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 Charles Tillman is the best cornerback in Bears history?
Charles Tillman is certainly the best cornerback I've seen since I started following the Bears in the mid-1970s. He possesses all of the ideal attributes to excel at the position in terms of lockdown coverage, ball skills, size, strength and an incredible knack to force fumbles. One thing that doesn't get talked about a whole lot is his work ethic. More times than not he's one of the last players to leave the practice field. Normally, some of the younger players who haven't gotten a lot of reps stay on the field after practice to hone their skills, but Peanut is usually right there with them. And that says a lot to me about what type of player and person he is.
It's hard not to be pleased with the Bears' 5-1 start. However, there is room for improvement on special teams. We all know that in years past coach Dave Toub's unit has consistently ranked near the top of the NFL. But with a blocked Robbie Gould field goal, a Packers fake field goal for a touchdown and what seem to be more penalties than usual, where is the unit ranked this season?
Fort Myers, Florida
Improving on special teams, especially in the return game, has been a main focus the past few weeks. The Bears enter Week 8 ranked 15th in the NFL in special teams based on ratings comprised of 22 different statistical categories. The Bears have ranked near the top of the league the past six years as you mentioned, finishing first in 2006 and 2007, third in 2011, fourth in 2010, sixth in 2009 and eighth in 2008. Areas they need to improve this season include punt return average (ranked 25th), gross punt average (28th), punts inside-the-20 (tied for 28th) and penalties (tied for 25th).
Why did the Bears call three straight passes from the Lions' 1-yard line? Forgive the pun, but I thought that one-yard plunges were Michael Bush's "forte."
The Bears were actually at the Lions' 3-yard line early in the third quarter. I heard Jay Cutler address your question during his radio show on ESPN 1000 Tuesday. He said he had run/pass options on all three plays and called pass plays based on how the Lions defense was aligned. Cutler said he didn't think running plays would have worked in those situations because of those looks.