Chat with Michael Wright
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Friday, our Chicago Bears reporter Michael Wright makes his weekly appearance.
Wright joined ESPNChicago in April 2010 after spending the previous four seasons covering the Jaguars. He also covered the Redskins for two seasons. A native Texan, Wright was a four-year football letterman at West Texas A&M University. He covers the Bears for both ESPNChicago.com and Chicago's ESPN Radio 1000.
Send your questions now and join Wright Friday at 12:30 p.m. CT/1:30 p.m. ET!
Michael (1:30 PM)
Hello folks, welcome back. Glad you guys could join us for today's chat. Let's get it going.
TheDano (Mankato, MN)
You had said Marshall wasn't a lock for 1000 yards this year. He's on pace for 1400, has 5-1000s in a row......ready to get on board with him as a lock for 1000 yet? I actually think he'll be north of 1300.
Michael (1:34 PM)
I don't do "locks" and I don't get on board. He's definitely on pace to reach 1,400 yards. But anything can happen between now and the end of the season. Every team they've faced (with the exception of Green Bay and Indianapolis to a lesser degree) wasn't committed to taking away Marshall. If he stays on fire the way he is, I think teams will finally wise up and play him the way the Packers did.
why is it always the negative with jay that comes out like the thing with tice, noone mentioned at all that jay grabed webb again on national tv, oh thats becoause when he did he was telling him hey good job
Michael (1:35 PM)
Actually the moment with Webb was mentioned.
Do you think if the bears keep winning the criticism of cutler will curb a little bit? Or has he done to much damage over the past few years.
Michael (1:36 PM)
Mike, winning cures everything. And as I've said numerous times, most of the time, the QB brings it upon himself.
Pls let the chat master know that the Auto Update is off. Thanks!
Michael (1:36 PM)
It's not. I control that.
Paul (Jefferson Park)
When a coach gets fined a bunch of money for, let's say talking about refs, do they pay the fine out of their own paycheck? Or does the team pay it? how does that work
Michael (1:36 PM)
Paul, the person fined is responsible for paying. The team doesn't do that.
TheDano (Mankato, MN)
What's Earl Bennett's status?
Michael (1:37 PM)
It's not looking good. My guess is Dane Sanzenbacher will be active again this week.
Jason (South Dakota)
How does the brass in Chicago really feel about Jay Cutler privately? I know they say the right things publicly but how do they really feel about him and his conduct on the sideline?
Michael (1:38 PM)
Jason, they're committed to him. His conduct on the sideline is of little consequence. What matters is whether the Bears think they can win with him. At this point, the Bears definitely think Cutler is the guy that can take them to championships.
It seems like we've signed free agents in almost every position except O-Line. Why can't the Bears solve their woes by just paying for a guarenteed stud?
Michael (1:39 PM)
Reggie, go look around at what takes in free agency every year. Good OTs aren't just jumping from team to team in free agency. The reason is they're extremely valuable. Teams aren't just letting these guys walk. So what you propose sounds easy enough. But in reality, it isn't that way.
Would it make sense to hold Forte out this weekend? He was effective against Dallas, but he also looked under 100%. Bush and Bell can carry the load against JAX?
Michael (1:41 PM)
They can, Robert. But the Jaguars aren't some JV team. The whole any-given-Sunday cliche is real. The Bears can't show up and just expect to win. It doesn't work that way. So yeah, it makes sense to hold out Forte. But you also have to win the game. So if Forte gives you a better chance to win, you play him. Besides, the team does have an off week coming up to rest him.
Dylan J (Mundelein, IL)
Do you think the media is to hard on jay cutler? It seems like every other game they are criticizing him for something. Will this change his play at all maybe motivate him more?
Michael (1:42 PM)
Cutler is already highly motivated, and no, I don't think the media is too hard on him. As I've said, he brings a lot of it on himself.
What has happened to Matt Toenia? Why has he faded to oblivion?
Michael (1:43 PM)
John, my belief is that Stephen Paea has been a force, and the team is also comfortable with what Amobi Okoye brings to the rotation. Toeaina is more of a run defender and the Bears want pass rushers up front at this point.
Jon (North Side)
After week 1 we saw Tice get pass-happy with his play calling vs the Packers, and it took 2 weeks to recover. It seems this bears squad is always best when establishing the run early, and letting the rush open up the passing game in the 2nd half. Not only to do we win but the receivers seem to have better games with this formula, can we expect the bears to come out and run the ball down the Jags throats?
