That is the exact question I asked Lovie Smith on Thursday because they have the luxury of home-field advantage being wrapped up already. He said that his team has an identity already and shouldn't have any need to change what they've been doing so far. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised to see a few surprises on Sunday against the Lions and again on New Year's Eve against the Packers. Teams are required to make their last four game tapes available to the opposition, so perhaps the Bears could mess around with their playbook a little these next two games just to give any potential playoff opponents additional headaches. Devin Hester got one play on offense last week, and although it wasn't successful, wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said this week that he'll continue to get a look there.
Could Tank Johnson still be suspended by the NFL on top of the suspension the Bears already handed down? - Nick (Glendale, AZ)
That is a distinct possibility and probably will happen, but it won't be until some time next season. It takes some time for the wheels of justice to turn, and the NFL always waits until the legal process has run its course before handing out any punishment. Ricky Manning Jr. had his Denny's altercation this past April, but he wasn't given his one-game suspension until November. The more I hear about the situation, the less I think Tank has to worry about from a legality standpoint. However, from a morality standpoint, he has a long way to go in the maturity category and had better make some serious changes to his lifestyle.
Any chance Adrian Peterson starts to play a bigger role in the offense? He's looked good the last two games, don't you think? - Shamalan16
I absolutely agree with you and have always been a fan of Peterson's work. Division 1-AA or not, he was an absolute beast at Georgia Southern and authored one of the most incredible runs I've ever seen in my life his senior year. With Thomas Jones nursing a few injuries and questionable for Sunday's game at Detroit, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the team deactivated him in order to make sure he's at full strength come playoff time. Everybody wants to see Cedric Benson get a start just to find out what he can do in that role, and if that happens, look for Peterson to get his fair share of carries. I firmly believe that the organization will cut Jones after the season for salary cap purposes and turn the job over to Benson, and I see no reason why Peterson couldn't succeed as the primary backup.
How do you think Alfonso Boone and Ian Scott played last week in place of Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson? - Maurice (Homewood, IL)
Aside from Marcus Stroud and John Henderson in Jacksonville, I felt Harris and Johnson was the best defensive tackle combination in the league. Boone and Scott are capable players and could start for many teams in the NFL, but they don't have nearly the talent that Harris and Johnson do. Nevertheless, Scott in particular is extremely good at stopping the run and helped hold the Buccaneers to just 57 yards on the ground last week. But the reason the Bears got carved up in the second half was because there was no pass rush on Tim Rattay, which is what Harris and Johnson do best. Look for Boone and Scott on running downs this Sunday and then Antonio Garay and Israel Idonije to come on with the nickel package in obvious passing situations.
Do you see any correlation between Rex Grossman playing well and Desmond Clark playing well? Is this a coincidence? - Albert (Virginia Beach, VA)
You fellas are on the ball this week because that is another question that I asked up at Halas Hall on Wednesday. Grossman said that he didn't feel there was a direct link between his best games and Clark being more heavily involved in the offense, but the statistics are there to back up that claim. He threw for a career-high 339 yards this past Sunday against Tampa Bay, and Clark just happened to post a career-high 125 yards receiving. Back in Week 8, Clark reeled in six passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns, and Grossman posted a season-best passer rating of 137.3 that day. I think it all boils down to Grossman playing well when he's simply taking what the defense gives him and not forcing the ball downfield, which usually results in a lot of short- to medium-range dumpoffs to his backs and tight ends.
Have the Bears given any more thought to using the franchise tag for Lance Briggs? The Bears can't lose him. Isn't the salary cap going up a lot next season? - Sharky1212
Briggs followed up last year's Pro Bowl berth with perhaps an even better season and leads the team with 99 solo tackles. As far as the salary cap goes, it will be raised from $102 million this season to $107 next season. The Bears have shown a reluctance in the past to employ the franchise tag, and we aren't hearing any overtures that they'll change their tune for Briggs. He could very well be the top-rated player on the market when free agency starts in March, and when you consider not only how well he has played but how close he and Brian Urlacher are, losing him could be catastrophic. If you're looking for some hints as to what the Bears might do with No. 55, they haven't offered any.
Tony Romo in the Pro Bowl? Didn't Rex Grossman deserve it more? I know he's been inconsistent, but Tony Romo? - Andrew (Long Island, NY)
Unlike most of the other pundits out there, I am late to the Romo party and couldn't believe he was given a Pro Bowl nod after only eight starts. I agree that he is a solid young QB and could develop into a very good player, but why not Grossman? Everybody knows that he's had some stinker ballgames, but he's also the only quarterback in the NFL to post a passer rating of 100 or higher seven times this season. His 22 TD passes are good enough for sixth in the league, plus he's directed the Bears to a 12-2 record and the top seed in the NFC. If signal-callers are ultimately judged by wins and losses, shouldn't Grossman's record as a starter count for something since the conference failed to produce three clear-cut Pro-Bowlers in 2006?
How would you judge Danieal Manning's rookie season? Everyone is talking about Devin Hester and Mark Anderson, but I think Manning has been pretty good. Agree? - Clive (Gurnee, IL)
I believe Manning has had a very good season and looked like an NFL safety from the moment he arrived at mini camp after last April's NFL Draft. He was clearly a better player in training camp than Chris Harris and deserved his spot in the starting lineup right away. Although he's not the player in run support that he needs to be yet, for the most part, he has been pretty good in coverage. He's made some errors the last few weeks and been victimized by a few big plays, but those are mostly mental mistakes. Physically, he's big, he's strong, he's fast, and I think he's going to make a Pro Bowl or two in the near future.
Did you think Rashied Davis caught that ball in overtime last week against the Bucs? I thought it would go to replay and get overturned. What happened there? - CrackerManja
After watching the replay once or twice, I don't think Davis caught the ball cleanly and figured it would go to a booth review. Apparently, there was a malfunction with the system that prevented the referee from stopping play and initiating the review, which is why the play stood. Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden threw a fit during and after the game, and frankly, I think he has a valid argument. It may not have been the difference in the game, but it certainly could have been. Davis hasn't caught many passes this season, but some of the plays he has made have been gigantic.
Even with the Bears due to rest some of their starters this week, any chance the Lions pull the upset? - Tony (Lansing, MI)
I'm pretty sure the old 1985 Bears could suit up right now and beat this Lions team because they are nothing short of atrocious on both sides of the ball this season.
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.
Get Chicago Bears Tickets at The Ticket Chest