10 Bears questions: on screens, fight songs and Jay Cutler’s time
The Bears audibled from their usual practice soundtrack of hard rock, southern rap and country pop Friday for a more fabled tune: “Bear Down, Chicago Bears.”
“I was mastering the words and lyrics,” coach John Fox joked.
While we wonder how often the Bears will hear the song played after scoring Monday, here are 10 more questions for the team:
1. How ’bout a screen?
A well-timed screen could have worked wonders Sunday — not just to neutralize the Texans’ pass rush, but to get the ball in Kevin White’s hands without him having to think much in his debut.
Fox, though, said the team’s screen game “needs work”— in part because the offensive line had just begun working together as a unit. Timing is essential to block a screen — linemen release at the same time to hunt down a tackler at the next level.
“As they gain some comfortability with each other, they’ll be able to get those off,” quarterback Jay Cutler said Friday. “And we should be better in that area.”
2. How familiar will the Eagles look?
Very. Former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz brought his Wide 9 defense — named for edge rushers who line up two body lengths outside the tackle — to the Eagles.
“He hasn’t changed much over the years,” Cutler said of the Eagles’ first-year coordinator. “That’s not to say it’s not a good defense, because it is. He’s a really smart defensive coordinator. He knows the strengths and weaknesses in the defenses, and they play accordingly.”
3. Remember what we warned you about the injury report?
We suspected Fox would use the NFL’s new injury report language — in which “questionable” now means there’s a chance someone won’t play — to his advantage.
He did: the Bears had a league-high nine players on the list; the Texans had zero.
The Bears got healthier this week: cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee) was the only Bears player to be limited Friday.
4. Is Jon Dorenbos used to prime time, or what?
The Eagles long snapper’s run on “America’s Got Talent” ended Wednesday night, when he finished third in NBC’s talent show and short of the $1 million prize.
Dorenbos, a magician, did card tricks and sleight-of-hand on the show. As a boy in foster caree, he was drawn to magic as a way to cope with his emotions after the unthinkable happened: his father killed his mother.
5. Why doesn’t Cutler do endorsement deals?
“I think you all know my salary,” he said. “I get paid enough to play football and with kids and everything else, you gotta factor that in. Your free time is your free time. You can’t get any more free time. You can’t buy it. You can’t find it on the street. So my time, I take that seriously and I use it the way I use it.”
6. Why should I get to Soldier Field early?
As they did during the exhibition season, fans entering Soldier Field will have to pass through a metal detector. Clear bags that don’t exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches will be allowed, as will one-gallon freezer bags and small clutch purses the size of a hand. Medical exceptions will be made at specific gates.
7. Wanna bet?
Maybe you shouldn’t on the Bears. Monday night will mark only the third time the team has been favored since the start of the 2015 season. The Bears lost both those games — against the spread and straight-up — when the Redskins and 49ers left Soldier Field with a win.
8. Will Alshon match Ditka?
With his next 100-yard game, Alshon Jeffery will tie Mike Ditka for fourth place on the Bears’ all-time list with 14 such occasions. Johnny Morris and Brandon Marshall have 15. Jeffery could catch leader Harlon Hill, who has 19, this year. Hill did it in 89 games; Jeffery has played 52.
9. Was Leonard Floyd ready to start?
The Bears’ rookie was told two days before the Texans game that he’d start his first NFL game. He said the game didn’t feel too different than the exhibition, but that his first sack was special.
“It felt good,” he said. “I need more. I want to get more.”
10. Home sweet home?
Monday will mark the 44th game between the Bears and Eagles, dating 1933. They’ve been held at 10 different stadiums. Count ’em: Baker Bowl, Municipal Stadium, Shibe Park, Veterans Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia; the campuses of Northwestern, Penn and Illinois; Wrigley Field and Soldier Field.