Chat with Wright, Jurko
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Thursday, our Chicago Bears reporter Michael Wright and John Jurkovic stop by to chat some football.
Wright joined ESPNChicago in April 2010 and covers the Bears for both ESPNChicago.com and Chicago's ESPN Radio 1000. Jurko played 10 NFL seasons and now co-hosts the Afternoon Saloon on ESPN 1000 in Chicago.
Send your questions now and join the chat Thursday at 11 a.m. CT/noon ET!
Michael (11:59 AM)
Hello folks. Here at Halas Hall ready to get the day started. But as you know, it can't start without a chitchat with you guys. So let's get it.
What's the latest in Cutler? Will he be ready to go this Sunday?
Michael (12:00 PM)
JD, Jay Cutler took limited reps, and shared time on the first team with backup Todd Collins. Honestly, I don't see him playing. I know we've heard otherwise. But let's just call this a gut feeling.
Denis (Buffalo Grove)
What kind of contributions should we expect from the newly acquired Grant?
Michael (12:02 PM)
Denis, Charles Grant isn't what you'd call a run stuffer. So my guess is if he contributes at all this week, it will be on passing downs. He's still got to learn the club's scheme, which shouldn't be overly complicated for a defensive end. But I figure his contributions this week will be relative to his learning curve. Even then, I figure he'll contribute mostly on passing downs.
Dustin (windy city)
whats up jurko and wright! I keep reading how JA keeps saying they always look to upgrade the team and they look at all free agents etc. Then why didnt he get a mcneil,v.jackson,moss...some names to throw out???
Michael (12:02 PM)
Dustin, it's all about the money baby. The Bears simply can't afford or won't spend to get those types of guys.
I told you the Giants would run against us :( those cut backs killed us!
Michael (12:04 PM)
I already knew that. Go back and check out my keys to the game from last week. Cutback runners will always give the Bears trouble because they're so small up front. What happens is the runner gets the defense going one way. Then when he cuts back, the defenders have a tough time getting off blocks because of that lack of size.
Mr. Hughes (Round Lake, IL)
Good afternoon gentlemen, I was very shocked with the quickness of the trade involving randy moss, a player of his caliber gone essentially overnight, I was wondering with our o-line struggling for years now, just how hard is it to find quality linemen up front? Why haven't we solved that problem yet? Thanks.
Michael (12:06 PM)
Mr. Hughes, the problem is that the Bears haven't invested enough in linemen through the draft. Good offensive linemen are difficult to find on the street. Why else are they there? I don't like to take shots at folks, but investing in quality offensive linemen should've been a no brainer for general manager Jerry Angelo. Everyone knows that great teams are built from the inside out.
Melvin (North Carolina)
Would you predict that Chris Williams plays in Week 6 or Week 7? I'm thinking Week 7 would be smarter to make sure he doesn't have recurring injury problems the rest of the season and an extra week due to the bye
Michael (12:07 PM)
Melvin, I'm thinking it could be sooner. Much sooner.
I know it will not happen, but would you give the Pats a call and offer up a 1st rounder for Logan Mankins? Would his future contract be too much money to spend on a guard?
Michael (12:08 PM)
No, man. If I'm a general manager, I'm treating first-round picks like gold. Besides that, how long have the Bears gone without a first-round pick because of all this wheeling and dealing?
Jason (Los Angeles, CA)
Whats up guys. If Cutler doesn't start do you think Collins can carry the offense to a W? I personally think Hanie is a much better option.
Michael (12:10 PM)
With the offensive line problems, Jason, Caleb Hanie might be the better option because of his mobility. However, Collins is better versed in the intricacies of the system as a passer. Collins is a pretty good rhythm passer. So he's a nice fit in the system. Can Collins carry the offense to a W? Definitely. He did it quite a few times when he was with the Redskins.
Nathan (Charlotte, NC)
Long time Bears fan who now lives in Charlotte, and hoping to see Cutler play here sunday, if he is questionable, then there is a 75% chance he won't play right? what do you think?
Michael (12:11 PM)
Nathan, questionable is 50-50. But I seriously don't think he'll play. But I've been wrong before.
Rex (Milwaukee, WI)
Will we see more Chester Taylor this week with the running game struggling to get going with Forte?
