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Fred Mitchell's Lions-Bears Q&A
Q Who will start at quarterback next Sunday against the VikingsChris Chandler or Jim Miller?
A Difficult to say this early in the week, but Miller is counting on returning if the tendinitis in his shoulder continues to subside. Chandler completed 16-of-25 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown. But he threw a costly interception to Eric Davis.
Miller and third-string quarterback Henry Burris tried to assist Chandler and offensive coordinator John Shoop on the sideline with their observations.
"I thought the communication on the sideline was extremely good," Miller said. "Everything was fine. We were doing the things we wanted to do offensively. We just had a couple of turnovers. But we ran the ball more effectively than we have in the past."
Q Why was the Lions' James Stewart, a journeyman running back, able to run so easily against the Bears?
A The absence of defensive tackle Ted Washington has left a 365-pound void when it comes to thwarting the running game. The left side of the Bears' defense was particularly victimized by the Lions' running game. When the cornerbacks or safeties charged quickly to help containment at the line of scrimmage, the Lions' blockers had easier angles on them to clear a path.
Once Stewart eluded the initial defensive attack, he had clear sailing into the Bears' secondary. He rushed for a career-high 172 yards, including two 24-yard rushes and a touchdown.
"We stunk [Sunday] and we looked extremely bad," said Bears defensive end Bryan Robinson, who had five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
Defensive coordinator Greg Blache said he made calculated changes in his defensive strategy to help out against the run. The changes were made against his better judgment and the Lions made him pay.
Q Is Ahmad Merritt the answer for the Bears as a kick returner?
A Merritt did return a kickoff 63 yards Sunday. Leon Johnson has been workmanlike, but unspectacular, as a kick returner. And recently signed Vinny Sutherland looked underwhelming (3 for 49 yards) against the Lions.
The Bears' offense needs all the help it can get from special teams units when it comes to field position.
Q How did Paul Edinger manage to kick off out-of-bounds to begin the overtime? That gave the Lions the ball on their 40-yard line.
A "I was trying to give it my best kick, and going to my left is usually my best kick," Edinger said.
"Their [kick returner] did a good job by letting it go. They get it at the 40 and move it about 30 yards to put [Jason] Hanson into position.
"I'd rather (kick off to an area in the corner) than kick it in the middle."