Any chance the Bears go after Plaxico Burress? -- @chifan4life, from Twitter
There is a chance, but it's slightly better than an ice cube's chance in Death Valley. The Bears have had multiple opportunities to sign Burress going back to 2005, when he left the Steelers. They never have been very interested, and now that he is 35 years old, they are probably less interested than ever. The Bears really don't need another receiver, even with Alshon Jeffery out. Assuming Earl Bennett is healthy, they still have one more than they will use on offense. And they especially don't need a receiver who might cause waves. I don't think it makes sense to sign another receiver with a strong personality and high expectations with Brandon Marshall already in the room.
Now this is a move that has a chance. If a market develops for Williams, it makes a lot of sense. He clearly is not among the team's top three backup linemen. And he could have trade value if a team or two has an injury situation. Other teams may be eyeing Williams with the hope that the Bears cut him. But if the Bears can't trade him, my feeling is they will keep him. They are probably going to need a ninth offensive lineman at some point, and Williams has versatility. What's more, if they let Williams walk as a free agent in the offseason, they could get a compensatory draft pick in return. The Bears have a little more than two weeks to trade Williams, as the trading deadline is Oct 30.
Do you think there will be more impact trades in the NFL his year with the deadline being pushed to after Week 8 or will the salary cap prevent any MLB type trades? -- Randall D., Kalamazoo, MI
I am not sure how you are defining "impact" trades, but if you are talking about starters being traded for starters, I would not look for much of that. If you are talking about backups being traded for draft picks, I think there is a real possibility of a number of those types of deals going down, based on what general managers are telling me. Unlike in major league baseball, there are very few football teams that are completely out of the running for a playoff spot at the time of the trade deadline. So there won't be any "white flag" type of trades. But what could happen is that if teams lose starters to injury, they would go looking for replacements. Late in the year, they will find the scrap heap picked clean. So they will see if they can persuade another team to part with a quality backup for a draft pick, probably a late round draft pick. In some cases, a backup for backup deal could make sense.
There are a lot of differing views about how good Jay Cutler is, but he has eliminated our need to draft quarterbacks at the top of the draft. My question is what has Denver gained from the big trade? Cutler and Johnny Knox are known quantities, but what players did Denver draft with those picks and how have they developed? -- Dave T.; Glastonbury, Conn.
It's difficult to say exactly what the Broncos got from the trade because they made several subsequent trades with the picks they acquired from the Bears. The Broncos received Kyle Orton, the Bears' 2009 first round pick, the Bears' 2009 third round pick and the Bears' 2010 first round pick. With the 2009 first rounder, they chose defensive end Robert Ayers, who has been a disappointment and is not starting. They packaged the 2009 third round pick with another third round pick in a trade with the Steelers and wound up taking tight end Richard Quinn and offensive lineman Seth Olsen, both of whom have been cut. The Steelers took wide receiver Mike Wallace with the selection that originally belonged to the Bears. The Broncos traded the Bears' 2011 first round to the 49ers, who chose offensive tackle Anthony Davis. They received two picks from the 49ers and traded both of them. They ultimately ended up using those picks and others to acquire picks in which they used on wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, quarterback Tim Tebow and wide receiver Eric Decker. Thomas and Decker have some potential. So bottom line is the Broncos have Ayers, Thomas and Decker to show for the deal. The Bears have Knox as well as Cutler to show for the deal.
I have noticed that J'Marcus Webb plays much better against powerful rushers vs. speed rushers. He was unable to stop the Packers' Clay Mathews at all, but plays very well against the Cowboys' D'Marcus Ware. I personally think Ware is the better player but, Matthews the worse match up. I was wondering if your analysis of his performance says the same? -- Randall D.; Kalamazoo, Mich.
Webb is in the NFL because of his size, not his quickness. He stands 6-7. He ran a 5.28 40-yard dash before coming into the league. He has size 22 feet. He is not going to be able to match up well with smaller, quicker defensive ends who can get underneath his pads. But he is difficult to move, and he can engulf defenders. So I agree with you, the Bears are better off with Webb against a power rusher than speed rusher any day.
