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November 5, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Jeff Dickerson

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:59 PM)

Can't wait to get after these questions. Bears had a productive weekend in Nashville but now it's time to shift the focus to Houston on Sunday night. Let's get it started.

Chicago [via mobile]

Do you think that the bears are a serious contender or has the schedule made them look better than what we think?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:02 PM)

I think the Bears are 100% serious contenders. How can they not be with that defense? I'm not saying the Bears are for sure going to win the Super Bowl, but I feel confident they will make the playoffs. Once you get in the postseason, all bets are off. If the Bears defense stays healthy, it will give them a good shot at winning in the postseason.

Eric (Washington, DC)

Has there ever been anyone like Tillman as far as forcing fumbles is concerned? What are the records for forcing fumbles - game/season/career? A quick look at this season's stats shows that Tillman's single game total of 4 FF matches all other FF season totals. With 7 total on the season, he's almost doubled the second closest on the list.

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:05 PM)

Not that I can remember. The amazing part about Tillman's game is that he forces these fumbles every single year. You would think by now teams would have figured out a way to protect the football better when he's around, but they haven't been able to.

Eric (Glen Ellyn) [via mobile]

As long as the D/ST scores to put the bears ahead the offense looks alright. Why does it seem the offense needs the lead to have a good day? If we get into a defensive slug fest we could be in trouble...

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:08 PM)

Eric, I think the offense has been below average through the first 8 games, and if the Bears do in fact need the offense to score points in bunches to win a game against a good team, they might be in trouble. But we haven't seen this defense really struggle in a single game this year. That's why I feel there is reason for optimism. Also, when the Bears really needed Cutler and the offense to deliver on the last drive vs. Carolina, they did.

John (Wauconda)

Hey Jeff, the bears defense has been playing more and more like the best defense in the league every single week, but even the best can have a bad game. Do you think that the combination of Foster, Johnson, and Schaub could cause this seemingly unstoppable defense to finally have a poor performance?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:11 PM)

Sure, it could happen. The Texans are a well-balanced machine with plenty of playmakers on both sides of the football. They could beat the Bears at Soldier Field, no doubt about it. But I suspect, if the Bears lose, it won't be because the Texans are lighting it up offensively. I'm more concerned about the pressure they bring with their defensive line against the Bears offensive line. That could be ugly.

Matt (Colorado)

7-1 is a great start, but the schedule has been fairly soft. How do you think the Bears will fare in the next 4 games?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:12 PM)

Matt, even if the Bears go 2-2 over the next four games they'd still be 9-3. As long as they at least split the next four, I think the Bears will be just fine.

Conrad (Canada)

I really think the people at ESPN 1000 are to hard on J'Marucs Webb, specifically Harry. He has improved this season and in my opinion is an average starting LT in the NFL. Why are people not enjoying his improvement?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:15 PM)

Harry does not seem to like J'Marcus Webb, that is for sure. I'd say at his best, Webb is an average NFL LT. But is that good enough? How will an average NFL LT hold up when the Bears are forced to face better opponents with the ability to pressure the quarterback? Probably not so well. That is the fear with Webb. As great as the defense is playing, the Bears still cannot afford to lose Jay Cutler to an injury.

masterjedi (north dakota)

People keep saying Cutler needs to not focus on Marshall so much, but NOBODY can stop him. Why shouldn't we Marshall teams to death until they prove they can stop it?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:16 PM)

Yes. Throw Marshall the football. There is nothing wrong with that. He caught 9 passes yesterday on 10 targets. I like those odds.

Megan (Indianapolis)

Jeff, I could not be happier about how great the defense is playing. But as a typical Bears fan, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop and can't help being nervous that our offense can't seem to get something going on its own to win games. When is this offense going to get it together?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:19 PM)

Megan, my advice is to enjoy the fact the team is 7-1. You can't predict the future, or at least I can't, so we have no idea if the offense will ever get it together. Or maybe the light goes on for the offense and they go on a tear in the final 8 games. It's all a guessing game, which is what makes the NFL so fun. You can be nervous, but don't lose sight of the fact the Bears are one of the best teams in the league. It doesn't happen all that often!

Everett W (Dallas, TX)

All the disclaimers of injury aside, over or under five wins the rest of the regular season for the Bears?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:22 PM)

I'll take the under, but 11 wins should be enough to get them in. Hard to take the over given the schedule gets tougher and they have 4 division games left to play.

mikey, Chicago [via mobile]

When can Ashlon Jeffery start to pratice again, and play?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:23 PM)

Bears have not told us yet. I saw Jeffery is Nashville yesterday and he still had the big brace on his hand. Let's see what his status is on Wed. That should give us an idea of where he stands for this weekend's game vs. Houston.

Jay (Chicago)

Will Brandon Hardin play this season?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:24 PM)

No. He's on injured reserve.

Ray F (Miami)

Can we really expect the Jay-Brandon touchdown connection to look that good, or was that a case where the defense had already packed it in?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:25 PM)

Marshall already has 59 catches for 797 yards and 7 TDs in eight games. I think it's already proven to be a lethal combo.

Matt (Lincoln Park)

Charles Tillman is so good at what he does. Could you see him being a coach once he's done playing football?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:28 PM)

Matt, I don't want to speak for Tillman, but guys who make a lot of money playing in the NFL usually don't want to go into coaching when they're done playing. Coaching is a high stress profession that doesn't pay all that great when you first break in, and you have to move your family around. I've never asked Tillman that question, so he might want to coach one day, that's possible, but you wouldn't get me to go back out into the workforce if I had all that money in the bank at age 35 or whatever.

Terry (Nashville)

JD do you agree that we saw some real development from Tice yesterday? I thought he broke free from some of his tendencies like the screen on 2nd down instead of 3rd and long and the draw play was beautiful.

