Special Delivery: JC Answers Your Questions

It's Friday once again, which means it's time for another installment of Special Delivery. If you have a question that you would like JC to answer, just find the appropriate thread on the Bear Report message boards or send it to his EZInbox. OnTheRebound starts us off with a question about the negative criticism directed at Charles Tillman.

Despite the Bears' great start, I keep reading people taking shots at Peanut. Do you think the open receivers were his fault or the lack of help by a safety? - OnTheRebound
Quite honestly, I think this is a case of Bears fans going out of their way to find something to complain about because the team is playing so well. Tillman will make his share of mistakes like just about every cornerback in this league. Danieal Manning has played very well at free safety, but if you listen to the experts, they'll tell you that he's made some mistakes in coverage. Most of the defense has played together for quite some time, but Tillman and Manning still need time to develop some chemistry. But believe me, if a big, physical DB like Tillman has dangled as trade bait, half the NFL would call right away.

My heart temporarily stopped when we heard that McKie had been banged up. If something happened to what looks to be a very capable FB, who do the Beloved have in there next? - GrossManwich
McKie has developed into a reliable receiver in the passing game, but he is yet to develop into that bruising lead blocker like the Mack Strongs and Lorenzo Neals of the world. The injury to Bryan Johnson opened the door for McKie, and he's played well. Rookie J.D. Runnels would step in for McKie if he happened to go down with an injury. Like McKie, he has shown soft hands as a receiver but needs to improve his blocking. Having another guy who can catch passes is always an asset, but if this running game really wants to get back on track, better blocking from the fullback would be a good place to start.

Although the Bears are off to a great 4-0 start, I am a little concerned about the lack of production in the running game. Compared to last year, it seems that T. Jones is 'dancing' more in the backfield and hesitates to hit the hole. With the passing game working as well as it is, I would have thought that would only improve the run game. My question is, are the Bears' coaches aware of what we Bears fans notice, and what changes will be made to improve the running game and T. Jones imparticular? - BearFanDan72 (Aurora, IL)
Jones has done his share of dancing at the line of scrimmage, particularly in the red zone. If you remember, the Bears called a failed play-action pass on 1st-and-Goal at the 1-yardline in the first quarter last week and ultimately had to settle for a field goal. I think that spoke volumes about the coaching staff's lack of faith in the power running game. That being said, Jones found a rhythm later in the game and finished with 98 yards on the ground and a pair of scores. As far as Lovie Smith & Company worrying about what the fans notice, I know for a fact that they could care less.

I have read that the Bears defense is in cover-two about a quarter to a third of the time i.e., primarily in obvious passing situations. I have also read that the nickelback is a critical position in the Bears defense since he is on the field nearly as much as the strongside linebacker he replaces. Ricky Manning Jr. mentioned this week that the defense was in cover-two when he intercepted the second Matt Hasselbeck pass against the Seahawks. How is the Bears cover-two different when Manning replaces Hillenmeyer? Is Manning responsible for essentially the same zone? - Prometheuss (Monterey, CA)
For the most part, the cover-two is the cover-two. That terminology is most specific to the two safeties on the field because they essentially split the field in half and don't allow for any receiver to get behind them on their side. Nickelback Manning replaces strongside linebacker Hillenmeyer on obvious passing downs, but that has little effect on the assignments of the two safeties. Manning tends to work the middle of the field against slot receivers. That's why it's so crucial for a nickelback to also be a physical player because there's more contact between the hashmarks, plus a lot of teams will try to combat nickel coverage by running the ball.

