I believe that if the Bears and Vikings are playing the type of game that they want to play, they will both rely heavily on said power running game. Both teams have mammoth offensive lines that should be able to push their opponents off the line of scrimmage and open up running lanes for the likes of Thomas Jones and Chester Taylor. That being said, game situations will weigh heavily on the play-calling. Neither the Bears nor Vikings ran the ball well last Sunday because the opposing defensive fronts are among the best in the league at stuffing the run. The Bears in particular have had much more success throwing the ball than running it the first few weeks, so sometimes you just have to stick with what's working.
How good are the Bears coaching staff at making half-time adjustments relative to other NFL coaching staffs? Who is involved in that process? How much coaching goes on during half-time? - Prometheuss (Monterey, CA)
I was very intrigued by this question, especially since our boy Prometheuss asked it two weeks in a row. Although I have been in plenty of NFL locker rooms, I've never been there at halftime while the coaching staff is making adjustments. Therefore, I recruited Randy Taylor, one of our highly decorated NFL experts at Scout.com who was once named the #1 football operations man in the country by ESPN, to answer it for me:
"I think they're very good. The staff is pretty analytical and experienced. They have a nice mixture of former players, coordinators, a former head coach and some good old ball coaches (you can never have too many of these).
"The process goes something like this:
"As soon as the guys in the booth get down to the locker room, they split up into offense and defensive staffs. The head coach picks where he wants to listen in or make comments. In this few minutes, the coordinators listen to the guys from the booth regarding formations, certain tendencies, substitutions ... anything they see that was done in the first half that they hadn't seen before or that they need to fix, stop the opponent from doing or take advantage of, etc. There's usually a good give-and-take here. It's an information sharing session.
"Then the coordinators will make some quick comments on what should be done in regard to all of this information. They all agree to the plan, almost always. From there, they get together with the head coach, share this info, and make suggestions on how to approach the second half. They mix in some special teams thoughts, and a plan is developed.
"During this time, the players are getting fluids, seeing the trainers, relaxing, talking among themselves - usually about what happened on a certain play - and most likely, the defense is sitting in one area and the offense in another. The coaches then address their players. Depending on time left, the position coaches say a few words to their position players about adjustments, etc. Then the OC talks with the offensive players, and the DC talks with the defensive players. This is when they let the players know the adjustments for the second half. The head coach will pick a side of the ball to address if needed. There is usually another give-and-take during this time from players to coaches and back.
"Finally, the head coach will make a last minute comment to the whole team, and they're back on the field. This is all done in about 15 minutes. Nothing to it!"
Thanks, Randy. He's the man. Randy's forgotten more about football than I could ever possibly know.
The Vikes blitzed up the middle a lot. Why didn't Ron Turner call more draws and screens to help neutralize the blitz? And why doesn't he ever move the pocket? I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen Turner call a roll out or bootleg. - GreenL
Trust me, as I was watching that game from up in the press box, calling a draw or screen seemed like a good idea to me, too. That's a great way to slow down the blitz and give the defense something to think about as opposed to just pinning their ears back and going directly at the quarterback. In Turner's defense, Grossman may have decent mobility, but he is most comfortable as a drop-back passer. Play-action is his strongest asset, and once you start to run bootlegs and waggles all the time, you lose that element of the offense to some degree. Grossman has a strong arm, but throwing on the run isn't his strong suit.
With our running game suffering as it has all year, why was Benson sitting on the bench? As another poster said, New Orleans does a great job of utilizing Bush and McAllister at the same time. Why do the Bears insist on having only one offensive weapon in the backfield at a time? - GhostD00d
I've heard this argument from a few readers lately. What the Saints are doing with Bush and McAllister simply can't be done with Jones and Benson. You have to understand how special a player that Bush is with his versatility. He and McAllister may be on the field at the same time periodically, but they can only get away with that because Bush can split out wide or in the slot and be just as effective as any receiver. While Jones may catch the ball fairly well out of the backfield, having him to run wideout-like patterns is simply asking too much.
On the Vikings first drive last week, it appeared a Bears DB (Manning Jr. I think?) was victimized by a pick play that resulted in a big Vikings pass completion. Was that a legal play? - J4Lonnie
To borrow a few words from the cheater's handbook, it ain't illegal if you don't get caught. I saw that play develop right away when it happened, and after watching the replay once or twice, this was an obvious pick play that should have warranted a pass interference penalty on the Vikings. But the rules of the game are heavily slanted in the offense's favor these days, so those calls just aren't made very often.
What can the Bears do to counteract the Seattle four-receiver set? Who will be on the field? Do you think it will present a problem? - Mohner1
Contrary to most teams in the NFL, the Bears do not employ any sort of dime package, meaning six defensive backs on the field. If they did, then All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs would have to come off, and since he's as fast as any safety in the league anyway, you might as well leave him out there. In the nickel package, Hunter Hillenmeyer will be replaced by Ricky Manning Jr., who will usually man-up against one of the slot receivers. Although this may provide the Bears with some matchup problems in the secondary, consequently, Seattle will be highly compromised in protection with no tight and or fullback on the field to help block. I believe both teams will be exposed to some degree, so it will be up to Matt Hasselbeck to get the ball out of his hand quickly.
If Desmond Clark doesn't play on Sunday, how much will that affect the offense? - Cheryl (Palatine, IL)
I wrote a feature about the tight end position earlier in the week. Clark is yet to practice after last Sunday's sprained foot, and although he could still play against Seattle, I'm guessing he won't. He has been a real weapon for Grossman these first few games, occupying the middle of the field and helping to open things up on the outside for Muhammad and Berrian. As far as the backups go, Gilmore is a better blocker than Reid, but Reid is a better receiver than Gilmore. Neither one of them is the player that Clark is, but the combination of the two might be enough to get the job done.
Why don't the Bears have cheerleaders like the rest of the NFL? - Mikey (Des Moines, IA)
From what I've been told, this comes directly from Virginia McCaskey herself. She simply won't allow them. You know that awful hip-hop song "Who Let the Dogs Out?" that was so out of control popular a while back? She hated that song. They don't play it at Soldier Field anymore, and Mama Bear is believed to be the reason why.
Do any of the Bears play fantasy football? Is that considered gambling and against the rules of the NFL? - BrownBagginIt
I know a lot of the Bears play fantasy football, and I wouldn't be surprised if the number is even higher that I think it is. As competitive as these guys are, they have to be playing casually with their teammates and players from other teams. Zack Zaidman of The Score made a crack in training camp that Olin Kreutz wouldn't play because he couldn't draft an all-Hawaiian team.
What's it like having women in the locker room for these guys? Does anything inappropriate ever go on? Do any of them mind?
I've heard stories about some professional athletes being a little sensitive about having women reporters in the locker room, but these days, I don't think it's an issue. NBC's Peggy Kusinski, CBS's Megan Mawicke, our own Bear Report Correspondent Beth Gorr, and many others are in there every week doing their jobs. You can tell that some of the players aren't crazy about changing clothes in front of all of us, but most of them don't care. That's their turf. I believe it's a privilege just to be in there, and like most of us, I'm sure the players don't mind getting a look at Megan every day.
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