Reader Q&A: Chicago Bears Huddle Inbox

Reader Q&A: Chicago Bears Huddle Inbox
Nuccio-DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

Read the entire Q&A series here.

Every time I do this, I realize that I’ve forgotten how much work it is. But then I realize how much fun it is. There’s just no better way, in my estimation, to connect with a group of readers than a Q&A. Instead of me telling you what should be on your mind, you’re telling me what actually is.

And what is writing to the author if not a conversation with the reader? So have a seat, and let’s talk some Bears . . .

Will Johnny Knox be activated this year? – Steve Augustyn, via Facebook

Hey, Steve! The short answer to this is no. Knox will not play again this year; it’s what I’m told, and it’s what a lot of folks are being told. What that means for his status with the Bears remains to be seen. Since Knox—currently on “Reserve PUP”—will not return in Week-6, the Bears will have three more weeks (till Week-9) to make a decision as to what to do with him.

If he’s not activated, which he won’t be, they’ll either place him on injured reserve or cut him. He’s a free agent after this year, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Bears bring him back, unfortunately. I would hope things work out to where they can and do. Either that, or Johnny finds an opportunity elsewhere.

What's the most challenging game you see for the Bears out of the remaining games? – Dominique Blanton, via Facebook

I’m going to have to go with the Sunday night contest at Soldier Field vs. the Houston Texans in Week-10. Houston is a complete team, like the Bears, and they have the potential to put up a ton of points. There are a number of games one could make an argument for, though. Catching the 49ers on the road in Week-11 won’t be easy. Likewise, squaring up against the Seattle Seahawks in Soldier Field in Week-13 scares me a little bit.

Of course, the divisional games are some of the toughest-fought, it seems, especially late in the season when tangible playoff implications are on the line. And, three of the Bears’ final four are against Division opponents; two of those three divisional games being on the road.

How many turnovers are the Bears on track for? And where will that number stack up to the 85 Bears? – Blake Ford, via Facebook

Cool question! I assume you mean defensive takeaways? The Bears’ defense has created 17 turnovers (13 INTs, 4 fumble recoveries) against opposing offense so far this season. That puts them on pace for 54 total. Interestingly enough, the 1985 Chicago Bears’ defense came away with . . . you guessed it, 54. And Brian Urlacher wears 54! And we’re 54 days away from December 5th, which happens to be the 4th day of that week! Scary stuff, huh? Anyway . . . the most takeaways for a Bears’ defense in franchise history came in 1947 with 58 through just 12 games.

Who has played the most snaps on defense so far this year? I was really impressed that Briggs played every snap last season. – Luke Broster, via Twitter

Major Wright and Tim Jennings have each played 310 snaps on defense so far this season. Just below them are Chris Conte (293), Lance Briggs (291), Brian Urlacher (262) and Charles Tillman (249). Obviously, the list goes down from there. However, if you count special teams snaps, Jennings leads all Bears’ defensive players with 334 snaps.

In terms of most snaps on the team, that honor goes, mostly, to the offensive lineman. J’Marcus Webb, Roberto Garza and Lance Louis all have 362. Kellen Davis falls in behind them with 355, and Gabe Carimi is behind Davis with 342.

Urlacher says he'll return to an elite level, but also that his knee will never heal. There's no surgery for torn PCLs? – Eric Almaguer, via Twitter

I really can’t speak to what he could have done, can still do, or his comments regarding his knee. But I will at least try to offer a few thoughts: The reality is that Urlacher did have two procedures done to his knee this offseason. While both of them can be called “surgery,” I understand your point about having the knee surgically repaired. Here’s one thing to consider: Brian Urlacher is in a contract year. It’s also his body. My guess—and that’s all it is—is the prospect of a surgically repaired knee in a contract year, toward the end of your career probably doesn’t look very good compared to minimally invasive procedures, rehab, and game time.

Do you think that if Brian Urlacher’s below average play continues he won't be re-signed? – Harrison Lyndsey, via Twitter

If he doesn’t retire himself, I think he will be re-signed. Brian Urlacher means a lot to this franchise; he means a lot to its ownership, and its fan base. The fact that he may not be playing his best football this season doesn’t mean he’s not contributing to the success of the defense. Urlacher led the team in tackles vs. Green Bay (11) and St. Louis (8). I think he understands he won’t be in for a big payday should he stick around after this season.

There are some other factors to this, of course, one of them being the Bears winning a Super Bowl. If they do that, my guess is Urlacher would opt out while on top. If, say, the Bears start to fall apart and head coach Lovie Smith is fired, Urlacher could also find himself in a sticky situation should a new head coach want to run the 34 defense. Lots of factors, but continuing to play the way he is now will not, in and of itself, spell the end of Urlacher’s run in Chicago.

Have we seen the end of the Chris Williams experiment? – Douglas Barrett, via Twitter

It’s over. Put a bow on it.

Do you think Earl, Devin and Dane can pick up the slack while Alshon Jeffery is out, or should they look for a veteran? – Ben Eiserle, via Twitter

Here’s what’s going to happen: Earl Bennett is going to get some catches—probably even more than Alshon might have had—he’s going to be there on third down, and he’s going to be consistent. At least I hope he will. Here’s what you’re not going to get: a legit redzone, sideline threat. That’s what Alshon was developing into for the Bears. This team is deep enough to be successful without him, but there’s no doubt they will feel the loss.

I guess if they were going to kick the tires on another veteran, the time to do it was in the offseason. The guys in the pipeline know the system. Although, a few phone calls couldn’t hurt.

Do you think Jay Cutler targets Brandon Marshall too much? – Kyle VT, via Twitter

I’ll go with Cutler’s answer when he was asked the same thing: No. The question is valid, don’t get me wrong. Marshall’s been targeted 56 times (fourth most in the NFL) and has pulled down 35 catches (62.5%). Compared to the other four top-5 targeted receivers around the League (A.J. Green, Victor Cruz, Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne), who have an average 60.8% catch percentage, Cutler and Marshall are doing alright.

In terms of catch percentage among the League’s top 40 receivers, Marshall’s 62.5% is tied for 22nd—middle of the pack. Don’t think of that as mediocre, because that is middle-among-the-best, and of course, one has to consider all the other stats involved. The bottom line is that the Bears aren’t handcuffed with Marshall as their only weapon. Matt Forte is a game-changer. Alshon Jeffery has been developing rapidly, and the role players have been—for the most part—doing their job.

The Bears brought Marshall here to catch the ball and make plays.

Thank you all so much for the questions. I didn’t even get to them all, there were so many. Let’s continue the conversation in the comments section below!

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