Michael (12:12 PM)
Rex, we need to. So far this season, Taylor has run the ball 31 fewer times than Forte, but averages nearly a yard more per carry. To me, Taylor is a better inside runner and does a good job of making defenders miss in tight spaces.
brandon (Phoenix, AZ)
How can you say Cutler won't play this week when Matt Moore was hospitalized with a concussion he started the next week? His concussion seemed to be much more severe and he still played
Michael (12:15 PM)
That's true, Brandon. I'm just telling you that it's my gut feeling that Cutler won't play. Besides that it's all about how Cutler does on the neurological testing, and every individual will test differently. I know you guys want Cutler in the lineup, but the team needs to do what's best for the quarterback's future. Concussions are devastating in the long term, we're all learning. Cutler is the franchise quarterback. So don't sacrifice the guy's future for one start against an 0-4 team.
Do you think Martz should simplify his play calls or stick to the complexity he is known for in the hopes the Bears' O eventually picks it up?
Michael (12:16 PM)
Keith, glad you asked. Martz said yesterday if he went back to basics, it would be a sign that he didn't believe in what they were doing. Martz said that's definitely not the case. The plan, he said, his to diminish the volume. I guess you can call that simplification.
Melvin (North Carolina)
Michael, What are you impressions of J'Marcus Webb. I know it's hard to judge rookies, but does he look as promising to you as the coaches seem to think?
Michael (12:18 PM)
He looks very promising, Melvin. He's a big, strong, athletic guy with a nasty on-field demeanor. His shortcoming, according to Mike Tice, is that he has to learn how to take NFL coaching, in addition to learning how to consistently prepare.
Joel M (kalamazoo, MI)
why is jurko never in these sports chats??????
Michael (12:18 PM)
Joel, he'll be here in about 40 minutes.
Mark Bowgren (Chicago)
Why don't da Bear try to coax Kurt Warner out of retirement?
Michael (12:19 PM)
Mark, if Arizona couldn't coax him out, how would the Bears?
Matt Mead (Chi City)
Michael, although I can understand your gut feeling as to Jay not playing this Sunday, but do not underestimate Cutler's toughness. The guy has not missed a game due to injury yet in his career and after and embarrassing loss I am willing to bet that he will be back in action Sunday. Have the bears said anything yet?
Michael (12:21 PM)
Matt, toughness is one thing. Stupidity is another. You can't roll the dice on your brain, man. I think you need that after football is done. As for the Bears, they've been very tight-lipped about the situation. We should know more here in the next couple of hours when they go out to the practice field. In my mind, though, Cutler not speaking to the media yesterday was somewhat of a sign that he might not be playing.
Will DA ever play again, what have the other receivers done to make him expendable...I've seen nothing
Michael (12:23 PM)
That makes two of us, Adrian. I think Devin will see the field again in the coming weeks. He just needs to keep his mouth shut, go out to practice every day and prove he deserves to play. I'm told some of the folks inside the building were put off by Aromashodu's remarks after the Packers' game.
Michael -- I've heard you say twice now that Grant isn't a "run stuffer," but I think you are wrong on that. That was his game witht he Saints. He's big, plays the run extremely well, and can occasionally get upfield for a sack. He has almost 600 tackles in over 8 years, which is great for a DE, right? Just look at his comments after he joined the team. He talked about basically shutting down the run on his side of the field.
Michael (12:25 PM)
Well, Iceman, I'll say it for a third time, then. I'm basing my opinion on what I've seen of him. I actually paid quite a bit of attention to him in the preseason. I also called up one of my scout friends in Miami to ask about him. The Dolphins actually really liked him. They just didn't want to pay him from what I'm told.
Roger (San Diego)
Michael, It is obvious that Frank Omiyale is horrible and Chris Williams is a 1st round bust and appears to be injury prone. Why can't management recognize their mistakes and try to upgrade by going after Mankins or McNeil?
Michael (12:27 PM)
Roger, glad you said that. Really, Omiyale hasn't been as horrible as you think. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the interior and right sides of the line are the problems. In fact, 12 of the 18 sacks have come from the interior or right side of the line. Interesting, huh? I plan on writing about that a little more later.
brandon (Phoenix, AZ)
can you explain to me why the bears weren't willing to give ogunyele 850k but they gave some 32 year old off the street 800k?
Michael (12:29 PM)
Let me take it further, Brandon. Why would they pay a guy the Saints released to make room for the guy (Alex Brown) the Bears released?
How rare is it to see a D-Linemen converted to O-Line. Tommie Harris has seemingly lost the quickness that made him a good DT, but would he still be quick enough to play on the o-line? The guards look downright terrible and Schafer got destroyed.
Michael (12:30 PM)
Dan, that's very difficult because on the offensive line, you're reacting as opposed to attacking. That would be an interesting experiment, though.
So 6 sacks came from the left? 6 sacks, from the left, in 4 games.. that still sounds awful
Michael (12:31 PM)
Brodie, I'm laughing at that because you're so correct.
