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.
What is the status of Michael Bush? I thought he was a very good acquisition; however it never seemed that the Bears were able to effectively work him into the offense. He seemed underutilized.
The free agent contract that Michael Bush signed with the Bears last March runs through the 2015 season. I thought Bush had a fairly productive first season in Chicago. He rushed for 411 yards on 114 carries, tied Matt Forte for the team lead with five rushing touchdowns, and converted 7 of 9 opportunities on third-and-one, a 77.8 percent success rate. Plus Bush missed the final three games with a rib injury. It's interesting to note that the Bears' backup running back in 2011, Marion Barber, had the same exact number of carries (114) while producing 11 more yards. I wouldn't say that Bush was underutilized. Compared to other second-string running backs in the NFL, Bush ranked 10th in yards and had the fifth most carries, trailing only the Broncos' Knowshon Moreno (138), the Packers' Alex Green (135), the Eagles' Bryce Brown (115) and the Bills' Fred Jackson (115).
Hearing about Johnny Knox's forced retirement breaks my heart. I have enjoyed watching him the last few years and he will be missed. My buddy thinks that the Bears drafted Johnny with a compensatory pick a few years ago. Is that true?
No, the Bears did not use a compensatory pick to draft Johnny Knox. They actually selected him in 2009 with a fifth-round choice they had obtained from the Broncos in the Jay Cutler trade.
Where do the Bears rank in strength of schedule heading into the 2013 season?
The Bears are right in the middle of the pack, ranking 16th in the NFL in strength of schedule. (Their 2013 opponents went 128-127-1 in 2012). The Lions have the second-most difficult schedule, while the Packers are sixth and the Vikings are 10th. In addition to home-and-away games between division opponents, the four NFC North teams will all play the entire NFC East and AFC North. In the two games against opponents that finished in the same place in the standings, the Bears will face the Saints and Rams; the Packers will play the Falcons and 49ers; the Vikings will face the Panthers and Seahawks; and the Lions will face the Buccaneers and Cardinals.