I think Bears fans have to assume that's a distinct possibility. Jerry Angelo made a commitment to Olin Kreutz just as Kreutz made a commitment to the Bears, and both have rewarded each other accordingly. It looks more and more like Lance Briggs is going to get mega dollars from another team this offseason and will be elsewhere in 2007. I asked Angelo that exact question up at Halas Hall on Thursday, but his answer was far from informative. A franchise tag for Briggs would keep him in town for another season, but that's about $8 million that I don't think the Bears want to pay.
If we are unable to re-sign Lance Briggs, do you think there is someone on the roster who will step in, or who do you think we may look at in the draft to fill that position? - Robert (Hilton Head, SC)
This question is essentially a follow-up to the last one. Although he was working primarily at strongside linebacker before he was put on IR, rookie Jamar Williams was starting to look like a player and certainly has the athletic ability to play the weak side. Brendon Ayanbadejo also sees most of his time on the strong side, but speed is a big part of his game, too. Leon Joe could also be a possibility, especially because he was ahead of Briggs on the depth at the start of training camp when he was being 'punished' for missing some voluntary workouts this past offseason. Offensive line is where I feel the Bears should be drafting players this April, but a replacement for Briggs would also make sense if he's allowed to walk.
With the drafting of and Dusty Dvoracek, is the likelihood of Ian Scott not returning pretty high in your opinion? Scott will command pretty decent money on the open market given his status as a strong run stuffer and the fact that he's very young. Given Tank Johnson's development and play along with Dvoracek's expected development along the same lines and time line as Tank, is it safe to say Angelo is content letting Scott walk through free agency? – BrettASUSunDevils
I would be very surprised if Scott was a member of the Bears next year. He's a very solid defensive tackle, that's true, but Tank Johnson keeps getting better, and Dvoracek will be a cheaper option next season and might have a higher ceiling. Antonio Garay could also develop and also won't cost as much. An average player alongside a beast like Tommie Harris should have some success. They don't need someone like John Henderson there.
Why did the Bears bother to draft J.D. Runnels if they went ahead and signed Jason McKie to an extension? - Chris (Hyde Park, IL)
Needless to say, Angelo probably hadn't planned on signing McKie to an extension when he took Runnels in the sixth round of last year's NFL Draft. But McKie has been a pleasant surprise this season because his blocking is improving along with his tremendous ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Runnels could indeed develop into a good player, but the Bears usually only dress one fullback on game day anyway. McKie was a relative unknown coming into this season considering Bryan Johnson was expected to start before he got hurt and was put on IR. Like Kreutz, Angelo chose to reward a player before he had a chance to test free agency.
Desmond Clark is doing great so far at tight end, but it got me thinking. Who is the last Bears tight end to make the Pro Bowl? - Sherman (Fresno, CA)
Believe it or not, it wasn't Cap Boso, Alonzo Mayes, or Dustin Lyman. It was none other than 'Da Coach' himself, Mike Ditka. He made five consecutive Pro Bowls for the Bears starting with his rookie season in 1961. Ditka's best year was his first year, catching 56 passes for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Bears have had a virtual black hole at that position for two generations now, but Clark has been wonderful and has a chance to make it to Hawaii if he keeps it up.
What's the status of Daunte Culpepper? Any chance he plays this Sunday instead of Joey Harrington? - Stu (South Bend, IN)
Culpepper is officially listed as doubtful on the injury report, which technically means there's a 25% chance he could play on Sunday. Personally, I'd be shocked if he even dressed. Harrington is going to be the guy, and now I hear there is talk about Culpepper being moved to IR and shutting down his season. It's stone cold obvious he wasn't ready to come back from last season's nasty knee injury, and couple that with a brutal offensive line, the former Pro-Bowler didn't stand a chance. No word on whether or not Harrington will be tickling the ivories at the Redhead Piano Bar on Ontario Street after the ballgame.
I looked it up. Thomas Jones is averaging 4.3 yards per carry at home and 3.2 on the road. What is the difference? The field dimensions are the same. – Kerry (Trenton, NJ)
It is a big disparity, but I doubt the actual field makes any difference. The explanation to some degree has been the fact that the Bears have been utterly dominant at home, giving Jones more chances against beaten-up opposing defensive fronts. He did little against both Minnesota and Arizona on the road, two games where the Bears trailed throughout and had to abandon the run in stretches. Playing in front of the home crowd probably makes a difference, too. You've seen how hyped up Jones is when his name is introduced before the game.
Tommie Harris hasn't done much the last few games. Do you think he's getting tired or anything like that? – Jack (Chattanooga, TN)
Oh no, no, no. Harris is one of the few players in football who can be completely dominant without making a dent in the stat book. He's commanding so much attention up front and is partially responsible for guys like Mark Anderson having so much success. Don't worry at all about Harris. He just turned 23 years old last week and is an absolute manchild.
Mark Anderson has been awesome. What's the rookie record for sacks in a season? Can he break it? - Todd (Lisle, IL)
Anderson has 7.5 sack in seven games, just unbelievable production from a second-day draft choice in his rookie season. As far as the Bears franchise record is concerned, defensive tackle Wally Chambers had 9 sacks as a first-year player back in 1973, although sack numbers before 1982 are all unofficial. 'The Freak' Jevon Kearse holds the NFL record with 14.5 in 1999 when he was with Tennessee. Anderson is on a pace to break both marks, and while the Bears record seems to be in the bag already, I'm not expecting him to surpass Kearse. Sacks tend to come in bunches for a lot of players, and once he starts getting more attention from offensive lines, his big plays are bound to take a hit.
Lovie Smith is not exactly the most exciting guy. Does he ever get boring at press conferences? – Billy (Canton, OH)
Huh? What's that? Did you say something? I must have nodded off there for a minute. Coach Smith is talking 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.