All those questions? Answers coming

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All those questions? Answers coming

Phil Emery?Youre up.The Bears' general manager probably knows already what changes he wants to make - or not make from the coaching staff to the roster now that hes had almost a full year under his belt to see what exactly he has. His team became just the second since the playoffs expanded to six teams per conference in 1990 to start 7-1 and fail to make the playoffs. Its the fifth time in six years that Lovie Smiths club has failed to make the postseason. Hes seen the respect the head coach holds in the locker room, but also the consistent failings on the offensive side of the ball that werent any different in Smiths ninth year than the previous eight. That after locking up his star running back and acquiring a top-notch receiver.So does he show the door to the coach of a 10-6 team, or does he give him a last chance with the one year remaining on his contract? Does Smith agree to come back as a lame duck, without the extension, knowing his uncertain future will be a daily question, from mini-camp, and throughout the 2013 season? If thats not good enough for Smith, in which direction does Emery go? If Smith stays, does everyone else on his staff especially the offensive side? Or does Emery keep the status quo, extend no one, and work on simply improving the quality of the roster?What does he do about Brian Urlacher? Is it a different approach if Smith stays, and is Urlacher open to a one-year extension? Or is it now time to search for his successor in this franchises rich tradition at middle linebacker?Like Urlacher, Devin Hesters provided many highlights and thrills for Bears fans. Is that era over? Should it be?Can Jay Cutler find the long-awaited "next level" behind the incentive of playing for another contract next season? Or would the lack of personal long-term security turn into a locker room (and on-field) distraction?When the schedule got tough, the Bears couldnt keep going. Injuries played a part, yes. But when they could regain momentum and deliver knockout punches to the likes of Seattle and Minnesota, they turned into the first blows that eventually knocked these Bears from the playoffs once again.Since this team began sliding down their slippery slope on November 11, these and other questions were asked more frequently, and more loudly. Emery didnt have to answer them until the book finally closed on these 2012 Bears.
It has now.
And the answers will start coming. Some may not be very popular, depending on which side of the arguments youre on. The tough decisions now begin, and well begin to learn more about the man who replaced Jerry Angelo, who so many fans were happy to see shown the door a year ago.

Bears defensive backs using off-field bonds to improve on-field ones

Bears defensive backs using off-field bonds to improve on-field ones

Every Thursday night, Bears defensive backs try to all get together at Tracy Porter’s house for dinner. But it’s not about the food.

"None of us can cook," said cornerback Bryce Callahan, laughing.

At the risk of channeling some inner Marc Trestman, it’s about the get-together itself, which always involves popping on some game film and doing extra study beyond the time at Halas Hall. And it’s also building something off the field that they believe they can take onto it.

One of the keys to excellence in any working group is the individuals connecting in ways that make the whole greater than just the sum of the parts. That’s the point ultimately, taking some personal connections onto the field and making the entire defensive backfield collectively better.

Relationships among players have never been recorded as intercepting or even deflecting an NFL pass.

"For me it starts off the field, getting to know one another, how that person is," said cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, familiar with a similar internal chemistry from his time with the New England Patriots.

"You get that feeling for every individual, and you take that on the field. It creates a close bond, and we’ve got that bond. We try to look through each other’s eyes, communicate what you were thinking and he was thinking on this play or that, and that’s the biggest thing."

Offensive lines are generally thought of as the group most benefited by camaraderie and closeness. They typically have an O-line dinner most weeks, with checks for the meal not uncommonly reaching into four-figures.

"Those boys can EAT," LeBlanc marveled. "We stick to wings or ribs."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

But the secondary consists of four individuals rotating coverages the way a line moves with different protections or assignments. Double-teams in the defensive backfield require the same cohesion and familiarity as ones on the other side of the football.

The Bears have started the same base four defensive backs in all three games — Porter and Jacoby Glenn at the corners, Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey at the safeties — but the Bears are working in multiple rookies, and Callahan (hamstring) has been inactive along with Kyle Fuller, projected to be the starter at right corner but now on IR. Rookie safety Deon Bush was inactive the first two weeks, then played at Dallas. Rookie corner Deiondre’ Hall was pressed into action on defense for 18 plays at Houston and 28 against Philadelphia.

With the in-game mixes-and-matches necessitated by injuries, the familiarity among secondary members is looked at as nothing short of vital. Comments, right or wrong, from a friend can be taken better/more constructively than ones from a relative stranger.

"Just more of being ready to pick each other up, be ready," Amos said. "It just shows you how quick you can go from scout team to on the field, so everybody has to be talking together.

"The closer we are on and off the field, the better we are together."

LeBlanc agrees.

"We talk to each other like friends, in a unit, trying to dissect a play right after it happens, rewind and see how we can to it better.

"You can’t be out here trying to communicate and you don’t even really know the guy next to you."

Bears facing Lions with Jay Cutler likely out, Alshon Jeffery dealing with hamstring issue

Bears facing Lions with Jay Cutler likely out, Alshon Jeffery dealing with hamstring issue

The official injury designation is “doubtful” but Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is unofficially expected to be out of Sunday’s game with the Detroit Lions after not practicing on Thursday or Friday due to his injured right thumb.

“It is a pretty critical area on the quarterback, especially when it's your right thumb and you're a right handed quarterback,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “So you know we're going to get him healthy and that's our main objective and we'll see if he's any further along [Saturday].”

The designation — “questionable” — was brighter for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, except for the mild surprise that he was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday with a knee issue and then was limited on Friday because of a hamstring.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Jeffery missed six games last season, two separate instances, because of hamstring problems.

Besides Cutler, running backs Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring) and Jeremy Langford (ankle), nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) and linebacker Danny Trevathan (thumb) also did not practice and are listed as doubtful. Carey, Cutler, Goldman and Trevathan all were inactive in Dallas, and Langford suffered his ankle sprain against the Cowboys.

Limited but listed as questionable: guard Josh Sitton (shoulder), outside linebacker Willie Young (knee); and defensive backs Sherrick McManis (hamstring), Tracy Porter (knee) and Harold Jones-Quartey (concussion, cleared).