Nathan (New York City): (12:39 PM)
Michael, do you think the Bears Front Office is really regreting letting go of Alex Brown right now? and how do you think coach tice, and martz will make adjustments like he said yesterday?
Michael (12:39 PM)
Guys, just wanted to let you know the Bears just announced that Todd Collins will be starting against the Carolina Panthers. You'll see a story soon on the site.
Michael (12:40 PM)
Sorry guys, was having some technical difficulties. But looks like things are working now. My apologies.
So, what's the scoop on Chris Williams' hamstring injury? It sure seems like he would be back by now cause he's not a skilled position player.
danny martinez (rockford,il)
are we looking into the charles grant pickup too much.. it seems to tell me that idonije will pick up more snaps and grant may see what a back up in this defense would see.. maybe 10-15% of the snaps.. you know, kinda like what tommie harris sees.
Michael (12:41 PM)
Well, Nathan, Bears coach Lovie Smith was asked that same question yesterday. His response, "We don't have any regreat. We're looking forward to our future and going in this direction with the guys we have."
Rick (OC California)
What, Hanie is the man.
Michael (12:43 PM)
I told you guys. We'd heard from several sources that Collins would be the starter. But we couldn't go with it until we were absolutely sure. That's why I said, "Let's call it a hunch."
What's your opinion on the play of Harris/Manning so far? Does Wright get back anytime soon?
Michael (12:45 PM)
I'm stil not sold on Harris. I just don't think he's fast enough to consistently make plays for the Bears. Manning, meanwhile, in my opinion is balling. He needs to get better though at defending the pass. As for Wright, it's hard to tell. Hamstring injuries are difficult to return from sometimes. And we've been told it's significant. In fact, a month would be a very optimistic expectation for Wright's return.
What happened to my question?
Michael (12:46 PM)
Paul, had some technical difficulties earlier. That's why there was a gap in the chat. Resend and I'll make sure to answer.
Do you really think Chris Williams should be the starting LT, I mean he hurt his hamstring getting pushed back into Cutler.
Michael (12:47 PM)
Have you looked at the potential options for LT on the roster? Chris Williams is the best option, believe it or not. That definitely doesn't bode well for the talent assembled on the roster.
What has the mood been like at Halas Hall this week?
Michael (12:48 PM)
It hasn't been bad at all, Nathan. That was kind of surprising to me. The guys all seem pretty upbeat.
Repost- So, what's the scoop on Chris Williams' hamstring injury? It sure seems like he would be back by now cause he's not a skilled position player.
Michael (12:49 PM)
Paul, Lovie Smith keeps saying that Williams is "getting better". But there hasn't been a definitive prognosis for his return. Williams worked with a medical staffer on a side field yesterday. My guess is if he doesn't play this week, he'll be ready to return next week.
With Collins starting does that almost guarantee that we will be running the ball more, or is Martz comfortable with Collins?
Michael (12:52 PM)
Brodie, they needed to run the ball anyway. Even if Cutler was starting, they'd need to find a way to get that running game going. When you become one dimensional, you end up like the Bears did against the Giants, who basically pinned their ears back and came all the time because they knew the Bears weren't gonna run. Martz said yesterday that he was comfortable with Collins. Martz said, "Thta's our judgement," regarding Collins. "Todd's a guy who has played a great deal and won, and played exceptionally well at this level. We know what he is. It's just a question of getting him a little bit more familiar."
Are there any differences between covering the Bears and the Jaguars, other than the obvious ones (location)?
Michael (12:53 PM)
Huge differences. Jaguars PR staff is A LOT more helpful for starters.
Is Forte still the bona fide starter? I haven't seen anything from him that would warrant losing his starting job, but with this new accountability philosophy it seems like you never know for sure. Do you see Taylor stealing away a signifcant portion of the touches this week? I know running will now be a huge factor with Collins at QB.
Michael (12:55 PM)
Manimal, let me squash this "accountability" stuff. It's been publicized, but it's little more than a fantasy storyline. If you look at Lovie's history, he's always had no problem with making changes in personnel. As for Forte, I'd say a lot of the blame goes to the offensive line. It's hard to run when the o-line isn't opening up the holes. Now, given the current situation, I think Taylor is a better fit though. He does a better job of making something out of nothing than Forte.
What has Peppers said about his return to Carolina?
Michael (12:59 PM)
Chad, here's what he said: "Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to the game, going back to the place I'm fond of, a place I spent a lot of time and had a lot of great memories. I appreciate that city, the fans and everything they did for me. It should be fun. It's just another game. I think before the game, leading up to it, those emotions, you have to keep them in check. All the other stuff doesn't really matter once the ball is snapped. I'm not going to sit here and say I won't have a lot of thoughts and emotions going through because that's the reality of it."
