Injuries and an inept offense turned the Monsters of the Midway into a monstrosity last season. After a last-place finish in Coach Lovie Smith's first season, the Chicago Bears must rely on a healthy, talented defense to overcome an injury to their starting quarterback and regain respectability.
Defense is Chicago's strong suit, relatively speaking. Linebacker Brian Urlacher leads a unit that, despite a rash of injuries, allowed the fewest yards of any NFC North team in 2004. Key components Urlacher, defensive lineman Adewale Ogunleye, safety Mike Brown and cornerback Charles Tillman return after missing a combined 33 games last season.
"If we can just keep guys on the field," Urlacher said during camp, "we should be able to do some good things."
To bolster an abysmal offense that ranked last in the NFL in points and total yards, the Bears added free agent wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who led the league last season with 1,405 receiving yards for Carolina. They also used the fourth overall draft pick on running back Cedric Benson, whose holdout won't help him win the starting job from incumbent Thomas Jones.
Chicago's chances of improving dramatically on offense, however, are in doubt after quarterback Rex Grossman broke his left ankle in the second preseason game. Grossman's backups struggled last season after he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in Week 3. Rookie Kyle Orton will begin the season as the starter. "I'm not scared at all about being a rookie quarterback," Orton said.