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Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by short faced bear, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach DBS Writer

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    By Brad Biggs
    Tribune reporter

    12:14 p.m. CST, November 20, 2013
    The field was in good shape at the start of the game Sunday. Why wasn’t a tarp placed over the field at the beginning of the delay? The ridiculously bad condition of the field after the delay was preventable. – Robert G., Kennebunk, Maine

    There is a pretty simple explanation for this. The weather delay in Sunday’s game was not necessitated by the rain. The decision to stop the game in the first quarter was because of a safety issue. If rain was the only weather factor, the game never would have been delayed. The teams would have played in the driving and blowing rain. But safety issues were in play, primarily lightning, according to the NFL. When there is a danger factor involved, one that led fans to be ordered to seek shelter, they are not going to have dozens of workers exposed to potential injuries in order to cover the field. One other unrelated factor: I don’t know how feasible it would have been to put down a tarp with the high winds that were present. Both teams played on the poor surface when the game resumed so it’s not like this hurt one team more than the other. More importantly, no one was exposed to danger in the elements.

    Phil Emery has taken some heat for drafting Shea McClellin as a defensve end. How have players fared who were drafted after him in the first round? – Steve G., Oak Park

    The back end of the first round in the 2012 draft has provided a mixed bag of results to this point, and that is what you would expect pretty much every year. The Patriots drafted Chandler Jones at No. 21, two picks after McClellin, and he’s been productive as a pass rusher with 15 ½ sacks, including 9 ½ this season. He’s the name that pops up most when people play the “what if” game for the Bears.

    Kendall Wright, the 20th pick, has emerged as a nice young wide receiver for the Titans but I think the Bears have a better long-term player in Alshon Jeffery, their second-round pick from that draft. They are different receivers as Wright is a speed guy and Jeffery has a bigger body. Steelers guard David DeCastro, the 24th pick, returned from a preseason knee injury and played very well vs. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this past Sunday. He’s a building block for seasons to come in Pittsburgh. Riley Reiff is starting at left tackle for the Lions as the 23rd overall pick. Vikings safety Harrison Smith and Bucs running back Doug Martin have been hit with injuries this season, same with Giants running back David Wilson, who has had fumbling issues. Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins haven’t panned out and San Francisco already traded away Jenkins. Whitney Mercilus, drafted 26th by the Texans, has 10 ½ sacks in two seasons. It’s tough to tell with some of these players as it is with McClellin, who had three sacks against the Packers in his last complete game. I know this much: The Bears remain committed to him.

    Given Detroit's tiebreaker edge and easy schedule, how realistic is it to think the Bears can win one more game than the Lions? -- @MichaelDavSmith from Twitter

    Being swept by the Lions for the first time since 2007 potentially creates a major hurdle for the Bears to reach the postseason. The only way they can win a tiebreaker in the division with the Bears is if there is a three-way tie atop the NFC North involving the Packers. And that is a big maybe. In that instance, the first tiebreaker is best won/loss percentage against teams in the tie and the second tiebreaker is divisional record. In theory, the Bears could edge the Lions here. But with six games to play and Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler still injured, looking at tiebreakers for a three-way tie is premature if not wishful thinking.
    The Lions have the easiest remaining schedule of clubs in the NFC playoff picture but it’s not like the Bears have some heavy hitters in their path. The difference is the Lions have four of their final six at Ford Field and the Bears will be on the road for four of their final six (including four of the next five). Both clubs play the Packers at home and the Vikings on the road. The Lions catch a slightly improving Tampa Bay team this Sunday at home. Here is how the final weeks play out:

    Week 12: Bears at St. Louis 4-6; Lions Tampa Bay 2-8

    Week 13: Bears at Minnesota 2-8; Lions Green Bay 5-5 (Thanksgiving)

    Week 14: Bears Dallas 5-5 (MNF); Lions at Philadelphia 6-5

    Week 15: Bears at Cleveland 4-6; Lions Baltimore 4-6 (MNF)

    Week 16: Bears at Philadelphia 6-5; Lions N.Y. Giants 4-6

    Week 17: Bears Green Bay 5-5; Lions at Minnesota 2-8

    The remaining opponents for the Bears have a record of 26-35. The remaining opponents for the Lions have a 23-38 record. We’re talking about a marginal difference here. The Lions are healthier, they play two more home games and they hold a head-to-head edge. It doesn’t leave much margin for error for the Bears.

