Dan, what do you think Jay Cutler will do when his contract is up? I think he plays out his contract and then leaves in free agency. If they use the franchise tag on him I wouldn't be surprised if he sits out a year rather than play behind this offensive line. Your thoughts?
I'mDanToo, Minocqua, Wis. If Cutler plays well this year, I think he will sign an extension with the Bears before the start of next season and this will be a non-issue. If he does not play well this year, and he does not play well next year, the Bears will allow him to leave as a free agent. If he plays well but the Bears cannot reach an agreement with him on a new deal, the Bears will place the franchise tag on him in 2014. And I'd be shocked if Cutler didn't sign it, given the franchise number for a quarterback in 2014 is likely to be around $14.5 million, assuming the salary cap does not fluctuate too much. Walking away from that kind of cash in the prime of his playing career would not be a very wise move for No. 6.
Mike Martz was jettisoned last year, Mike Tice was anointed and Jeremy Bates was brought in, the Bears have stated how their approaches would change to give Cutler the extra time he needs and to utilize some of his special traits. One such approach that the Bears have preached constantly was to employ designed QB rollouts. I have yet to see this used much. What happened to the Bears plans in this area? -- Mike Otte, Duarte, Calif.
The Bears used Cutler on rollouts three times against the Rams, Mike. That's not very much. I agree with you they should be using rollouts more. When Cutler was in Denver, he was used in moving pockets much more frequently by Mike Shanahan, and he was very effective in those situations. I've been banging the drum on this topic since Cutler became a Bear. It makes sense not only because Cutler is good on the move, but also because the Bears have struggled to pass protect. For whatever reason, Bears offensive coordinators Tice, Martz and Ron Turner all have had other ideas. It's possible rollouts will have a bigger place in game plans moving forward.
Is it just me or is Cutler exceedingly bad in night games? Would you be able to research Cutler's career record and relevant stats in day versus night games? I have a feeling that it will show significantly worse overall performance in night games. That might partially be because MNF and SNF games tend to be marquee matchups, but even controlling for that I suspect you would find Cutler to perform better in day games. -- Alex Maass, Evanston
Brad Biggs laid it out here http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/chi-biggs-10-thoughts-after-bears-win-over-rams-20120924,0,2744916.story?page=4 in his "10 Thoughts" column. For the Bears, Cutler is 6-7 in prime time starts, compared to 20-11 in daytime starts. Biggs points out they are 3-7 if you take out victories over the Vikings. They are 3-6 on the road. Cutler at night for the Bears: 249-of-424 for 2,791 yards with 18 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. He has a 71.96 passer rating, a .587 completion percentage and a 6.58 average per attempt. Cutler during the day for the Bears: 579-of-970 for 7,110 yards with 48 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. He has an 84.3 passer rating, a .596 completion percentage and a 7.32 average per attempt.
Let's talk about the offense: Do you think it will snap out of this funk? -- @Pankster198, from Twitter
Yes I do. The offense is too good to play the way it has in the last two games. Cutler goes in streaks, and he's been in a bad one. I anticipate he'll get on a hot one soon. The offense should be better later in the season if players stay healthy because offensive coordinator Mike Tice should understand the strengths and weaknesses of his players and plays better as time goes on, and new players should integrate more efficiently.
Is it better to see these injuries to the RBs early in the season or would they be better later to rest for a playoff push? -- @Cnote10018, from Twitter
You don't ever want to see your players sitting out, but injuries, especially injuries players can come back from, always are preferable earlier in the season rather than late. These are the reasons why: A team always wants to be playing its best football late in the year. You can't assume a team will have the luxury of coasting into the postseason. Most playoff spots are not decided until the final week or two. I'm not a big fan of resting players during December anyway. I think you need to go into the postseason with a full head of steam. And earlier in the year, more high quality replacements are available. Later in the season, the scrap heap will be picked clean and free agents who can help will be impossible to find.
How close are we to seeing Evan Rodriguez take over for Kellen Davis? What else needs to happen? Davis is not particularly skilled in the blocking or receiving skills; Rodriguez has put on some nice blocks and seems like he was drafted for his athleticism in the pass game. -- Marc Katz, Lakeview
The way I see it Rodriguez is not a threat to Davis because they play different positions. Davis is a true "Y" tight end, meaning he primarily is a blocker who can catch the occasional pass. Rodriguez, with a shorter, more compact body and better athleticism, is an "F" tight end when he is a tight end. He also has been a fullback and could be regarded as an H-back. Unless offensive coordinator Mike Tice changes what he wants to do offensively, Davis is secure as the No. 1 tight end. The only way Rodriguez could replace him in the starting lineup is if the philosophy shifted about what the team wanted from that position.
What do you think of Shea McClellin so far? Was he worthy of that pick? -- Josh Braus, from Facebook
I think McClellin has been very good. And I'd be very surprised if he doesn't improve consistently. There is no question he has made the Bears a better team. I have spoken with front office men who tell me they believe he has been as effective as any of the rookie pass rushers. The only rookie with more sack production is Seattle's Bruce Irvin, who has 2.5 sacks to McCellin's 1.5.
Assuming the season continues to be mediocre and Lovie Smith is done would Rob Ryan be head coach material? He has a stout defense. -- @KiltyMacBagpipe, from Twitter
Rob Ryan very well could be head coaching material, especially if the Dallas defense excels and the Cowboys win. But I think I would be willing to bet that he will not be the head coach of the Bears. I think I know enough about this organization to safely say Ryan would not fit the profile of the type of head coach who would appeal to the McCaskey family, Ted Phillips and Phil Emery.
How many interceptions has Major Wright gotten from tipped passes? It seems like four or five during his young career. This guy should play the Lotto early and often. -- Tom Pappalardo, Hyannis, Mass.
Wright has four career interceptions and two of them now have come on tipped passes. Of course he benefited from a Tim Jennings tip on Sunday. Last year, Lance Briggs got his paw on a Michael Vick pass that ended up in Wright's arms.
Do you know why Major Wright changed his number from 27 to 21 this year? I know Corey Graham had this number, but is there another reason? -- Olaf Schulz
There is another reason. Wright's number at Florida was 21. He originally chose it because his mother Andrea Eluett, with whom he is very close, was born on July 21. He even gave Eluett his BCS championship ring on Mother's Day of 2009. The number has even more value to Wright now because he has a daughter also was born on the 21st.
I've been wondering this for a while: What happens if an NFL team sustains enough injuries to their offensive line during the course of a game that they run out of OL altogether, and need a tackle, or a center? I know it's extremely rare for something like that to happen, but given the uniqueness of what's required from those positions, I was curious as to who would be able to fill in. -- Jerry, Vernon Hills
Given most teams keep only seven offensive linemen active on game days, the scenario you ask about is not completely out of the realm of possibility. So teams need to be prepared in the event that three offensive linemen are injured during a game. The two most logical candidates to be emergency offensive linemen are the long snapper or the blocking tight end. In the case of the Bears, that would be Patrick Mannelly and Matt Spaeth. Mannelly was an offensive tackle in college.
I especially enjoy your postgame grading columns. I think it would be great to join you as you review film to come up with the grades so fans could see more into the game than what we only see during the game. -- Al Harris
Glad you like the Film Session, Al. If you joined me for one, you might be pretty bored though. It's a long process that takes hours and hours. I watch most plays over and over and over, pausing, rewinding, playing, pausing, rewinding, playing. Caffeine usually is a prerequisite, especially after a night game!
Reader Q&A: Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
The Tribune's Bears columnist answers readers questions about Jay Cutler's contract, his night-game performances, running back injuries and Rob Ryan's future
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