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After watching the Bears play Green Bay on Monday night, would now be the best time to replace Jim Miller with Chris Chandler? --William Lucina, Washington, D.C.
Two answers really. The first, the straightforward fact, is that Dick Jauron is not likely to make a change at quarterback. He stuck with Cade McNown through a 1-7 start in '00 that included three- and four-game losing streaks, and Jauron is an advocate of consistency and does not view Miller as a "need area."
The second, just my own opinion: Unless you're talking about Chandler as a nickel back or edge pass rusher, why? This current situation is the direct result of injuries on the defense, now exacerbated by hits to the offense.
The offense could be doing more, but Miller right now has a higher passer rating than Chandler had in any of the last three seasons, and Miller is not the problem. If you just start pulling levers, you may not be starting something, you may just be opening a bigger trap door.
Frankly, with the troubles now on the left side of the offensive line, Miller's ability to get rid of the ball on time is more important, and Chandler is not a West Coast-style quarterback, so may be more prone to being sacked in this scheme. Miller is not the problem here.
Do you think that playing so many games on turf (seven so far, counting pre-season) is contributing to the health problems suffered by the Bears so far? --Jefferey Saiger, Bensenville, Ill.
Yes I do, although specific evidence is difficult to come by, and you never can say conclusively that the injuries wouldn't have happened on grass. But the Bears have played every game thus far on turf, as you pointed out, and there is no good health-wise that can come from that.
Does Jerry Angelo admit regretting any of the moves this past off-season? It seem like there is a lot to regret: losing Tony Parrish, signing Bryan Robinson, forgetting to check the box on D'Wayne Bates and Warrick Holdman, not getting a good young QB into camp, starting the season without a proven LT, losing Walt Harris, and on and on. --Brad Marsh, Santa Rosa, Calif.
He likely would say no regrets, although not checking the boxes on Bates and Holdman proved very costly, in losing a player (Bates) and money (Holdman). Bryan Robinson's lack of impact is injury-related, which I reported would be the situation even before training camp started. He won't be full strength until mid-season and his wrists and confidence return completely. Tony Parrish cost more than the Bears could afford and still keep Olin Kreutz, Jim Miller and get Marty Booker done early.
Ironically, he appeared to have done a superb job of staffing with veteran depth, something difficult to do in the salary-cap era, with vets like Chandler, Caldwell, McKenzie and Damon Moore -- those guys haven't particularly worked out, which is one more disaster on top of disaster.
Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush: What is it going to take for the Bears to get a pass rush? This team has not had a pass rusher since Richard Dent. Is it that difficult to find someone--or some defensive scheme--to put pressure on a quarterback? Brett Favre sat back in the pocket and vivisected the Bears' defense (or would the correct term be dissect, for it does not resemble a living host). Buddy Ryan used to say if it took eight to get to the quarterback, then he would rush eight. Until the Bears learn how to put pressure on the quarterback, this is going to be a long season. And don't even get me started on the offense. --Lee Lupo, Muskegon, Mich.
The short answer is that yes, it is every bit that difficult to find a pass rusher, which is why they cost so much when their contracts come up. The recent showing of Alex Brown has been the best hint of progress, along with the outstanding work of Rosevelt Colvin as a rush end.
The problem the last two weeks is that the Bears were against two of the NFL's best quarterbacks (Bledsoe, Favre) under any kind of pressure, and without Phillip Daniels at full strength and R.W. McQuarters to hold coverage a little longer so the rush gets a second longer, this is an uphill fight right now.
A shuffle of Bryan Robinson to tackle and Brown starting would give the Bears their best combination rush-run line but Robinson's wrists are still a concern.
Why are the Bears so committed to the running game to the detriment of the total offense? They do not plan an offense which takes advantage of the weaknesses the opposing defense offers up. It they stack for the run, there should be passes that are open. Shoop is very rigid in his thinking and the better teams appear to be more flexible, not doing the same thing week after week. --Howard Denenholz, St. Louis
They commit to the run because it wins. Their run-pass ratio is roughly the same as three of the last four Super Bowl winners, and it actually amuses me to see Chicago railing against Shoop's smash-mouth orientation, which is in keeping with the Bears' tradition.
That said, it is difficult not to find fault in Shoop's operation, which has not developed a passing game that is a true weapon that can win a game. The Bears are now 10-33 over the last 20 seasons when they pass 40 or more times in a game, which means they can't win when you force them to throw.
Shoop's lack of a long NFL play-calling apprenticeship can be pointed out; he simply hasn't had the experience making adjustments to situations and personnel, although his study of his craft is as thorough as any.
In defense of Shoop, one of the great problems with Gary Crowton was that there was no commitment to anything except throwing the ball all the time. Players loved that Shoop stayed with a solid game plan even if it didn't go well initially. Does he stay with things too long? Maybe.
But the overriding element is that players aren't making even the plays that are being called, which makes Shoop look even worse. Coaches get too much credit when things work and too much blame when they don't. That's a little bit of the deal here.