    Once Stephen Paea and Jay Ratliff are both healthy, will Corey Wootton move back to defensive end? -- @bighurtNYC from Twitter

    The Bears already shifted Wootton back to defensive end, at least some of the time, as he started at left end against the Ravens. Then, Paea suffered a turf toe injury and that lead to a season-high 56 snaps for Landon Cohen, an addition off the street earlier this season. Cohen struggled a great deal in the win. The problem is I doubt Paea will be available Sunday in St. Louis and it looks like Ratliff might need a little more time to get ready. Wootton did some good things inside. He drew a holding penalty against Ravens guard Marshal Yanda on one pass rush and that knocked Baltimore out of field-goal range.

    What is most likely to happen with Julius Peppers in 2014? Pay cut, release or keeping him on the roster at current salary? -- @jtbbears from Twitter

    The Peppers that was on the field for the first nine games of the season would not warrant a $14 million contract for 2014 like he currently has. The Peppers that had a career-high 12 tackles, two sacks and two more tackles for loss against the Ravens would be worth every penny of that. Keep in mind that a pay cut is a two-way street. If the player doesn’t want one, he doesn’t have to accept one. If the Bears don’t want to pay Peppers next season, and he’s been underwhelming, they need to have a plan in place to upgrade the pass rush. He’ll need to play at a high level over the remaining six games to get top dollar next season.

    Can't people aim higher when thinking Josh McCown is better or as good as Jay Cutler? Cutler at top of his game is by far better option, right? -- @RexyFan8 from Twitter

    Quarterback play, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

    The offensive line is playing great but the run game is not where it should be. Could the team use a new center to direct traffic? -- @Solo_ist from Twitter

    I don’t believe the offensive line is playing “great” but it is certainly much improved over last season. As far as the running game, the Bears are 18th in the NFL averaging 110.3 yards per game but they are tied for sixth in yards per carry at 4.5. That is a better measure, in this instance, because it’s proof when they want to run the ball, they have been able to have success. That being said, they need to improve in short yardage and goalline situations but it’s hard to argue with the offensive production when the team is averaging 28.2 points per game, third in the league. As far as the issue of center Roberto Garza, I can tell you that offensive coordinator/line coach Aaron Kromer has been quite pleased with the play of the 34-year-old. I thought the Bears did better running up the middle vs. Baltimore than they had in recent weeks. It would not be surprising if Garza, a free agent after the season, returns on a one-year deal.

    If Josh McCown continues his fine play Sunday then Jay Cutler comes back and struggles, do the Bears then potentially have a quarterback controversy? -- @Benyaminr1 from Twitter

    Not if you ask them. The Bears are leaving no room for ambiguity. Imagine Marc Trestman channeling some Lovie Smith and saying, “Jay is our quarterback.”

    The Panthers took defensive tackles in the first and second rounds in the 2013 draft. What are the odds of the Bears doing the same? -- @BDGDEB from Twitter

    The Bears did the same thing in 2004 when they selected Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson in Rounds 1 and 2. After the quarterback position, I believe the team will pay most attention to the defensive line. They need to rebuild at tackle and end. If there is a talented pass-rushing end, that would be a wise addition in either of the first two rounds because that has been a deficiency this season.

