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 says he's not ready to call the Bears' defense an elite unit quite yet. He also says that rookie ORT J'Marcus Webb is not the weak link on the offensive line.
1. Some observers have been very critical of the Dolphins' game plan on offense Thursday night. Did head coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Dan Henning do the Bears a favor by running the ball only 13 times with Tyler Thigpen at quarterback?
Arkush: There is no question the Dolphins played right into the Bears' hands, but you do have to acknowledge the Bears brought the NFL's No. 2 run "D" to town. When the running game is your bread and butter and you have a third-stringer with a 1-10 record starting at quarterback, getting away from what you do well and asking the quarterback to go win you the game is pretty dumb.
2. I don't think anyone expected the Bears' defense to rank first in points allowed per game this late into the season. Does this group have the makings of an elite defense?
Arkush: Let's see where they're at in a few weeks. They're a very good defense, but elite? Look at who they've played, who's ahead on the schedule and the people they have in the secondary and alongside Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije on the D-line. They're a playoff team and a quality playoff "D," but they still haven't shown enough to suggest they can win a playoff game.
3. Should Rod Marinelli be considered for Assistant Coach of the Year if the "D" keeps this up?
Arkush: Marinelli should absolutely be considered for awards because he's doing it with three stars and a bunch of guys, but the question that will continue to nag is how much of the coaching is Marinelli and how much is Lovie Smith. Ron Rivera is gone and Bob Babich is the ultimate scapegoat because Lovie couldn't let go of the reins, so why would we believe he has now?
4. Is ORT J'Marcus Webb the weakest link on the offensive line?
Arkush: No, he was exposed Thursday night, but the left side with Frank Omiyale and Chris Williams next to each other is still the danger zone. Webb is just young and stepping way up in class. There will be games like last night, but he's physically gifted enough to play at a very high level and actually the only one on that line that I see doing that two or three years from now. Be very attentive to and very wary of what the Eagles will probably do to that left side next week.
5. Chester Taylor has been more involved on offense over the past three games, but he's only gaining 1.75 yards per carry since Week Nine. How much of a concern should his lack of production be for the Bears?
Arkush: Taylor's performance vs. the Dolphins has to be very disconcerting when you see how effective Matt Forté was in the exact same game. Taylor may not have the wear on the tires since he's been a career backup, but 31-year-old running backs tend to be exactly that come this time of the year. Don't be stunned to see Kahlil Bell get a chance to dress for a change some time in the next few weeks.