The Marc Trestman era will kick off with a difficult test Sunday at Soldier Field as the Bears open the 2013 season by hosting the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincinnati is led by a stout defensive line that produced 43 of a team-record 51 sacks last season. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins has been voted All-Pro each of the past two years. The Georgia product recorded 12.5 sacks in 2012, the most by a defensive tackle in the NFL.
The Bears will counter the Bengals with a revamped offensive line that features four new starters in left tackle Jermon Bushrod, left guard Matt Slauson, right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills. Draft picks Long and Mills will become the first pair of rookie offensive linemen to start a season opener for the Bears since 1983.
Offensively, Cincinnati is led by receiver A.J. Green. The fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft has been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. Last year Green caught 97 passes for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"We'll just have to do our job, make sure we know where he is at all times," said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. "We've got to do a great job on him. He's an excellent player. I think everyone in the league recognizes that he's got great ability to make big plays. He works hard in the run game, blocking. He'll work hard there. He seems to be a team guy, gives excellent effort. He's in that category of guys that can wreck a game."
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has led Cincinnati to the playoffs in each of his two seasons. last year he completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 3,669 yards with 27 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and an 87.4 passer rating. Dalton is one of only three quarterbacks in NFL history to throw at least 43 TD passes in his first two seasons, joining Dan Marino (68) and Peyton Manning (52).
Cincinnati's ground game features Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard.
"Offensively, they've got skill at the receiver position," Trestman said. "Their quarterback is a very good decision maker. They're going to have two really good runners, at minimum. They're a really balanced football team with a good offensive line. We have to be ready for all phases, and they'll take shots, and look to make plays on the edges. We're going to be tested, no doubt about it.
"This is a game where you've got two teams that are probably going to be similar offensively and similar defensively, structurally, and two good special teams. I look at it as a very even game in terms of the types of structure that they have on both sides of the ball."
On special teams, the Bengals feature punt returner Adam "Pacman" Jones, kickoff returner Brandon Tate, punter Kevin Huber and kicker Mike Nugent.
"They've got great speed," said special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. "They've got excellent returners. Both Pacman and Tate are excellent returners. Their field goal kicker is a real solid guy and the punter is a real solid guy. Darrin Simmons is the coach and does a great job, so it's going to be a heck of a challenge for us coming right out of the gate."