    Do you see David Bass as a long-term contributor to the defense and what is his ceiling? -- @whocowman from Twitter

    The Bears inherited Bass’ four-year rookie contract when they claimed him off waivers from the Raiders. He is a young player the team wants to develop and his playing time was expanding even before starter Shea McClellin went out with a hamstring injury. Bass was wildly productive at the Division II level in college but he’s a raw talent and that is the biggest reason he was not selected until the seventh round. I think it’s hard to put a ceiling on him. I don’t envision him becoming the next Colonel like Richard Dent, an eighth-round pick, but Bass has all the tools you look for in a starter. We’ll see over time if he can refine them.

    Do you see the Bears drafting a quarterback in 2014 before the fourth round? -- @andrewsmith_16 from Twitter

    It’s certainly possible but there are too many variables to consider before making any blanket statements. What happens with Jay Cutler? What underclassmen declare for the draft? How do the Bears address their other needs in free agency? Where are they picking in the first three rounds and what kind of draft value is on the board when they go on the clock? At this point, all I can say is I would say there is a good chance the team drafts a quarterback at some point in the draft.

    Obviously the Bears are thin at cornerback but do you see at any time in the near future the team finding Zack Bowman's replacement? -- @Sackman1313 from Twitter

    The Bears aren’t going to replace Bowman this season unless an injury forces them to make a move. It’s not like you can find experienced cornerbacks that know the defense on the street and would be a fit. Before you suggest free agent D.J. Moore, the former Bears cornerback, know that he’s really only an option as a nickel and Bowman is being used on the outside as a replacement for the injured Charles Tillman. The more pressing issue here is what to do with Tillman and fellow starter Tim Jennings? Both will be free agents after this season. Kelvin Hayden, who has spent the entire season on injured reserve, and Bowman are also coming out of contract. The Bears need to make decisions at the top of the depth chart before they concern themselves with the No. 3 or No. 4 cornerback spots.

    What is the plan with Marquess Wilson? I see he's getting some playing time but not a factor in the games at all. -- @hamrijp from Twitter

    It’s difficult to be a factor when he’s getting just a few snaps here and there. But Wilson is a part of the team’s plans and I believe he’ll be in position to earn a broader role in 2014. Earl Bennett hasn’t been a big factor either but he’s more experienced and therefore has a better understanding of the offense at this point. If Wilson continues to develop, I envision him competing for the No. 3 role next season.

    Marc Trestman talking about thought process and strategies is great for media and fans. Is it good for the Bears? Is it good for future opponents? -- @bolero_san from Twitter

    That’s an interesting question and my bet is you are referring, in part anyway, to Trestman’s detailed explanation for why he did not use timeouts at the end of the fourth quarter with the Ravens driving for a game-tying field goal (and what would have likely been a go-ahead touchdown had the third down snap not gone into the mud). As Rich Campbell noted, Trestman talked about his thought process for 1 minute, 54 seconds and used 581 words to answer one question on this issue Monday. Trestman has been very forthright since he was hired and that is his personality. I don’t think he’s giving the opponent an advantage here because every situation is unique. The Bears aren’t going to find themselves in the exact same game scenario again. He’s shown that he’ll go for it on fourth down when many think he will punt and he’ll punt when some think he will go for it on fourth down. So, he hasn’t been predictable with game management issues, in my opinion.

    Do you think that Josh McCown could be another Rich Gannon -- a lifelong journeyman who suddenly found himself in the perfect fit with the perfect coach to bring out the best of his abilities? If you recall, Gannon made the first of four consecutive Pro Bowls at the same age that McCown is right now (34). I like him going forward better than Jay Cutler because he seems to be a better leader and teammate, has better mechanics, is not as turnover prone and most importantly wouldn't command even a fourth of what Cutler will be asking for as a free agent. -- Billy W., Nashville, Tenn.

