Mailbag: Haynesworth a long shot
May, 18, 2010
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
Q: With the Washington Redskins' Albert Haynesworth asking to be traded, wanting to be in a 4-3 defense, and already having been paid $32 million out of the guaranteed $41 million, do you see the Chicago Bears pulling the trigger? No one would run up the middle with Tommie Harris and Haynesworth for years to come. Thanks for your response. -- Ryan G., Chicago
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesAlbert Haynesworth has grown frustrated with the Redskins' defensive scheme.
A: Ryan, I would say the odds of adding Haynesworth are slim at best. Jerry Angelo talked openly this offseason about ending the practice of trading away future high draft picks in exchange for veterans (Jay Cutler and Gaines Adams). If the Redskins let Haynesworth go for anything less than a first-round choice, they will end up paying $32 million for four sacks -- Haynesworth had 37 tackles and four sacks in 2009. I realize Washington hasn't always been the model of fiscal responsibility, but that would be insane even for Dan Snyder. Let me also mention since pocketing all that money in the last 15 months, Haynesworth sulked and complained about former Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache, produced little during his first season in Washington, skipped offseason workouts and failed to show up for a pair of voluntary minicamps. Sounds like quite a guy. The Redskins are changing up their defensive scheme because they want to win. What a novel concept. Maybe Haynesworth, who already got paid a boatload of money, should be more concerned about helping the team rather than his own selfish interests. I'd pull the trigger if I knew the Bears were getting the 2008 version of Haynesworth, but the 2010 version raises a multitude of red flags.
Q: I saw recently the Bears' receiving corps is being ranked, or better, projected as the 23rd best in the league. I'm trying to figure out how much my Bears bias is effecting how irritated I am by that. Where would you rank the Bears' receiving corps going in to the year? I'm saying 15 to 17 depending on how everything shakes out. -- Kenny D., Chicago
A: Here is why Bears receivers don't get much respect nationally. When you take Greg Olsen (60 catches) out of the equation, not a single receiver caught 60 passes last season. Devin Hester, long anointed the No. 1 wideout by the coaching staff, tied for 42nd in the NFL with 57 receptions. On top of that, 23 players had at least 1,000 yards receiving in 2009, while Hester checked in at No. 46 with 757. Overall, the Bears finished 17th in team receiving yards, in front of Baltimore and Miami, which added Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall, respectively. Without a proven top target, it's difficult to place this group in the top half of the league, or even the top 20. That being said, Devin Aromashodu, Johnny Knoxand Earl Bennettall showed promise last season. It stands to reason their play will only improve under new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who places a higher emphasis on the passing game than the Bears did in the past. But right now we're only speculating when it pertains to how good this group can be. Despite all the enthusiasm coming out of Halas Hall about these receivers, there's simply no hard numbers to back it up. Don't be irritated Kenny, be pleasantly surprised if/when these guys exceed your expectations.
Q: What's up, JD. I know the Bears are sipping the "We-don't-need-another-offensive-guard kool aid," but a guy like Deuce Lutui from Arizona seems like he may need a new home. What's your take on him? -- TD, Cal City
A: Actually, I think the Bears would pursue a veteran guard if the right one becomes available. At last check, Lutui still hadn't signed his $1.759 million tender, although he's expected to do so before the June 15 deadline. Arizona probably would be interested in dealing Lutui, especially after adding veteran guard Alan Faneca. Plus, it sounds like Lutui hasn't done himself any favors by skipping the Cardinals' offseason workouts. However, trading and releasing a guy are two separate issues, and I don't know if Arizona would just let Lutui go. It may be worth holding on to Lutui, even in a reserve role, if teams are unwilling to offer any decent compensation via trade. Rob Sims only netted a fifth-round pick, what is Lutui worth? Are the Cardinals better off just keeping the disgruntled guard? Do the Bears like Lutui enough to give him a multi-year deal? All questions worth considering as we move closer to training camp.
Q: I keep hearing (almost daily so far this off-season) about Greg Olsen fitting into Mike Martz's offense. It seems to me I heard that Martz comes from the Don Coryell coaching tree, and I'm old enough to remember a Hall of Famer that played tight end for Coryell in San Diego name Kellen Winslow. Am I correct? If so, how hard would it be for Martz to dust off some of those old plays? --JD, Terre Haute, Ind.
A: Your memory is accurate. Under the direction of Coryell, Winslow turned in three monster seasons: 1980, 1981 and 1983. In those three years, Winslow averaged approximately 88 catches, 1,179 yards and nine touchdowns from the tight end position. He is the perfect blueprint for what this offense can do for a pass-catching tight end. Martz is a very intelligent person, so I'm sure he'll dust off similar plays for Olsen. Whether or not Olsen can execute and produce like Winslow, that's another story entirely. Martz has the reputation for being tough on certain players during practice, and I get the feeling Olsen is going to fall into that category. Sometimes people just need to be pushed to reach their full potential. If Martz pushes the right buttoms and Olsen even slighly resembles Winslow, the Bears' offense will be much improved.
Q: Jeff, the only thing keeping me sane last year were special teams. Do you think the Bears can be special again this year on special teams. Sorry in advance for my corny play on words. -- Elliot, Wheeling, Ill.
A: Absolutely. Since Dave Toub arrived in 2004, special teams has been the one of the Bears' biggest strengths. Although the Bears lost a few quality special teams contributors during the offseason (Adrian Peterson, Jamar Williamsand Darrell McClover), most of the core remains intact. The coverage units should be led by emerging star Tim Shaw, who recorded 30 special teams tackles last season, and Corey Graham, second with 23 stops on special teams. The Bears were extremely effective on kickoff return in 2009, as both Johnny Knox and Danieal Manning ranked in the top 10 in return yardage -- Knox second, Manning eighth -- while Robbie Gould continues to be one of the most accurate kickers in the league. Bringing Pisa Tinoisamoaback into the mix gives the Bears another potential multi-phase contributor, along with Nick Roach, Israel Idonije, Garrett Wolfeand Craig Steltz. On the flip side, if the Bears are truly committed to Devin Hester returning punts, he needs to do better than 7.8 yards per return. Brad Maynard also saw his number of punts downed inside the 20 drop from 40 to 26, albeit the veteran punted the ball 19 fewer times in 2009 compared to 2008.