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Given the current situation the Bears are in after losing again to the Packers, do you think they will decide to give Henry Burris a shot before the end of the season? Why wouldn't they? --Josh Herren, Fairbanks, Alaska
This is really a complex question and a good one. Burris and others will be getting more opportunities now that the season is officially over as far as playoffs are concerned. This is a delicate thing, however, if you start playing people for reasons other than trying as hard as possible to win. You've coached players to believe in doing everything possible to win, and now you're throwing out a guy, not limited to Burris here, who is not the best chance to win. Also, some players have incentives. Jim Miller, for instance, has bonuses based on percentages of snaps. He made that deal in good faith that if he was the best guy and able, he'd be playing. If you now cut him off, you're taking money from him and his family. And players' values in free agency are influenced in small ways by how well their team has done.
Super Bowl players have a pixie dust that inflates their value (Russell Maryland, Larry Brown from the Cowboys were absolutely overpaid because of the mystique), and guys from 2-14 teams are not helped by that record. If you're going to throw in a white flag, then you can't be upset down the road if players take it easy or tank a little; you've set a precedent for not doing your best and you need to be careful with the message you're sending. That said, you do obviously need to develop whenever possible, and that can be done in the flow of the game or season, and that will happen as this season winds down.
Did the team make a terrible mistake by not re-signing Tony Parish and not going out and getting a qualified replacement? Did we take the cheap way out and now is it costing us big time? --Harold Bryant, Algonquin, Ill.
The decision at the time appeared to be the right one based on two things: the development of Mike Green, last season one of the bright surprises among young players, and salary-cap realities. The cap requires you to structure your payroll with premiums paid at certain positions; if you're a 3-4 team, for instance, linebackers will command more money than linemen perhaps, versus what a defensive end might be worth to a 4-3 team. The Bears have Mike Brown, who is going to command premium dollars, and money tied up at linebacker in Brian Urlacher and Warrick Holdman, and possibly Rosevelt Colvin. It simply isn't possible to pay everybody at the free-market top, and the Bears lost a good one in Tony Parrish. You might want to wait until next year, though, when Damon Moore returns fully from his knee injury. He has Parrish qualities and will push Green for a job.
With what means can the Bears keep Rosevelt Colvin under their control in the offseason? Can we use a transition tag on him and what are the consequences of that? --Greg, Barrington
The Bears can tag Colvin and sign him for one year but that takes an enormous one-year bite out of your salary cap. And you typically get an unhappy player as well, because he was deprived of a chance to test the market as he'd hoped. The whole Colvin situation is difficult for the Bears. He's the best pass rusher on a team with little rush and they are backed into a corner of sorts with the money needed for Warrick Holdman and Brian Urlacher.
Given the big receivers we have do you think we will ever go back to sight-adjusted routes? And will we get back to having quarterbacks call audibles? --Bill Guilfoil, Plainfield, Ill.
The sight-adjustment routes are more a matter of experience on the parts of receivers and time with their quarterback. Jim Miller could very easily run an offense that called for receivers to adjust substantially based on coverages, and Marty Booker and Marcus Robinson certainly could operate that way. Dez White doesn't have their level of experience and neither does David Terrell, so that makes it difficult. And the Bears want their offense running full speed, something that didn't always happen in the time before John Shoop. Receivers were thinking too much as they came off the ball and Shoop's first change after taking the job in 2000 was to simplify the passing game and let guys focus on executing their assigned route to the max rather than worrying about a read as they were going. The Bears have not used audibles heavily for several years and probably won't, again for reasons of speed.
Their system since 1999 has been to call two plays in the huddle in some situations and make the decision at the line, rather than getting to the line and then having the quarterback make the entire call there. It makes for quicker decisions and fewer chances of missed assignments, which has proved to be the case generally.
Is R.W. McQuarters serious when he says he didn't think he needed to block Javon Walker on that fumble recovery against the Packers? Did he change his tune Monday? --Adam Langley, Chicago
Players were not available Monday. Probably a good thing.