Your questions were so good this week I tacked on a couple more to make it a dirty dozen.
1. Q. Now that we can see the Bears aren't likely to win another game this year and Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith are headed for the door, who do you think the Bears should hire? I am intrigued by Dave Toub but I have to ask if you would be interested in the next Sean Payton as your head coach. If you look for a successful offensive coordinator who is young and has a fresh approach but a strong pedigree, there is only one name: Kyle Shanahan. That's who I would hire. --- Joliet Pat
A: I still think there's a good chance the Bears will win some close games down the stretch, make the playoffs and save Lovie's job. If not, here's my ever-changing short list: 1. Bill Cowher 2. Jeff Fisher 3. Jim Harbaugh 4. Jon Gruden 5. Ron Riveria.
2. Q: I know that Julius Peppers is getting double teamed quite a bit but are you surprised that with Peppers in the lineup the Bears defensive line has not had more sacks this year? Do you think Peppers will be dominant week in and week out similar to some of the great defensive ends in NFL history? Last but certainly not least do you think Peppers will be in the NFL Hall of Fame one day? Richard Dent to me was better than Peppers and I think Dent should be in the Hall of Fame but may get shut out. --- Dahlillama
A: I'm not really surprised because the other players on the defensive line aren't proven sack producers. In fact, besides Tommie Harris, who is in obvious decline, the player with the most sacks in one season is Israel Odonije, who had 3.5 in 2008. Because there are no other serious threats, opposing teams can concentrate on Peppers. I don't think he'll have the type of monster year everybody is hoping for until they surround him with players who can consistently make opposing offenses pay for double-teaming him. Whether or not Peppers belongs in the Hall of Fame will be determined in the next couple years. He has been one of the dominant --- if not the dominant --- defensive end(s) of his generation, though. I also believe Dent is a Hall of Famer and hope he makes it.
3. Q: If you were to gaze into your crystal ball and predict the remainder of the seasons win-loss record for the Bears, what would you see as the outcome in both the second half and the final records? --- Jocko
A: I can see them splitting with the Vikings, splitting with the Eagles and Dolphins and beating the Lions. Winning against the Jets and Patriots will be tough. They beat the Packers at home but beating them in Lambeau to end the season will be a tough assignment. Therefore, my prediction for the second half is 3-5 for a total record of 8-8. Hopefully, I'm wrong.
4. Q: Has there been any discussion of spelling Charles Tillman during the game? He has been falling down, slipping like crazy, and generally looks gassed in the second half every week. Keeping him fresh late in the game can help us in the long run. The offense rotates receivers to ensure fresh bodies are out there.. Why don't we do the same thing? We do it on the defensive line. --- Joe Felicelli
A: Question of the week, Joe. I found it interesting enough to asked defensive backs coach Jon Hoke for his opinion. Here's his answer: "I've asked the same question. We do it on the d-line. We rotate them. To me, if you've got three guys that deserve to play, you should do it. It keeps everybody fresher. You'll see with d-lineman rotate early so they are fresher at the end of the game. Receivers run two long routes and tap their helmet to come out. Well, the corner just had to run with them for those two deep routes. I agree. He has a valid question and a valid point." With Zack Bowman returning from a foot injury, and Tim Jennings and Peanut Tillman playing well, I might explore this subject in a story in coming days.
5. Q: I don't think the Bears won their last game of the year against the Bills. With the turmoil in Minnesota and the fact that maybe they're not a very good football team you might see one win there. And with Matthew Stafford out and Miami switching back to Chad Pennington, there might be another there. With a possible 8-8 record, a potential work stoppage, and the McCaskey's "love" for Lovie, could you see a scenario where Angelo is fired, and a new GM is brought in, which would pave the way for a new head coach come 2012? --- Gearheadboy
A: At this point I wouldn't rule out any scenario. If things go bad, the question will be who is most responsible, Lovie or Jerry? A case could be made for Lovie being a solid NFL coach when he has talent to work with. If that's ownership's decision, they could bring in a new general manager and either let Lovie finish his current contract or sign him to an extension.
