I would say two things stand out Ron. They have to maintain their knack for getting takeaways. With an aging defense and a change in the coaching staff, that can’t be taken for granted. Even if the defense wasn’t getting old and the coaches weren’t new, that can’t be taken for granted. Takeaways come in bunches and can’t always be controlled. But clearly Lovie Smith’s emphasis on getting them paid off. The other thing is Cutler has to play well, which mostly means hitting some big plays and avoiding interceptions and unnecessary sacks. More and more, it’s a quarterback league. The teams that are succeeding are being lifted by their quarterbacks.
I have a bone to pick with you about your top 10 Bears. How can you put Jay Cutler on the list? He is, without question, a top 10 talent; maybe a top 2 or 3. But he NEVER rises to the occasion, and gives them a big game against a tough team in a must win situation. Against a team like Jacksonville in October in Soldier Field he'll go 24-33 for 362 yards and three TDs. Against a strong team in November or December you're getting 21-37 with three INTs.
Look, if Cutler is the 21st best Bear, the team should have moved on from him by now. I understand he is inconsistent and lacks some important intangibles. But he has the best career passer rating in Bears history (81.9). He has done some things right. He just needs to do those things right more frequently.
One preseason magazine wrote if the Bears fall back, Trestman could be quick to go since Lovie was fired at 10-6. Is that possible after only one season? -- Kenny and Emily Kendall, from Facebook
What that magazine probably didn’t point out is Lovie Smith lasted nine years in Chicago, not one. Bears ownership always has been pretty patient and loyal with head coaches. The organization always has valued having a somewhat stable environment. I suppose this is somewhat of a new era with George McCaskey in charge, but I would be shocked if the Bears took that kind of knee-jerk approach. You probably couldn’t even find out everything you need to know about Trestman in one season.
Have the Bears considered a halftime video (ala the Steelers) highlighting great Bears players to get the crowd amped for the second half? -- Frank7818@verizon.net
Just prior to the opening kickoff at Soldier Field, the Bears play a video that highlights great players in Bears history. The team also has several “pump up” videos it uses at key points of the game. At halftime, the team gives updates from around the league on the video boards. Greg Miller, who is in charge of the scoreboard, tells me that’s what fans want based on feedback and research.
Bill Belichick was a defensive coach who watched and learned offense and now he is one of the greats. Is this the key for being great? -- @jermaine611, from Twitter
They key for being great is drafting Tom Brady. Of course, Belichick is great for much more than that. I don’t think you can simplify it quite like you are trying to, but there is something to the fact that he has more vision than most coaches. He’s not in one little corner of the game. He understands defense, offense and even special teams, which he also coached. Plus, Belichick is an outstanding administrator and evaluator. As a strategist, he is as good as it gets. He marries players to schemes as well as anyone. He prepares a team so soundly. He develops players better than most. Belichick is good to great at everything. That’s why he’s the best coach I’ve ever been around.
Reader Q&A: Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
The Tribune's Bears columnist answers readers' questions about Alshon Jeffery, the new strength program, NFL road trips and Jay Cutler's value
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