Jay Cutler said the new offense will take three years to learn, but he only gets two max if he underperforms, right? -- @DreddRunner, from Twitter
I think if Cutler underperforms, I think he gets one year, no more. And really that’s all Marc Trestman should need to determine if Cutler is right for him. The other day Cutler said it takes three years to learn an offense. That is something a lot of coaches have said about many offenses. What it means is a quarterback needs three years to master an offense, to understand every nuance of it, to become a PhD in it. What it does not mean is the quarterback has an excuse to fail in his first year. We have seen many, many examples of quarterbacks succeeding in the first year of a system. Remember Dan Marino in his first season in Miami? Tom Brady won a Super Bowl in his first year in the Patriots’ system. In Drew Brees’ first year in New Orleans, he had his most productive season up to that point. How about Brett Favre’s first year as a Viking? Peyton Manning seemed to do alright last year in Denver. Robert Griffin III never played in Mike Shanahan’s offense before last year. Any more questions?
Last year the new offense was supposed to be awesome, and it was anemic at times. Do you see this new system having fewer growing pains? -- @BarberSquires, from Twitter
I see it having more growing pains. The transition from Mike Martz’ offense to Mike Tice’s should have been more seamless, given Tice was part of the previous staff and there was minimal change in terms of language and playbook. Trestman’s playbook is completely new, so there will be more learning, and probably more confusion at times.
I always thought Lovie Smith was one of the worst game day coaches in the NFL. Any guess based on his CFL record how Marc Trestman will be? -- Morey, Boca Raton, Fla.
I’ll be surprised if Trestman is not an efficient and effective game day manager. He is very organized, very calm and very bright. And he has run offenses for years. He has a deep understanding of offensive football. I don’t think he would have develop the kind of reputation he did as an offensive mind if he got flustered on the sideline. He had great success running his offense in Montreal.
Everyone was so high on Gabe Carimi when he was just starting out his rookie year before it was derailed by an injury (that includes you if I correctly remember your answer to one of my previous questions). I get that he didn't perform at a high level at all last year, but does trading him mean that the Bears didn't think he would ever rebound or were they also trying to send out a message because he skipped out on OTAs? -- Jeremy, Washington D.C.
I think anyone who interprets the Carimi trade as message sending is reading the situation incorrectly. There is no doubt the Bears lost confidence in Carimi based on how he performed last year and what he looked like at the first minicamp. They also added a number of offensive linemen they clearly like. So Carimi could have been in a battle for a roster spot unless he showed significant improvement. Here is the other factor in the Carimi deal: If the Bears had not traded Gabe Carimi and gained a little more than $1 million in cap space and cash, they would not have been able to pull the trigger on signing Sedrick Ellis. In essence, they traded Carimi for a sixth round pick and Ellis.
Are the Bears still working on a deal for Israel Idonije or did the Sedrick Ellis signing close that door? -- @QCmcdaniel, from Twitter
Ellis’ presence means Idonije is out of the picture, the way I read it. The Bears couldn’t even afford Ellis one week ago. The Bears are very limited in terms of what they can do moving forward from a salary cap perspective. Idonije at this point would be a luxury, and a luxury they cannot afford.
In 2010 Sedrick Ellis had six sacks and 44 combined tackles for the Saints. Is that the kind of production the Bears envision for him? -- @BPspeak, from Twitter
I would say that would be a good goal to hope for. I wrote that they believe he is capable of more than he produced based on the change in systems and the way he will be used, but you have to be realistic about a player who is going into his sixth NFL season. It would be very uncommon for a player who has had a career high of six sacks to all of a sudden have, say, a 12-sack season. Another factor is I would say there is a good bet Ellis will play fewer snaps than he did in New Orleans. With the Bears, he is likely to be the third defensive tackle. That would mean fewer opportunities to make plays.
