The Sun-Times’ experts can answer your Bears questions all week on Twitter. Here’s a sampling of Wednesday’s queries sent to @MarkPotash, who responds with more than 140 characters:
@MarkPotash based on what you’ve seen, do you think kyle fuller takes his starting spot back when healthy and performs well?
— Tom Karagiannis (@Thomas_Stephen_) September 14, 2016
I think Kyle Fuller’s spot is unofficially an open competition. It’s likely still Fuller’s spot to lose — he probably starts Monday night against the Eagles if he’s healthy — but his leash is shorter than ever. Jacoby Glenn and rookie Deiondre Hall both were good enough to warrant further looks, and that was without a very threatening pass russ to make their job easier. It will be interesting to see how Fuller responds, knowing that his starting job is as tenuous as it has been in his three years with the Bears.
@MarkPotash I was at the game in Houston and I haven’t watched film, but Bobby Massie looked awful. Was he really as bad as he looked live?
— Bob Jones (@BJones2233) September 14, 2016
The film was no more kind to Bobby Massie than the eye test. Besides being beaten badly by Whitney Mercilus for a sack, Massie struggled throughout the opener. He was ranked 67th and last among offensive tackles by Pro Football Focus. Considering there are only 64 starting tackles each week, that’s pretty low. (Even Bears castoff Jordan Mills, a Bears starter in 2013-14, was 30th with the Bills in Week 1).
Pro Football Weekly’s Hub Arkush gave Massie an F for his Week 1 performance and suggested Massie could be replaced. (Mike Adams is the current back-up.) The Bears’ best hope is that Massie had a rough opener and will be passable as the offensive line gels in the next few weeks. The inexperience of this line working together is exposing every wart right now.
@MarkPotash Will the Bears ever learn to roll Cutler out of the pocket?
— Joe Gniady (@TraderjoeyG) September 14, 2016
The Bears have acknowledged Cutler’s effectiveness on roll-outs, but apparently it’s not as easy to implement in the offense as you might think. Though a roll-out avoids pocket pressure, it’s not a scamble. It takes coordination of the entire offense to make it work and right now the Bears’ offense is hardly in sync. Dowell Loggains, like Adam Gase, has a keen sense of how to maximize Cutler — utilizing him on roll outs figures to be part of that plan eventually.
@MarkPotash what are your expectations for Kevin white this year? When do you think we will see his elite speed on the field?
— jermaine jones (@jermaine611) September 14, 2016
Can I wait until after Week 2 to answer this question? I want to see how well White learns and how quickly the Bears’ coaching staff can teach him. My expectations for White haven’t really changed. He’ll have games like last week, and he’ll have highly productive games (approaching 100 yards or more, with one or more touchdowns) that show you why he was taken seventh overall last year. I expect to see his elite speed on the field in Week 3 at Dallas, sometime in the second quarter, on a third-down play in Bears territory.
@MarkPotash were you surprised Mr. Potash the running back Howard was not able to get on the field? Did the bears give a response?
— tony guzman jr. (@aguzman1969) September 14, 2016
Not only was I surprised, but John Fox seemed a bit surprised as well. “I think just because of the hits on guys, I’d prefer that if a guy has a uniform that he does play in some phase of the game,” Fox said Tuesday when asked why Howard did not play even though he was active. “That’s something we’ll look at and there’ll still be competition for that as we move forward as far as who the actives and inactives are.”
As has been the case for several years, it doesn’t take much to throw a Bears offensive game plan out of whack. A penalty, a turnover, a sack, a miscommunication, an injury — and the best-laid plans often turn to dust. Offense is forever a work-in-progress for the Bears. Even when they were second in the league in points in Marc Trestman’s first season, they weren’t very good at being good, if that makes sense. Overcoming adversity has not been a strength in the Cutler era. Jordan Howard is an intriguing weapon, but the Bears have bigger issues on offense than getting him on the field.
@MarkPotash Does the coaching staff plan to get any of the other RBs involved after Langford handled all but one carry on Sunday?
— Club Cleaver Courier (@SamKraft) September 14, 2016
Yes. Fox pointed to the disparity in plays and time-of-possession as the factor. The Bears had the ball for just 23:41 [third lowest time-of-possession in the league in Week 1] and had 18 running back carries to the Texans’ 36:19 and 31.
“The fact that we only ran it 20 times [was a factor],” Fox said when asked why the running back-by-committee never developed. “The difference was they ran it 35 [times], we ran it 20 — so that time of possession, that usually plays into that.”
@MarkPotash Any thought as to why Kyle Long wasn’t named a captain? If there seems to be a leader on the team it would seem to be him.
— Joe Gniady (@TraderjoeyG) September 14, 2016
Probably because he didn’t campaign for it. And maybe because he didn’t want it. Long is the most likely “face of the franchise” guy on the Bears offense right now but seems more interested in establishing himself on the field and leading by example.
And designated captaincy is overrated in football anyway, at least on the Bears. The players know who to follow — and who not to follow. I’m pretty sure if there’s going to be a big issue that needs to be address, Kyle Long is much more likely to call the room to order than team captain Alshon Jeffery. Long doesn’t need to be at mid-field for the coin-toss to be a “captain” on the Bears — though it was no surprise that Fox chose Long as the Bears’ designated sixth captain for the opener against the Texans. It probably will not be the last time.