Originally Published: September 2, 2010
Larry French/Getty Images JOHN CLAYTON QB RANKING (15): Jay Cutler was productive in 2009 (3,666 yards), but his interception total (26) was among the main reasons the Bears underachieved.

Expert Picks (Consensus: 3rd)

Intelligence Report

Five things you need to know about the Bears:

1. The weak link of this team is the offensive line: This group struggled last year but is still returning four of five starters to a new scheme that doesn't provide them with much help. New coordinator Mike Martz wants his tight ends and running backs in pass patterns, not helping with blitz pickup. That makes the job especially tough for new line coach Mike Tice, whose early answer has been to retrofit existing personnel. Roberto Garza moved from right guard to left guard, and Frank Omiyale has shifted from left guard to right tackle. But early preseason returns were not encouraging, especially from a pass protection standpoint.

2. Quarterback Jay Cutler has a tough task ahead of him: After throwing an NFL-high 26 interceptions last season, Cutler finds himself in a new offensive system that historically produced higher-than-average interception rates. In short, Martz's system is more of the high-risk, high-reward variety. Even Cutler admitted, "I'm going to throw some [interceptions] this year. I'm not going to lie about that." Kurt Warner once threw 40 interceptions over a 27-game stretch in this scheme.

3. Chris Harris needs to play strong safety: The Bears made safety one of their top offseason priorities, re-acquiring Harris from Carolina and using their top draft position on safety Major Wright. Harris has played both strong and free safety, but at this point in his career, he's best served near the line of scrimmage rather than playing center field. Harris would be a notable upgrade as a strong safety, but for that to happen, the Bears need Wright or another candidate to win the free safety job so Harris can remain at strong.

4. Receiver Johnny Knox is a natural in this offense: Speed is a virtue in any offense, but it's near-mandatory in the Martz scheme. Not only is Knox the Bears' fastest receiver, but he's also an underrated route runner who knows when to slow down and how to break. Early in training camp, he was far ahead of the equally explosive Devin Hester and Cutler was clearly favoring him in drills. That trend continued early in the preseason. Hester has since made some progress, and Devin Aromashodu has established himself as someone who deserves playing time as well. But if the Bears are going to have a No. 1 receiver this season, it will be Knox.

5. The jury is out on middle linebacker Brian Urlacher: A calf injury sidelined the former Defensive Player of the Year in the second preseason game, a relatively minor injury that nevertheless cost Urlacher some valuable playing time after missing 15 games last season. The question is not whether the injury will hamper him this season. It's whether Urlacher, at 32, will ever be an upper-echelon player again or if he is destined to finish out his career as an average player. Other than another injury, we really got no indication one way or the other from training camp and the preseason.

-- Kevin Seifert, ESPN.com

Scouts Inc.'s Fabulous Five


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