By Dan Pompei, Tribune reporter
5:58 PM CST, December 19, 2012
What do you think about Chip Kelly as the next head coach for the Bears? Would his offense work in the NFL? I hope you'll agree with me on this -- whoever the next head coach is, it absolutely must be an offensive coach. -- Alex Dovzhenko, Beardstown
I think teams make a mistake when they lock into hiring one specific kind of coach. You have to be open-minded when you enter a hiring process. The objective is to find the best man who can lead an entire organization, not the best offensive mind. The NFL has seen a lot of offensive wizards come down the pike who have made terrible head coaches. Just being able to run an offense well does not quality a coach to run a whole team. That being said, I think it's always preferable to hire a head coach with an offensive background, if all things are equal. The reason is it's difficult to find good offensive coordinators, and if you can find one and he does a good job, he'll probably leave to be a head coach before long. As for Kelly, I do believe he is headed for the NFL this year, and he has a chance to be a very good pro coach. I think it's a long shot he will be headed for Chicago though. If the Bears hired Kelly, they would have to change a lot of pieces on offense, starting with the quarterback. I don't think Jay Cutler would fit into Kelly's offensive philosophy.
What is the insider view of Bruce Arians suitability to become a head coach? He appears to have done a remarkable job with the Colts this year. -- Vic Fiebig, Springfield, Va.
I think that any team that makes a coaching change should look at Arians, given the success he has had in an interim basis with the Colts. At this point he is the frontrunner for coach of the year. He is a true motivator with excellent leadership qualities. He is a risk taker. He is an offensive mind who has developed quarterbacks from Peyton Manning to Tim Couch to Ben Roethlisberger to Andrew Luck. He has had some great influences such as Bear Bryant, Bill Cowher and Tom Moore. The knocks against him are his age (60 years old), and the fact that he never has been a "hot" candidate despite being a lifetime assistant.
With all this Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and Sean Payton talk as Lovie Smith replacement candidates why is there no one looking at Dave Toub? He is by far the smartest coach on the Bears staff and has success year after year leading a constantly fired up group that always gets results. Where does Toub stand in all of this and how does he stand in head coaching searches? He is the last guy the Bears want to lose to another team. -- Joe Devine, Edmonton, Canada
If the Bears decide to fire Lovie, which I still have doubts will happen, I think they will interview Toub. They would be foolish not to. Toub is an outstanding special teams coach who should have the ability to be a fine head coach. But I also think he would probably be a long shot to land the job. That's just because any time a team wants a fresh start, it usually tries to distance itself from the past.
With all the talk of how bad the offense has been, does anyone remember that this offense is one year old? I'm not denying it has been frustrating but if Lovie is kept on wouldn't he be wise to keep Mike Tice, with the mix of Jeremy Bates in there? Surely the O line will be upgraded as much as possible and the team will be better in a second year of the system. What do you think is the quickest route to winning football, keeping Lovie and sticking with the same schemes while upgrading or a complete overhaul? I'm not against either, I just don't think it's as clear as a lot of fans think. -- Michael Swindells
You make some excellent points. There are unseen benefits to staying the course. Look at almost every top offense and the NFL and you will see that the system and the key players have been in place for a long period of time. Of course, part of that is because they have had success, so there is a little chicken-or-egg deal going on. You have to have success to have continuity; you have to have continuity to have success. But to me there is little doubt that if the Bears go with their fourth offensive coordinator in five years, they are going to regress before they get better. The longer Tice can work with these players and this system, the better it should become.
What if Emery were to retain Smith and take away the authority of Smith choosing an offensive coordinator and made the choice himself? Is this a feasible option for the next season? -- Chuck Durante, Guilin, China
Not a feasible option Chuck. Emery never would want to force a coordinator down the throat of his head coach. The coordinator has to be someone the head coach is comfortable with and believes in. But he also has to be someone the general manager is comfortable with. Jerry Angelo had a lot of input on Smith's coordinators, but ultimately he allowed Smith to make the call. Smith probably never would have hired someone Angelo or Emery had strong reservations about.
