Baltimore Beatdown: Josh McCown looked outstanding against the Packers two weeks ago and had a good final drive against the Lions last week. What's impressed you about the journeyman backup that gives you confidence this week?
Dane Noble: McCown has proven to be a very good backup quarterback, and has generally done well when he's had to take the field. His coaches, as well as fellow players, all speak on his work ethic, and they all consider him to be very bright when digesting the Bears playbook and reading the opposing defenses. I wouldn't consider McCown a long-term answer, but he's definitely proven to be one of the better backups in the league when he's had to take the reins.
BB: When you watch Matt Forte, is there a way to stop him? Or is it a matter of trying to limit the big plays with him?
DN: I've had the privilege of watching Matt Forte run the football going all the way back to his college days in Tulane. He has always been a dual-threat running back, and has developed well since being drafted by Chicago. His rookie season showed he was already a very mature player, and his second season came with a newly-found burst of speed.
Since then, Forte has been consistent, but has also shown to be susceptible to the wear-and-tear that comes with being an every down back in the NFL.
Forte has the ability to make big plays, especially when he is able to get the ball in space. If the Ravens really want to keep him bottled up, they have to stay in their lanes and keep him inside. One of his biggest strengths is something not many people mention: his vision and shiftiness. If Forte sees even the smallest seam to cut a run back into, he will change directions and carve out some big runs.
BB: How big of a blow is it to lose Charles Tillman for what appears to be the rest of the regular season?
DN: Not that there is ever a good year for a player to get hurt, but this season it stings a little bit more than it normally would. The Bears were already dealing with some serious injury issues on defense — Pro Bowl DT Henry Melton lost for the season with a torn ACL, Melton's backup Nate Collins lost the very next week with the exact same injury, linebacker D.J. Williams lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, linebacker Lance Briggs out for several weeks with a shoulder injury-- so the loss of yet another veteran leader, one who has been known to cause turnovers and score defensive points, definitely stings a bit.
Tillman will be replaced by Zack Bowman, who is no stranger to the Chicago Bears defense. Despite never being able to stick as a starting defensive back for very long, Bowman has plenty of playing time under his belt, and has good chemistry with our guys on the field. He can be a liability in pass coverage (as can Tillman), but also has the ability to make some big plays. We'll see how he can stack up against Flacco and Co.
BB: What can the Bears do to shore up the run defense? The Ravens haven't been able to run the ball all season, but they will likely try to take an advantage of that matchup.
DN: This could be a game where the Ravens are able to run the football. As previously stated, Chicago's defense is facing some critical injury issues and subsequent challenges with depth, so Baltimore will be facing off against a LOT of young guys on defense. With Briggs and Williams out at LB, the Bears are starting rookies Khaseem Greene and Jonathan Bostic, and there is a mixed bag of players that will potentially see playing time at DT and DE.
One thing that has worked well against Chicago this season, even before the injuries mounted up, was running traps, pulls, and misdirection plays. The defense seemed to be easily tricked, to put it bluntly, and has had trouble staying at home. I'm sure the Ravens will run some of that, if they don't first have success just running the ball right up the gut.
BB: Thus far into his first season, what is the general feeling for Marc Trestman in Chicago?
DN: The Chicago Bears fan base is much like that of many others. When the team is winning, like they were at the beginning of the season, then it's raving reviews. A few weeks ago, Marc Trestman was the second coming in Chicago, and fans wondered where he had been their whole lives. Now we see a couple of losses thrown our way, and he is the biggest mistake ever and Phil Emery is a moron and we need to fire everyone AGAIN and start over AGAIN and trade all our worst players for other teams best players and acquire all the best free agents and draft all the best players and how could we only upgrade FOUR of our offensive linemen this offseason because Roberto Garza still sucks, and — ah, I'm spent.