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Holmes' Mailbag: Who Gets Benched Next?

By Laurence Holmes-

(WSCR) With the Bears 3-3, let's see what's on the mind of Bears fans in this week's edition of the mailbag.

Hey Laurence, With the Bears going down the youth movement in secondary - who is the next on the bubble to be benched by Lovie? - Peter, Addison, IL

It's a shame that the Bears haven't really been able to find consistent safety play since Mike Brown's injuries drove him out of the game. More than any other position, the safety spot is where you've seen Lovie Smith be very proactive when it comes to making a change. Look at all the guys they've drafted at the spot as Brown's heir: Todd Johnson, Chris Harris, Daniel Manning, Kevin Payne, Craig Steltz, Al Afalava, Major Wright and Chris Conte. So just about every year of Smith's tenure, the Bears draft a safety. That doesn't include free agents like Adam Archuleta, Josh Bullocks and Brandon Meriweather. In other words, it's been a problem.

The Bears are running out of good options, but they're hopeful that Wright and Conte are the right combination going forward. The Bears aren't in development mode yet. They think they're a playoff team, so if the two young safeties don't play well, you could see a move back to Meriweather or Harris. Stay tuned.

Hello Laurence, Curious if the Bears get a per diem on their London trip and if so, what it is. Knowing the number isn't that important, just curious. Thanks. Love the show. Keep up the good work. - John

Really interesting question John. Yes, Players do get a per diem. During Training Camp that per diem is close to $1,300 a week. During OTA/Voluntary workout it's about $120 a day. While on the road, the players also get a per diem for food. With college sports, I've seen players get the money in cash at the beginning of each day on the road. In the NFL, the players per diems are simply added to their check.

Hey Laurence, If Hester breaks Sanders' all-time return record of 19 touchdowns, will he be considered seriously for the hall of fame? What if he obliterates the record and adds another 10 career returns but continues to make only minimal contributions on offense? - Jerry, South Bend

I don't even think Devin Hester has to break Sanders record to punch his ticket to Canton. What he's done has been amazing. I think we're pretty lucky because we're watching the greatest return man of all-time. Hester won the the special teams player of the week for the 11th time in his career Wednesday. That puts him in a group with Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Adam Vinatieri, LaDanian Tomlinson, Jason Hanson and John Carney as the only players to win the POW award 10 times or more.
The guy is incredible. He now has 16 return touchdowns in his career. And remember his 108-yard missed field goal return for touchdown and the 92-yard kickoff return for touchdown in the Superbowl don't count for his total. There are many sports debate on who the greatest is, but with Hester and returning kicks, there is no debate.

Laurence, I hear a lot of the meathead Monday morning quarterbacks complain about the fact that the Bears haven't employed any shotgun snaps to try and get Cutler a little more time in the pocket. Obviously there are a number of reasons and it isn't as simple as people seem to think, but perhaps someone of your particular knowledge level could best explain why it isn't a magic solution despite the beliefs of many fans. - Dustin White, Chrleston

The Bears don't use a ton of shotgun, but they do use it. Fans need to realize that. In fact, on Sunday they were in shotgun eight times against Minnesota. They used it in the hurry up at the end of the first half and in some long-yardage and third down situations. Dustin, to tell you the truth, I don't have very strong feelings on this. I think it has a place in every system, but it's not a cure-all. Mike Martz has said he doesn't like shotgun because it takes the quarterback's eyes off the defense while he locates the ball. Perhaps you miss a late pre-snap read because of it.

Laurence, I always hear people in the media like yourself say that "I watched tape of the Bears game". Dan Pompei, Hub Arkush and yourself say this when you are commenting on the game a couple days after it. When you say that do you mean you watched the replay of the broadcast of the game or do you get a special version prepared from the Bears or NFL. What I am getting at is that I would love to be able to watch the game from different camera angles as coaches and players do. I think this would allow for fans to dive into the x's and o's that they are craving for more and more. Have you heard of the NFL doing anything like this for it's fans? This is something I think fans would pay for -- at least I would. Thanks. - GRU, Elgin

GRU, great question. Most of the time when I talk about it, I'll say: "I watched the game again." That refers to me just watching the television broadcast to see what I missed and to see the game like the fans saw it. Occasionally, I've had access to game tape and whenever I have, I've considered myself lucky. Veteran guys like Pompei and Arkush have more access to game film than I do. Usually the game film is shot from three different angles. NFL video departments are so advanced that they can isolate a particular player on every play of the game and allow that player to go and review what he did in certain formations or against a certain opponent.

The guys who are in charge of it are called quality control coaches. They work tirelessly to put the tape together for the team. Andrew Hayes-Stoker is in charge of the offensive tape. Mikal Smith (Lovie's son) is in charge of the defensive tape. It's the bottom of coaching totem pole, but a lot of guys get their start there. In fact, Ron Rivera was a QCC for Dave Wannstedt.

To your idea of getting that advance for fans...I don't see it happening to that extreme. At least not yet, but believe me if there's a new revenue stream out there, the NFL will explore it.

With that said, I do think you'll see more of the "All-22" look. That's a zoomed out angle where fans can see every player. That's the view I have from the press box. And here's why it's important: safety play. TV follows the ball and because of that the shots are tighter. Usually you don't see where the safety is lined up or how he moves pre-snap if he isn't in the box. For example on Sunday, most viewers couldn't see Chris Conte lining up 20-yards away from the ball and making his first step backwards. Sunday Night Football has experimented with showing that view more on their website and I think all of the television partners of the NFL are doing a great job of showing better vantage points in their replays. My personal favorite is the QB-view where the camera is set up behind the quarterback and you get a general perspective of what Jay Cutler is seeing when he makes throws.

Listen to Laurence Holmes on WSCR 670 The Score weeknights from 6-10 p.m. Follow him on Twitter (@LHolmes670) for even more Bears coverage.

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