Michael (1:45 PM)
Jon, the Bears are definitely going to try. There are always advancements in the game, and I do think the NFL is becoming more of a passing league. But I don't think the fundamental tenets of the game have changed. In my opinion, you do yourself a major favor by establishing that run first to get the D on its heels before hitting them with the aerial attack.
Andrew (Phoenix, AZ)
Mike,What do you feel in your opinion is the Bears biggest needs for next years draft? Offensive Tackle, Safetys, or the age of the linebacking core?
Michael (1:46 PM)
Well, tackle is out of the question unless the Bears have a major nosedive and wind up picking at the top of the draft. The good OTs come off the board early. So I don't see the Bears finding a Day 1 starter at left tackle in the draft. I think they need to address linebacker and cornerback actually. The Bears are in good shape at safety with youngsters Chris Conte and Major Wright.
Matt (Lincoln Park)
Michael, you used to cover the Jaguars. Give us some inside scoop and some advanced scouting on what to expect!
Michael (1:48 PM)
Matt, this is a totally different team from the one I covered from 2006-2009. There are a few guys still there, but for the most part the roster has been turned over. And offensively, they've changed up the system from the one they utilized with Dirk Koetter as the offensive coordinator.
James (Ft. Polk, La)
Does the progress Ashlon Jeffrey is making suprise you? Do you think he will be a bigger factor later in the season?
Michael (1:49 PM)
Not at all, James. The Bears drafted him to contribute as a rookie and that's what he's doing. I don't know whether he'll become a bigger factor as the season progresses. I think that all depends on whether teams start committing to taking Brandon Marshall out of games. If that happens, I definitely see Jay Cutler looking Jeffery's way more.
jason (villa park)
Your name is Michael Corleone Wright.......Were your parents crazy Godfather fans?
Michael (1:49 PM)
Bingo, dad was a huge fan of the flick.
I think the article by Michael Wilbon said it beautfully concerning Jay and his so called "antics". What did you think of the article.
Michael (1:51 PM)
I think Mike was right on the money.
Good thing the Bears didn't pay big money for Jeremy Mincey right?
Michael (1:51 PM)
Sure is looking that way, huh?
Hey Mike, Auto Update is off. The top right of the screen even says as much. Please change that. Its a little annoying to constantly refresh yourself. Thanks
Michael (1:53 PM)
I've got my own auto update, which is on. I don't know what you guys have. My screen looks a lot different than yours. Maybe you need to turn it on yourself.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady both have berated their o-line(Jeff Saturday) and Offensive Coordinator(McDaniels or his fill in when Josh was HC in denver). Why is it such a big deal about Cutler? And don't say Rings because Manning did it a few times years before he won a super bowl. It seems to be a non issue except to the media.
Michael (1:54 PM)
It's the media's fault. We threw four picks, then bumped into our starting LT. Then, in the press conference we never took responsibility for our own actions in the loss. We waited until that Tuesday. Yep, it's all our fault.
Any word on Johnny Knox? What is the Bears commitment to his recovery?
Michael (1:55 PM)
There's not much to give you an update on. He definitely doesn't look like he's going to be able to come back anytime this season. He's out there every day and I know he's rehabbing like crazy. But to be honest, I'd say he'd be lucky to make it back in 2013.
What is the team attributing to their successful pass protection against a Dallas squad that had been previously getting a ton of pressure on the QB? And do you think its a sign of things to come, or as we have seen over the last year or two, just a high point in the rollercoaster ride that is our o-line?
Michael (1:57 PM)
Jon, I think things will be up and down. That's just the nature of things. What you saw against the Cowboys was the Bears using TE Matt Spaeth more. He did a phenomenal job against DeMarcus Ware. I think you'll see the Bears continue to be creative in protection and play calling. Mike Tice puts out this big meathead act. But he's a very intelligent play designer and play caller.
Y. Owolabi (Chicago)
The Jaguars are 1-3, but the combined record of the 3 teams they lost to is 10-2. I hear confident fans talking about resting players so they have an extra long bye. Do you think some might be taking this road game too lightly? Do you believe the Bears organization is treating this as seriously as the Dallas game, for instance?
Michael (1:59 PM)
I sure hope they're taking this one seriously because this is the NFL. There aren't any cakewalks. The good thing the Bears have going for them offensively is the fact that Mike Tice knows their defensive personnel well because of his time coaching there. I really don't think the Bears are taking this one lightly. They want to go into the off week on a high note and a 4-1 record.
