The Sun-Times’ experts can answer your Bears questions all week on Twitter. Here’s a sampling of Monday’s queries sent to @adamjahns, who responds with more than 140 characters:
A: The Bears would seemingly have to win out if that’s going to happen. And although the Bears’ schedule takes an easier turn after Thanksgiving night against the Packers, a playoff appearance has to be considered a pipe dream right now.
I’ll say this: though. This team isn’t short on belief. Several players made unsolicited comments about not giving up after losing to the Broncos. The playoffs are a long shot, but coach John Fox has them buying in.
@adamjahns Gaston might be best defensive player on team.Why is team so high on Shea ?— Tim Baker (@Schefffan1) November 23, 2015
A: That’s a stretch regarding Gaston, who was just on the Packers’ practice squad. But Gaston has been impressive the last two weeks and solidified his place in the defensive line’s rotation. He showed off his strength with a bull rush straight through Broncos guard Evan Mathis.
As for McClellin, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio strongly believes in his skill set, and that’s the best place to start for answers. Fangio has coached Hall of Fame and Pro Bowl linebackers at various stops throughout his long career. McClellin hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t been distinctly bad, either. He has a lot of responsibilities, starting with the calls, and the defense is definitely better with him than without.
@adamjahns Christian Jones was brutal yesterday. How big of a priority will ILB be next season?— Mr. Conrad (@DarrylConrad) November 23, 2015
A: Jones’ struggles have stood out over the past few weeks. It has a reached a point to where Fangio has featured linebacker Jonathan Anderson, an undrafted rookie from Texas Christian, in his nickel defense.
In other words, yes, inside linebacker will be a priority for the Bears this offseason.
McClellin (see previous question) seemingly has earned a spot for the 2016 season, but the spot next to him is up for grabs. Jones could recover and produce down the stretch and Anderson’s rise may continue, but it would serve the Bears best to add competition at inside linebacker, even for McClellin.
A: Good question. A week earlier, the Bears held Rams rookie sensation Todd Gurley to 45 yards on 12 carries. The Broncos were averaging 86 rushing yards per game heading into Week 11, and they went off for 170 at Soldier Field, including 102 from Ronnie Hillman.
There are factors to consider. The Broncos had to commit to the run to establish a play-action game for quarterback Brock Osweiler. The Broncos also have better receivers than the Rams, so loading the box wasn’t a smart option. On an individual level, the Bears also struggled to tackle.
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