As the Bears gear up for their first preseason game at Buffalo on Saturday, pretty much everyone can agree on one thing: Jay Cutler is going to be good.
The rest of it is less certain.
We're all sold on Matt Forte, but what about Orlando Pace? What about the rest of the Bears' aging offensive line? And don't even get us started on the wide receivers, all of whom fit into one of three categories: bad, rookies, or Devin Hester. It's quite possible that recently promoted tight end Greg Olsen will be the Bears' most productive receiver in 2009, and that's not exactly the sign of a high-flying offense.
And what about the defense? The Bears are getting drastically older on the defensive side of the ball, all of which starts with Brian Urlacher, now in his age 31 season. Urlacher is no longer the sideline-to-sideline playmaker he once was. Can he salvage the rest of his ability and keep the Bears' defense together?
Or what about Tommie Harris? Can he fight through injuries long enough to make an impact on the Bears' season? Can the Bears defensive line pressure the quarterback enough to make up for what will likely be a pretty shaky secondary? Can the secondary stop anyone?
Such is the nature of preseason football. The wins and losses don't matter. But the various questions surround this team, all the minute little things that comprise a successful football operation, have their moments in the sun. It's a responsibility-free way to preview a team. So as Saturday approaches, here's to answering a few questions. The NFL always manages to surprise us, but that doesn't mean we can't try.
And hey, when all else fails? At least we've got Jay Cutler.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.