What kind of deal do you think Urlacher gets this offseason? Thanks and keep up the good work
Michael (2:02 PM)
Gabby, that's a difficult question. Obviously you've seen Urlacher play these last four games, and he's not performing to his usual high standards. I believe he'll return to the player we've seen so many years. But the question is when? At his age, I don't see the Bears paying him a huge deal to return and I'm hoping Urlacher understands and accepts that. I do think in free agency that somebody might be inclined to offer more money than the Bears. At that point, you'd hope the organization matches so it keep the face of the franchise on board.
TheDano (Mankato, MN)
You are really concerned that Cutler didn't "take responsibility" after the Packer game. Yet you won't take responsibility for a bad Brandon Marshall take on performance.Are you the Cutler of Chats??
Michael (2:05 PM)
We're four games in. At this point, Marshall isn't a 1,000-yard receiver. He's had several consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, so the natural inclination would be to think he'll get there again. My take was about the fact the Bears planned to be more of a running team, the fact the Bears have multiple weapons now in the receiving corps, and the fact that teams would look to take Marshall away. You saw what happened against the Packers. They're the only team that committed to shutting him down. As he continues to put up big numbers, my guess is teams will focus on taking him away. As for Cutler's "responsibility", yeah, I was concerned. Even if none of what transpired was his fault, he still should have said something to the effect of "I've gotta be better." The best quarterbacks (Brees, Brady, Manning, etc.) do that even when it's not their fault.
Michael, you never did answer Mark's question. why do guys like Manning and Brady get a pass from the media when they berate their o-line or their OC? thanks
Michael (2:06 PM)
It's all a matter of cred. They've been big winners in this league. Cutler hasn't. It's as simple as that.
mario (eagle pass tex)
anytime the BEARS wins its because of the opponent not doing something right. HOW 'BOUT SOME CREDIT TO MY SUPER BOWL CALIBER CHICAGO BEARS!!!!!?
Michael (2:07 PM)
Wow, really? I think Cutler got props for lighting up the Cowboys. I believe the defense got credit for shutting down the Cowboys and making Tony Romo a turnover machine.
Michael after watching JWebb Nation and the rest of the Bears O-Line play against the Cowboys strong front do you think that they are getting better or were the Cowboys just that bad?
Michael (2:08 PM)
I think they're getting better and it's not just the offensive line. I think the coordinator is finding more of a groove in calling and designing plays/protections.
Why is the media so obsessed with talking about Cutler's "demeanor"? If the Bears organization and most fans are happy with Cutler, which I believe they are, then why does this non-story get repeated so much? Wins and losses are what matter - not the QB's personality.
Michael (2:10 PM)
Seems like you guys are more obsessed with it in this chat. And I think you're right, it does come downs to wins and losses. Last I checked, Cutler is 1-1 in the playoffs but is in his seventh year in the league.
Michael (2:06 PM)It's all a matter of cred. They've been big winners in this league. Cutler hasn't. It's as simple as that.So basically it's a popularity contest? Brady and Manning were doing the same thing before "they were big winners in this league".
Michael (2:12 PM)
Seven years in the league, two playoff games, one win (against a bad Seahawks team). The numbers don't lie here.
JAY CUTLER (CHICAGO)
WHO'S TAKING MORE FIRE RIGHT THIS INSTANT YOU OR ME????
Michael (2:13 PM)
Haha. I still say you. Your job is much more difficult than mine.
Since MJD is really the only weapon the Jags have, do you take the over or under on MJD getting 100 yards rushing? Keep in mind we're top 5 in rushing yards allowed (I Believe).
Michael (2:14 PM)
I take the under because the Bears will be totally committed to shutting down MJD. This could turn out to be a turnover fest. Because once they shut down the run, they'll be all over chuck-and-duck Blaine Gabbert.
Are the Vikings for real? Are the Lions junk? Are the Bears the best team in this division or do we have to beat the Packers, regardless of our records in December ?
Michael (2:14 PM)
It's still too early to tell for me. But I definitely like the Bears' chances at Soldier Field. You won't see a repeat of what happened at Lambeau, that's for sure.
Do we see a step back for Jay and the offense, or does it stay consistent with last week's performance (or even improve). I know it's an easier matchup, but weirder things have happened on Sundays...
