Well, a win would be nice, as always. But beyond that.
Will Mike Holmgren stick with the passing game as prevalently as he did against San Francisco. I spoke this week with offensive coordinator Gil Haskell, who said the run-pass split was not that dramatic. I pointed out to him that that was because of the one-sided nature of the game. Had the game been 24-17 instead of 24-0, he said they probably would have thrown 7 more passes and had 7 fewer runs, though when you have 60-70 plays that is 10 percent, so relatively large. Either way, he said, if they get 70 plays to run, they should win the game.
Will the offensive line be able to protect Matt Hasselbeck. The Chicago Bears are one of the best teams in the league at rushing the passer, with 29 sacks. The Niners were not able to get to Hasselbeck, and they eventually gave up and dropped back into coverage. But the Bears use a different scheme and have better athletes, so it could be more difficult. Hasselbeck is going to be exposed more if they pass more, so I would think that Holmgren would try to max protect and throw short routes to receivers like Deion Branch and D.J Hackett, with some screen passes coming out of the backfield to Mo Morris and Leonard Weaver.
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How will Mo Morris perform. Shaun Alexander is not playing, so Morris knows it all falls on him. This is his chance to prove he is a capable every-down back who finds consistency. If he does, next week will be really interesting because the coaching staff kind of shied away from addressing the question of how to use both backs this week.
Will Marcus Pollard be back in the starting lineup and what does that mean for Will Heller. Heller has turned into a TD machine, with three in the Red Zone. But Pollard is back and looks to be healthy. I wouldn't be surprised to see some two tight end sets to feature both those guys, who have different attributes but both bring something to the team.
Will the pass rush be able to get to Rex Grossman. The defense is scared of Grossman's deep ball, but not of his dink and dunk techniques. If they can get pressure on him when he drops back to set up for deep passes to Bernard Berrian, it would make it much easier on the secondary. Patrick Kerney and Darryl Tapp still are switched at defensive end, so that throws a wrinkle into things, and Tapp has a shoulder stinger. Julian Peterson may be the key player in this portion of the game.
Can Deon Grant and Brian Russell prevent Chicago's receivers from getting behind them? Isn't it interesting that it seems like we have not mentioned Grant's name in a number of weeks. I remember him getting beat him Cleveland a few times, he seemed like a non-entity against San Francisco. He is due to make some plays. This would be a good time.
How will another Deion, Branch, make a difference in the passing game? For one, he pushes Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson deeper into the rotation, which could hurt since to me Burleson is the most explosive player on the field at times. However, Branch I think runs better routes and is more savvy, not the type to give up on routes like Burleson has been guilty of this year.
Will the special teams get their act together? They had a poor week against SF, and have had some glaring mistakes this year, though they also have won some games via Burleson's legs. A solid performance from them, especially covering Devin Hester, or better yet keeping the ball away from him, would be a nice improvement that could make the difference in the game.