Roy Williams catches a pass at camp. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty Photo)
By Dan Pompei, Tribune reporter 4:01 p.m. CDT, August 25, 2011
Given the obvious struggles that Roy Williams has had thus far in the preseason, do you think there is any chance that the Bears coaching staff realizes the mistake they made and re-inserts Johnny Knox ahead of him in the starting lineup? -- Brett, Boston
I think a good chance exists that Knox will end up starting again unless Williams suddenly turns it on. I'm not writing off Williams yet. But if he keeps playing like he's played, he is not one of the Bears' top three receivers. I maintain that the Bears coaches should have kept Knox the starter at the beginning of camp and allowed the receivers to separate themselves. They probably had unrealistic expectations for Williams and it looks like he has been miscast as starter/savior. If you brought him to Chicago to catch 70 to 80 passes, you are probably going to be disappointed, seeing he has done that only once in eight NFL seasons. But if you brought him to Chicago to be an effective role player who can give the team a weapon in the red zone and on routes outside the numbers, you might be happy with Williams.
I liked Jerry Angelo's comment that there aren't many or any starters left without jobs at this point in the preseason. Do you think that fans and the media overvalue experienced players because we recall their past successes without realizing the impact that injuries and time have had on their ability to be successful? -- Bob, Winnetka
There is no question the public often overvalues players based on names and past accomplishments. We all are guilty of it. It's how players get voted into the Pro Bowl every year based on reputation instead of production. Roy Williams, for instance, has been living off his 2006 season for the last five years. The different thing about the NFL that often is overlooked is players' abilities can decline rapidly. Sometimes, a young player will ascend rapidly. But what a player was yesterday is not necessarily what is he today, and the best way to judge a player is through game tape -- a tool the average fan is not privy to.
I agree with the thrust of your article on Roy Williams, but I don't understand the huge variance in the two percentages given. He only dropped eight percent of passes thrown to him, but he caught just under half of the balls thrown his way? Is there that big a difference between a drop and a non-catch? I don't get it. -- R. Lenser
Statisticians generally judge drops as passes receivers had their hands on and failed to catch. A non-catch is more encompassing, and often includes passes that are tipped, or plays in which a receiver slips or steps out of bounds, for instance.
Does Mike Martz plan on using a traditional fullback this season? If so, I think the starting fullback should be Marion Barber. I would love to see him in the same backfield as Matt Forte and think he can be a more than capable receiver and blocker for Forte and Jay Cutler. Plus it would be nice to have a fullback who can actually run the ball a little bit. I think our last one was Brad Muster in the early '90s. Has the coaching staff given any thought to an M&M starting combo? -- John Harper; Hershey, PA
Martz does not often use a traditional fullback. He is more likely to use a tight end in the backfield who shifts between positions pre-snap. And when he does use a fullback, it shouldn't be Barber, except in rare situations. The primary role of the fullback is to block. Barber is a runner, not a blocker. It's a problem when you have five players on the field who specialize in running with the ball and none who specialize in blocking for those runners.
I loved Taylor Mays coming out of college last year. It was said the Bears went after him but he was traded to the Bengals. What happened? -- Dave Comiskey, Chicago
The 49ers made no secret they were shopping Mays, who was drafted under the previous regime and has been a disappointment. They called the Bears, and many other teams, to gauge interest. The truth is the Bears called the 49ers back and told them they had no interest in Mays. They never made an offer for him.
If the Bears aren't sure about J'Marcus Webb at left tackle, why haven't they looked at moving the "left tackle of the future" Chris Williams back to tackle? Hewas good enough to start last season as the LT, why not give him a try? -- Brian; Holly Springs, N.C.
The Bears might not be sure about Webb at left tackle, but they are sure about Williams at left tackle. He's not one, at least not in this system. They like Webb's potential at the position more than they like Williams' potential at the position. They also have Williams settled in at guard and have liked what they have seen from him there this year.
Why haven't Da Bears retired Dan Hampton's number 99 jersey? -- Marc St. Pierre, Geneva
The Bears have 13 numbers retired. That's more than any team in the NFL. They can't afford to keep retiring numbers because there aren't enough of them. Roster sizes are up to 90 players in the offseason. The Bears have only 87 available numbers, meaning some players have to wear the same number. Not retiring Hampton's number is no disrespect to Hampton. They may never retire another number.