Michael (1:00 PM)
Guys, that's my time. I've got to start what appears to be a pretty busy news day here at Halas Hall. Thanks for participating. Catch us here next week. I'm now handing it off to my man Jurko.
Jurko- Does Collins even have the arm strength to zip the ball deep out of these 7 step drops? I see the Bears now dramatically changing their game plan- Runs and 3 step drops.
Jurko (1:03 PM)
His arm isn't like Cutler's, but he's got enough arm strength to throw the ball 55 yards. He won't be throwing 59-yard bombs to Johnny Knox like Cutler, but he can hit the 20-17 yard outs.
Zach (Schaumburg, IL)
How is Hanie not getting a chance? Collins looked like a scared old man against the Giants. What is the thought process here?
Jurko (1:04 PM)
Don't worry about it. Hanie will probably get his chance before halftime after they cart Collins off the field. I like Hanie, but for some reason I don't think Martz does.
Roger (San Diego)
Good morning Jurko, Now that Collins is starting, do you think Martz will finally authorize a 3 step drop with this awful OL and I don't think Collins have a strong arm and it will be check down city and a running game attempt. What say you?
Jurko (1:05 PM)
I think you'll see more 3- or 5-step drops, with very few 7-step drops, which should benefit the O-line. Remember last week that the O-line was horrid. They can't be that bad this time.
paul (sioux falls sd )
Jurko what do you think of Eddie Williams at center or guard in the near future
Jurko (1:06 PM)
Eventually you'll have to find a replacement for Kreutz. I think that's his natural position, too. I think they're trying to find the next Andre Gurode when they should be looking for the next Tommy Nalen.
The game is sold out this week for the first time this season by the fans (not by Jerry Richardson), is this because of the story of Peppers, or because their could be more Bears fans?
Jurko (1:08 PM)
Combination of Peppers and Bears fans. There were 25k Bears fans in Dallas and there are usually an extra 6k need to be sold, so I'm sure Bears fans filled up the difference.
mike m (pittsburgh)
why does devin aromashodu not get any playing time? did he get hurt
Jurko (1:09 PM)
No, I don't think he has made a committment to block on the run and Martz doesn't like his blocking skills, so until someone gets hurt he's on the bench.
Wouldn't Randy Moss look great on the Bears right now?
Jurko (1:10 PM)
Yeah, but the patterns Moss likes to run take a long time to develop, which the O-line can't hold up for. Moss also doesn't have a lot of time left.
Do you think Peppers will come out for this game like Forrestt Whitaker did in Fast Times at Ridgemont High?
Jurko (1:11 PM)
I'm hoping Peppers has that type of game, and hopefully no one has to ruin his Trans-Am before the game. He'll be motivated, but they're still trying to find someone to compliment him on the line.
Do you think Forte, and Taylor will have a big week in Carolina?
Jurko (1:12 PM)
Receiving the ball, maybe. Running the ball, absolutely not. This O-line, for some reason, can't move people. I don't know if it's scheme or ability, but I'm guessing it's more of the latter.
I know Angelo now insists on keeping draft picks, but wouldn't get McNeil from the Chargers and sliding turn-styler Williams over to the RT, automatically make the o-line much better?
Jurko (1:13 PM)
McNeil is already signed, and Mankins from NE could be had for a second-round choice. Both would make the line better, but neither will happens.
What's your take on M. Anderson being released and then the Grant signing? It sure seems to me "accountability" doesn't reside at every position. Ex. T. Harris and Forte.
Jurko (1:14 PM)
Whatever abilities Marc Anderson has, did not display themselves on the field. There are a lot of talented guys walking the streets. What you need is football players. Being athletic is great, but it has to transfer onto the field.
Nathan (Arlington Heights)
In the preseason, it seemed as if we had some good holes for forte and taylor to run through though, why not now? we have the capabillity of a great 2 back system, but we cant throw the ball forever!
Jurko (1:15 PM)
In the preseason you're playing against guys who won't be in an NFL uniform. After the first couple series you're playing against guys who are walking the streets now. Just a different level of competition -- guys are just starting to play.
Do u think the bears have a chance of winning on Sunday without Jay Cutler
Jurko (1:16 PM)
Yes, there's a shot since Carolina is often and Jimmy Clausen is young and prome to making mistakes. If you can beat Dallas, I think you can beat Carolina with Todd Collins.
Corey B (Brookfield, IL)
Jurko, thanks for pointing out the interior of the line being the problem. Hard to stomach watching Kreutz & Garza whiff so many times. There has to be guys on the street who can play better, no?
