There are several untold stories to the family affairs in this game as Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints travel to Soldier Field to play the Chicago Bears this Sunday. Will Aaron Kromer be able to give insight to the Saints’ offense to help the Bears’ defense? How will Jermon Bushrod fair against his former team and friends? Matt Forte and Darren Sproles are tied among running backs for catches with 23 each, who will come out on top after this game? And don’t forget the McNown bowl, as both Josh and Luke backup the starters on their respective teams, both students of the game that are in the exact same situations.
There are guarantees this game will not be drama free as the Saints look to extend their record to 5-0 after a disastrous season last year when they saw not only players but coaches suspended. The Bears, still looking to prove themselves to some fans and media, will try to regain their lead in the NFC North (if coupled by a Detroit loss to Green Bay) and get to 4-1.
The Saints’ offensive line has missed Aaron Kromer for many reasons, but none more important than how he treats his players. The feeling of losing a family member, or seeing them go to another family, is never a good one but that’s exactly how the line was left to feel as Kromer took the position with Chicago.
“What guys will notice quickly is that he’s a guy that gives professionals a lot of respect. The way he relates with his players and communicates with them is unlike anybody I’ve been around. He will bring a family atmosphere to that room that will cultivate the types of relationships you need on an offensive line,” Saints’ tackle Zach Strief said of his former coach in an interview.
Kromer left the Saints’ after five years for an offensive coordinator position with the Bears at the beginning of this year and has continued to improve the offense and mainly the offensive line. While he has a familiarity with the offense and the players’ tendencies, they also have a familiarity with his. Nothing tastes worse than the bitterness of having your former team defeat you and I’m sure Kromer will do what he can to help the Bears win.
However, Kromer isn’t the only one facing his former team as it will be the first time Jermon Bushrod faces a former team of his as he was drafted by the Saints in 2007 and played there up until this year when he hit the free agency and the Bears picked him up. A two time pro-bowl left tackle had to have had Jay Cutler smiling as he came, along with Kromer, to a team that desperately needed help on the offensive line.
“A lot of them are my close friends, I’ve got some good friends on the team and they gave me an opportunity coming out,” Bushrod told the press after practice. “I have a lot of love for them but you know, I’m a Bear now and I’m here now and trying to get it done here.” He told reporters that he’s not giving information to the Bears but that all the players are watching the tapes as they’ve run a similar offense the past several years.
Bushrod hopes to have success against his former team and to halt their success a little. While he wants the Saints to succeed overall, he wants the Bears to succeed more. Four games into the season Bushrod has made a huge difference in the offensive line and kept the offense striving and for the first time in awhile it’s the defense that needs to pick their game up to stop a Saints’ offense that has looked solid.
The Bears and Saints game will also profile two talented running backs in Matt Forte and Darren Sproles that lead the league in passes caught for running backs. Sproles has 23 receptions for 277 yards and one touchdown while Forte has 23 receptions for 160 yards. However while Sproles only has 22 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown, Forte has 69 carries for 320 yards and three touchdowns. Both running backs will look to continue their productive seasons as they hope to help their team win.
Perhaps the lesser known family affair in this game comes from a true family, the McCowns. Josh McCown is the backup for the Chicago Bears behind Jay Cutler while younger brother Luke Mccown is the backup for the New Orleans Saints behind Drew Brees. Given that they’re both in the same situation, they often talk a lot before games, but they have not communicated a whole lot this week.
“This week that conversation is shut down. But I’m always asking how Drew’s doing and he’s asking the same thing about Jay. We’re always talking and comparing notes. We really like working with the guys that we’re with so it’s fun,” Josh said.
This marks only the third time the brothers have had a game against each other. The first two came in 2008 when Josh was with the Panthers and Luke was with the Buccaneers. Josh, 34, entered the league in 2002 after being drafted by the Cardinals. He’s appeared in 50 NFL games with 33 starts. Luke, 32, was drafted in 2004 by the Browns. He has played in 26 games with 9 starts.
“We’re not starting,” Josh McCown said. “It’s not the Manning Bowl. But it’s cool for us. It’s special for us and we’re very thankful to be in the situations that we’re in.” Neither team hopes to see either of these two play as that would be the result of an injury to one of the starting quarterbacks.
Those are just some of the highlighted stories for this weekend as the Bears take on the Saints. The game will be featured in most regions around the states as the two teams meet, both looking to continue their successful seasons. Both teams currently look like they have a good shot at the playoffs and if both teams bring their best, this will be a game to remember. From the talented running backs, to facing former teams, to the family feelings in both real families and families that were created over time through playing time, everybody will have their heart into this one, looking to notch a victory. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?