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.
Do you think this Bears team is better than the one that lost to the Colts in the Super Bowl?
From Edward M. on Twitter
I think the 2012 Bears certainly have the potential to be better than the 2006 squad mainly because they possess much more explosive weapons on offense. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall are huge upgrades over Rex Grossman and Muhsin Muhammad. In fact, Cutler and Marshall are probably the most talented quarterback/receiver tandem in Bears history, at least since the 1940s. But the reason I used the word "potential" is because the offense needs to develop more consistency, especially with games coming up against the Texans and 49ers, two opponents with dominant defenses. Defensively, the Bears were excellent in 2006, ranking third in points allowed with 255 and leading the NFL with 44 takeaways, the most by the team since recording 45 in 1990. But the current defense is performing unlike any other in franchise history. Through eight games, the Bears have scored a team-record seven defensive touchdowns-the 2006 team had three-and generated 28 takeaways. The unit also ranks second in the NFL in points allowed with 120.
Charles Tillman is obviously playing great. But are Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli worried that he thinks too much about punching out the ball instead of tackling?
From Cisco V. on Twitter
No, Lovie Smith isn't concerned about that. When asked Monday about Charles Tillman possibly missing some tackles because he's too focused on punching the ball out, the Bears coach said: "The risk is minimal. It's about taking the ball away. It's about scoring first. In order to do that you have to take chances. It's also about the team concept; pursue to the football where you have a lot of guys there in case one guy does miss you have that next guy there to at least get the ballcarrier down." Tillman was asked the same question after he forced a career-high four fumbles in Sunday's win over the Titans, and he said: "I guess I have gotten good over the years at punching, and if I don't get the punch or the forced fumble, the majority of the time I get the tackle. It can misfire at times, but I would probably say 90, 95 percent of the time if I miss or I don't get the forced fumble, I am pretty confident that I can get the tackle."
What is the status of Alshon Jeffery?
From Corey B. on Twitter
I know there's been a lot of speculation about when rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery will return from the hand injury that has forced him to miss the last three games, but the Bears have never announced a timetable. Coach Lovie Smith said Monday: "Alshon Jeffery continues to get better. Don't know what his status will be this week, but we're getting closer as each day goes by."