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Five questions with PFW publisher Hub Arkush

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Jan. 13, 2011 @ 12:16 p.m. ET
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 explains why there is no reason to give Lovie Smith a contract extension this offseason and he also grades the job done by GM Jerry Angelo in the past year.

1. GM Jerry Angelo announced last week that he will not be retiring after the season. What's your evaluation of the job he has done in the past year?

Arkush: I think you have to give Jerry a "B" for the 2010 season. Obviously the acquisition of Julius Peppers has been a home run and Tim Jennings has turned out to be a solid find as well. However Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna were expensive mistakes, and the decision to keep Tommie Harris while cutting Alex Brown was terrible. Draft-wise, 2010 could be looking like another lost year if not for J'Marcus Webb popping up in the seventh round. Webb has great promise and might even project on the left side at some point, which is a steal where they found him. Unfortunately Dan LeFevour was another wasted pick and Major Wright, Corey Wootton and Joshua Moore have all looked pretty much like just guys filling roster spots.

2. Do you think Lovie Smith deserves a contract extension?

Arkush: No! I think Lovie's had a fine year and it's quite possible he has a bright future with the Bears. But his past three seasons were all big disappointments and even this year some of his best chicken salad has been made out of chicken droppings in spite of Lovie rather than because of him. Bottom line is he's already under contract for next year and will be one of the six or seven highest-paid coaches in the league. What is the benefit to extending him? Does anyone think he's going to take a pay cut? Even if he has another good year in 2011, does anyone think another NFL club will outbid the Bears for him? There is absolutely no reason to extend Lovie's contract right now unless Ted Phillips is allowed to do it as a form of stroking his own ego.

3. The Seahawks are 10-point underdogs heading into Sunday's game — are the Bears getting too much respect or the right amount?

Arkush: I'd say the number is just about right. If both teams play their best games, the Bears should win by 10-14 points. I don't see any way the Seahawks can win this game without getting some help from the Bears. The bottom line is this is the first time in the history of the NFL a team has had a chance to get to a conference title game by going through a sub-.500 team in the playoffs. If the Bears can't beat the ’Hawks by 10 points, at home, with a week off, it's possible neither team belongs in the playoffs.

4. What matchup in this game intrigues you the most?

Arkush: DEs Raheem Brock and Chris Clemons vs. OTs Frank Omiyale and J'Marcus Webb. With 20 sacks between them, if the two Seattle DEs can get Jay Cutler out of his rhythm, history practically guarantees he will make some big mistakes and this game could be closer than it should be. It's fairly easy for the Bears to give some help to one tackle or the other, but how will they help both? It's also worth noting 4½ of Seattle's six sacks in the last meeting came from DBs. Additionally, I'm intrigued by RBs Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett vs. the Bears' run "D," which has been excellent all year, but still scares me on occasion. If QB Matt Hasselbeck can back the Bears' safeties out of the box early, this could be a problem.

5. Do you expect Chicago's pass protection to be better this time around than the six-sack performance it allowed on Oct. 17 against Seattle?

Arkush: The Bears showed flashes of improvement the second half of the season after the first game against the Seahawks, but it was never consistent. If Seattle comes in with the same game plan and same blitzes, I suspect the Bears' O-line will fare better. But why would Seattle do that? I'd look for Seattle to do a lot of flipping and moving Clemons and Brock around. The Seahawks also could try and bring more pressure up the middle this time as opposed to coming off the edges because that will also help bottle up Matt Forté. If the Bears don't figure it out early, it could be just as big of a problem again this time.

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