Let's check in again with NFL expert/writer @DanPompei regarding the state of the Chicago Bears heading into the offseason.
Pompei covers the NFL for Bleacher Nation and Sports on Earth, along with his regular work for WSCR the Score 670 AM. We cover the Jay Cutler extension, what defense the Bears may play, and where Shea McClellin will line up.
TL: Did the Bears make the right decision by extending Jay Cutler?
DP: I think they made the only possible decision. You cannot let Cutler walk unless you have a plan to have a better quarterback in place in 2014. And there was no way the Bears could have had such a plan. Committing to Cutler long term is not saying he is the best quarterback possible. It’s saying he was the best quarterback available to them.
TL: Are the Bears betting on Marc Trestman's ability to develop quarterbacks as much as betting on Cutler with this deal?
DP: That’s part of it. It’s clear that Cutler showed some development, growth and maturity under Trestman that he had not shown under previous coaches. So if that can continue, there still is a chance for him to improve. We probably have not seen the best from Jay Cutler. As he and his offensive teammates grow together and in the system, more improvement should come.
TL: Apparently everything is on the table for improving the defense. What kind of scheme do you envision the Bears running next season? 3-4 really on table?
DP: Too early to say, except that somehow, someway there will be change. There are a lot of possibilities. Not just a 3-4. They still could have the same basic scheme they had had, but they will be doing some things differently. I have no doubt about that.
TL: What does Mel Tucker prefer to run?
DP: I think Tucker prefers to run whatever his players are best at. He’s been pretty consistent throughout his career at adapting to the strengths of his personnel. He isn’t the type of coach who demands everything be done one way and one way only.
TL: Where will Shea McClellin lineup?
DP: Still undetermined, but he will be used differently than how he has been used up until this point. On nickel downs, which are the majority of downs, he’s going to be rushing the passer as he has been all along. We know that much. On early downs, his role may be changing.
TL: Where do the Bears get the most out of him?
DP: I’d like to see him play OLB in a 3-4. But I wouldn’t rearrange my entire defense based on experimenting with one player.
TL: Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman which of these players are back next season?
DP: Tillman has the best chance of leaving because his contract is up. I could see him wanting to go elsewhere. Briggs almost certainly will be back. Peppers is a wildcard. I can’t see the Bears paying him what he is supposed to make in 2014, but I could see them offering him a pay cut. Not sure how he would respond to that.
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Filed under: Interviews