I see Jay Cutler is on a humanitarian mission overseas, which is great! Has he talked to anyone you know of abut the NFC championship or his injury? I've never seen anyone fall off the radar as fast as Jay. I keep hoping to hear he is healthy and working on his fundamentals. Any word? -- Eric Johnson, Las Vegas
Yes, the word I've gotten is Cutler's knee was coming along nicely when the work stoppage hit. Assuming he hasn't suffered a setback over the last couple weeks, Cutler should be on track to start throwing and doing everything he needs to do to prepare for the 2011 season. I don't know how much work he's going to get on his fundamentals until the players go back to work, though. Unless he hires a private quarterback tutor, which I find rather implausible, there isn't anyone to work with him on fundamentals.
Wouldn't it be a good idea for the Bears to take offensive linemen in the first two rounds, and then a defensive lineman in the third, and a receiver like Edmond Gates from Abilene Christian in the fourth? -- Craig; LaSalle, IL
I think it would be a better idea to let the draft unfold and not lock into taking specific positions in specific rounds. If all the offensive linemen with first round grades are gone when the Bears step up to the plate at No. 29, it doesn't make any sense to try to force a pick. You can't get so caught up in needs that you neglect the strengths of the draft. That's a way to end up with a mediocre team.
I worry about reshuffling the offensive line again. Unless we get a stud in the draft, I don't feel comfortable moving Frank Omiyale out of left tackle. Wouldn't the Bears be better off letting the line get better with continuity then moving everybody around again? They can't afford to take half the season to 'gel' again. -- Chris R., Chicago
You make a good point, Chris. In a perfect world, the Bears would build on the continuity they benefited from in the second half of last season. But it's not a perfect world and it was far from a perfect line. The Bears' blocking improved but it still wasn't good enough, so the team needs to continue to search for answers. One of those answers looks like it's going to be moving J'Marcus Webb to left tackle. Another looks like it's going to be moving Chris Williams to right tackle. And another looks like it's going to be benching Omiyale. But it's premature to say any of that is locked in stone. We have to see who the Bears draft, who they sign in free agency, and how the training camp battles go, all of which will affect the latest offensive line shuffle.
Are the Bears really considering Florida's center Mike Pouncey with their first pick in the draft? I think it's more than time to bring on Olin Kreutz successor, don't you? And, would the Bears trade up to draft him? -- Walter Brzeski, Chicago
If they aren't, they should be. The Bears might need help on their interior offensive line more than they need help at the tackle position. Within two years, they might need three new starters at left guard, right guard and center. Pouncey could start out this year as the left guard, and then move inside to center when Kreutz moves on (assuming Kreutz is re-signed). The problem is Pouncey probably won't be on the board when the Bears pick at No. 29. Trading up is a possibility, but it would come with drawbacks. The Bears have had a deficit of high draft picks over the last two years because of trades. Giving away two high draft picks for one good prospect in this scenario might not make good sense.
What do you think about Corey Liuget from Illinois for the Bears? Is there a significant drop-off between he and Nick Fairley? If not, I think the Bears should trade up the ten spots or so where he's projected to plug our biggest need on defense by far. And you can't argue with the karma of getting a player from Illinois -- after all, we've got three Hall-of-Famers from that school. -- Bill Lyman; Table Rock, NE
I think Liuget would be a great pick for the Bears. He clearly is the third best defensive tackle in the draft, but he's an ideal fit for the Bears' scheme. But as is the case with Pouncey, I think he is going to be out of their reach. As for the Illini factor, it's true the Bears struck gold with George Halas, Red Grange and Dick Butkus, and they've had other solid picks like Ed O'Bradovich, Tom Hicks and Revie Sorey. But they have had some duds from Champaign as well. Remember David Williams? The Bears picked him in the third round and cut him before the season began. Interestingly, he was the last Illinois player the team drafted -- and that was 25 years ago.
With his recent DUI, could Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd still declare for the 2011 NFL draft? If he can and does where do you think he would fall? -- DCHAV, Barrington
Floyd could declare for the supplemental draft, assuming there is one with the current work stoppage. The supplemental draft usually is held in July. Scouts I've spoken with say Floyd probably would be taken in the second round of the supplemental draft.
Am I crazy for thinking this, but wouldn't the new kickoff rules be more dangerous? With the coverage team five yards closer and with kickers closer, wouldn't the strategy to be to pooch the kickoff between the 1 and 5 yard-line? The return team would have less time to set up because of the hang time and the coverage team would be on top of them faster. Anytime that the coverage held them under the 25 would be considered a victory because of the new touchback placement. Am I wrong for thinking this? -- Jason; Holmen, Wisc.
The placement on touchbacks will remain at the 20, thanks to an amendment to the original proposal. And members of the coverage team other than the kicker have to remain where they were in previous years -- five yards behind the 35. But I still would not dismiss your theory completely. It is entirely possible some teams will try to pooch the kickoff if they feel they have an advantage against a return team. No one really knows how this new rule is going to play out. It's going to be interesting to watch.
Have you ever heard a Bear player or coach grouse about the attention the 1985 team still gets, and the inevitable comparisons? It's unlikely any defense will ever reach a peak like they did that year especially by playoff time. It's an impossible legacy to match and yet the fans demand it. Thus pretty good teams are labeled "beyond repair." I may be as guilty as many of this glass half full on steroids attitude. It must wear on the organization up and down the line. -- Bob Pierson; Muskegon, Mich.
I think your observations are pretty insightful Bob. No team ever will measure up to the 1985 Bears in the eyes of Chicago fans, and every Bears team that has come after has suffered the consequences. And, yes, I have heard current players are resentful of the attention and adulation given the 85 team. Some members of the 85 team, meanwhile, don't understand why the current group doesn't appreciate them more, and find them disrespectful. It's an odd and unfortunate dynamic.