Today we get to check in again with NFL expert/writer @DanPompei.
Pompei covers the NFL for Bleacher Nation and Sports on Earth, along with his regular work on WSCR the Score 670 AM. We cover the Jay Cutler speedy comeback, and glimpses from both Shea McClellin and Julius Peppers.
TL: The Jay Cutler comeback, do you view the Bears starting him this Sunday as a high risk move? Especially when Josh McCown played so capably in the interim.
DP: No. I think if Cutler is healthy he should be in the starting lineup. If his groin is not ready, he should be on the sidelines. It's as simple as that, and really has nothing to do with McCown.
TL: I was originally going to ask you how soon we can declare Shea McClellin a bust and then that Green Bay game happens. What exactly happened there?
DP: Sacks are funny sometimes. You can get them when you don't really deserve them, and you can not get them when you deserve them more. A lot of times when McClellin was getting beaten up by the public, he was having good pass rushes but the sacks weren't coming. And some of his production against the Packers was a little fortuitous.
He was going against a mediocre right tackle. The quarterback was holding onto the ball. His sack of Aaron Rodgers that injured the Packers QB was a coverage sack.
TL: Too soon to call it a breakthrough game as well?
DP: I always said it was too soon to declare McClellin a bust. But it's also too soon to declare him a savior. Let's let the kid continue his development.
TL: What about Julius Peppers? Was there some sort of undisclosed injury that he had been nursing? He showed glimpses of his old self Monday night.
DP: I know there are conspiracy theories out there on Peppers, but I don't believe there was an injury that was radically altering his play. I'm sure he had some minor things, just like he usually does and every other player does. But it was revelatory to see he still is capable of turning it on.
TL: What does the Jay Ratliff signining signal for the defense moving forward?
DP: I don't believe the Ratliff signing is going to make a major difference for the Bears defense. We are talking about a 32-year old who has not played in over a year and is coming off a serious injury. My guess is it's going to take Ratliff some time. The other factor is he wasn't playing very well last year before getting hurt.
What I think Ratliff may be capable of doing is giving the Bears a few big plays over the course of the season if he is used effectively. If one or two of those plays help win games, his signing will have been worth it.
TL: Has the safety play been that bad? Is there something Mel Tucker can do to remedy with adjustments? Or is it simply a personnel matter?
DP: It's been bad in the last couple games. Before that it was not consistently bad. It's been puzzling really, because both Chris Conte and Major Wright have the ability to be good players in the NFL. Both have shown it. But neither has shown it lately. I think if Conte, Wright and secondary coach Jon Hoke continue to work on good technique, these players should come around.
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