Los Angeles Times

Ask K.C. Johnson

Why are the Bears being so conservative on offense? -- CJ Keller, Prattville, Ala.

Two words--Kyle Orton. Or maybe we should say "rookie quarterback." The bottom line is Orton came off a game where he threw five interceptions and the game plan, besides wanting to run the football, was to limit putting Orton in tough situations. Call it a confidence builder. The funny thing is, Orton is a gamer, a competitor and very confident. So look for the Bears to take some shots downfield this week.

Why is it that late in close games the Bears tend to blow it? Is it the quarterback or is it the defense? -- Joe, Sauk City, Wis.

This year, it's been both. I don't think anyone would've predicted the defense allowing as many big plays as it has thus far this season. That was a stunning collapse in Cleveland. But there's also this: These kind of things have a way of perpetuating themselves. Similar to the 2001 season, when every bounce seemed to go the Bears' way, this season--at least thus far--has a feel of everything going wrong.

Hey, K.C., think you could bring the Bears some of the luck you brought the Bulls last season? The Bulls started what, 0-9, then made the playoffs. Think the Bears could accomplish a similar feat in a weak division? Thanks for the reporting! -- Aaron Spears, North Liberty, Iowa

Only if Eddy Curry takes a DNA test and plays nose guard.

I was wondering if you could settle a bet. Which offense are the Bears running? My friend says they use a Chiefs style offense. I say they are using the West Coast offense. Which is it? -- K.C. Manny, Olathe, Kan.

Right now, the Bears are running the no-show offense. Just kidding. Ron Turner always has run variations of the West Coast offense.

Do you notice any similarities between Kyle Orton and Brett Farve when he was a rookie? -- Will Daniels, Evanston

I was covering high school sports when Brett Favre was a rookie, but I'm assuming you're talking about his first season with Green Bay in 1992 and not his true rookie season, when he played just two games for Atlanta. If you indeed are talking about 1992, I'd still say no. Favre threw for 3,227 yards and posted a QB rating of 85.3 with more TD passes than picks. I think the two players share some of the same intangibles--a certain grittiness, toughness and supreme confidence. But Orton has a long way to matching even what Favre did 13 seasons ago.

Why not try Justin Gage at the tight end position during obvious passing downs? While not big enough to provide quality blocking for running plays, he is big enough to chip block and provide some assistance before heading down the seam. He may not be fast for a wide receiver but he would create a miss match for a linebacker or strong safety trying to cover him. -- Mark Seloover, Clinton, Ohio

The Bears are having trouble getting a second receiver involved, much less the tight end.

In my opinion and I would love someone to prove me wrong, but this version of a Bears team has not shown any improvement since Day 1 of Lovie Smith's coaching career. So has the heat been turned up on him a little for this laugher of a professional team? -- Craig Casillas, Fort Myers, Fla.

Only by e-mailers like you. I'd be shocked if anything happened to Lovie given the organization's approach to contracts. In other words, the Bears don't like paying people for not being here. My guess is Lovie will be around no matter what his record this season.

Thanks,

K.C.

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