As a result of a schedule oddity, the Detroit Lions won’t meet the Chicago Bears until week 13. That means the two division rivals will face each other twice in the last five games of the season. With the teams looking relatively equal heading into the season, these two games could go a long way towards determining who makes a run towards the playoffs and who doesn’t.
To get a feel for the Bears’ side of preparations for the 2014 season, I got together with Mike Praser of Bear Goggles On for a Q&A. Here are my questions followed by his answers.
1. How would you assess the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do through the draft and free agency?
"I think the Bears had a very productive offseason. As for the draft, I was a little upset when the Bears passed on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, and I was even more upset when the Green Bay Packers drafted him. But then, I started looking at Kyle Fuller, and realized that Emery made the right move. We need a big corner who can match up against tight ends, especially now that the Lions took Eric Ebron in the first round of the draft.Live Feed chicago bearsNew York Giants were shocked when Chicago Bears did this in 2023 NFL draftBear Goggles OnThe best rookie matchup each week of the NFL seasonWith the First Pick3 Offensive college prospects Chicago Bears fans should be watchingBear Goggles OnChicago Bears Roster: 3 Under-the-radar offensive free agents the Bears could addBear Goggles On3 massive unknowns for Chicago Bears entering 2023 seasonBear Goggles OnAlex Smith has massive concerns Bears fans should listen toFanSidedThen, Emery drafted not one, but two defensive tackles in the next two rounds. That made me very happy, especially after picking up big boy Ego Ferguson. The Bears needed a run stuffer in the middle, and he should be stuffing some runs. Emery drafted for the specific needs of the Bears, and we will probably be looking back at this draft as the one that fixed the defense for years to come. I understand why he drafted a punter, but he still drafted a punter. Who drafts a punter? When you have a chance, make sure you look up Pat O’Donnell. He is a special kind of punter. Let’s just say he doesn’t worry about getting hurt when he tackles a punt returner.As for free agency, I am very happy with what Phil Emery did. He focused on the defensive line and picked up Jared Allen, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston and Israel Idonije. They also signed safeties Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings to battle for starting roles. Everyone that Phil Emery signed who isn’t a day one starter is a decent special teams player. Emery doesn’t ignore special teams when signing players from both free agency and the draft.I did wish that the Bears focused on the safety position, but I think they feel that if they fix their defensive line that the safety play will improve dramatically. The Bears defensive line was just awful last year, and so were the safeties."
2. Which Rookie are you most excited to see play in 2014 and why?
"I’m most looking forward to seeing defensive tackle Ego Ferguson. The Bears have needed big bodies in the middle of the defensive line and I think they finally have their guy in Ego Ferguson. I don’t care if defensive tackles can get sacks, I just want them to stuff running backs in the hole and eat double teams for breakfast so the ends can have one on one matchups. Ego is a big boy and I am hoping he is that guy."
3. What is the biggest question that still needs to be answered heading into training camp?
"Who are going to be the starting safeties and linebackers? The only for sure starter is linebacker Lance Briggs. Other than that, it’s a battle to see who is the best."
4. What are your expectations for the team in 2014?
"My expectations are the same as all the fans in the NFL. Super Bowl or bust. The Bears have a chance to be very good this year. But so do the Lions and Packers. The Vikings will be a dark horse with the new coaching staff, but there are big question marks at quarterback."
5. Right here, right now, are you marking down the game against the Lions as a win, loss or toss-up?
"I think that the Lions have a good team and if the new coaching staff can change the culture in the locker room, the Lions can win the division. If I look at the matchups, I really think it is a toss-up. Either team can win. Lions vs. Bears will be two good games at the end of the season as long as injuries don’t become a factor."