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 noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Michael (1:05 PM)
Sorry I'm a little late. Had password issues that the tech guys had to sort out for me. Let's get to it.
Do you get the feeling that Chicago might have to look more to guys like Earl Bennett and Eric Weems in this game, since Seattle has the pieces in the secondary to potentially shut Marshall down (with enough attention)?
Michael (1:06 PM)
Jon, I definitely think the Bears need contributions from Bennett and Weems if this offense is ever to meet its potential. I'm not sure Seattle will shut down Marshall because it will be bold enough to play him in single coverage (big no-no).
Johnny [via mobile]
I married a girl because I thought she was into sports like me, now that I'm married. I find out she has never liked sports, wha should I do?
Michael (1:07 PM)
You ever heard the song "It's Cheaper to Keep Her" by Johnnie Taylor? If not, I suggest you Google it and take a listen.
john (michigan) [via mobile]
Do you think Alshon Jeffrey will be back for the green bay game?
Michael (1:09 PM)
John, there's a good possiblity for that. The timeline was approximately two weeks. But with a minor knee procedure such as the one Jeffery underwent, it will be a matter of how rehabilitation and how he feels. Some guys come back from these things quicker than others. My hunch is he'll be back, but I don't know that at this point for sure. I'll definitely be checking into it next week.
Tony (Santa Monica)
Is there nobody out there worth taking a look at now, that might help the offensive line? This defense only has so many years to be super bowl ready.
Michael (1:10 PM)
Not right now, Tony. If there were good offensive linemen available, they certainly wouldn't be out on the streets. Besides that, the trade deadline has passed. So you can't expect the Bears to do anything to address the offensive line until the offseason. They've got to go with what they've got.
Kory Kovachevich (Chitown)
Hey Mike, love ya work! So what should we expect from my buddy Earl "Gray" Bennet? Will he come up huge or fizzle like an alka seltzer. I needs to know.
Michael (1:12 PM)
Thanks, Kory. I think he'll play even better than he did against Minnesota last week. It all comes down to whether Jay Cutler looks his way. Cutler obviously loves going to Brandon Marshall. But if Seattle shuts him down, then the other guys such as Bennett have to step up. He's more than capable of doing that. But it's all about opportunities for him.
Zach (Tucson) [via mobile]
It's a shame that alshon has only played a handful of games, just bad luck. But when he's healthy, along with Marshall, Bennett, and maybe Johnny Knox? How good can this receiving eventually be?
Michael (1:13 PM)
Zach, I think the receiving corps has some potential. But I wouldn't count on Johnny Knox being a guy this team will move forward with in the future. His contract is up after this season, and I seriously doubt they'll re-sign him with so many question marks concerning his long-term health. So I wouldn't be surprised if the Bears wind up adding to the group through free agency or the draft.
If the line doesn't perform well Sunday, could we see a Gurode appearance?
Michael (1:15 PM)
Was just talking to someone about that, Steve. That would be gutsy on the Chicago's part to do that, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. Given that Gurode has been more of a center, I'd guess the Bears might consider moving him to center, then sliding Roberto Garza over to guard, which is his more natural position anyway. But things would really have to be going badly (or they'd have to have more injuries) for the Bears to make such a drastic move.
Rena Menkes (Chicago)
Hey Michael! Hi! So, do you see the Seahawks physical corner givin the Bears fits? Or do you see Brandon Marshall gettin Paul Bunyan on them and getting the job done? #Bearzzz
Michael (1:17 PM)
Rena, this is the type of matchup that Brandon Marshall loves. In fact, if you check his body of work, Marshall seems to play better against physical corners. He's basically salivating right now at the thought of Sunday's matchup. But it wouldn't surprise me if Seattle threw a curveball at him and the Bears and either doubled Marshall or play a ton of two-man.