Do you see a decrease in receptions for Brandon Marshall with the new offense and new personnel? Is this a good thing? Can Marshall handle it? -- @jemadden1112, from Twitter
I would anticipate a decrease in receptions for Marshall. I don’t believe the new staff wants to see him catching an inordinate amount of passes, while other receivers are underutilized. The way for the Bears’ passing game to be the most effective is to be more diverse and unpredictable. Plus, Jay Cutler should have better options to throw to this year with the acquisition of Martellus Bennett and the development of Alshon Jeffery. I think Marshall will handle it fine, as long as the Bears are scoring touchdowns and winning games. If they are struggling, I’ll be interested to see how he’ll handle it.
Who is the best fit for the slot WR position long term? -- @Tjacobs78, from Twitter
With the way the slot position is evolving in the NFL, that’s a difficult question to answer. In the past, most teams had a specific profile for a slot receiver—they wanted a quick, tough receiver who could create separation with craftiness, burst and change of direction on underneath routes. That is not necessarily the case anymore. Most teams play multiple players with different body styles and athletic talents in the slot. The Bears did it that way last year, and I anticipate they will do it the same way this year. I don’t believe they will have one slot receiver. They’ll have two or three players who get a lot of time in the slot. One is sure to be Earl Bennett though. He fits the traditional definition of a slot receiver. If the Bears can get advantageous matchups, you can count on Marshall spending some time in the slot too.
Should we be concerned with Alson Jeffrey's hamstring injury when considering his injury issues last year or is this typical for OTAs? -- @CoreyBohler, from Twitter
Maybe a little, based on the fact that Jeffery had some durability issues one year ago. But the team is pleased with what Jeffery has done in the offseason in terms of getting himself in better physical condition and adding strength. Even before the offseason condition program started, Jeffery was working with Marshall in Miami. This is what receivers coach Mike Groh told me about Jeffery: “He’s had a really good spring. Mentally he’s been locked in since we got started. He’s made good improvement on the field with things wanted to work on, and in terms of grasp of offense, he’s where he should be. I haven’t had any issue with him. I’m really excited with how he’s attacking offseason and the kind of offseason he’s had.”
What are the chances somebody beats out J’Marcus Webb at RT? Is he locked in? -- @stcollins23, from Twitter
The only way someone beats out Webb is if Webb falls on his face in camp. I’d be surprised if that happened. Webb probably has to show a little something just because he is dealing with an entirely new group of coaches. And he will have competition from Jonathan Scott, who is a consistent, veteran pro. Scott won’t fall on his face, and I would bet on that. But it’s Webb’s job to lose.
When will Kyle Long be participating in practice? -- @Mikedyaheard, from Twitter
Not until training camp. There will be no more practices until that time. He will be part of the team’s rookie developmental program starting next week however.
Is the Bears linebacking corps still a strength of the defense with the revamped crew? --
@JohnBarnes, from Twitter
It remains to be seen. On paper, the linebackers look solid. And they have looked solid in offseason workouts. D.J. Williams and James Anderson have been good football players previously. And Lance Briggs has been an outstanding player. But we really can’t make any determinations about them as a group until they start playing real football.
How has Brandon Hardin looked so far this offseason? Any chance he makes an impact this year? -- @xbecuk, from Twitter
It kind of has gone under the radar, but there clearly has been improvement in Hardin’s game. He is seeing the field better, reacting more quickly, and bending better. It will be a different game for him in camp when the pads come on, but so far, so good. I think he will have a chance to get on the field at some point this season and prove himself.
Should an NFL team carry three quarterbacks? What is the role of the No. 3 guy? How risky is it to go with two and just pick up Charlie Batch if you need to for two weeks? -- Paul Kelly, from Facebook
It’s a matter of preference. Personally, I think three quarterbacks is a good idea. . The problem with just picking up a Charlie Batch for two weeks is the guy off the street does not know the offense and is unfamiliar with the coaching staff and the personnel. How much can he help? But the best benefit of carrying a third quarterback is player development. If a team does it right and the player is worthwhile, the third quarterback can become a future No. 2, a future starter or a trade commodity.