Michael (2:16 PM)
I sort of think Cutler is about to hit the sweet spot he hit last year when he was lighting up everybody before the injury. The shame of it is he's gonna hit it right before the bye week. I don't know if that'll slow down the momentum though because the Bears, in the last three years, have actually improved coming out of the bye.
Bruce (New Jersey)
I know Hester had the great route and TD catch on Monday. But it seems the Bears can't figure out how to use him. I see how the Packers have used Randall Cobb. Why can't the Bears get similar dynamic production from Hester on offense?
Michael (2:18 PM)
Bruce, I think that's a question the staff continues to ponder. Like you, I believe they just haven't found the way to utilize Hester in the most impactful way. I think it's coming because unlike the last offensive coordinator, this one is committed to turning Hester into a weapon the team can utilize. So I see his role evolving as the season continues and as the staff continues to find the best ways to use him.
Michael, you are a well acomplished writer who can probably work anywhere so why do you choose to cover a team that you clearly don't like? Or, are you just having a bad day? Thanks.
Michael (2:21 PM)
Never have a bad day, Kevin. The great thing about these chats is I get to choose the questions I answer. Seems today the majority of the questions are about the media's supposed obsession with bashing Cutler. I think what needs to be understood is that regardless of what happens in a game - positive or negative - there are always going to be great stories to tell. I think it also needs to be understood that many times I (and probably others) cringe when Cutler does something that can be construed as a negative because I really don't want to have to write those stories. But as part of the job, you have to.
Michael- I think the questions about the medias view on the Cutler issue has been a personal rub on you with unintention. When we as fans say media there are media like chicago tribune, sun times, TV people (National Media/Big Media) and then there is the people we respect and log in to talk to like you here. I don't think when we say media we are meaning you. I think nationally way to much is made of Cutler and I think most of it comes from people like trent Diltard and others of his type. I am in a family that has been Bears fans since Decatur. We and all bears fans loves tough players and tough QB (McMahon) we love Jay.. I mean surely you can see why the National Medias attention of this frustrates us.
Michael (2:22 PM)
I'll admit they do rub me the wrong way, John.
Seriously Mike, I might die if you don't give me an idea of what to do during the bye week. You gonna turn your back on me just cause my question is a little unusual? This is my life Mike.
Michael (2:23 PM)
Man, there's college football to watch and other NFL games. You should go catch a youth football game. I love to watch the kids out there pouring out their hearts for the sheer love of the game.
What is your prediction for Sunday's game against Jacksonville?
Michael (2:24 PM)
I give the Bears this one, but I don't think it's going to be as easy as folks think. I think heat could be a factor, but I see the Bears winning 24-13.
Can Michael Wilbon host one of these chats ever? Besides yourself, he is my favorite ESPN writer, dude everyone loves Wilbon... knuckleheads.
Michael (2:24 PM)
You're correct, Leonard. I'll ask Mike next time I see him. He's as good a person as he is a journalist.
Stephen (Riverdale) [via mobile]
How is Matt Forte's ankle? Will it be an injury that lingers throughout the season?
Michael (2:27 PM)
Stephen, I think there's still some soreness. But I don't think it will linger throughout the season because of the way Forte takes care of his body. He's obsessive about this stuff. This is a guy sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, and using an ARP machine on that ankle. I see him continuing to do those extensive treatments until that ankle is totally healthy.
What's your favorite memory from Jacksonville when covering the Jaguars?
Michael (2:29 PM)
Probably the year they beat Pittsburgh twice in the same season at Heinz Field. It was an unbelieveable season and they happened to have run into a red hot New England team that was still on that undefeated streak. The Jags actually played well in that playoff game, but Tom Brady was too much for them.
Does home field really make a difference anymore in football or any other sport (home ice for hockey enthusiasts, home court for basketball)? Teams go up to GB now and beat the Packers, just ask the last however many teams since 2007. Every team it seems, with the exception of Seattle, really don't have a true home field advantage. So in theory, GB can do the exact same thing it did in Week 2 when they come here. In theory, however I hope it doesn't happen.
Michael (2:29 PM)
Eric, I really don't see that happening. I DO think the Bears have a pretty distinct homefield advantage at Soldier Field.
Michael, isnt it true that the "big winners in this league" have always had great O-lines to protect them for the majority of their careers? pure speculation but would Tom Brady still be a HOFer if he played behind the Bears O-line for the majority of his career? thanks
Michael (2:30 PM)
No that's not true. Ben Roethlisberger got a ring w/a bad O-line.
Michael (2:31 PM)
Folks, that's my time. Thanks for the great questions.