Am I right in thinking that Chicago's starting offensive line hasn't suffered that much with the recent changes? Scott was an instant upgrade over Carimi at RT, and Williams is on the same level at LG as Rachal or Spencer were. If Carimi can provide solid RG play (looked good last week), their starters are fine (relative to what they had).It's their depth that scares me now, as their first 2 guys off the bench weren't even on the team 2 weeks ago.
Michael (1:18 PM)
Jon, I think we're seeing this the same. I'm really not concerned with the offensive line in this game.
Lovie said Hester will be out "a while", do you think he'll be back before the playoffs?
Michael (1:19 PM)
I do, Brandon.
With Hester out on Saturday, will Sanzenbacher be active for the game?
Michael (1:20 PM)
Mike, that's my guess. And if Sanzenbacher is active, this presents the perfect opportunity for him to earn playing time down the road. He's been inactive for all but three games so far this season. So this could be his shot.
Brian (Santa Fe)
Do you think the Bears will finally invest heavily (draft picks & fre agency) in the OL
Michael (1:24 PM)
Brian, using draft picks on offensive linemen doesn't ensure they'll perform once they get into the league. I think people think just because you draft an offensive lineman it'll automatically fix whatever issues there are on the offensive line. It doesn't work that way. The Bears have learned that the hard way in using first-round picks on Chris Williams and Gabe Carimi (I'm not writing him off yet, though). In free agency, it's difficult to land good offensive linemen because they command pretty high salaries and usually, their original teams will step up to pay those salaries. Teams won't simply trade away good offensive linemen or let them walk in free agency because they protect most teams' most valuable asset: the quarterback.
I really really love the work Adam Podlesh put in last week. Is his job secure, even with the team bringing in other punters?
Michael (1:27 PM)
Himmel, I think so. Special teams coach Dave Toub said yesterday that they brought those guys in simply to take a look, which is what they do typically on Tuesdays. The issue with Podlesh was purely technical, Toub explained; sort of like a golf swing. Toub said that special-teams assistant Kevin O'Dea really worked with Podlesh all last week on not kicking across the ball, and the work paid off with the punter finishing with a 43.3-yard net average.
Ben (Dover, WA)
Cutler for MVP, are these guys crazy Mike? Sure the team is bad without him, sure hes 13-2 over his last 15 starts, but what about the 6'6 reciever that has over 1,000 yards after 11 games. I like Jay Cutler, but to put him above Marshal as the most valuable player to the bears just seems kinda crazy don't you think?
Michael (1:28 PM)
I agree with you, Ben. The offense definitely struggles without Cutler in the mix. But he's hardly the MVP.
What do the Bears have to do to stop the Beast of Seattle? Teams have been running well agaist the Bears resently.
Michael (1:30 PM)
James, they have. But interestingly, the Seahawks are 6-6 when Marshawn Lynch rushes for 100 yards or more. So a 100-yard rushing performance for Lynch might be sort of a useless stat when determining how his performance would raise Seattle's chances of winning. Besides that, he's not even averaging 3 yards per carry in games against the Bears.
Caleb (Los Angeles)
Michael, I think Shea McClellin would be an awesome SLB rushing the QB, alla Von Miller in Denver. Think the Bears might go that route?
Michael (1:31 PM)
Caleb, that would mean the Bears would have to change the defensive system. They're not going to do that for one player.
Brandon, Springfield MO [via mobile]
How did Tillman, Briggs, and Forte look on those ankles, reports are they will play, if they do will they be effective?
Michael (1:31 PM)
They'll be fine, Brandon.
Is Hester's trade value basically shot at this point? Bears couldn't get a 4th or 5th round pick for him could they?
Michael (1:32 PM)
Todd, he's never had any trade value. I talked to several personnel execs and some coaches around the league during training camp, and all of them said they wouldn't give up anything more than a seventh-round pick for Hester because he doesn't give you anything as a receiver.
Is it my imagination, or is Forte not getting as many passes thrown his way? It just seems as though he's not getting enough touches to really make an impact in every game.
