Special Delivery: JC Answers Your Questions

It's Friday once again, sports fans, which means it's time for another frigid version 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. Our first question comes from ChiefBigBearFan and addresses formation ideas when Cedric Benson is on the field.

Why don't the Bears go to three wide receivers with Berrian, Bradley, and Benson on the field together? This will spread the defense allowing them to pound Benson. Benson could break a big one if the defense is spread out more. That leaves one less safety to stop Benson. - ChiefBigBearFan
Although I like where your head's at, your logic is not entirely correct. When the Bears go to a three-wide receiver set, for the most part, other teams will counter by inserting their nickel package. This usually means an extra corner or safety and one less linebacker. Although that should still be an advantage for the Bears if they choose to run with Benson - or Jones, for that matter - out of that formation. If there's one thing the Bears can do to make Cedric Bensoneven more successful, they need to be more balanced with him in there because it seems like whenever he's in the backfield, more often than not, he's getting the ball.

If Benson is susposed to be the 'bad' blocker, then why are teams not blitzing him? Could it be that they are watching the tapes, and Jones has proven to be a worse blocker instead of Benson? - DayDaye
It's good to see Benson getting so much love from Bears fans because even though he hasn't mastered the art of dealing with the media yet, he's a good-looking tailback. As far as Benson supposedly being an inferior blocker to Jones, I think that's a bunch of hogwash and simply an excuse for the organization to justify having Thomas Jones continue as the starter. Jones is capable of doing more things, I grant you that, but I believe that Benson is clearly the better runner at this point. I don't think teams base their blitz packages on who happens to be in the backfield for the other team, so I think you're over-analyzing. Overall, Benson is probably a little better at picking up blitzers than he is given credit, and Jones isn't as good as some people would like you to believe.

After the Bears defense knocked out two of the Vikings three QBs on Sunday, it got me thinking. Who is the Bears emergency QB this year if the other three guys went down? - Adam
I can't recall the last time any NFL team had to go to an emergency fourth quarterback because of injuries to the first three, but I do remember Mike Ditka inserting Walter Payton to play QB a long time ago because injuries and ineffectiveness had 'Da Coach' at his wit's end. According to offensive coordinator Ron Turner, receiver Justin Gage would be the emergency quarterback should something catastrophic happen. He throws the ball very well and is often called upon to play pseudo-QB when the receivers are doing some of their specialty drills. I saw him throwing a lot during training camp when the wideouts were doing their rapid-dire drill. And since he wears No. 12, he would look just fine under center.

What's the prognosis for Tommie Harris, and seriously, are the Bears totally screwed without him? - Chase (Lake in the Hills, IL)
When Harris left the Minnesota game on Sunday, it appeared he had a significant knee sprain and a minor hamstring injury, but on Thursday, the Bears learned that the opposite was actually true. The knee sprain is no big deal, but the hammy is much worse than they anticipated. He'll see a specialist down in Dallas before the Bears make up their mind regarding injured reserve. It's certainly possible that they try to get him the best treatment available and see if he can play the second week of January after securing a bye in the playoffs, but it doesn't look good right now. Ian Scott will now be the starter again at nose tackle while Tank Johnsonslides over to play Harris's three-technique tackle, but there's no way around it, they can't replace a talent like Harris.

Have you ever heard one of the Bears airing their dirty laundry to the media like Marc Bulger did this week in St. Louis? - Chris (Abilene, TX)
Bulger is usually a pretty reserved guy, which makes me think that he may be right on the money when he questioned the desire of some teammates last week. If it had been a blow-hard like Jeremy Shockey of the Giants, I wouldn't have given it a second thought. As far as this year's Bears team, they are obviously well-coached both on and off the field. There have been a few issues that ticked them off, namely the running back debate back in the preseason and Brian Urlacher's personal life being dragged through the mud by the Chicago Tribune. The closest would have to be Benson when he gets way too honest about he and Jones not being friends and the coaching staff not necessarily playing the best players, but nothing like what Bulger said.

Will Torry Holt and Isaac Brucehave a field day against the Bears if Nathan Vasher can't play? - Buddy (Bristol, CN)
If there is one thing the Rams continue to do well year after year, it's throw the football. This isn't 'The Greatest Show on Earth' anymore, but Bulger can still play pitch-and-catch with Holt and Bruce all day long. If Vasher is rested an extra week to make sure his hamstring is ready to go for the stretch drive, nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. will start in his place. The Bears have had some trouble with elite receivers even before the potential loss of Vasher, so if the Rams can protect Bulger, he could do some damage. This will more about Chicago getting pressure on the quarterback than their depleted secondary.

Since your Carolina Panthers are fading fast, who do you now think will present the biggest challenge to the Bears in the NFC playoffs? - Sammy (Yorkshire, PN)
I admit it, I really thought the Panthers were set to finish the season strong, but it's just inexplicable how poorly they can plan sometimes. I'm still not 100% sold on Tony Romo and the Cowboys, so I'll go with the Seahawks. They haven't lost a game with both Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander in the lineup. The addition of Deion Branch has made that passing attack even more dangerous, especially if Alexander gets all the way back to his MVP form. All they have to do is play middle-of-the-pack defense, and they can make the Super Bowl.

How often do the Bears practice outside when it's really cold at this time of year - Benjamin (Gary, IN)
It ultimately depends on where the Bears play their upcoming game. Last week, with a home date against the Vikings coming up, head coach Lovie Smith had his team practice inside the Walter Payton center on Wednesday and then outside in the elements on Thursday. Fridays are primarily just a walk-through and should be inside the rest of the season. However, with a road game against a dome team in Week 14, the Bears have been indoors all week. But I wish all the practices were inside the bubble because it's really cool.

Do you think the receivers are giving Grossman a hard time since he can't even get them the ball? - Sheldon (Zion, IL)
That's the exact question I wanted to ask Grossman on Thursday at Halas Hall, but the Bears media staff shut down his press conference before I had the chance. Guys like Muhsin Muhammad and Desmond Clark have to be frustrated because they're not getting opportunities to make plays. It's been rumored that Grossman and Muhammad aren't exactly the best of friends, but that shouldn't have any effect on the gameplan. If the quarterback plays well, that means the receivers will get plenty of love. But if you're expecting blowups on the sideline - a la Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens - if this continues, I highly doubt that's going to happen.

How many members of the media tend to be up at Halas Hall on a normal practice day? - ActionJackson11
It was a madhouse up there on Thursday of this week, so I would say there were upward of 50 writers, radio guys, TV people, cameramen, and photographers. The Sun-Times had SIX people there since columnists Rick Telander and Carol Slezak decided to make the trip. Fortunately, I have a designated desk up there and never have to worry about having a place to set up and work, although columnist Mike Downey of the Chicago Tribune tried to steal my seat before I arrived. It's funny when we're first allowed in the locker room because sometimes it's just us and no actual players in there. Sometimes I feel bad for the practice squad guys like Tyler Reed and Mark LeVoir because nobody ever talks to them no matter how desperate they are for a story.

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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