie Smith Tampa 2 last year as a buffer for the veterans, but this year it's all his defense. He has a background in both 4-3 and 3-4, plus the Bears just brought in a couple assistants schooled in the 3-4, so I'm expecting some hybrid type looks. The only think that the Bears announced about their D so far was their intention to remain a one gap 4-3 base front.
With such a porous run defense, did Chicago really shore that up? They signed the one defensive tackle in Ratliff, but with Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, and Willie Young it seems that the Bears want to ratchet up the pressure. With James Anderson still unsigned as the Bears leading tackler, how do the Bears get that record-high rushing defense under control?
Jeremiah Ratliff was around Chicago last year, but he wasn't fully healed from his injury. He looked OK playing the last few games, so most fans are hopeful he can get close to his Pro Bowl form. The Bears went hard at defensive end, and chose to draft a couple defensive tackles that should be a part of the DT rotation. Nate Collins is also returning off his own injury, but reports are that he will be good to go by camp.
James Anderson looked like a steal the first few games, but as injuries around the defense started piling up around him, his play started slipping. By the end of the year it was clear to Bears fans why the Panthers let him go. He was consistently out of position and he was missing his assigned gap.
Why can't James Anderson get paid? He was the most reliable performer the Bears had last year! Former Hokies want to know.
See above; He was far from reliable. I'm not sure if you're a fan of the guys at Pro Football Focus, but they graded Anderson out in a negative light. They had him as the worst run defender on the Bears at -23.1.
(Editor's Note: I have a feeling that the negative number is partially a reflection of the number of reps the durable Anderson took. I'm not sure how you grade a LB poorly on his run defense when he has OL advancing to the second stage of the defense to put a helmet on him.)
Can Jay Cutler lead this team to a Super Bowl? In your heart of hearts, yes or no?
No QB has been hit more than he has the last few years. He's been in Chicago since 2009, and he's learned four different offenses. He's back in a west coast offense, like he was early in his career, and he had a career best QB rating. He's still going to force a few throws here and there, but the last time he was working in the same O for consecutive seasons, his interception percentage dropped from 3.7 to 2.2. That latter number is his career best, and it was done in year 2 of the Mike Martz offense. In his second year working with Marc Trestman, I believe his play will take another step forward.
He had some aloofness and some "don't care" moments that have rubbed some the wrong way, but he's also not going to stand at the podium and give canned responses. Every QB yells at his players, every QB has disagreements with the coaches, but the perception about Cutler being a jerk is played up by the media. He's a team first guy that is coming into his own as a leader. Maybe he took a back seat to Brian Urlacher early in his Bears career, because last year he seemed to really embrace his role as captain and face of the franchise. He's spent a bunch of time with his offense down in Florida at Brandon Marshall's facility, so the offense should be able to come in and build off last years success.
Many thanks to Lester for taking his valuable time to fill us in on the situation Kyle Fuller is entering into. Hopefully we can visit back with Windy City much later this season as the Bears and Fuller are having success, and we can discuss how things are coming along. We have just a few more of these to complete the set. Keep your eyes peeled!