Michael (1:33 PM)
Evan, it's not your imagination. Forte isn't getting as many opportunities in the receiving game. But that's just the way it has to be right now. Most of the time, Forte is either staying in to block or chipping, which takes him out of routes as a potential receiver.
If the Bears continue their struggles on offense, do the Bears go with Jeremy Bates next year as O-coordinator?
Michael (1:35 PM)
This is going to come off badly, but I'd encourage you to check Jeremy Bates' record as an OC. Basically, teams he's led haven't won anything. The numbers don't lie.
Joe and Jasper Hughes (Chicago)
Hey Michael, were going on a father-son Bears tailgate. Whats the best Bears tailgate food to have?
Michael (1:36 PM)
I'm a barbecue guy. So if I were to tailgate, I'd throw a brisket on the smoker the day before (since it'll take about 18 hours or so) or a Boston Butt.
Rena Menkes (Chicago)
Hey, I'm back! Quick Q: Will Eric Weems be returning punts and kickoffs on Sunday? Ok, BYE!
Michael (1:37 PM)
What is it going to take for Davis to be demoted? His play continues to be suspect, yet I don't see him losing many snaps.
Michael (1:38 PM)
Evan, he did make a big catch on one of the team's scoring drives near the goal line. The reason he's not losing any snaps is because no other viable options have emerged.
Caleb (Los Angeles)
Denver runs a 4-3 Defense just like Chicago does. Von Miller drops into coverage, but makes huge plays rushing the QB. Could Shea have the same impact, essentially replacing Nick Roach down the road.
Michael (1:38 PM)
They play it differently.
Could Shea be a future replacement for Urlacher? They're basically the same size and speed.
Michael (1:39 PM)
No. They don't plan on using McClellin as a linebacker. They drafted him to play defensive end, and they've said several times that there are no plans to move him to linebacker.
Will the Bears o-line see success like they did last week with new changes again this week? Or should we all be scared for Cutler's life?
Michael (1:42 PM)
Dustin, I think they'll be O.K. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice will do everything he can schematically to protect that offensive line. Obviously, Jay Cutler has to help by getting rid of the ball quickly and with his scrambles. The Bears can solve a lot of potential issues simply by establishing the rushing attack, which shouldn't be a problem because new starting guards Edwin Williams and Gabe Carimi excel at run blocking.
Reinhold (South Side)
Hypothetically, if Forte ends up sitting out and Bush had a career game could we see Forte get moved to second string?
Michael (1:43 PM)
Reinhold, one thing you'll learn about the NFL is it's ALWAYS about the money. Given what they're paying Forte, I seriously doubt he'd get demoted. Not this season, anyway.
Rome (Chicago) [via mobile]
Now I would want Urlacher to stay in at MLB for as long as he can. But at some point we need to get a prospect to groom under him so he can take over when Urlacher does decide to retire. When do you think the Bears will address the LBs?
Michael (1:45 PM)
Rome, a little known fact is that last year in free agency, the Bears actually were considering David Hawthorne, who wound up signing with the Saints. Hawthorne would've come in to play SAM with the thought that he could be the future successor to Urlacher. So the Bears have been thinking about it. Trust me, those guys get paid the big bucks for a reason.
Michael, I'm interested in seeing Forte and Bush on the field at the same time. Has Chicago considered lining Forte up out wide with Bush in the backfield? I'd rather have Forte as my #4 WR than Sanzenbacher at this point.
Michael (1:46 PM)
Jon, they've actually done that in some games.
Brian Welch (Chicago)
Russell Wilson...meet Julius Peppers. Do something!
Michael (1:48 PM)
He definitely needs to do something considering Peppers hasn't more than two tackles over his last 10 games, and hasn't posted a sack in three games.
Matt (Lincoln Park)
This question is a little bit out of place, but for which games have opposing defenses played "two-man" on Marshall? All I know is the GB and Hou games... and they didn't go well.
