Why were the Bears not interested in resigning Matt Blanchard? They seemed to like him more as a developmental quarterback than Jordan Palmer. -- @ahskidmore from Twitter
Because the Bears reached an injury settlement with Blanchard in preseason after his injury, the team was prohibited from bringing him back (if it wanted to) until after Week 10. Palmer has more experience and is not viewed as a developmental quarterback. He’s a backup right now, a guy that will be ready in the event a need arises. The last time the Bears turned the keys over to an inexperienced quarterback in the regular season, it didn’t go so well for Caleb Hanie.
With Lance Briggs out, who is calling the defensive plays? -- @wesside702 from Twitter
I’ll be honest with you, I think the questions about who is calling the defensive plays have become overblown. My hunch is middle linebacker Jon Bostic continues making the calls as he did in the Redskins game after Briggs went out with his shoulder injury. Bostic has been doing it on the practice field since he arrived and also did it with the second team in preseason. The other alternative is strong-side linebacker James Anderson. We’re talking about the player getting the play radioed in to his helmet and repeating it. This isn’t too complex of a process and Bostic is a smart young player.
If the Bears safeties continue to struggle how long will they go before a change is made? What changes could you see them making? -- @steveoatms from Twitter
I asked Marc Trestman if he would consider shaking up the lineup at safety earlier this week and he said no. The options are pretty simple: Craig Steltz or Anthony Walters. Steltz has seven career starts and Walters has made one. I don’t believe the club sees much of a ceiling for either backup. This situation would look better if 2012 third-round pick Brandon Hardin had panned out but he’s out of the picture now and I doubt he resurfaces for the Bears.
I know position and players available will play a big role, but do you think Bears will trade down in the draft next May? -- @eriklambert1 from Twitter
General manager Phil Emery has made it clear he would like to acquire more draft picks and if you’re not going to flip players, the only way to do that is to flip draft picks because I highly doubt the Bears will be in line to receive any compensatory draft picks in 2014. Trading down could add some depth to a draft that right now holds seven picks for the Bears. But there are generally more teams interested in moving down than moving up and just because you put a pick up for sale doesn’t mean you’re going to get an offer you would consider to be even value in return.
Near the halfway point of the season, what Bears’ free agents will be the biggest priorities and most likely to return? -- @jtbbears from Twitter
The beauty of the situation is we’re near the halfway point in the season and no decisions need to be made right now. The players know that it is unlikely any extensions will be done in-season because of the team’s snug salary-cap position. The conversation must begin with quarterback Jay Cutler and then a plan has to be hatched from there. General manager Phil Emery has been public in saying something could materialize for left guard Matt Slauson. If center Roberto Garza continues to play well, I could see him returning on a one-year deal. Cornerback Tim Jennings would make a lot of sense, especially if the Bears are going to continue in the same defensive scheme. The Bears might be able to get defensive tackle Henry Melton at a cheaper price considering his injury situation. Defensive end Corey Wootton has been a good player. Long snapper Pat Mannelly seems ageless. But there are too many variables and too much football left to play to get specific here. You’re talking about a long list of players and a lot of decisions.
Has there been a better year for the Bears to switch to a 3-4? Phil Emery has to overhaul the defense anyway. Why not overhaul the defense on the cheap (i.e. using a 3-4)? -- Matt H., Vienna, Austria, from email
The onslaught of questions about a conversion to a 3-4 defense continues and frankly I am puzzled. The Bears simply don’t have personnel that would lend to an easy switch at this point and in no way would it be a cheap switch. Sure, Shea McClellin might fit as an outside linebacker in that defense. He also might struggle like he has in a 4-3. Linebackers Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene and veteran Lance Briggs are not ideally suited for a 3-4 defense, in my opinion. So, you’re talking about searching for almost an entirely new front seven. That’s a lot to do with one draft and in free agency and would create potentially serious depth issues. A lot of people seem to think the 3-4 is a cure all for pass-rush issues and I disagree with that. Keep in mind the 3-4 was introduced in the 1970’s in order for defenses to better play the run. Sure, there have been some great pass rushers that have thrived in a 3-4 scheme and that list begins with Lawrence Taylor. Defenses can also get after the quarterback just as well in a 4-3 scheme. There are different versions of the 3-4 and a couple ways to go about it but right now the Bears simply don’t have the players in place to make that move, in my opinion. Maybe the organization makes a decision to change in the offseason, but it would not be the best fit for many players they have under contract right now and even a draft and multiple free-agent additions would make it tough to pull off.