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 p.m. CT/Noon ET!
Michael (1:01 PM)
Hello everyone. Big game this week. Let's get started.
There's really no reason at all to think the Packers aren't trying to destroy the Vikings right?
Michael (1:04 PM)
Roland, I can't say I agree with you on this one my man. First off, we know that Aaron Rodgers isn't playing behind the best offensive line in football. We also know that Vikings DE Jared Allen plays incredibly fast at home and that crowd noise will be an issue inside the dome. Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 210 yards last time these teams play, will be motivated to break Eric Dickerson's record. So if Peterson goes crazy, it means the Vikings are chewing clock/limiting possessions by the Packers. Oh yeah, Minnesota needs to win this game to get into the playoffs. So I wouldn't be so quick to write the Vikings off. Sure, Green Bay wants that No. 2 seed. But its already in the playoffs. The Vikings are not.
mike (raleigh) [via mobile]
Michael, I thought Brigg's comments on playing for Lovie and their football way of life was interesting. Hopefully that will motivate them that extra bit this Sunday. However, with our lack of consistent success, would you say this "football way of life" that Lovie has created is more beneficial or harmful to the Bears?
Michael (1:08 PM)
That's a great question, Mike. I'd say that in some ways the culture could be a double-edged sword for the guys that have spent a considerable amount of time here such as Briggs and Brian Urlacher. But at the same time, those guys have seen Smith jettison out some household names such as Tommie Harris and Chris Harris. So I think Smith does a great job of balancing being a player's coach and making prudent decisions. You can't deny, however, the record over the past two seasons in December and January. The only constant I see in both situations is deficiencies in personnel (no backup QB in 2011, horrid OL now). I don't see Smith's style or play calling as the issue. The Bears just need better players on offense and depth on defense.
Lovie said Forte "looked good." Can you help define what good is?
Michael (1:08 PM)
Good as in good enough to play Sunday against the Lions.
Jim (Westerville, OH)
On the issue of how hard the Packers may play - one would have to think they would much rather knock out the Vikings and potentially face the Bears in the playoffs - a team they know they can beat and beat with relative ease. Minny on the other hand has played them tough once and if they were to win Sunday go into the playoffs with a ton of confidence and momentum.
Michael (1:10 PM)
I agree with your take on the Vikings, Jim. They've won three in a row and Adrian Peterson is in beast mode. At the same time, it's more important in my opinion for the Packers to get that first-round bye so they can rest up some of their banged up players, and play have homefield advantage. That's more important than which team they'll eventually face.
Tom S. (Sacramento)
Is this game against the Lions a single-elimination playoff game for Lovie's job?
Michael (1:13 PM)
I don't like answering questions about people's jobs. But I'll make an exception in this case and say I don't think so. I've said it tons of times that the issue with this team isn't coaching. It's personnel. When your best two offensive linemen are average players, that's a major issue. People talk about Mike Tice's play calling but don't realize how limited he is in what he can dial up. Because of the deficiencies on the OL and at TE and WR, most of the time, an entire side of the field is taken away in terms of what the OC can call.
Bob (Scottsdale, AZ)
Which is a worse situation for the Bears: keeping Tice for another year or switching to yet another coordinator for Cutler?
Michael (1:14 PM)
Switching coordinators. Cutler can't keep trying to learn new offensive systems. Just when it seemed he was getting a firm grasp of Mike Martz's system, the blame game ran the coach out of town. That doesn't need to happen again. If it continues, Jay will never live up to his potential.
Hey Michael, It seems that everybody is focused on the Vikings-Packers game. The Lions are going to be fired up with a chance to oust the Bears from the playoffs. Is this team overlooking the Lions?
Michael (1:16 PM)
Jimmy, they better not be overlooking the Lions. And I don't think they are, based on what I've seen at practice and in the locker room. Detroit fields one of the best offenses in the league, and its playing essentially without a runnig game. The Bears know what's at stake, and they're not taking this lightly at all.
Patrick (Orland Park)
People have pointed to personnel deficiencies in the Bears roster, but how much of a role has Lovie played in these decisions? i.e. drafting a safety every year instead of o-linemen.
Michael (1:17 PM)
Patrick, Lovie doesn't draft players. He has input just like other members of the coaching staff. Ultimately, the GM makes the final decision on personnel.
