By Dan Pompei, Tribune reporter
10:56 PM CST, November 14, 2012
What is your opinion of Kellen Davis? It seems to me that he's a very inconsistent blocker and a poor receiver, yet he continues to be sent out there. With the passing game struggling so much, do you think there's any chance we'll see less of Davis and more of Evan Rodriguez in the coming weeks? -- Daniel Gutstein, Lincolnwood
Davis has not played well this year. Bears coaches have been enamored with him because he has an unusual combination of size and speed, which theoretically should make him a very good two-way tight end. But it has not translated on the field. Davis has struggled as blocker (Matt Spaeth has been more effective), he has struggled to adjust to throws and he has not caught the ball well. I'll be surprised if the Bears keep throwing to him as much as they have, because they aren't getting much in return. Rodriguez is a different style of player, and using him instead of Davis would require somewhat of a philosophy shift. Rodriguez is five inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter. He is not going to be an in-line tight end. He mostly has been used as a fullback. It is possible the Bears will throw some of the passes that have been going Davis' way to Rodriguez in the future, however. So far, the rookie has yet to catch his first NFL pass. The Bears also could distribute some of the balls that have been going to Davis to halfback Matt Forte.
What is the Bears biggest weakness now? The tight ends or the offensive line? -- @ErikGrogan, from Twitter
The offensive line has been outperforming the tight ends of late. But here is the difference: A team can get by with mediocre production from the tight ends. It's a lot harder to win with a bad offensive line. You are talking about five positions versus one. That being said, I would say the offensive line remains a bigger concern.
When will Mike Tice start running the ball more and use the Bo Schembechler of offense? Or does he not trust his line? -- Rudy Rico, from Facebook
I think you need to trust your offensive line more to throw the ball than run it. So that isn't the issue. I thought they could have run it more against the Texans, but it's not like Tice is ignoring the run. The Bears have run the ball on 46.3 percent of their snaps. That is the sixth highest percentage in the league, according to STATS.
How has Tice avoided the Mike Martz criticism for lack of balance when his play calling is just as pass-heavy, especially on first down? -- @shadevtx, from Twitter
The offense, as I mentioned in the previous answer, has not been out of balance. And it wasn't out of balance last year either. There were instances when too many passes were called. But that's almost always going to be the case on any team. A lot of the criticism of Martz being pass happy simply was not true. Last year the Bears ran it 46.6 percent of the time. On first and 10 in 2011, they ran it 59.6 percent of the time -- the second highest percentage in the NFL. This year, they have run it 58.4 percent of the time on first and 10. That's the fifth highest percentage in the league.
Isn't it about time someone sits down with Jay Cutler and has a conversation with him about getting down and sliding to avoid some of these hits? He's proven he's a tough guy, now it's time to be a smart guy and find a way to stay on the field. He has nothing else to prove, and the Bears win games when he's on the field. -- Craig, Visalia, Calif.
I'm with you Craig. He is too reckless when he takes off and runs, and eventually he may regret it. I am fairly certain the conversation you suggest has taken place. Repeatedly. But that doesn't mean it is doing any good.
During the game Sunday night, it seemed like the Bears continuously threw passes for four or five yards when they need seven or eight. Why? -- Bill Voinovich, from Facebook
The Texans were taking away the deeper throws, especially later in the game when the Bears were desperate to get back in the game. Sometimes those shorter throws still result in first downs. Players like Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester and Forte can be very dangerous after the catch. That being said, I thought Jason Campbell should have taken some more chances and pushed the ball downfield. He was erring on the side of caution and was too conservative in his decision making.
Brian Urlacher's comments weren't very nice to us fans. I know that he could of said those comments in a different way, instead of saying them the way he did. Your thoughts? -- Tom Procter
Agreed, Urlacher should have gotten his point across in a more diplomatic manner. When asked about fans taking exception to his congratulating opponent Danieal Manning after Manning's interception, Urlacher said, "I don't give a crap about what fans or people say. They can kiss my butt. I don't care." Urlacher probably should have said something like, "They have their opinion, I have mine." He has to be mindful of who pays his check. But I'll say this for Urlacher. He treats fans in one-on-one encounters with as much respect as anyone on the team. He graciously accepts autograph requests and is willing to small talk. He treats service people well. He genuinely enjoys interacting with kids. And he goes out of his way to be kind to people with special needs. So what I'm saying is I don't think those statements really were an accurate reflection of Urlacher's relationship with the public, or how he feels about fans.
In his mid-season all-pro team, Peter King of Sports Illustrated had Major Wright as one of his two safeties. From all the game film that you've seen, has Major really been playing that well? Do you think he could become another Mike Brown (without the injuries, of course)? -- Max Opuls, Venice, Calif.
If Peter has an opinion, I suggest giving credence to it. He does not just pull things out of thin air. He has done his research and come to an informed conclusion. My opinion is Wright definitely should have been in the discussion for midseason all pro. Part of the reason for that is no safety really stood out. Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, the old standbys, did not have big production in the first half. So who were the other candidates? Eric Weddle of the Chargers is solid, but he has played on an inconsistent defense and so-so team. Earl Thomas has been a key player for the Seahawks. Buffalo's Jairus Byrd has made plays on the ball as well as any safety. Dashon Goldson has been one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the league in San Francisco. I think you could have picked any of them, or Wright, and not been on a limb. Pro Football Weekly even chose Bucs rookie Mark Barron for their midseason all-pro team. I saw Reshad Jones of the Dolphins also received some notice. Wright has been very steady for the Bears, and he even has made some big plays. I think some people in Chicago might have been taken aback by seeing him on an all pro team because he probably was the sixth best player on the Bears defense over the first half of the season. But that doesn't mean he wasn't one of the best safeties in the NFL. If he keeps doing what he's doing, he should be a fine safety for the Bears for years, as Mike Brown was.
Given that some of the junior offensive tackles may well come out and the draft class may be a strong one, do you see the Bears taking a tackle or guard in the first and/or second round if they can't get a starter in free agency? -- Vic Fiebig, Springfield, Va.
I think it's too early to answer that question. Bears scouts have to be looking hard for blockers. But how the Bears rank their needs will depend on how key players perform over the second half. If J'Marcus Webb can continue to play with consistency, and if Gabe Carimi can come on, the Bears might not need to prioritize the tackle position. They probably will want to take an offensive lineman at some point in the first few rounds, but perhaps they won't be a hostage to the position.
In the offseason do you see the Bears trading any players for more picks in the draft? By my count they only have five. -- @GarrettRaff1, from Twitter
The Bears are missing picks in the third (Brandon Marshall trade) and seventh (Brian Price trade) rounds. I think trading players for picks probably is a long shot. But I anticipate that general manager Phil Emery will explore the possibility of trading down at some point in the draft in order to acquire more selections.
I follow Bear's WR Dane Sanzenbacher, and I noticed that the Bears don't play him much. What is his standing with the team? -- Randy Duke, Temperance, Mich.
Sanzenbacher is the sixth receiver on a team that usually keeps four or five active on game days. He has been inactive for six games, including the last three. He has caught one pass this season. The problem with having Sanzenbacher active is he doesn't offer much on special teams. So he needs to have a significant offensive role in order to dress for a game. Even with Alshon Jeffery out, the Bears have not had an offensive role for him. The fact that they have kept him around this long tells you the coaches and front office think he has potential to develop, however.
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