    One difference between Gannon and McCown is experience. Gannon had more of it when his career took off. He made 58 career starts prior to that season, including four seasons with at least 10. McCown had 33 starts prior to this season, including two at the end of the 2011 season for the Bears, and just one year with at least 10 starts. That difference of 25 starts isn’t great but it’s evidence that Gannon found situations where playing time was more attainable. It’s an interesting comparison to make but I don’t believe anyone in the Bears organization is ready to make that leap yet. McCown has played well at home and in one start at Green Bay. Let’s see how he does this Sunday at St. Louis against a pretty good pass-rushing defense. The backup quarterback often is a popular figure in town and McCown’s performance to this point has made him extremely popular in a short period of time. The decisions you’re talking about are for the long haul and will require a lot more evaluation. Right now, the Bears are adamant Cutler will be reinstalled as the starter as soon as his ankle injury is healed.

    What do you think about Marc Trestman’s recent goalline play selection? -- @KtrainExpress from Twitter

    The Bears failed with two tries at a two-point conversion against the Lions and then failed to put the ball in the end zone after reaching the 6-yard line against the Ravens. They even got extra cracks at it following a holding penalty against Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith in the end zone. One thing is clear: Against those defenses the Bears didn’t feel like they were in a position to line up and power the ball between the tackles for a touchdown. This could be an area the team missed quarterback Jay Cutler too.

    I get that anyone looking at Jay Cutler's talents sees no quarterback controversy but isn't it possible they're overlooking a huge intangibles issue here? I've long thought the Bears lacked a certain spark, drive, intensity (think Drew Brees here) and thought Lovie Smith was the reason. But now it seems obvious. Watch the team’s energy level when McCown takes the field. Then watch the air go out of the balloon as Cutler lines up. Isn't it possible that the real question here isn't which current quarterback should play, but whether Jay is the man to lead the Bears at all? – Steve, Koloa, Hawaii

    The Bears didn’t look like they had much spark or energy, for that matter, before the weather delay in Sunday’s game. Also, I don’t think anyone will question the intensity of Cutler. That being said, I think leadership questions of Cutler are fair. That absolutely has to be part of the equation for the team’s evaluation of him. But I don’t think comparing him to McCown is productive in this instance because I personally don’t see McCown as a long-term option as a starter for the Bears. If he’s not that, comparisons really aren’t relevant.

    If I remember correctly Josh McCown is signed on a one-year minimum contract. I just don't see the powers to be on the Bears letting him hit the open market after the season being the quality backup and optimum teammate in the locker room and on the field. What are your valued thoughts? -- Chuck D., Guilin, China, from Twitter

    McCown is on a one-year deal that qualifies for the minimum salary benefit, meaning he only counts $580,000 against the team’s salary cap. He received a $25,000 signing bonus with $125,000 guaranteed in the $840,000 contract. McCown said he’s not looking ahead to next year yet and with four kids at home in North Carolina, the oldest 15, he’s on a year-to-year basis now when it comes to making decisions about what is best for his family. At some point, he’s going to want to be home year-round as his kids continue to grow. There is no question he’s made himself valuable but you also have to remember that free agency is a two-way street and a player might want to see what else is out there. In other words, the Bears can’t prevent McCown from hitting the open market and that might be the wisest thing for him to do if he elects to continue his playing career. As well as he’s playing and as much fun as he’s having, my hunch is McCown will seek to play in 2014. But we don’t know at this point.

    What happened to Zach Minter? I thought he was going to be developed on the D-line. He went from the 53-man roster to on the street with a stop on the practice squad. There must be a back story. -- Patrick, Fort Wayne, Ind., from Twitter

    Minter was waived from the 53-man roster on Nov. 5 to create room for the addition of veteran Jay Ratliff. He actually was on the roster from the start of the season (dressed for three games, played in two) and did not spend any time on the practice squad. Since, he has had a tryout for the Bengals but I don’t know of any other interest in him at this point. He’s kind of an undersized player and when the Bears made the move it was a sign they preferred veteran Landon Cohen, who started against the Ravens and played poorly, in my estimation. I wouldn’t rule out a potential return by Minter, maybe to the practice squad, but nothing is in the works at this point, to my knowledge. The Bears filled an open practice squad spot on Tuesday by signing linebacker Lawrence Wilson.

