1. How surprised are Bears fans with the 3-0 start to the Marc Trestman era?
After having a pretty good roster for the last few years, and eternally-high expectations to make a push, I don't think there is too much surprise. Trestman was known to be an offensive guru, and has come across as very cerebral... He plans for every single scenario, then goes back through and plans again. The defense is still solid, and the offense has plenty of talent, so it is pretty refreshing to see the season start off like it has.
2. The Bears' offensive line seems to be much, much better this year. What has changed?
The personnel. If you look at the current OL, you will see four starters who weren't even on the team last year. Trestman and second-year general manager Phil Emery cleaned house rather quickly in the trenches, compared to the previous regime, which liked to simply rearrange the personnel each week without ever really changing anything. Pro Bowl LT Jermon Bushrod was brought in to protect Jay Cutler's blind side, LG Matt Slauson has proven to be a brawler, rookie RG Kyle Long has been absolutely tearing it up and rookie RT Jordan Mills has surprised everyone.
So the difference can be chalked up to simply upgrading literally 80% of the entire starting OL.
3. One thing that hasn't changed is the Bears' ridiculous ability to create turnovers on defense. Has the new coaching staff continued to place an emphasis on takeaways?
Absolutely. Lovie Smith taught a lot of technique relating to creating turnovers, and it was something that, for years, they practiced literally thousands of times. We all know that once you do something enough times, a culture is established. New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has come in and immersed himself into that culture.
It might seem a little backwards for a coach to come in and join the existing culture, but when you have a system that has been so good for so long, you don't rock the boat. The defense might be getting older in some spots, and might not be as good as some teams, but those guys are going out there every single play not just to make a tackle... They want to out-smart you, out-technique you and take that ball out of your hands. It's been brainwashed into them, and they don't know how to play any other way.
4. Jay Cutler has put up pretty solid numbers so far this season (67.3 completion percentage, 693 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions). How would you evaluate his performance through three games?
Pretty good. With a new offense, a new OL and plenty of play-makers around him, we're seeing a Jay Cutler that can succeed. Compared to previous seasons when he was being sacked every handful of drop-backs, he's actually only been sacked three times this season so far.
We're seeing a Jay Cutler that is settling down in the pocket, going through his progressions and getting rid of the ball very quickly. That's the concept of the Trestman offense... Plays come in quickly, get to the line quickly and get rid of the ball quickly. He'll still take his shots downfield, but he has become pretty comfortable in this offense and is making great decisions and great plays.
5. Based on what you've seen in the first three weeks of the season, what kind of ceiling do you think this Bears team has? Are they talented enough to contend not just for the NFC North title, but for the NFC title in general?
Absolutely. I think they have been good enough for the last few seasons, but there were just too many issues with the offense to really be consistently good. Now that a new offense is implemented and things seem to be clicking, I think the Bears can hang with the best teams in the league. How far will they actually go this season? Obviously too early to tell. But things are looking up in the Windy City.