Know Your Enemy: Matt Rittle Representin’ the Chicargo Bears

Matt Rittle was one of my Ask Your FF Expert interviews last month. He admitted to being a Bears and Cubs fan. Surely one man can’t take that much abuse. Sadly, tis true. I asked him to talk Bears and he agreed, for an Old Style tall boy. I’ll have to owe him.

Are you all in with Jay Cutler as your Super Bowl QB? I am. We know he’s not Brady or (either) Manning. But he’s also never had the supporting casts those guys have had. In terms of talent…Think back through the history of Bears quarterbacks…it’s not a laundry list of hall-of-fame caliber guys. Our last Super Bowl season was riddled with the epic Orton vs Grossman starting QB battle. It was the craziest big-game loss in a fandom I’ve ever seen. A lot of friends of mine, huge fans, weren’t as upset as they could have been. None of us really wanted to see Grossman go down as a Super-Bowl winner. [Zach note: Not like McMahon was an All Pro. Grossman hoisting the Lombardi would have ended the “you need an elite QB to win a championship” talk for a generation.] I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve talked to more than a few people who shared that sentiment. I’m talking about talent level so far. In terms of support from fans…This will sound crazy, as well, but I think Cutler really won over the Chicago fans when he was inadvertently picked up on a game microphone cussing out Mike Martz early in ’11. I think ever since then most Chicago fans I know really settled in with him as ‘our guy.’

How is the defense so much better than last year? What’s the secret to getting all of those defensive touchdowns? It’s been a surprise to all of us. I mean, we always expect them to be good…but this is one of the best Bears defenses we’ve seen in years. The young guys have developed well and the old guys still have gas in the tank after all. Both have been important. I think it’s just that everyone is playing well, playing smart and playing together. There’s no obvious weak spot. Last year our safety play was a huge liability and cost us a few games in of themselves…but the whole unit is just playing so well together. I think that’s the key. Everybody does their job so no one has to overperform. Urlacher, for instance, may or may not have enough gas in the tank to be a hero on an underperforming squad…but he certainly has enough left to perform his role adequately in a good squad.

The touchdowns? I just have to credit Lovie and all the defensive players. They really go after that ball – every damn play. Eventually something has to break. I mentioned playing as a team earlier, the touchdowns start up front. The Bears have had a lot more defensive touchdowns since signing Julius Peppers than before. He’s not the only factor in that stat coming to reality, but I think it speaks to the importance of the defensive unit – all playing together.

Michael Bush was barely on the field last week. Does that mean the team is going heavy with Matt Forte the rest of the way? I think the plan has always been to let Forte be one of the mainstays of the offense. When you have a guy that good – that’s just what you do. (Coaching staffs of Kansas City and the Ravens, amongst others, should take note!) The problem, though, is that you have to have a second good running back in this league. Also, Forte kinda sucks at short-yardage stuff..and by kinda…I mean a lot. Chicago fans have known this for years, but I think the mainstream football community has finally caught onto that fact. Bush’s main role was always meant to be as injury protection to Forte, to help out with the short yardage work and to give us a legitimate second option in some games to help us not overuse Forte. Bush is a perfect signing for the Bears. I was stoked when that happened. [Zach note: I was less than stoked when I had to start Bush last week due to a bye week and was impressed by his .5-point performance. Much more insulting than 0.]

How have the Bears concealed their continuously horrible offensive line outside of the Packers game? I’m personally of the mind that Mike Tice is a damn good coach, at least when it comes to the offensive line. What he’s done the last couple years with so little talent there has been nothing short of amazing. Now he’s the one designing the offense and calling the plays. I can only assume that he’s designed everything around disguising that unit’s weakness. Shorter drops. Better mix of run vs pass plays. Stuff like that. As for the Packers? They just have that offensive line’s number, for now. It’s been like that for a couple years now. We just can’t figure out how to stop all their varied blitzes.

Can you envision a weirder end than the last Titans/Bears game in Nashville that ended in an overtime safety? Can anyone?

Anyone on the Titan who particularly worries you? Honestly? Not really. [Zach note: I would have voted for the mascot T-Rac running Cutler over with a golf cart.] The Titans are a good overall unit, but they lack that “one big playmaker” this year…at least one that can be relied upon to consistently make big plays. (I’m looking at you Chris “bane of my existence” Johnson!)

Are you tipping an Old Style back during the game? I only drink Old Style inside of Wrigley. I swear it tastes better there. No joke.

Thanks, Matt. Follow the dude on Twitter.

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