Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
How many times have the Bears started a season 5-1 or better and how have they fared?
Oak Park, Illinois
The Bears have now started eight seasons 5-1 or better since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970. They've won a division championship each of the previous seven times, finishing 15-1 in 1985, 14-2 in 1986, 11-4 in 1987, 12-4 in 1988, 11-5 in 1990, 13-3 in 2001 and 13-3 in 2006. The last time the Bears were off to this good of a start was in 2006 when they opened 6-0 en route to an NFC championship. At 5-1, the Bears have the second best record in the NFC behind the Falcons (6-0).
I was wondering why the Bears rotated in Earl Bennett and Eric Weems on punt and kickoff returns for Devin Hester in Monday night's game against the Lions.
Bears coach Lovie Smith said after the game that the plan was to have Devin Hester share the workload on special teams because he was going to have an expanded role on offense due to the absence of injured rookie Alshon Jeffery. While Hester returned one punt for five yards and called two fair catches, Earl Bennett had one punt return for two yards and Eric Weems called one fair catch. Weems also had a 27-yard kickoff return. Said Smith: "We have good returners, The plan was to [use others in addition to Hester]. Devin's workload was going to increase a little bit on the offensive side. We have been wanting to get Eric Weems a few returns. So it was just a base part of our game plan going in."
Why did the Bears use Kelvin Hayden instead of D.J. Moore as their nickel back at times during Monday night's win over the Lions?
With Charles Tillman following Calvin Johnson all over the field and Johnson occasionally lining up in the slot, it appeared to me that the Bears wanted to have a more experienced natural cornerback in the game in those situations to play man-to-man against outside receivers, and that's why Kelvin Hayden got some reps. Of course, D.J. Moore still got plenty of playing time and intercepted a key pass late in the game on fourth-and-goal from the three-yard line.