By Dan Pompei, Tribune reporter
5:22 PM EST, January 24, 2013
I am sure you've getting this question a lot lately, but, if Manti Te'o falls to the Bears in the first round of the draft, should they make him Brian Urlacher's heir apparent? -- Donald Tursman, Los Angeles
If you are asking if I would eliminate Te'o from consideration because of his girlfriend hoax, the answer is absolutely not. The Bears, and every other team, have a lot of investigating to do before they can feel comfortable with Te'o. But my guess is eventually they will feel comfortable enough to give him a first-round grade, which his play certainly warrants. There is risk with virtually every draft pick, it's just a matter of what kind of risk and how much risk. The risk with Te'o either is that you are drafting someone who is completely gullible or someone who is a bit of a con artist, or maybe a little of both. I think in the end, most teams will be able to live with Te'o. And I think he would be a fine heir apparent to Urlacher.
As big of a need as we have for an O lineman, what if, by some quirk of fate, Tyler Eifert was available at No. 20. Do we automatically grab him? -- Bill Pazoles, Oak Forest
If Eifert were available, Bears would have to strongly consider it. I would say it probably depends which offensive tackles or middle linebackers are still on the board. If an offensive tackle with a superior or similar grade is there, he's the pick. If a middle linebacker with a superior grade is there, he would be the pick. Eifert, or Stanford's Zach Ertz, would be fine choices. But the other two positions are more vital to the success of the Bears.
Dan, If you were Phil Emery, (you look like a younger version), would you have interviewed that many candidates? Do you think he knew going in who he preferred? -- Jon, Livonia, Mich.
Thanks for the compliment, Jon. I would have interviewed as many candidates as I was intrigued with. And that probably would have been a pretty big number. I have heard Emery criticized for interviewing so many, but I still don't see what the downside was. Being too prepared? Having too much information? Being able to compare too many people? People and companies who specialize in hiring practices often advocate casting wide nets for key positions. And they should, in my opinion. I can assure you Emery did not have his mind made up "going in," or when Jimmy Johnson came out with his famous tweet, or until shortly before Brad Biggs broke the story that Marc Trestman was the man.
Why did Phil Emery interview Dave Toub for the head-coaching job when he knew all along that he would hiring an offensive guru? If he chose not to interview Toub, we might still have the best special teams coordinator in the NFL. -- Martin Ritt, Decatur
My guess is Emery would take offense to your question. He is a very sincere man. And a very thoughtful man. He was not interviewing anyone for show, or doing anyone favors. He was interviewing candidates because he thought they were legitimate, and he wanted to hear what they had to say. Was his preference that he hire an offensive-minded coach? I would say so. But that doesn't mean he was closing his mind to the possibility of doing it another way if the interviews led him in that direction.
Dan, I understand Phil Emery letting Dave Toub interview with other teams once he was eliminated from head-coach consideration. I don't understand letting him leave before announcing the new head coach, or finding out if Trestman might want to keep Toub. Toub is a proven, top-five coach in an area Bears fans know often decides games. The Bears need to get younger, and have only five draft picks this year. At the very least, shouldn't Emery have gotten some kind of compensation, even if just a seventh-round pick, for such a valuable asset? Why are the Bears helping K.C.? -- Mark Early, Arlington, Va.
Toub did not want to stay in Chicago after being passed over for the head-coaching job. Emery was doing Toub a favor by letting him leave. But he also was protecting the best interests of the organization. Would you really want to force someone to work for you when he didn't want to and risk having a disgruntled employee? Getting compensation from the Chiefs was not an option. The NFL's Anti-Tampering Policy for 2012 says this about trade compensation: "Except for Head Coaches and High-Level Club Employees (club presidents, general managers, and persons with equivalent responsibility and authority), clubs are not permitted to exchange draft choices or cash for the release of individuals who are under contract to another organization."
