Ask K.C. Johnson

SportsFootballChicago BearsLovie SmithPittsburgh SteelersNFLJerome Bettis

They never show it on TV, but are all the Bears receivers covered on all those plays that Orton can not get a pass off? You used to see a replay showing someone open enough to throw a pass to, or is he being overly cautious? --Jerry, St. Joseph, Minn.

Even Orton has admitted that he has missed a few reads, including a glaring example in the Pittsburgh game when a wide-open Thomas Jones jumped up and down in the end zone asking for the ball. But for the most part, Orton has made the right reads. He has overthrown several balls to open receivers. But I don't think his reads have been his problem.

Hey, KC, thanks for answering all the questions that you receive (well, maybe not all, but most). I have a simple one for you: Has Kyle finally shaved that nappy beard? It may have kept him warm, but I have a feeling it was getting so long that it was impeding his ability to see open receivers. --Bill Lucyshyn, Milwaukee

Bill, it's still there, although it certainly looked a little more civilized this week. Maybe he caught a shot of himself as he broke down film.

As for the questions, you're right: I don't answer them all. And for all those people who are upset that I don't personally respond (including friends who say I'm blowing them off or, perhaps, all that fan mail I never see), editors select the questions that they deem the best to answer and send them along to me. Got it? (Editor's note: Fan mail? Friends?)

How long is Mike Brown going to be out? Besides tackling, which was horrible, why did the bears defense play so bad? --Matt Mitchell, Herndon, Va.

Nobody's saying officially how long Brown will be out, so you know it's serious. I can tell you that it's possible he'll miss the remainder of the regular season. That would make getting a first-round bye even more essential, to give him more time to heal.

As for the defense, there's not much to say beyond bad tackling. A couple players talked about being undisciplined and falling out of their gaps. But tackling was the main culprit.

Hey, K.C., if the Bears and Vikings somehow end up with the same record, who would get the tie breaker? Would it be the Bears because they have a better conference record? --Ralph Zaragoza, McHenry, Ill.

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head. The second is division record. And the third is common opponents. The Bears are in good shape on all.

KC, the telecast last Sunday showed how long each of the Bears defensive starters are under contract. Hunter Hillenmeyer is the only one who is a free agent after this season. Do you think he'll get much interest from other teams? If so do you think the Bears will make a serious attempt to resign him? --Mike Piekarski, Phoenix

Hunter from Nashville is a restricted free agent and the Bears can easily keep him. As a third-year veteran, Hillenmeyer can be retained just by making him a restricted free-agent qualifying offer next spring. I'd expect him back.

Did the Bears wear different spikes than Pittsburgh? They seemed to play as if the were on ice while the Steelers seemed very stable. Does the fact that they are built for speed and lighter than Pittsburgh have anything to do with it? --Thomas Bartos, Granite Bay, Calif.

I think Jerome Bettis has more to do with it. He'd look stable on an ice rink. I know that a lot of Bears went to the longer spikes for last Sunday's game. But I don't know what Pittsburgh wore. I gotta believe that the Bears had any equipment made available to them.

Have you heard any rumblings about the Bears possibly making a move for local boy Antwaan Randle El next year? Seems he would be a solid No. 2 receiver, would reduce the need for antacids on every punt return, and could come fairly cheap. --Joe, Chicago

We had our reporter . He said he wouldn't rule out coming to the Bears. They'll certainly be in the market for a punt returner, and I agree: I've always liked his game. He makes people miss.

The Lovie Smith bandwagon has become incredibly crowded as of late. But does any other coach in the league 1.) trade that fourth and three for a third and 13, then (2. defend the decision afterward? I'm feeling queasy. --Jonathan, Santa Fe, N.M.

Just go back and break down your game films of the eight-game win streak. You'll be alright.

K.C., great job on the transition to the Bears beat. Regarding the question asked last week about Chico Rivera leaving, if (and that's a big if) it does happen, does that open the door for Mike Singeltary to return as D coordinator? Thanks for taking the time to answer this! --Mike, Downers Grove, Ill.

I think Singletary also will get some head coaching looks. So that might not be possible. An in-house candidate to remember is linebackers coach Bob Babich. He goes way back with Lovie and shares the same defensive philosophy.

Hey KC, love your stuff. Unfortunately your NFL QB calculations has two hiccups: d! should be D1 and MAX9MIN should be MAX(MIN. --Britt, Falls Church, Va.

I blame Craig Krenzel. Or my editors. (Ed.'s note: Math was never a strong suit. ChicagoSports.com regrets the error.)

Your QB rating formula had two errors (when I pasted it into Excel). D! should be D1, I assume. And you have a 9 between MAX and MIN, which should be a (. Fixed those two and it worked fine! Thanks! --RT, Des Moines, Iowa

Please tell me that there are better things to do in both Falls Church, Va., and Des Moines than sit around and compute QB ratings.

Thanks for your questions. Talk to you next week.

K.C.

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