Welcome to our second-to-last installment of the Reader Q&A series this off-season. You've had some great questions, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of answering them. As always, you can read the entire series here. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Was I the only one who thought Tyler Clutts did an okay job last year? Will they give him a shot this year, or was he a Martz guy? – Ryan Kilgore, via Twitter
Nope, you weren’t the only one. And, no, he wasn’t a Martz guy. He was actually a Dave Toub guy—if I have to identify him with someone, that is. The Bears picked up Clutts after they saw how effectively he blew up their return game on special teams when they played against him in the 2011 preseason vs. the Cleveland Browns.
Clutts performed great on special teams for the Bears, and did a decent job out of the backfield (he had eight catches for 48 yards). He’s an incredibly versatile player, and a guy teams will try to hang onto if at all possible. He’s also a very effective lead blocker. If I had to guess, I’d say the Bears hang onto three running backs (Forte, Bush and Bell) and one fullback (Clutts).
Is there any upside to the Bears’ offensive line other than the fact that they can't get any worse? – Jordan Kristopher, via Twitter
Rule number one: never say “they can’t get any worse.” The Bears did very little to bring in additional talent at any position along the offensive line this off-season. That’s just the hard reality. In my mind, the team is essentially clinging to four things with this line:
- They were hit hard with the injury bug in 2011. They hope it’s moved on to some other team (hopefully within their division) and that this year they can stay healthier.
- Another year together as a unit should help cohesiveness and effectiveness in the run game and pass protection.
- A new offensive system run by the unit’s former coach will make it a priority to run effective plays designed to also give the offensive line the best chance to succeed.
- Additional, and legitimate, offensive weapons will force opposing defenses to adjust more and back-off a bit.
To me—and to Bears fans in general—talent is a more sure-fire bet. And so, until this unit gets it done consistently on game-day, there will be concerns.
Is this the best offense (on paper) the Bears have ever had? I can't remember a previous team with this much firepower and potential to score 30+ points a game. – “Chicago Bulls Fan”, via Google+
The 1985 Championship Bears scored 456 points through 16 games (28.5 PPG). The 1941 Championship Bears scored 396 points through just 11 games (36 PPG). The ’85 team holds the franchise record for most points scored in a single season, and the ’41 team holds the record for the highest average per game.
Who says defense wins championships? (While both teams had All-World defenses, the offensive firepower was there, too. Many seem to forget that fact.)
The 1941 offense featured Hall of Fame QB Sid Luckman, and Hall of Fame RB/KR George McAfee. The team also boasts two Hall of Fame offensive lineman; Danny Fortmann and Bulldog Turner.
McAfee led the league in 1941 with 7.3—yes, 7.3—rushing yards per carry and scored a league-high 12 touchdowns through 11 games. Luckman had the highest completion percentage of his career that season (57.1%)—a great number in those days. It was a different era, and a different game.
The problem I have with calling the 2012 Bears’ offense the best ever, even “on paper,” is the offensive line. It starts in the trenches, and I just don’t see how we can ignore that fact until the season is over and they’ve proven that they are the best. So, no, on paper, the offensive line is too suspect for me to go there.
Having said that, I’m optimistic, and I think they’ll do well this season.
Do you see Bears offering Urlacher an extension if his knee checks out, or are they really going to wait for the offseason? – Steven L. Smith, via Twitter
There are so many factors that go into this question, and I know you already covered one of them with the knee disclaimer. Look, if Brian Urlacher stays healthy and continues to perform at a decent level, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Bears would be inclined to offer him an extension prior to the offseason.
But, things don’t always work out the way we want them to, and there is a real possibility that Bears fans see Brian Urlacher become a free agent for the first time in his career. Prepare yourself for that.
Filed under: QandA