David Montgomery
© Quinn Harris | 2019 Sep 29
David Montgomery © Quinn Harris | 2019 Sep 29

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Ask Hub

Bears Insider Hub Arkush answers subscribers Bears/NFL/Life questions in every newsletter:

Folks, before we get started here, I just want to say thank you! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your desire to ask me questions and hear my thoughts, how much I appreciate your help in our collective effort to share this content with folks everywhere and a special thanks for this week’s efforts because we got a much bigger response than usual. A lot of great questions, and enough that we’ll be forced to break this one up into two "Ask Hub" sessions — this one and one that will follow in the next day or two.

THANK YOU!

Long time reader, first time tweeter, “what’s your outlook for the next 4 games? What do the Bears need to do to have a successful run?” I’ll hang up now. Thanks. Submitted by Gabe

Gabe, as you know, things have changed dramatically since the schedule was released last April and while this next – I’m going to say 5 because the Rams are the fifth and that could have huge implications as well – stretch is still daunting, it isn’t quite as scary as we expected it to be when we first learned about it.

While I believe heading into this weekend the Saints are still the best team in the NFC right now, they will be without Drew Brees next Sunday at Soldier Field.

The Chargers — who I picked in the preseason to beat the Saints in the Super Bowl this year — are only 2-3. The Eagles have struggled to get back to 3-2 ... and still have weaknesses. The Lions are the only one of these five clubs that is actually better than we expected it to be but may still be the breather in the group, and the Rams are like the Bears, 3-2, having lost two straight and allowing 85 points over that span.

The good news for the Bears is, five weeks ago, I would have told you they couldn’t win any of these games but the Lions simply by playing elite defense and efficient management of the offense.

Now, based on the way all five of these offenses are playing, they might be able to win them all that way.

The wild cards are the injury to Akiem Hicks, whom I don’t expect to see in any of the next five, and the question of whether there is something wrong with Roquan Smith.

There is enough depth on the defensive front that if the Bears get the elite LB play behind them they are capable of, the defense can still be great.

Contrary to the popular fan narrative that Roquan Smith was “awful” in London, he really wasn’t, he was just as equally below the very high bar he’s set for himself as the rest of the defense on a day when they came out flat and then got kicked in the nads a few plays in by the injury to Hicks.

If Roquan returns to form next week vs. the Saints, along with all of his teammates, they will be very competitive in the next five games.

How many will they win? Before we can answer that we need to know when Trubisky will be back, because he is absolutely a superior option to Chase Daniel, and what changes will be made on offense relative to run scheme, play sequencing and personnel.

Don’t worry, the Kyle Long and Charles Leno questions are coming.

As long as the defense returns to form and Mitch is back latest by the Chargers and hopefully for the Saints, I expect the team to be no worse than 3-2 over the next five with the Saints and Eagles being the toughest putts, although not necessarily the two losses.

I would at the moment expect them to split the Eagles and Rams games because those are the two on the road, but I can’t really pinpoint the two losses without knowing who’s playing when.

Hey Hub is there any chance the Bears sign Benjamin Watson? Submitted by Midway Monster

I’ve been getting this one a lot, and the answer is I seriously doubt it. He has been a great player in the league, but Watson is 38 years old, and while the Pats are the best team in the league, their one obvious hole and real need is at tight end.

If Belichick released him without a long hard look, it’s wishful thinking he’s going to come in to Chicago and be a difference maker.

Beyond that, the man lives in the New England area and he has seven kids whom he does not want to be apart from and has said it would take a special situation for him to play elsewhere, while also indicating he’s not ruling out the Pats calling him again.

There is no certainty he’d even be interested in coming to Chicago.

What do you think should be the first move to help improve the performance of the O-Line? Submitted by Scott Daggert

Scott, fans can scream for the heads of Kyle Long and Charles Leno all they want, but neither is the actual problem with the line.

No, you don’t have to be an expert analyst to watch tape and see those two missing blocks or making mistakes, and they clearly have to play better or be replaced by someone who will play better for the line to improve, but the first question the Bears have to answer is: are they being put in a situation to succeed?

If this was my problem to solve, the first thing I would do is have my analytics folks put together a tape of every run play called so far this year, along with a chart of what each call was, what defense it was looking at, on which plays the defense adjusted before the snap to the look the Bears gave it and what that adjustment was and what the line calls were at the line of scrimmage.

I would then watch that tape a dozen times and each time question was there a better call available for that look, is it possible the call was okay but the protection or blocking scheme should have been altered and did the quarterback and running back make the right decisions if it was an RPO or if the back displayed solid vision and hit the right crease?

Relative to all five linemen with a particular focus on Kyle and Charles, I’d then start watching that same tape again and grade out all five guys’ technique on every single play and identify where corrections can be made and where they just haven’t been good enough physically to get the job done.

We then can start talking about lineup changes or not ,and again I promise you, the specific questions are still coming.

Would Nagy ever get a fullback and switch from zone to power run? Submitted By Matthew Jutton

They had a fullback, Michael Burton, on the roster all year last year, and in Kansas City, Nagy had one of the best in the game in Anthony Sherman.