    With so many starters out on defense fans want to know if there are some diamonds in all these rough and raw kids -- not the top draftees like Jon Bostic. Or will these players disappear next year when the team gets healthy? -- Damian W., Wilmington, N.C.

    General manager Phil Emery will, without question, have a goal to get younger in the offseason ahead, particularly on defense. So the players that are receiving playing time now that might not have come otherwise are certainly in the mix. Nickel cornerback Isaiah Frey was the first young player to get an extended opportunity because of injuries. He’s performed well in the estimation of defensive backs coach Jon Hoke. Linemen David Bass, Cornelius Washington and Cheta Ozougwu have gotten some work but we’re talking about a small sample size at this point. The same goes for weak-side linebacker Khaseem Greene, who will man the role for a couple more games before Lance Briggs returns from a broken bone in his shoulder. He’s played only 33 snaps the last two games vs. the Ravens and Lions because of a reliance on the nickel package against three-wide receiver looks. I think there is a good chance he plays more this week at St. Louis. We’ll see how these young players look over the remainder of the season. Certainly the hope is some of them show enough to be considered for expanded roles in 2014. Right now, I’d say Frey, Greene and Bass are ones to watch most.

    I have been to training camp the last several years and watched most of the preseason games. Every year I pick a “Cinderella” to make the team and be the longshot made good. Cheta Ozougwu has owned that title the last two years. It was great to see him get in the game last week and contribute. Do you see him having a significant role going forward? -- Matt, Greendale, Wis.

    I don’t know if Ozougwu will have a “significant” role moving forward. He was pressed into duty, promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, because of injuries. If Shea McClellin is forced to miss Sunday’s game at St. Louis, certainly I would expect Ozougwu to get more work. He’ll dictate his playing time by his level of production. If he can get to the quarterback more, he’ll play more, for sure.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sport...s-biggs-mailbag-20131120,0,7002051,full.story
  2. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    Phil Emery has taken some heat for drafting Shea McClellin as a defensve end. How have players fared who were drafted after him in the first round? – Steve G., Oak ParkThe back end of the first round in the 2012 draft has provided a mixed bag of results to this point, and that is what you would expect pretty much every year. The Patriots drafted Chandler Jones at No. 21, two picks after McClellin, and he’s been productive as a pass rusher with 15 ½ sacks, including 9 ½ this season. He’s the name that pops up most when people play the “what if” game for the Bears.

    Kendall Wright, the 20th pick, has emerged as a nice young wide receiver for the Titans but I think the Bears have a better long-term player in Alshon Jeffery, their second-round pick from that draft. They are different receivers as Wright is a speed guy and Jeffery has a bigger body. Steelers guard David DeCastro, the 24th pick, returned from a preseason knee injury and played very well vs. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this past Sunday. He’s a building block for seasons to come in Pittsburgh. Riley Reiff is starting at left tackle for the Lions as the 23rd overall pick. Vikings safety Harrison Smith and Bucs running back Doug Martin have been hit with injuries this season, same with Giants running back David Wilson, who has had fumbling issues. Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins haven’t panned out and San Francisco already traded away Jenkins. Whitney Mercilus, drafted 26th by the Texans, has 10 ½ sacks in two seasons. It’s tough to tell with some of these players as it is with McClellin, who had three sacks against the Packers in his last complete game. I know this much: The Bears remain committed to him.

    Jones, Mercilus, DeCastro and Rieff are the ones that are a problem and the ones that will always be tied to the "what if" for the Shea pick b/c those were the ones that people were talking, primarily DeCastro. DeCastro was the easist and safest pick. Take out this year and how many people were upset/wrong about Long, imagine having bookend G's for the next decade. Slauson is nice but he's at a higher cost then DeCastro, and imo DeCastro is better. Moreso, if you passed on Shea and took DeCastro it opens up what you do in the first round this year, do you go w/Long or do you go w/S, DE, DT etc.

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