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.
Why did the Bears move Cody Whitehair back to center and James Daniels to left guard? Was Daniels not playing up to par?
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
The Bears didn’t make the switch because they were unhappy with how James Daniels was performing at center. They flip-flopped the two players primarily so that they would no longer have two inexperienced players in Daniels and right guard Rashaad Coward lining up next to each other. Both are now sandwiched by two veterans with Daniels between left tackle Charles Leno Jr. and Cody Whitehair and Coward in between Whitehair and right tackle Bobby Massie. This is no knock on Daniels, but I think having an experienced pro in Whitehair making the pass protection calls will also benefit the offense, especially quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The only negative that I see is the issues that Whitehair had with some shotgun snaps last Sunday against the Lions. He had four low ones by my count, including a couple that dribbled on the ground. Fortunately, Trubisky did an excellent job of fielding them and none of the low snaps resulted in turnovers and negative plays. Moving forward, I’m confident that Whitehair will correct the problem as he did last season. Before last week, he hadn’t snapped the ball in the shotgun since the Pro Bowl last January.
I see that Nick Williams has jumped ahead of Khalil Mack as the Bears’ sack leader. When was the last time Mack did not lead the team he was playing on in sacks?
Star outside linebacker Khalil Mack has led his team in sacks in four of his first five NFL seasons. The only time he didn’t do so was in 2014 when he was a rookie on the Raiders. Mack recorded four sacks, one fewer than Justin Tuck’s five. Mack then topped Oakland with 15.0 sacks in 2015 when he was named NFL defensive players of the year, 11.0 in 2016 and 10.5 in 2017. Mack led the Bears with 12.5 sacks in his first season in Chicago last year and I believe he will do so again this season, even though he currently trails defensive tackle Nick Williams 6.0-5.5.
I loved seeing Ben Braunecker make that diving touchdown catch against the Lions. I think it really sparked the Bears. Do you think he’ll get more opportunities on offense in future games?
It was certainly a great catch by Ben Braunecker as well as a perfect throw by Trubisky. With the tight end position as a whole underperforming this season and injuries now affecting both Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen, it appears pretty likely that Braunecker will continue to get opportunities to play on offense moving forward. Burton (calf) and Shaheen (foot) both sat out practice Thursday, by the way. Braunecker caught the ball very well in training camp and hopefully he can continue to give the offense a boost in future games like he did against the Lions.