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Recent posts by Dan Parr
Each week throughout the season we'll ask five questions of PFW publisher and Bears expert Hub Arkush to get his analysis on some of the top issues facing the team. This week, Hub cautions against getting overly optimistic about the team's running game and says TE Desmond Clark is being underutilized by Mike Martz.
1. Who do you think is more valuable to the Bears right now: Julius Peppers or Brian Urlacher?
Arkush: It's like asking would you rather have the H or the O in H2O. Without Peppers the Bears' pass rush would be nonexistent and Urlacher would be making that many more plays, but further down the field — and the Bears would be winning less. Without Urlacher, Bears' opponents would be able to scheme completely against Peppers and make him a non-factor, and the Bears would be winning less. With the weakness of the rest of the D-line and the secondary, there's no way the Bears can afford to be without either one.
2. How optimistic should Bears fans be about the team's running game considering that Matt Forté's big day came against the Panthers?
Arkush: Consider that in the first 7:25 of the game against the Panthers, the Bears ran four times for 101 yards. In the last 52:35 they ran 38 times for 117 yards (3.08 avg), which is two-tenths of a yard less than the paltry 3.3 yards per carry they entered the game averaging. The game proved that Matt Forté on occasion can be special, but for the most part the Bears are still a lousy rushing team.
3. Is the plan to use Devin Hester less frequently at receiver in order to keep him fresh for punt returns helpful or harmful to the offense?
Arkush: It's probably a moot point as Hester is so mediocre at receiver you really don't lose anything substituting for him when he's off the field. Clearly his return game has picked up in recent weeks and I suspect the decision is more about acknowledging what he still hasn't learned at the receiver position without calling him out in public than it is about making him a better returner. They're better off with two or three wideouts on the field who know the system and their routes better than Hester.
4. Should Major Wright become a starter as soon as he returns from a hamstring injury or should the Chris Harris-Danieal Manning tandem continue to get the starting nod?
Arkush: The Bears need to get better at safety, but Harris and Manning are functioning well enough now and Wright has done so little — mainly due to injury — that it would be wrong to just hand him a starting position. The Bears have made that mistake before with players like Cedric Benson and Mark Anderson, so you'd like to think they've learned from it and will make Wright earn a spot as opposed to just giving it to him.
5. Desmond Clark has been a healthy scratch from the last two games. Is he being underutilized or do you not see a role for him on this team?
Arkush: Clark is clearly being underutilized and appears to be one of those players who just suffers from the coach's impression of him — Mike Martz? — than from his actual ability. He is a better blocker than any tight end they have except Brandon Manumaleuna on some days, and a better receiver than all but Greg Olsen. When Clark is a healthy scratch, the Bears aren't dressing their three best tight ends.