The players will get back to work this morning in preparation for Sunday's home opener with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just like that the focus shifts from Brian Urlacher being lost for the season, and the disappointment of a 20-15 loss at Lambeau Field, to the next opponent. A couple quick thoughts as we prepare to start the day:
*** Could there be 80 passes in this game? The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't a run-oriented team, and they have not been one for some time. They throw to get the lead and then try to grind opponents down. With the Bears facing issues in the secondary, will Ben Roethlisberger be called on to chuck it more than 40 times? If so, the Bears could have a big day rushing the passer. The Steelers' line has some real issues, and you noticed the Rod Marinelli difference after about, oh, one quarter up at Green Bay.
*** Orlando Pace will need to play better, and the Steelers will be bringing the heat at Jay Cutler with their linebackers. It's fair to say Pittsburgh will miss all-pro strong safety Troy Polamalu more than the Bears will miss Urlacher though. Polamalu keys so much of what they do in terms of blitzing and disguising coverages.
*** Cutler needs to involve Matt Forte as a receiver this week. Forte is one of the better backs in the league at catching the ball. An eight-yard gain to Forte is sometimes better than taking a shot downfield. Cutler usually sees the field very well.
*** Let's see if tight end Greg Olsen shows up this week. His much ballyhooed promotion to the starting lineup fizzled at Green Bay, and the Bears will likely be without Desmond Clark, who announced on his radio show Tuesday night that he has a cracked rib. We tuned in to "Sportsmanlike Conduct" on Voice of America Sports and it was a good listen. While perusing the lineups at VOA, I learned there is another show hosted by Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, and I'm all about The Hammer, who some would argue committed a lot of unsportsmanlike conduct.
*** Will Lovie Smith tinker with the idea of adding Danieal Manning to the starting lineup as a free safety. We might not find out, but don't discount the possibility at some point this season.
*** You know what, don't think I have mentioned it at all, punter Brad Maynard was terrific Sunday night at Green Bay. I've been remiss in not pointing that out. He had a net of 46 yards on four kicks, and was dropping them right along the sideline. He was outstanding.
*** Bears need to win this game. Consider that Minnesota (1-0) goes to Detroit and Green Bay (1-0) hosts Cincinnati. Yeah, it's only two weeks, but if the Bears fall to the Steelers, they face the possibility of being two back of two teams after two weeks. That wouldn't be good.
*** Finally, for entertainment purposes only, the Steelers are three-point favorites.
I'll check in during the day.