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Chalk Talk

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Chalk Talk: Who is most improved Bears player?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

Who do you think is the most improved Bears player so far this season?
Bill T.
Pekin, Illinois

The first player that comes to my mind is left guard James Daniels. He appears to be bigger and stronger, especially in the lower body, and he's playing at a Pro Bowl level through the first three games of the season. He's really excelled as a run blocker. Go back and watch David Montgomery's 11-yard run late in last Sunday's comeback win over the Falcons that enabled the Bears to run out the clock. Pulling from left to right before turning upfield with a full head of steam, Daniels blasted one defender and then blocked another one on the second level. Here's what offensive line coach Juan Castillo said about that play: "That run describes who James Daniels is. You've seen him be really physical in other games and clean up some guys and everything, but that's who James Daniels is. He's a competitor. He loves the game. He wants to be the best."

I know that Nick Foles has experience with Matt Nagy and his offense, but I imagine that there are some nuances in the playbook that are unique to the Bears. How comfortable do you think Foles is with the system?
Ross S.
Indiana

You are correct about the slight differences with the Bears offense and other similar systems that Nick Foles has operated with the Eagles and Chiefs, especially from a terminology standpoint. And although Matt Nagy worked with Foles in Philadelphia and Kansas City, this is the first time that the Bears coach has called plays with Foles at quarterback. In terms of Foles' grasp of the playbook, I think it's strong and will continue to grow as the season progresses. Here's what Foles said Wednesday when I asked him about his grasp of the offense: "I feel really comfortable. Even last game [against the Falcons], I felt more of myself when I stepped into that situation just playing and getting to just do things that I like to do in a chaotic situation. I'm definitely a lot more comfortable than I was. This week will be great to go out there and practice and get a preparation week and go through the plays and study the plays and watch practice after practice and fine-tune everything. I'm hoping by the time it's game-time we've grown even more."

When was the last time a Bears quarterback came off the bench to throw touchdown passes in the third game of the season also wearing No. 9?
John G.
Stone Park, Illinois

Well played, John. It's obvious that you know the answer to that question, but let's relive one of the great moments in Bears history anyway. In the third game of the 1985 season, a Thursday night game in Minnesota, Jim McMahon—wearing No. 9 as you mentioned—came off the bench with the Bears trailing 17-9 midway through the third quarter and threw three touchdown passes en route to a magical 33-24 win. McMahon's first two TDs came on his first two passes, resulting in scores of 70 yards to Willie Gault and 25 yards to Dennis McKinnon. McMahon's heroics came after he had spent a couple of days in the hospital being treated for a back injury the week of the game.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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