With the NFL draft behind us and a lockout raging on, the opportunities to talk about real football are becoming fewer and fewer. That being the case, I have sought out bloggers that cover teams that the Lions will play in the 2011 season to get a glimpse into what is going on with those teams.
Granted, this exercise presumes that no games will be lost due to the lockout. That might be a big step of faith, especially in regards to the preseason games, but I have a hard time operating under any other assumption. I know what happens when one assumes, let’s hope the labor situation doesn’t prove the old saying true. These Q&As aren’t meant to be any sort of game preview, it is obviously way too early for that. The subject teams may end up looking much different when the Lions play them compared to how they look now, but I anticipate this being a good introduction to each teams’ hopes, fears, needs, expectations, etc.
The Lions will continue NFC North play with a Monday Night Football matchup against the Chicago Bears in week five. I was able to send some questions to Mike Burzawa, the editor at Bear Goggles On, and he was kind enough to provide responses. Here we go…
Zac Snyder: What are your thoughts on the Bears draft?
Mike Burzawa: I thought that they killed it with their first 2 picks, selecting OL Gabe Carimi in the first round and DR Stephen Paea in the second round. They addressed two major needs with highly touted, top prospects. If any of the talking heads know what they’re talking about, both of those picks should step in to start for the Bears. That’s the good news.
The rest of their picks, including another safety, a quarterback (?) and linebacker really didn’t seem to address their needs as much. For my money, more offensive linemen and a wide receiver or cornerback would have been a better fit.
Don’t forget the botched trade with the Ravens, par for the course for Bears management.
ZS: The Lions and Bears will first meet in week five on Monday Night Football. The Lions return to MNF has been greeted with great excitement, is there any special anticipation for this game from bears fans?
MB: I think most Bears fans just hope to make it out of Detroit alive after dark. Just kidding. Any time you get to play on MNF, it’s special. I think the Lions are a scary team and a division rival, so that should make it a pretty special game.
ZS: Can it be definitively stated whether or not Jay Cutler was worth the cost and what do you expect from him in the future?
MB: I don’t think we can make a final judgment on the Jay Cutler trade just yet. In a normal, non-lockout year, I would say 2011 would be a great indicator if he was worth the high price the Bears paid. With the lockout, that changes a bit. Without the benefit of an offseason program under Mike Martz’s tutelage, I think Jay is as hurt as anyone on the Bears and his development in the system will suffer. That said, I expect the Bears offense to be much better than it was last season, where they ranked among the worst in the league. Jay’s biggest challenge in 2011 will be coming out from the loooong shadow cast by last season’s NFC Championship game and his early departure.
ZS: Is Lovie Smith off the hot seat or does he need to have the Bears in contention again next season?
MB: In my book, Lovie Smith should never be off the hot seat. Players noted an increased sense of urgency from Smith last season and whether lucky breaks or better coaching, the result was a trip to the NFC Championship game.
ZS: What are your expectations for the Bears in 2011?
MB: I haven’t done my detailed breakdown of wins and losses, but I think they come back down to Earth a little this season. I think they’ll struggle to make a repeat appearance in the playoffs this year but should be competitive enough to keep everyone interested throughout the season.