Michael (1:48 PM)
San Francisco, too.
Angel (Chicago )
We got dale moss on practice squad. Will he be activated Sunday
Michael (1:49 PM)
Angel, he hasn't even been here a week. I doubt it. He hasn't had enough time to learn the system.
Marky Mark Neforas (Chicago)
Brandon Marshall saying viagra is used in the NFL? I need more info!
Michael (1:51 PM)
He said he "heard" stories of that. He didnt say he knew definitively.
Do you and Webb Nation sit around and talk about the good ole days at West Texas?
Michael (1:51 PM)
Nope. Now, Lovie Smith has talked smack to me a few times about how when he was at Tulsa they used to kick our butts because they used to be in the same conference.
How much does the average coach (or even Lovie/Tice/etc.) pay attention to the stuff you guys write? Do they follow ESPN? Do they see it when you guys (and us) tell them to run the ball more, or get the ball to Bennett more, or what-have-you? Does it have an effect? Just curious. Keep up the good work!
Michael (1:53 PM)
Dan, I used to think they didn't pay attention. But they definitely watch very closely. I've gotten the dreaded phone calls from coaches upset about what we've written/reported, or emails/calls/texts from personnel execs and GMs. Sometimes players even text to find out what we might know about THEIR team.
as response to your "money plays" comment, how about Seattle paying all this money for him to ride the bench.
Michael (1:54 PM)
You're definitely right about Matt Flynn. But the reason we're talking about it is because that rarely happens.
Matt (Lincoln Park)
To me, a big thing with a short, mobile QB like Wilson would be to keep him in the pocket to limit his vision and scrambling. Do you think the Bears are well-suited to do just that?
Michael (1:56 PM)
Well, from what I"ve seen, Wilson has been more of a pocket passer than anything else. Yes he's mobile, but running around really isn't his game anyway.
Haven't teams played two-man on Marshall in pretty much every game? He always attracts extra attention.
Michael (1:56 PM)
No, they haven't.
Can you please tell people that Webb is not the biggest concern on the OL? Has Webb become average?
Michael (1:57 PM)
Darryl, I'll let you do it. I do think there's some concern about Webb because of his inconsistency. One game, he'll shut down one of the better defensive ends in the league. The next, he'll let some scrub nobody has ever heard of dominate him. That's kind of concerning to not only me, but the Bears coach staff, too.
I want Manti Te'o on the Bears. I say Emery should trade up to get him...Green Bay consistently has a great QB...Chicago has always had great linebackers...who better than Te'o to fill the gap when Urlacher leaves?
Michael (1:59 PM)
Brogan, I've watched him play, but haven't actually looked closely at tape on him. So I don't know how he translates as a potential Mike in the NFL. Besides, that's Emery's job. When I get a chance to talk to Emery, I'll ask him what he sees on tape.
Scott (Marquette, MI)
What do you think of Devin Hester's problem in the return game? Why is he having trouble? He hasn't been that effective this year.
Michael (2:00 PM)
I think you've got to give the other teams some credit, Scott. We've been spoiled by all the big returns Hester has had. So when he's not dominating teams we automatically blame him. I'd say it's a combination of teams gearing up to stop him, blocking from the return unit, and Hester being a little indecisive at times.
Do you think matt forte should rush back to play this game. That injury looked horrible last week and it would suck if that injury lingered because he came back too soon.
Michael (2:01 PM)
D, Matt said yesterday that this latest ankle injury wasn't as bad as the one he suffered in Week 2 at Green Bay. So for him to play Sunday against Seattle wouldn't be rushing anything in my opinion. He says he feels good. I'll take him at his word.
Michael (2:02 PM)
Guys, that's my time. I hope all of you enjoy the weekend. Keep checking back with us on ESPNChicago.com for all things Bears. Y'all be cool.