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:31 PM)

Terry, I agree, I thought after the first quarter when the game was in hand Tice did a better job running the offense. The draw was sweet, but I loved that dump off to Forte. What a great run. He must have made 5 guys miss. Anytime the Bears want to throw the ball to Forte out of the backfield is fine by me. You'll never hear me complain about Forte or Marshall getting the ball too much. That's what they're paid to do.

Jim (Missouri)

What is the buzz around Halas Hall about how Rachal has been playing? Is he viewed as a long term solution at LG?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:34 PM)

Good question, Jim. Rachal is only 26 years old. I see no reason why the Bears wouldn't consider re-signing him after the season (he signed a 1-year deal last offseason), unless there is better option available. That option doesn't seem to be currently at Halas Hall. So unless the Bears decide to go out of house to address LG, I think Rachal has a shot to be here beyond this season.

Arnold Walker (Waterloo, Ia )

Do you think that Jay Cutler is one of the top 10 QB's in the league right now?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:37 PM)

You can make a case for Cutler to crack the top 10. If he's not top 10, then he's right there in that next group.

Rob (Chicago)

IF Chicago wins the next two weeks are we looking at the best team in the NFL ?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:38 PM)

No doubt about it. Even if Atlanta keeps winning I'd call the Bears the best team if they beat Houston and the 49ers.

Matt (California)

What is the deal with Mike Tice? The offense is worse than last year, is it possible Tice gets demoted?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:40 PM)

I don't think so. Tice is probably looking for a promotion. There could be a ton of NFL head coaching vacancies after the season. If the Bears get to the Super Bowl, I wouldn't be surprised if Tice gets some interviews. I think he wants to be a head coach again. This is his best shot. But I agree with you that the offense can play much better.

Patrick Mannelly (Lake Forest)

Should my father-in-law be in the baseball hall of fame?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:40 PM)

For the surgery alone.

Jeff (Houston, TX)

Can the Bears afford to NOT double team JJ Watt every play?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:41 PM)

No. They will help the tackles when it comes to blocking Watt. They have to.

Tyson (Cincinnati)

I saw Gabe Carimi straight out whiff on at least two pass rush attempts. Is his knee still bothering him, or does he need another year or two of seasoning before he's really ready to play at the NFL level?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:42 PM)

Love Carimi as a run blocker. He scares me in pass protection. I think he'll eventually get to the point where he becomes an okay pass protector, which would make him an above average tackle in the league. I believe that is what the Bears envision.

Dustin (Chicago)

Do you think the Bears will win this upcoming sunday night game vs the Texans? If so, when will the media start believing in them? Seems like every single game,someone jumps on the bears about something they arent doing or should be doing etc. They find ways to win,might be ugly or whatever but they find a way to win. Which to my understanding,a win is a win!!!

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:44 PM)

Dustin, a win is a win. You're on the money. Don't worry about the media. If a team wins every game by 1 point they still win every game. People can't expect NFL teams to be perfect in all three phases every time they play. Football doesn't work that way.

Matt (Chicago)

The Bears special teams were excellent before they had Hester. Now that he's 30, and not as productive on returns, should they think about dealing him while he's still worth something? It might even open up their return game as teams wouldn't be scheming so hard against him. Bears have some big shoes to replace in coming years... Does he get you a first round pick in a trade? Is this stupid? It might be. Just thinking.

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:46 PM)

Matt, there is no such thing as a stupid question. After the year, maybe the Bears do shop Hester who has one year left on his current deal. But they won't get a 1st round pick for him, that I can promise you.

Iceman (Nashville, TN)

Any update on the injuries of Melton and Izzy?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:49 PM)

Both appeared to be okay in the postgame locker room yesterday in Nashville. Maybe the Bears rest them on Wednesday before they begin to practice this week. At this point, it doesn't sound like either player plans to miss the Texans game.

Zach (Work)

Dont get me wrong, I love that we finally have a quarterback. But Forte with only 14 carries? Whats up with that?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:52 PM)

He did a great job with only 14 touches for 148 all-purpose yards, didn't he. Tice talks on Wednesday, we'll see if he mentions how often the Bears used Forte. Sadly, the Bears do not allow us to interview any of the asst. coaches after a game. Not a fan of that rule.

Tommy (Markham)

I think Tice's decision to call a more pass happy game has been a good one so far this season. It has given Cutler and co more in game reps to develop that part of the offense. It is keeping Forte more fresh for the second half of the season. And it hasn't lead to losses. Thoughts?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:56 PM)

That is one way to look at it. If you look at Forte's career, he has kind of worn down at the end of seasons, perhaps this is a way to keep him fresher later in the year. I don't reject that idea. But I stil would like to see him touch the ball. He is the second or third best skill position player on the offense after all. As for Tice calling more pass plays for Cutler, not sure if he as to do with reps as much as it has to do with keeping the quarterback happy. The last two offensive coordinators didn't have the best relationship with Cutler and got fired. Tice doesn't want to go down that road.

JMarcus (Webb Nation)

If the Bears win the Super Bowl, can they vote not to give me a ring?

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:56 PM)

Nope. You're safe. Every player gets a ring.

Kevin (Chicago)

How about that Northwestern duo blocking a punt and scoring between McManis and Wootton. Representing the wildcats well

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:58 PM)

Great job by both guys. Huge fan of what Wootton has been able to do this year. Truth be told, I wasn't sure he was ever going to pan out. He has. And McManis was a nice pick up from the Texans. Excellent rush from the outside yesterday to get that punt block.

Jeff Dickerson
  (2:59 PM)

Thank you everybody. I'll be on tonight with J Hood from 7-10 on ESPN 1000 if you want to tune in. Enjoy the rest of your day.