Jurko (1:17 PM)
If there are people out there who are better, you hope they would be in there. It not's Tice -- I've seen him coach. At some point you need guys in there who can play the system and recognize what's coming at you.
ACE (Los Angeles, CA)
Jurko, what do you make of the new found cut throat attitude with Bears coaching staff and management? (I.E. - benching Harris, cutting Anderson, benching Bowman for missing a tackle against the Packers) Is this an attitude that Mike Martz brought over, or is it a Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo, we better win at all costs or we'll be out of job next year new found philosophy?
Jurko (1:18 PM)
This is an "our butts are going to be fired and we need to win now if we're going to stay in Chicago" attitude. Lovie is trying to convince the world that it's always been this way, but this is brand new -- and quite honestly, it's refreshing.
Corey B (Brookfield, IL)
Jurko, JD wrote that Kreutz was a superstar. Have you caused or witnessed his head injury?
Jurko (1:19 PM)
Kreutz went to six pro bowls -- he WAS a superstar. You have to realize over time that you can't do what you did when you were young. At one point he was one of the best centers in the league -- not anymore.
Mickey Sixx (Chicago)
Now that we know that Cutler is inactive Sunday, who will be the bears emergency 3rd quarterback against Carolina?
Jurko (1:20 PM)
There's no Marty Booker on this team, so they may sign somebody for the day just in case.
If the Bears where playing a tough opponent, not an 0-4 team, would Cutler be playing this week?
Jurko (1:21 PM)
Great question. The NFL would tell you no, regardless of the opponent Cutler would not play. But I believe that if it were a tougher opponent like Philly, he'd be in there.
With all the 'accountability'.. why does Hester continue to start.. when he drops passes and lines up wrong? Hester had one good catch against Dallas and suddenly "he's developing into a true #1" gets fed to us. I miss me some D.A. !
Jurko (1:22 PM)
Listen, DA should be in there. He's your QB's favorite target and he looks for him on the field. The Hester propaganda has been going on for a long time and I don't buy it.
Matt Forte seems to be a better receiver than running back, why not split him out wide more often and get somebody who can at least block in the backfield?
Jurko (1:24 PM)
It could cause match-up concerns for defenses if you did it that way, buecause you'd usually have a LB covering a TE in that situation. But you'd be asking Forte to learn all the reciever routes as well, which might be tough to add to the running back plays. The WRs are having a hard enough time already.
With the Bears D struggling with the cut back run do you see the 2 Carolina running backs having big games or do you think Bears put 9 in the box due to Smith being out?
Jurko (1:26 PM)
I think the Bears will play close attention to the run and force Clausen into calling a bunch of audibles. I think they're going to trick the young man into doing things he doesn't want to do. They're going to give him a bunch of looks with 8-9 in the box, but may drop back into coverage.
Corey B (Brookfield, IL)
If your the coach - you playing Tommy H or Matt T?
Jurko (1:27 PM)
I'm playing Matt. He's more consistent and he's playing at a higher level.
I'm sorry, but Todd Collins at QB equals a Bear's loss. I smell 2 interceptions and a few fumbles on his behalf. If the Panthers win this game, I say Lovie gets fired automatically. You with me?
Jurko (1:28 PM)
I have zero confidence in the Bears this week. I'm hoping the defense and special teams steals a game. I have no trust in anybody in the Bears organization with Cutler out of the game.
Roy Z (Dallas)
I hope all the questionable decision making of the Smith and Angelo era ends this year.... what are the chances of the Bears hiring Bill Cohwer as the next GM/Head Coach? Maybe then we can get the right decisions being made, first of all being addressing the horrible Offensive line and the lack of talent there.
Jurko (1:28 PM)
Cowher in Carolina. Gruden in Chicago.
Zach (Schaumburg, IL)
I think Cutler had a concussion well before the final sack. He walked over to the wrong sideline, he was looking at the aerial photos with his head in his hands on the ground, and he had a 1000 yard stare on the bench. You buying the stuff the Bears are feeding us?
Jurko (1:29 PM)
I'm not buying he had a concussion at all. I'm trying to figure out what's going on.
If there was ever a "good time" to lose your QB, its certainly within the stretch of games that we have coming up. That being said, how long until Hanie gets the call over Collins?
Jurko (1:30 PM)
I've got him going in before the half because I have Collins getting his block knocked off. The Bears can win this game, but only with Caleb Hanie at quarterback.
Jurko (1:31 PM)
All right guys, it should be an interesting one Sunday in Carolina. Thanks for all the great questions and come back to the chat room on Monday.