Q: I know that Martz's offensive system is based on the old "Air Coryell" scheme. Is this in any way related to the offense that Tom Moore runs (or used to run, before his retirement) in Indianapolis? I know that both rely on the quarterback throwing to a specific spot on the field, rather than to the receiver himself. If not, what are the differences? ---- Chris.
A: Great, great, great question. Unfortunately, I don't have a complete answer. The NFL is in shut-down mode. The person I know with the Colts is on vacation. I called Dan Fouts. He played for Don Coryell. He didn't respond right away, either, which means he's likely on vacation as well. Unlike Martz's system, I do know that Moore's offense in Indy requires very little motion before the snap --- except for Manning, of course, who gesticulates wildly while changing plays at the line of scrimmage. I'm intrigued. When I find out more I'll blog about it.
Q: The current 16 game schedule is very structured. You play six games vs. your division opponents, four versus an NFC division (NFC East for Bears), four versus an AFC division (AFC East for Bears) and then the same-place finishers in the other conference divisions (3rd place in NFC West and NFC South for the Bears this season). If the regular season is expanded to 18 games, how will the last two games get filled out? Any word or speculation out there? --- Bear Goggles Boomer
A: I spoke with someone at the league office who hadn't heard anything about this point, either. The earliest there could be an enhanced season is 2012, and any changes would have to be agreed upon by both owners and the NFL Players Association. Personally, I'd prefer if one of the dates encouraged regional rivalries. How cool would it be if the Raiders and 49ers, Jets and Giants, Dolphins and Buccaneers, Texans and Cowboys and Chiefs and Rams played every season? As for the Bears, it could mean an annual date with the Colts or Browns. Not every team has an out-of-conference geographical rival, but it would sure be fun for those who do. The union might like the idea, as well, because it would make for shorter road trips.
Q: How has Cutler looked at OTAs? I hear a lot about Caleb Hanie throwing picks but haven't heard much about Cutler. Is he still making those interceptions that make me scratch my head? --- Shaun.
A: As always, it's hard to know for sure. OTAs reveal little. I have noticed that Cutler seemed hesitant during the latest minicamp. Throwing to a spot instead of a person takes a leap of faith that he seemed to be struggling with. He looked much more comfortable making this adjustment during OTAs, which leads me to believe that he is embracing Martz's system and philosophies.
Q: Do you think the Bears will ever have the Honey Bears back on the sidelines? --- dahlillama
A: Not as long as Virginia McCaskey has anything to say about it.
Q: With Al Afalava looking like the odd man out at safety, what do you suppose the Bears could get for him in a trade? A conditional seventh-rounder in 2019? A bag of broken kicking tees and a pop-up toaster? --- Chris K.
A: Afalava is an absolute mystery man. He was the answer at safety until he clearly wasn't. Where the second-year player stands on the current roster and what his future is is one of the many questions this team will carry with them along with shower shoes and jungle hats when they report to training camp. As for what he might fetch in a trade, not much, as of right now.
Q: How do you feel about the decision to have Chris Harris at free safety instead of strong safety? Wouldn't it make more sense to have him at strong safety? He's more dominant in the box than Manning. --- Ro
A: As you know, safeties are deemed interchangeable in the Cover-2 because they often split the field. It would seem more logical to me, however, to keep Harris at strong safety and Manning, the faster of the two, at free. Remember, also, just because he has those players working out in those spots during OTAs and offseason minicamps doesn't mean they'll be lining up there once the season starts. This is the time for experimentation. Perhaps that's all this is. Since the free safety makes the defensive calls for the secondary, and Harris has more experience, it's also likely he's there so he can play more of a leadership role.
Q: Do you expect the Bears to have any interest in ex-Illinois defensive tackle Josh Brent in the upcoming supplemental draft? Early reports indicate he can be had for a 4th round pick. --- Vic F.
A: Another great question. You guys are on fire this week. Although the Bears have bid on players before, according to a team spokesperson, they have never before acquired a rookie via the supplemental draft. Here's how it works: Teams bid on players. These are often low-ball bids. In Brent's case, for example, the Bears may make a fifth-or-sixth-round bid hoping to get lucky. The highest bid wins the player. If two teams offer fourth-round bids, the team with the highest fourth-round pick wins. Based on that history, and the presence of second-year defensive linemen Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton, I don't anticipate the Bears making a high enough bid to land Brent.
Q: How's it looking for the competition between Nick Roach, and Pisa Tinoisamoa? The Bears are pretty lucky to have the choice between the two. --- Shaun.
A: It's a tossup heading into camp. Roach missed minicamp with a sore hamstring but Smith hardly seemed concerned about it. "We know what Nick is about," he said at the time. He also knows what Tinoisamoa is about, having coached the eight-year veteran when he was with the Rams. No matter who starts, expect both to see extended playing time. If it's a tossup, Tinoisamoa may get the nod because Roach can play such a big role on special teams.
Q: Do we expect the Bears to blitz more or less during the season given personnel changes? --- Jay Smooth
A: If Julius Peppers can make the entire defensive line better, and they can get pressure from their four-man front, expect less blitzing. If the line continues to generate only mediocre pressure, first-year defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will be forced to blitz more often. I really don't think that question can be answered until we get into the season and see how the defense is performing. Marinelli is a wild card. But he's a classic Cover-2 guy, and a basic tenant of the Cover-2 is: Why blitz if you don't have to?
Q: How many sacks can we expect from Peppers this year? --- Zach
I'm a big believer in you are what you are. That's why I've had such a hard time swallowing the oft-repeated company line about how so many veterans are going to all-of-a-sudden start playing as if it were 2006 again despite what we've seen the past three years. Peppers has averaged 10 sacks per year during his eight-year career. I think he'll be energized while playing in such a great football town. My prediction: 12.