OK, it's a well-known fact that Kellen Davis didn't live up to Da Bears' expectations after receiving his two-year contract. When I think of what Tim Jennings did during the offseason to hone his catching skills working with the jugs machine got me thinking: Why not have Davis and even Matt Spaeth do the same? -- Chuck Durante, Guilin, China
Every player whose job depends on catching the ball spends a lot of time on the jugs machine. Jennings put in some overtime last year. I'm not so sure the jugs machine work is what turned Jennings into a ballhawk. I think he changed his mentality. His emphasis became going after the football instead of making the tackle. And he rededicated himself. Jennings' transformation was very unusual. You can't expect other players to duplicate what he did. All that being said, Davis could use all the jugs work he can get. More jugs work wouldn't guarantee he will be a better receiver, however.
I like the choice for coach, but I just saw the Bears' schedule for next year and it is very tough. It's going to be an accomplishment to be 8-8. The playoffs won't likely be coming for a while, even if Mr. Trestman is a genius. Your thoughts? -- Felipe Marks, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The schedule is always tough. And you can't sit here in January and judge how good opponents will be in the fall. A lot will change between now and then. The Bears won 10 games last year. They easily could have won 12. I think a lot of teams that have to play the Bears are looking at the Bears as a team they could have trouble beating.
Does Mr. Trestman embrace Mr. Cutler, or will the new head coach try to find his own franchise QB after Cutler's contract is up? -- I'mDanToo, Minocqua, Wis.
Trestman would be foolish not to do everything within his power to make it work with Cutler. He has an opportunity to win now with an upper-echelon talent. Trestman probably never will work with a more talented quarterback for the rest of his career. The issue isn't whether Trestman will embrace Cutler. It's whether Cutler will embrace Trestman. If he doesn't, I believe the Bears will have a new quarterback in 2014.
I think the Bears should find a QB in free agency to push Jay Cutler from the bench. Someone he believes might replace him. I believe that Matt Flynn should be that guy. What are the chances the Bears make a run at Matt in free agency? -- Darrel, Missoula, Mont.
I don't believe Flynn will be available except through trade. It is possible the Seahawks will cut him, but he is under contract for next year. The only way I would make a run at someone like Flynn is if I thought he could be the eventual starter. Flynn's presence would create a lot of attention and tension, and it might not serve the team well. The Bears probably would be best served by bringing back Jason Campbell. I think that's probably what they will do, or try to do.
Why would the Bears hire a quarterbacks coach that failed in New York? -- John Reed, Aurora
Is there a quarterbacks coach who could have not failed in New York? Or is there a quarterbacks coach who has been around for any period of time who has not "failed" somewhere? You can't judge a position coach by how his player or players perform in relation to other players in the league. You have to judge them based on how those players perform in relation to their abilities, taking into account their circumstances. Matt Cavanaugh has been around a long time. He wouldn't have lasted 16 years as an NFL assistant if he were a clown. Cavanaugh is known as a coach who pushes quarterbacks hard and gets them to pay attention to details.
If the Bears sign or draft a left tackle, could J'Marcus Webb be moved to guard? It seems to me that he doesn't have the quickness to play outside but he could be a good run-blocker with his size. -- Dave Andre, Berwyn
Can't see that, Dave. Webb has prototypical size for a tackle. His arms are too long for guard. And he sometimes doesn't bend as well as he should and loses leverage. If Webb isn't a tackle, he isn't anything.
Out of curiousity, how many of the Bears' offensive linemen could start on other teams? Would any of them rank in the top 10-15 at their respective positions? -- email@example.com
Lance Louis could start on a lot of teams and would, in my opinion, rank in the top 10-to-15 right guards in the league. Roberto Garza could start on a number of teams. On a good day, J'Marcus Webb could start on a number of teams. The problem is he doesn't always have a good day. If Gabe Carimi can get his strength and confidence back, he can start on a number of teams. The Bears' line might not be quite as bleak as it appears. But it still needs some upgrades.
Do you see any of the three best free agent tackles -- Jake Long, Ryan Clady, Brendan Albert -- hitting free agency without their club placing the franchise tag on them? Should the Bears pursue one of these three? -- Alex Navarro, El Paso, Tex.
Long has the best chance of hitting free agency. Clady has virtually no chance. Albert probably won't become a free agent, but his situation is a little hard to read because the Chiefs have a new general manager and head coach. But it would be foolish to let a good left tackle walk. I would say the Bears should pursue Long if they could get him at a reasonable price. And they probably can't. Long has not played up to his reputation the last couple of years, which explains why the Dolphins would consider allowing him to leave.