The NFL seems to be taking a really ticky-tacky approach to tackling these days. It seems tackling a ball-carrier legally, but doing it 'too hard' in the eyes of the officials draws a penalty. Yet a sliding quarterback getting clocked in the head and concussed is ok, drawing no flag. Shouldn't the NFL be taking a more proactive approach to getting the officials all on the same page, or is having games played in China more important to the new Commissioner than the quality of the product actually being played? - Boris13c
Once again, I turned this question over to one of our resident experts at Scout.com, Randy Taylor. I know an awful lot about football, but when I need a better answer, Randy's my guy. Here's what he had to say:

"The NFL reminds me of the NCAA at times. They see a problem and come up with a rule or emphasis to fix the problem. What usually happens is, the application of this new rule or emphasis is flawed when it's applied to the real world. By this time, it's too late to fix, so we all have to live with it until they can make the adjustment or we get used to it. You all remember the 'in the grasp' rule, right?

"The application of these points of emphasis are also being interpreted by human beings, and we know this is an inexact science. The one thing I'm sure of is that the officials in the league are getting instruction, doing workshops, etc. to learn the rules and understand the emphasis and application of all the rules. In the end it all balances out, except for the poor QB who got knocked silly."

Perfect answer. Thanks again, Randy. You're my hero.

Are there any plans to bring back the Honey Bears? The sidelines have always seemed to be missing something since they disappeared. - David (Denver, CO)
I sort of answered this one last week. Virginia McCaskey isn't crazy about having cheerleaders on the sideline, and from what I understand, it was her idea to get rid of the Honey Bears. It's a shame, I know. But think about it. Since most the home games are played in freezing weather anyway, there's nothing so special about hot girls jumping around in parkas and Ugg boots.

What's the buzz around Tommie Harris like? Does even he know how good he is? - Sandy (Abilene, TX)
If Harris has any idea that he is the best defensive tackle in football right now, he's doing a marvelous job of disguising it. On the surface, he comes off a little bit shy and very hesitant to talk about himself. But those who have gotten to know him feel he's just playing the media to some degree because he's such a kid at heart. As we were all conducting an after-practice interview with him yesterday, he shouted "There goes Rex right there" just as a radio guy was asking him a question, as if he was suggesting that there are more important players with whom we should be talking. He doesn't say much, but even Brian Urlacher told us that Harris is the Defensive Player of the Year right now.

The Buffalo game has letdown written all over it. What has the Bears coaching staff done to keep the team focused this week? - Dean (Lombard, IL)
Avoiding a potential letdown has certainly been a theme this week. This all falls on Lovie Smith's shoulders if you ask me, and he is just the kind of coach to handle a situation like this. He never gets too high and never gets too low, and I think his players are starting to reflect that. Even after hammering Seattle last week, the first thing the team did on Monday was watch film and dissect all the mistakes they made. Now there weren't very many miscues after a 37-6 win on Sunday Night Football, but those are the things this team is doing to keep trying to improve.

A lot of the players on the team were there when Dick Jauron was the head coach. Do you think there's any extra incentive to beat him bad because he's coaching Buffalo now? - Butch (Henderson, NV)
I thought about that all week and was waiting for some quoteworthy stuff about Jauron coming back to Chicago, but it never happened. Either it's not as big of a story as you might think, or nobody really cares. Coach Smith dismissed the question because he and Jauron have never worked together, so they don't really know each other that well. And let's be honest about this, Jaruron wasn't exactly a gregarious personality that has been missed around here. I've worn shoes with more to say than that guy.

Is Adewale Ogunleye going to play on Sunday? If he doesn't, who will take his place? - Brian (West Palm Beach, FL)
Ogunleye is probably 50/50 to play right now, but rookie Mark Anderson has been incredible so far with 3.5 sacks in limited time. That being said, Coach Smith maintains that Israel Idonije is ahead of him on the depth chart and will start if Ogunleye can't go. Anderson has been getting most of his time at right end anyway, giving Alex Brown a breather from time to time. Smith has always been one of those guys who doesn't believe a player can lose his spot on the depth chart because of injury. Idonije was inactive for a few games because of a rolled ankle, but he appears to be 100% again.

Special Delivery runs every Friday on BearReport.com. If you have a question that you would like to have JC answer, please find the appropriate pegged thread on the message boards or send it to his EZInbox.


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