Special Delivery: JC Answers Your Questions

It's Friday once again, sports fans, which means it's time for another hair-raising installment of Special Delivery. If you have a question that you would like to have JC answer, post it in the appropriate pegged thread on the message boards, or send it to his EZInbox. Kent from Tinley Park starts us off with a question about strongside vs. weakside linebackers.

What is the difference between strongside and weakside linebacker? What characteristics are ideal for the two different positions? Or are they pretty much interchangeable? – Kent (Tinley Park, IL)
Brian Urlacher is the middle linebacker, flanked by Hunter Hillenmeyer on the strong side and Lance Briggs on the weak side. Hillenmeyer will line up on the offense's strong side, which is usually where the tight end is positioned. Since an offense will run toward its strong side more than its weakside – they have more blockers there – the strongside linebacker needs to be good at shedding blocks in order to make plays. Briggs lines up on the other side, so speed is much more important because the weakside `backer does much more chasing. Urlacher originally was plugged at weakside LB his rookie year because of his blazing speed, but it was soon discovered that he was just a natural to play in the middle.

I know Grossman is having a great season, but do you really think he has a chance at league MVP? He seems to be getting some attention along with Donovan McNabb. – Brandon (St. Paul, MN)
I absolutely think Grossman could be the NFL MVP if he keeps up his current pace. It's pretty much been proven that only a quarterback or tailback can win the award, so that eliminates 90% of the league right there. McNabb is probably the leader in the clubhouse right now, showing that he was never truly healthy last year and doesn't need a household name at receiver to put up astronomical numbers. It's hard to believe, but Grossman is on pace for 3,978 yards passing and 32 TDs, statistics certainly worthy of consideration. Most importantly, if he leads the Bears to a 15-1 or 14-2 season and a top seed in the NFC, he'll have as good a case as anyone.

I have noticed J.D. Runnels has been on the inactive list the last few weeks. I would love to see what he could do on the field. Is there any chance he'll be active or playing any time soon? – Yodalicious
The Bears make a habit of only having one fullback active on game day, and since McKie has been playing pretty well so far – especially catching passes out of the backfield – Runnels will probably continue to be inactive. Like McKie, Runnels has shown very good hands as a receiver but isn't that menacing lead blocker yet. Neither is McKie really, for that matter. Reid plays sort of a pseudo-fullback when he lines up as an H-back. The fullback is only on the field for about half the offensive snaps anyway, furthering the notion that having two is unnecessary.

The Bears have started to get all kinds of national press the last week or so, including Urlacher and Brown on the cover of ESPN the Magazine and Grossman in Sports Illustrated. Do we have to worry about this team getting cocky again like they were before the playoff loss to Carolina last year? – Abraham (Lincolnwood, IL)
Normally, I would say yes. But based on the colossal disappointment this team dealt with last January, I don't see it happening. At least not yet. All the media types keep bringing up the talk of going undefeated, but none of the players are taking the bait and seem to be avoiding the conversation altogether. No matter how far other people are looking down the road at the schedule, the guys in the locker are solely focused on the task at hand, e.g. Arizona on Monday night.

Do most of the players live year round in Chicago? Are they in the suburbs or downtown? – Larry (Northbrook, IL)
It's hard to give a sweeping answer for the entire team, but I believe most of them have a permanent home in Chicagoland. More often than not, they live in suburbs like Lake Forest and Lake Bluff because they spend so much time at Halas Hall every week. It's much easier for them to get away and live a normal life in suburbia as opposed to being constantly hounded in the city. Although I was out for a jog on Tuesday near my place downtown and just happened to cruise past Hillenmeyer near the North/Milwaukee/Damen intersection. I can't seem to get away from these guys, even on off days.

Is there any way both Jones and Benson are on this team next year? One of them has to get traded, right? There seems to be plenty of teams out there that could use a good running back. – Demetrius (St. Louis, MO)
If I were to put on my Madame Cleo outfit, I would expect to see Benson as the starter next year and Jones cut after the season. Benson is obviously the younger player with the higher ceiling, not to mention the massive financial commitment the organization has in him. Jones is due to make about $2.5 million in salary next year, so that would be a big savings toward the salary cap if the Bears choose to let Jones walk. Remember, Briggs is a free agent after this season, and whether he is signed long-term or slapped with the franchise tag, he'll have a hefty raise coming his way. That money has to come from somewhere.

At some point, opposing defenses will concern themselves more with getting burned by the deep pass than by the Bears running game. If/when this happens and opposing defenses sit back in a deep-two or cover-three, are the Bears' coaches confident that Grossman has both the patience and accuracy to move the team down the field via the short and intermediate passing game? – GreenL
I think Grossman is already showing the patience and accuracy to do just that. The Bears have a long list of scoring drives this season that took seven, eight, and nine plays to get the job done. If Berrian keeps burning corners and safeties with the deep ball, that's only going to open things up for Muhammad to work the intermediate routes between the hashes. I still feel that Clark is the most important cog in the passing game wheel because a threat at tight end throws a monkeywrench into any defense, especially the increasingly-popular cover-two. Since Grossman threw that awful interception against Minnesota that was returned for a touchdown, he's fired five TD passes without a single INT.

I heard on the radio the other day that John Tait was the single most irreplaceable player on the Bears right now because of the position he plays. Do you agree? And if he does get hurt, who will take his place? – Justin (Zion, IL)
I believe I heard that comment on The Score, as well, and I tend to agree. Griese is a capable backup for Grossman, Benson is there if Jones goes down, Ricky Manning Jr. could step in for either Tillman or Vasher, Urlacher is incredible but Joe would be fine assuming Briggs and Hillenmeyer were still there, and Scott and Johnson would be a pretty good combo if Tommie Harris were unavailable. John St. Clair is the backup at both tackle positions, and although he is a quality football player, Tait is an All-Pro talent. The key to this season is keeping Grossman healthy for 16 games, and since Tait protects his QB's blind side, it's essential that he stays healthy, too. Losing him could be catastrophic.

How is NBC choosing the Sunday Night games to be broadcast weeks 10-15 and week 17? Do the Bears have a chance at attaining another Sunday night game? - FalseHope
I see three more potential prime time matchups on Sunday Night Football. From what I understand, NBC has a lot of leeway when it comes to choosing those games, so naturally, they're going to take the one that can give them the highest ratings. The Giants game in Week 10 at the Meadowlands is a strong possibility, as is the Patriots game in Week 12 in Foxboro. The woeful Packers are certain to be fighting for the top pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by Week 17, but if the Bears are 15-0 heading into that contest, you can bet the farm that the Peacock will scrape tooth-and-nail to get it. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about what Soldier Field could be like that night.

My question for everybody is …who's all feeling that song "We Da Bears"? – MidwayMonster85
Honestly, I know more about cardiology than I do about hip-hop, and that's coming from someone who had to cheat his way to a B- in freshman biology. I might know more about the Pythagorean Theorem than hip-hop. The closest I come to that style of music is acid jazz bands like Liquid Soul and Groove Collective that sometimes employ a rapper dude for their lyrics. If you're a Bears fan and a hip-hop fan, I'm guessing "We Da Bears" scratches you right where you itch. Personally, I'd rather hear "Bear Down Chicago Bears" 99 times every Sunday.

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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