Given that Mr. Emery's first draft brought a DE/LB that appears to be injury prone and has no real position and a WR that's also injury prone, can Bears fans have confidence in his ability to fix the lack of talent going forward? -- Dave Mestdagh, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Come on Dave. You can't judge the draft after 14 games. The "injury prone" DE/LB you refer to has played in 86 percent of the Bears' games this year. And he has a position. It's defensive end. Shea McClellin is not a candidate for defensive rookie of the year, but he hasn't played badly. I think he will develop into pretty good pro. Same for Alshon Jeffery. Whether or not you have confidence in Emery is up to you, but I can assure you he will have some hits. And some misses. Like everyone else. If you are looking for a home run on every draft choice, you are going to be disappointed.
Doesn't Alshon Jeffery need to be benched for one game much like Starlin Castro was for mental mistakes? How else do you prevent such a blunder? -- Peter S., Cary
Jeffery does not need to be benched. He needs to learn. And the best way to learn is to play, make mistakes and figure out what he can and can't do. It would be foolish to bench any player you think could help you win for some of the most critical games of the season. Understand the difference between benching Jeffery and benching Castro -- the Bears play 16 games; the Cubs play 162. The Cubs sat down Castro one game in 2011 when he was caught not paying attention in the fieldTo sit down Castro the equivalent of one NFL game, they would have had to bench him for 10 games.
Don't you think the Bears should put Evan Rodriguez in the slot? He's physical and quick. Don't see them utilizing him correctly. -- @FacingRyan, from Twitter
Eventually, like in the offseason, this might be something the Bears want to consider. But he's done what's been asked of him pretty well at fullback. He probably has more potential to branch out as he gets comfortable with the offense and the passing game.
Does Jay Cutler make most of his passes off of his back foot? And if so, is it due mainly to pressure from the defense, or is it his throwing mechanics? Rex Grossman took a lot of grief as a Bear for passing off the back foot. Looks like Cutler also passes off the back foot, but he can still throw hard and get the ball where he wants it to be. Would Cutler's passing improve if he threw more off the front foot? -- Robert, Homewood
A lot of times Cutler throws off his back foot because of pressure. Sometimes he does it because of poor form. I have talked with Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates about this, and he does not think it's a problem. In fact, he thinks Cutler's ability to throw from different angles and body positions is one of his strengths. Certainly, Cutler gets amazing velocity on passes sometimes when he is throwing with nothing but arm. So while this is a plus for Cutler, I also think he could be more accurate if he threw with more consistent technique.
The Bears lack third and seventh round picks in the 2013 draft. What might Devin Hester bring in a draft day trade? -- Vic Fiebig, Springfield, Va.
Not much. The going rate for 30-year-old return specialists isn't what you would hope for, even though Hester still is a fine return man. I would guess maybe a fifth round pick. Assuming he does not lose much speed, his value to the Bears is much more than that.
With Chris Conte and Major Wright showing improvement this season, what are the chances of Brandon Hardin being moved back to his natural CB position? With Charles Tillman aging and Tim Jennings being undersized and fragile, the Bears could use a big corner. Or is he too slow to play CB at this level? -- George Mckeown, Phoenix
Speed is not the issue. If Hardin lined up at cornerback for the Bears, he might be the fastest player at the position. He ran a 4.43 40-yard-dash pre-draft. I think the issue would be whether or not he is athletic enough to play cornerback. Hardin might be too stiff to be able to flip his hips, run and change directions with quicker wide receivers. Some even wonder if he might be too stiff to excel at the safety position. But just because the Bears have two promising safeties does not mean they could not use another. You know how this team goes through safeties historically. If Hardin can play, he'll get his chances at the safety position.
I recall after Week 4 the Arizona Cardinals were ranked number one in your power poll. Nine games later they are number 30, having fallen worse than the Bears. We know the Bears' problems, but what happened to the Cardinals? -- George P. Nassos, Glenview
It's pretty simple. They have had seven different combinations of offensive line starters this year and have five offensive linemen on injured reserve. They have changed the starting quarterback six times. No team can win like that.
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