This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns will take on the Chicago Bears. To help preview this week's game, I reached out to Dane Noble from Windy City Gridiron and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: "I'm sure this question has been much-debated by Bears fans, but let us known in as concise a way as possible: is it the right move for Marc Trestman to start Jay Cutler this week, given the success that Josh McCown has had? Also, roughly what percentage of fans would you say favor the Bears starting Cutler over McCown?"
Dane: "First and foremost, I think Josh McCown has done a great job stepping while Cutler has been hurt. For years and years, the Chicago Bears couldn't even figure out their 1st string QB situation, much less their 2nd. McCown has been everything a team could want out of a backup. With that said, he is a backup for a reason.
In my opinion, and it's just one opinion out of millions, it is absolutely the right move to let the starting QB, who is superior in every phase of the game, back into the starting lineup now that he is ready to go. Jay Cutler was having the best season of his career before he got hurt, and there is literally zero reason for there to be any sort of controversy over this. Now, what percentage of Bears fans would agree with me? I'd like to think the majority, but the Internet attracts a very peculiar type of football fan, so who knows.
The real question in my mind regarding Cutler has nothing to do with this season, but 2014. If they don't work out a long-term deal, the Bears will either have to tag him, which would pay him like a top-5 QB, or let him hit the market. Not a good situation to be in for either party, but my guess is that they sign him to a long-term deal."
Chris: "Looking at the stats, I was puzzled to see that wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has 15 rushing attempts on the season. Do the Bears line him up in the backfield, or are all of those rushing attempts via an end around or reverse type of play?"
Dane: "Mainly reverses...it's good to try and get your play-makers the football in space, but to be honest, I think they're just setting something up for later in the year. I could be wrong, but it's something they've been running at times in the game where it didn't always make sense. It's almost like they were just getting it out there on film every game just so they could try and capitalize later in the season."
Chris: "The Browns have faced three straight teams with bad run defenses: Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, and New England. I was astonished to see the Bears' run defense was ranked way worse than all of those teams, yielding 5.15 yards per carry! Was the run defense expected to be so horrid heading into the season?"
Dane: "Yeah, we're pretty awful with run defense. It wasn't expected at the start of the season, because half our defense, namely All-Pro DT Henry Melton, wasn't lost for the season yet. The very week after Melton went down, his backup, Nate Collins, was lost with the very same injury (ACL). The 3-technique defensive tackle is the gas pedal of this defense, and then you add in all of the other injuries (Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, DJ WIlliams, etc.), and you've got an unfortunate situation.
Do the Browns have a running back? If so, they should run him 35-40 times and watch him chew up time in space. Maybe you guys want to give your running backs a break this week and let them rest...if so, no worries! Just plug in your backup long-snapper or Gatorade mixologist and tell them to run forward."
Chris: "Heading into Week 15, if you were going to spend $1,000 out of your own pocket to bet on who would win the NFC North, would you pick Chicago, Detroit, or Green Bay?"
Dane: "You are a cruel, cruel man. Packers, but screw you for making me go there. "
Chris: "Tell us about a player on the Bears who Browns fans might not be aware of, but who could have a big impact for Chicago on gameday."
Dane: "By this point in the year, most of our under-the-radar guys have gotten plenty of national attention, so I'll have to dig deep and pull out TE Dante Rosario. Why? Despite having one catch all season long, that one catch came last week against the Cowboys, and was a very athletic TD catch at that. Look for the Bears to give him a few more snaps this week as a reward...maybe he can turn some more heads?"
Thanks again to Dane for taking the time to answer my questions.