Deep in the fourth quarter, when the Dallas game already was decided, Cutler came out to run a series. Why? Last year, we saw the consequence of an injury to Cutler. Bad things can happen on the football field, even when you're just running out the clock. If something had happened -- he trips, someone accidentally falls on him -- and he misses games, what would we be saying about the decision to leave him in a game that was already put away? Why not bring Jason Campbell in to run that last series? -- Michael Mezey
The Bears did bring in Campbell at the end of the Jaguars game. But I really didn't have a problem with Cutler finishing the Cowboys game. I would have had a problem if the Bears had him taking seven step drops with five man protections. But he was handing the ball off. That is not taking an unreasonable risk. As a coach, you can't live in fear of football players getting injured. You need to be prudent, but you have to allow football players to play football. The chances of Cutler tripping and falling while walking to the locker room weren't much greater than the chances of him tripping and falling while handing the ball off. And no one was suggesting he not be allowed to walk to the locker room.
All of the articles say that Chris Conte has been getting better and that the Bears now have a solid duo at safety. Watching on TV, it appears that Conte is a few steps late getting there on many pass plays. What is the good that am I not seeing? How much of the apparent lateness is due to the defensive scheme and how much is due to Conte's slow reads or bad angles? -- Garry Vosahlik; Batesville, Ind.
I'm not seeing it the way you are Garry. I think Conte, for the most part, is making good reads, taking good angles and getting to the ball carrier quickly. I think he has played very well. You have to understand he usually is responsible for more than one offensive player, so it's not like he can hone in on a guy from the snap. He has to stay mindful of a lot of things, so he usually isn't expected to get to the receiver as soon as the ball does.
With all the talk of the improved wide receiving corps, Knox seems to be a forgotten man. How much do you think the offense misses his vertical speed? Devin Hester, with all his talent, doesn't seem to be intimidating defenses. -- Ryan; Haslett, Mich.
I don't think there is any question that a healthy Knox could help the Bears offense by giving it another dimension. As it is, the Bears really don't have a player who is a consistent deep threat. Knox could help open things up for Marshall and the run game, and get more one-on-ones than he ever has in the past because of the presence of Marshall. If he could come back this year and play as well as he has in the past, it would be huge for the Bears. That is a big if though.
What's the latest on the health of Knox? I think it would be great to see him play alongside Marshall and Jeffrey, especially with his ability to make people miss. -- David S.; Coral Springs, Fla.
Knox continues to make progress and will be eligible to begin practicing as early as Monday. The Bears could elect to have Knox return to practice any time between next week and Nov. 5. Once he begins practicing, the Bears have up to 21 days to determine whether or not to activate him. If they choose not to make a roster move with him when this period of time expires, they can keep him on the physically unable perform (PUP) list for the remainder of the year. My sense is it still is a long shot that he plays this season, and his best hope would be to return in 2013. Before he could play, he would need to get medical clearance. He would need to continue to improve his movement ability and strength. He would need to get comfortable in his pads. And he would need to readjust to contact. That's a lot to ask in a short period of time.
What's happened to Eric Weems -- I thought he'd have a real role, but I don't even see him playing at all. How many games has he been active? -- Ron S.; Sammamish, Wash.
Weems has been active in every game and has played key roles on special teams. He has not been a factor on offense, and I don't expect him to even in the absence of Jeffery. The only way I would see him having much of an offensive role would be is if Hester were injured. He was brought to Chicago to play special teams.
Why do the Bears keep listing Hester as a starter opposite Marshall? I think it's pretty obvious by now that Jeffery has been the real No. 2 receiver. -- Ken Morris, Nashville
Listing Hester as the starter is a bow to Hester's veteran status. Everyone around the Bears has a lot of respect for Hester. And no one wants to offend him.