Behind Enemy Lines: Bears/Dolphins, Part II

In Part II of an exclusive four-part series,'s John M. Crist and's Alain Poupart continue their back-and-forth interaction with five questions from Alain to John. Did Chicago fans expect the Bears to be this good, how does Cedric Benson compare to Ronnie Brown, and did the Dolphins make a mistake letting Desmond Clark go? These Q&As and more inside.

Alain Poupart, Associate Editor, Do the Bears have a legitimate shot at going 16-0?

John M. Crist, Editor in Chief, Whether they can go 16-0 and whether they will go 16-0 are two completely different questions in my opinion. Can they? Yes, I believe they can. The offense is remarkably improved, the defense is impenetrable at times, and the special teams are as good as any in the league. Will they? I don't see it. After this battle with the Dolphins, they play four of five games on the road, including three consecutive trips out east to play the Giants, Jets, and Patriots. After finally coming back to Soldier Field for a home date with the Vikings in Week 13, they travel to St. Louis for a matchup with the high-powered Rams. The Bears can win 14 games, but coming out of that five-game stretch unscathed is quite a daunting task.

Alain Poupart: Has their start been a surprise in Chicago, or did everyone expect the Bears to be this good?

John Crist: I believe Chicago fans thought they had a possible Super Bowl contender coming out of training camp in Bourbonnais, but I don't think even the most optimistic Bears-backer expected this after seven games. All they really needed was a middle-of-the-pack offense because everyone knew the defense would be sensational again. Yet here they are with the highest scoring attack in the league, and Rex Grossman is on his way to a berth in the Pro Bowl. They have been completely dominant at home in destroying the Lions, Seahawks, Bills, and 49ers, but those nail-biters in Minnesota and Arizona prove that this team can be beaten. Confidence is building here in Chicago, but I still see teams like the Colts and Patriots giving them all kinds of problems.

Alain Poupart: The Arizona game aside, Rex Grossman has been tremendous. Is he legitimately that good, or is he benefiting from playing on a team with a great running game and a great defense?

John Crist: Quite honestly, this great running game you speak of hasn't been so great this season. Granted, they have run the ball very well at home - Thomas Jones in particular - but they couldn't run a lick in Minnesota or Arizona and didn't do much on the ground in Week 1 at Green Bay. No question about it, the defense is a major arrow in Grossman's quiver because they consistently give him a short field to work with and don't need him to score many points to win. That being said, he's putting up 31.6 points per game - tops in the league - anyway. I have always believed that Grossman had the intangibles to go along with his tremendous arm and become a solid NFL quarterback, and he's starting to prove me right.

Alain Poupart: Cedric Benson was selected two slots after Ronnie Brown in 2005. How well has he played, and did the Dolphins make a mistake in not drafting him instead of Brown?

John Crist: That's a very hard question to answer because, for the most part, Benson still grades out to an 'incomplete' here in Chicago. He has run very well in stretches and certainly possesses the straight-ahead, bruising style becoming of a Bears tailback. That being said, he's still behind Jones on the depth chart for myriad reasons, and he keeps putting his foot in the mouth when talking to the media. Personally, I think Benson will be a much better back than Jones one day and could put up some big numbers on the ground, but that probably won't happen unless Jones gets hurt or - as I think will happen - cut after this season. I believe the Dolphins know what they have in Brown and shouldn't be second-guessing themselves at this juncture.

Alain Poupart: Former Miami tight end Desmond Clark seems to be making a big impact on offense. Did the Dolphins miss the boat when they let him go?

John Crist: I was under the impression that the Dolphins already had a pretty good receiving tight end in Randy McMichael, so I don't know if they necessarily made a mistake in letting Clark go. He only caught two balls in 11 games as a Dolphins, so I hardly think he's been missed. That being said, it wasn't too long ago that Clark was the leading receiver in ACC history. He had been the forgotten man in Chicago's passing game for two years, but he's proving once again that he is a fantastic pass-catcher and enjoying a breakout season. Clark needs to send offensive coordinator Ron Turner a fruit basket for making such an effort to get the tight end involved, but he's making the coaching staff look smart and could be in Hawaii come February.

Be on the lookout for Part III of this four-part series as Alain will answer five more of John's questions.

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