Bears may be good—but lucky for sure

Tribune staff reporter

Q Why does the Bears' coaching staff continue to be so conservative offensively at the end of close games? Defensively, the prevent (defense) also stinks. I am a huge fan, but the Bears were incredibly lucky to get away with a win with the questionable coaching decisions made during crunch time.

A Would you prefer lucky or good? The Bears' coaching staff tries to play to the team's strengths. And defense clearly is its strength. The offense turned the ball over twice Sunday, yet the Bears survived. Atlanta had more first downs (19 to 13), more total yards (257 to 242) and fewer penalties. Were the Bears lucky in the end when Jay Feely missed a possible game-winning field goal? Yes.

Q Dick Jauron usually shows no expression on the sideline. How does he manage to do that during a one-point game?

A Jauron said he almost lost his composure Sunday. "I am not particularly good at doing so a lot of the time, but I just elude the camera," he said after the 14-13 victory. "I wasn't in very good check today, so I'm glad that we won because it could have been an embarrassing day."

Q Why were the Bears penalized so often Sunday on questionable personal fouls?

A The Bears were penalized seven times for 79 yards Sunday. The officiating crew of Jeff Triplette, Richard Reels, Jeff Seeman, Scott Dawson, Duke Carroll, Tom Stabile and Doug Rosenbaum had an underwhelming afternoon. "I can't say anything because I'm liable to be fined," Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "That's the best I can say."

Q How badly are James "Big Cat" Williams and Ted Washington hurt?

A Jauron said it might take a few days before the severity of the injuries to offensive tackle Williams' hip flexor and defensive tackle Washington's left ankle can be determined.

"They're huge losses in more ways than one," Jauron said of the pair of 300-plus-pounders. "They're inspirational players for us and they're two team leaders."

Alfonso Boone filled in capably for Washington and rookie Marc Colombo played right offensive tackle for Williams.

Q Why was Bryan Robinson moved to right defensive end for Sunday's game?

A Blache said Robinson was having trouble with his left wrist, which he had hurt earlier. But Atlanta blockers had a better shot at that injured wrist when he was lined up as the left end.

"Most of the blocks were going to the good hand, and he was able to play a lot better," Blache said. "He played a pretty good ballgame today."

Q How do you think the Saints match up against the Bears?

A The Saints also are 2-0 and boast running back Deuce McAllister, who rambled for 123 yards Sunday in New Orleans' 35-20 victory over Green Bay. It was McAllister's second straight 100-yard rushing game. The Bears will need Washington to get healthy fast to help limit the Saints' running attack. Asked what tactics the Bears will use Sunday against New Orleans, Blache smiled and said: "We're not going to give you any sneak previews. This is not like the movie house."

Q What changes did the Bears make in the second half to slow down Michael Vick and the Falcons' offense?

A The Bears blitzed repeatedly to pressure Vick and running back Warrick Dunn during flare passes. Punter Brad Maynard pinned in the Falcons' offense after a shaky first half of kicking.

Q How did the replacements on the defensive side of the ball fare?

A Cornerback Todd McMillon, filling in for injured R.W. McQuarters, had six tackles and defensive end Keith McKenzie, subbing for Phillip Daniels, had three tackles. Reggie Austin also contributed to the Bears secondary's solid performance, chipping in with three tackles during his stint.

Q Is the Bears' coaching staff getting better at halftime adjustments?

A Halftime sessions are so brief in the NFL. Most of the game preparation is done earlier in the week during film study and meetings. The Bears' coaching staff seems to be doing a better job of inserting the right personnel in positions to be successful. The Bears, for instance, noticed in film study Saturday night that Vick holds the ball precariously when he runs with it.

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