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What justification does John Shoop give to call a majority of the run plays to the left, the inexperienced, side? During the Rams game, Hub Arkush asked rhetorically the same question, noting that Villarrial is the strongest Bear and "Big Cat" is a Pro-Bowl tackle. --Alex Schiller, Chicago
Good observation. A couple points here. One is that with Marc Colombo at 330 pounds against an undersized end, like a Lance Johnstone of Minnesota or KGB of Green Bay, the Bears have a clear edge at the point of attack. If they can hit in behind that kind of size advantage, eventually they will win as the game goes on. At least that's the thinking.
Also, you help an inexperienced lineman when you run behind him, because you're forcing his man and side to play the run first with more than lip service, which slows the pass rush a fraction over time. And the Bears often go to the line with check-with-me's, two plays called in the huddle and the decision made at the line; not a true audible, just a faster, cleaner way to switch. So very often it can be the quarterback making the call of a play to one side or the other based on what he sees when the team comes to the line.
I still haven't seen a carry from sixth-round pick Adrian Peterson. Do the coaches understand that he is a gamer? His preseason stats were not bad. At 1-8 why don't they try him for a few series? --Mike Warren, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
It will be surprising if Peterson doesn't see some game action as the season winds down. He did show in preseason that he can be a threat on kickoff returns, and he has excellent burst once he gets the ball either rushing or receiving. The problem for the Bears is numbers on game day; activating Peterson, with Anthony Thomas, Leon Johnson and Rabih Abdullah already active, means four of your 46 game-day roster spots are taken with running backs. Not to say it won't happen but there are just so many spots for backs, and also there are only so many handoffs to go around.
OK, is there any chance of getting Marc Bulger from the rams in the off-season? --Matthew Pyle, Kansas City Very slim. He'll be a restricted free agent and the Rams can put a tender offer on him that would cost the Bears a first- and third-round draft pick in compensation if the Rams chose not to match the contract offer made to Bulger, which would have to be substantial in any case. You could argue that a one and three would be a fair price for your franchise quarterback. You could then argue that five games might not be enough to formulate a decision on the ultimate franchise direction (remember Scott Mitchell? Big money after a very short stint of success in Miami and he was never worth it). You could also argue that the way the Bears are going, that first-rounder will be one of the top picks of the draft, and do you want to give that up? You could argue...and argue...and argue...
John, why does Shoop continue to use the wide-receiver screen play? This is driving us Bear fans crazy! It hasn't worked this year, it didn't work last year. Find that page in the playbook, Shoop, and tear it out! For the love of God! --David, Dallas
It is a curious call at times, such as the third-and-long at St. Louis. But they have their reasons. A big one is simply that it is a quick-release play, something that has become a priority with the thin situation at quarterback. The Bears want the ball out of Chandler's hands right now. The play has a benefit of forcing defensive linemen to pursue long distances, wearing them down and slowing the pass rush. Those are reasons for it.
Reasons against it would be that it has not worked since the early days of Gary Crowton, except in rare instances. It is a high-percentage throw but the Bears have too often thrown short of first-down markers and called on receivers to make yards after the catch. That is hard to do if DBs aren't letting the plays develop.
If the Bears unload some baggage this off-season (Bryan Robinson, "Big Cat"), will they have enough to keep Rosie Colvin? --Anthony Rodriguez, Saint John, Ind.
If they unload Bryan Robinson, it will hurt their chances of keeping Colvin, because Robinson's signing bonus would mean a salary-cap hit of more than $4.4 million. Big Cat's base number is not overly high, and until you have someone ready to step in, you can't lose the level you're at right now. Some restructures were discussed which would have brought cap hits down but nothing got done.