6. Q: Who do you think is the most underrated player on the Bears so far this year? Who do you think is the most overrated player on the Bears so far this year? --- Touche
A: Another good question. I really had to think about this one. The most underrated is Mat Toeaina. He doesn't get a lot of sacks so he doesn't stand out as much as others but he has been a force inside and is a big reason why the defense has been so effective against the run. You'd probably have to say Chris Williams is the most overrated because he is a first-round draft pick. But that only means it was the Bears who overrated him in the first place. You can read more about Williams later on in the Q&A.
7. Q: I read that the Vikings Williamses' have been let off the hook for testing positive for a banned substance two years ago. They allegedly took this substance by "accident" as part of a weight loss supplement. Are you kidding me? These guys are defensive tackles. The more bulk they add, the more effective they'll be. Why would they take weight-loss supplements? That's like Usain Bolt saying he takes a supplement that will make him slower. Am I missing something here, or does that excuse reek as much as I think it does? --- AndrewPDX
A: You're missing something. Bigger is not always better. Dozens of defensive linemen across the league trim down so they are quicker off the ball. Remember the Fridge? He was always trying to lose weight. Marcus Harrison reported to training camp much heavier than coaches would've liked last season. In lots of cases, players try to lose weight to meet incentive clauses in their contracts. After eating too much and not working out enough during the offseason, they'll go to great extremes to get the weight off and collect the dough.
8. Q: The Bears are at the halfway point of the season. Who is the offensive MVP? Defense? Special teams? Rookie of the year? Play of the the Year? --- Mr. Cox.
A: Who is the offensive MVP is a fascinating question. After much thought, I would have to say Matt Forte, who leads the team in rushing, receptions and touchdowns and is second in receiving yards. It hasn't been the kind of consistently dominant performance that you would expect of a team MVP, however. Defensively, I'd have to say Peppers by a nose over Urlacher and Briggs because he has turned a potential weakness (defensive line) into an above-average unit. Devin Hester is the special teams MVP after his two punt returns for touchdowns, although Corey Graham is also having a solid year. The play of the year was Greg Olsen's 39-yard touchdown pass against the Cowboys because it changed not only the game but the Bears season.
9. Q: We all know nobody in their right mind will punt the ball to Devin Hester anymore, so wouldn't it be wise to put him back on the kick return team? What are your thoughts? --- Tripper
A: I would agree totally if Danieal Manning and Johnny Knox haven't proven to be such dynamic kick returners. a lot of teams wish they had Manning and Knox returning kicks for them. That said, I'm not opposed to giving Hester another shot at returning kicks. Lovie Smith would probably say that with Hester playing so many snaps on offense, they want to give him a break, but Manning and Knox are full-time starters as well. It might be time to give Devin Aromashodu more playing time on offense and have Hester return some kicks.
10. Q: I know it's very early still, but given the current standings and what you've seen so far, what positions do you feel the Bears will address in the draft? It's been awhile since they've had a full complement of draft picks so it will be very interesting to see what they do. I'm hoping for o-line help in a major way. --- Sonny
A: Angelo has always said you start from the inside out. Plus, it doesn't take an expert to realize the Bears are in desperate need of offensive line help, especially since Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza are aging veterans. That's a no-brainer. They could also use a dynamic defensive lineman moving forward. The only question is whether Angelo will be making the picks.
11. Q: Chris Williams is horrendous. I understand he's a first-round pick and that the Bears will shoehorn him onto the field no matter how bad he is but they're risking losing two 1st round draft picks in the form of Jay Cutler. Have you seen anything that even hints that Williams will pan out some time down the line? --- Mike
A: I read lots of criticism directed at Williams on the Bears blog and went back and specifically watched him against the Bills. There was a two-play sequence early in the game that wasn't pretty. He got beat by Kyle Williams on one play and missed a block after pulling on the next one. For the most part, however, I wasn't as critical of his performance as everybody else. He's not a Pro Bowl left guard by any means, and he and the rest of the line need to be more physical, keep their feet moving and sustain their blocks. But I didn't see horrendous. I saw average.
12. Q: Yeah, this might be a pipe dream but what are the chances that we could have Bill Parcells as general manager and Cowher as head coach next year? --- BearsFan4Life
A: A zillion to one. They are strong personalities who will hire a coach or general manager to play a subordinate roles. Besides, together they would cost more than Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder would be willing to pay