Nagy doesn’t have an aversion to fullbacks in his offense, he’s just chosen not to go with one right now.

As to the second question. Nagy became a head coach in the NFL and the 2018 Coach of the Year by running an offense that includes a zone read run scheme as opposed to power so it seems unlikely he is going to switch and I can assure you he is unlikely to switch in midseason.

The obvious next or third question is will he have to make the switch in schemes if he ever wants to win another Coach of the Year Award?

The NFL is absolutely a copycat league. We know NFL stands for not for long, and there are signs all over the league this year that the strong trend toward zone-read schemes we’ve seen in recent years may be starting to switch back in places like New England, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Green Bay and others.

And by the way, I’m not saying those four clubs have necessarily redone their schemes so much as they are clearly succeeding with power running games right now.

Hub, since Cody Parkey signed w/Titans, was there any offset language to his Bears’ deal that gives the Bears a break on the big chunk of $$ hit to their cap for releasing him early?

I am 95 percent sure on this one that the Bears get no relief at all.

Because Parkey was a vested veteran when cut, his Bears contract died at that time, as opposed to a player who is claimed on waivers — which Parkey was not exposed to as a vested veteran — and the team claiming him has to honor that contract.

If the player was still due guaranteed money on the original deal, the new team claiming the contract would have to pay that, providing some relief to the old team.

Also while I’m not totally sure if this would be a consideration or not since there is no guaranteed money in his Titans deal, they basically signed him for the six-year veteran minimum of about $820,000 and he will only earn a prorated portion of that for the weeks he’s on the team.

The $4.06 million cap hit the Bears are taking this year and $1.125 cap hit they will take next year is all from the $9 million they guaranteed Parkey.

What happened to the other bears pass catchers? I know there were concerns about Wims, Ridley getting separation in the NFL, is this playing out in games? Submitted by Cee J.

Cee J. I don’t think anything has “happened to them,” it’s just early and because of the talent in front of them we haven’t seen Ridley at all and the little bit we’ve seen of Wims recently has actually been very promising.

I would expect we’ll see more of Wims going forward — even when Taylor Gabriel returns from his concussion — but this is most likely a wait-and-learn year for Ridley unless there are more injuries in front of him, or other receivers are unable to get the job done even if the run game and quarterback play improve.

The Bears called the Giants for Eli? Submitted by J.C.

Listened to you on the Score this afternoon. Good insight on Kaepernick. Submitted by Ro Perry

I’d be shocked if they had J.C. and I’m not sure why they would. Yes, Eli would be a big step up from Daniel or Bray, but even with his tremendous experience it would take him weeks to learn the Bears playbook and all the new terminology and it’s just way too early to give up on Trubisky, especially for a guy who — even if he did come in and play — would be a longshot to do it again next year at 39.

The only veteran QB signing available to them right now that would be a clear upgrade over where they’re at right now is Colin Kaepernick — and it appears they’re not willing to make the move.

Whether that’s for football reasons or they just don’t have the stones for it, I don’t know.

And please guys, that’s not an indictment of the Bears and I couldn’t care less whether this is going to incite the Trumpkins out there or not.

On the political side, whether I agree with your beliefs or not, I have nothing but the utmost respect for your right to have them, but there should be absolutely nothing political about the Kaepernick situation.

He is an impressive young man who expressed the rights to free speech and actions he is guaranteed by our constitution, he did it in a reasonable way that harmed no one and no thing, he clearly meant no disrespect to anyone other than those who are violating each of our individual rights as Americans and if you dispute his rights to do what he did free from any recriminations, then you obviously understand our constitution about as well as our president does, and you’re probably the one who may be less deserving of those rights than Kaepernick.

From the football perspective, Kaepernick is clearly better than at least eight starting quarterbacks right now, period, and he’s also better than Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Mitch Trubisky, Jameis Winston, Kyle Allen and Daniel Jones, but you wouldn’t choose him today over any of them because all of their teams acquired those players as their quarterbacks of the future and all are still somewhere in their development phases — which you wouldn’t want to quit on today.

However, Kaepernick is also clearly light years better than any backup quarterback in the league right now — with the possible exception, I suppose, of Teddy Bridgewater, although I do need to see more there — so the fact that he doesn’t currently have a job in the league is one of the great injustices in all of sports.

I’m not sure how any NFL owner looks himself in the mirror right now knowing that young man is out of work.

As to a potential fit with the Bears is there a single fan out there who doesn’t agree he’s better than Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray?

I am nowhere near ready to give up on Mitch Trubisky yet! I can’t say that strongly enough.

But I also see no reason he and Kaepernick couldn’t co-exist, compliment each other and make the team overall that much stronger.

If the answer is it would be too much for Mitch’s psyche to handle – which I don’t believe for a second – then Trubisky isn’t going to make it anyway.

If this Bears team does lose more games with Daniel or Bray at quarterback while Kaepernick sits at home begging for a chance, I don’t really see any way Bears brass can defend that knowing how close the rest of their roster is right now.

— Hub Arkush