Bob (Scottsdale, AZ)
What are the vibes like at Halas Hall right now with so much talk about Lovie's job, losing 5 of the past 7, etc?
Michael (1:18 PM)
Bob, it's all noise to the Bears and they're not even discussing any of that. The focus is solely on the Lions.
Omar (Salinas, Ca)
Michael you are awesome. I love your work. Do you think we will ever see Jay Cutler play at an elite level? If yes what do you think it will take for him to play at that level? An accomplished OC, Better Line, TE, better WR, or what? It's frustrating watching the Bears every year and it is the same story. Good defense but Poor to mediocre QB play. When will we see and elite season out of the QB position???
Michael (1:23 PM)
Thanks for the kind words, Omar. I'm not sure you're going to like my answer here, but for me, the best predictor of the future is what I've seen in the past. So far, Cutler hasn't shown me that he's a winner. Does he possess "elite" talent? Absolutely. But it seems that over the past four years, there has always been some type of built-in excuse for Cutler. Whether it's a lack of weapons, or a talented offensive line, there always seems to be a reason why Cutler hasn't lived up to expectations. The reason in my opinion is that he's just not as good a player as people want to say he is. It's just my opinion, but he's been in the league seven years now and he hasn't shown me the propensity to play at an elite level. He put up huge numbers in Denver for sure. But those teams never won anything. Winning trumps everything in my book.
I am sick of how so many people say Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback than Jay Cutler....you included. Rodgers has been in the same system for a number of years and he also got to learn behind one of the best ever. I will say he does play behind a poor offensive line but he also has 3-4 more weapons at wide receiver than Cutler does. His receivers know how to run routes and get open. We only have one that can do that and I am thinking Alshon Jefferey will be much better at it next year. Can you quit comparing two quarterbacks in totally different situations please?
Michael (1:24 PM)
David, if we go by your logic then we can't compare any quarterbacks in the NFL since there are 32 different situations around the league, right?
Chris Shanafelt (South Side Chicago)
Is it safe to say that we will watch a physical/dirty game against the Lions?
Michael (1:26 PM)
When hasn't it been, Chris? This series has gotten downright nasty in recent years, and I'm sure you've seen all the back and forth between Henry Melton and Dominic Raiola. This will be a very chippy game. And guess what? I can't wait to see it.
Hey Michael,My girlfriend seems to think we won't be watching the Bears-Lions game Sunday because we will be at Disney World in Orlando. Starting to think she doesn't know me very well. If by chance I lose this battle with her, can you hook me up with the play by play via text? Thanks man! Go Bears!
Michael (1:27 PM)
David, as much as I'd love to help you out, there are tons of other Bears fans out there, too. Your best bet would be to get on our Cover It Live as we chat during the game, or follow me on Twitter @mikecwright.
Joe B (Oxford, CT)
Are the Bears conscious of how dangerous the 4-11 Lions are with their pass rush at home in the dome and the passing game with Stafford to Johnson? Please tell me they will not go in overconfident.
Michael (1:29 PM)
Because if they do Joe, it could be the end for the Bears. I'm pretty positive the Bears won't go into this thing overconfident. In fact, my guess is they'll treat this like a playoff game.
Chris (Los Angeles)
Can you give me an example of a QB who has won the Super Bowl with a line as bad as ours? Of course you can compare QB's but surely you can admit that winning is largely dependent on many more factors than the QB alone, no?
Michael (1:35 PM)
This question is exactly what I'm talking about. Last I checked, Green Bay's situation when it won the Super Bowl in 2010 was as bad as the Bears. Going just off the top of my head, I believe Cutler was sacked more times than Rodgers that season. So I'll give you that. But Cutler and the Bears had a chance to knock the Packers out of the playoffs in the season finale of that year and failed on that account. If I'm not mistaken, the Packers finished that season with somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 people on the IR. The best QBs improve the folks around them. I agree that winning involves more than just the QB, but when it's no coincidence that when you have a good one, your chances of winning increase dramatically.
Michael (1:36 PM)
Guys that's my time. I appreciate you guys taking time out of your day during the holiday season to come chat with me. Hopefully we'll be talking about the playoffs when we talk again next week.