Chat with Wright, Jurko
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Join us on Thursday for our weekly Bears chat.
Michael Wright kicks things off from 11 a.m.-noon; Jurko wraps it up from noon-12:30 p.m. (All times CT.)
Send your questions now and join the chat Thursday at 11 a.m. CT/noon ET!
Michael (12:01 PM)
Hello everyone. Thanks for joining us today. Looks like there's quite a bit for the Bears to "clean up" in this bye week. Let's get it crackin'.
Why can't the Bears' staff admit when there are serious problems with the team? I'm pretty sure I've seen other teams and coaches do it before. Lovie has spent years saying "that's something we have to fix, and we will." No, you won't or you would have.
Michael (12:03 PM)
Wish I could tell you, Rod. Seems like there's always an explanation for every little thing, doesn't it? But looking at it from the perspective of the coaches, I figure they don't want the players to feel like the coaches don't believe in them. So I can see why there's always this grossly optimistic approach to everything. Can't say I agree with that, though. Sometimes, you just need to keep it real.
This sounds like a weird comment/question, considering the fact that the Bears have many more problems then the one I'm about to list, but do you or anyone else see a decline in the production of Punter Brad Maynard? Field position is key, especially when your offense STINKS and it just seems like Maynard isn't the same Maynard from year's in the past. Just a thought.
Michael (12:07 PM)
Mike, I like your eye for detail. I agree with you about Maynard, and I think his declining production is a big reason the club brought in Richmond McGee as a developmental prospect. For some reason -- and I'm just as much to blame as anyone -- the media has sort of given Maynard an undeserved pass.
The need for a legitimate WR continues to show itself. Since the Bears will never get one (thus admitting that Hester isn't one, which won't happen), what can they do to at least get the guys they have to fight for the ball and not cut off routes? It's not rocket science.
Michael (12:09 PM)
You're correct, Adam, it's not rocket science. Mike Martz sort of gave Johnny Knox a pass yesterday for the way the receiver handled himself on the interceptions. Honestly, I'm not sure what they can do to teach the receivers to fight for the ball. To me, you can't teach a player to have that "dog" in him to fight for everything. Either you have it, or you don't.
Matt (New Hampshire)
Why haven't we seen more of Desmond Clark?
Michael (12:12 PM)
Matt, the company line is that because he doesn't play special teams, he's not as valuable as some of the other tight ends. Personally, though, I think Clark is caught up in some of the team's internal politics. I think he's arguably the club's best receiving tight end (yes, maybe even better than Greg Olsen), but the Bears don't give him any run. In Mike Martz's offense, the tight end is more of a blocker than a receiver. My thought, though, is Clark is as good if not better than Olsen as a blocker. So if you add it all up, it doesn't make much sense to keep Clark inactive most of the season. Politics, my man. Politics.
Chris (Waynetown, Indiana)
Thanks for taking the time to talk "Bears" with us fans. With the reappearance of "Bad Jay" on Sunday a nagging question comes to mind ... Have we seen the best Cutler has to offer, or can he really be an elite QB?
Michael (12:14 PM)
No problem, Chris. Love talking to you guys. Sadly, I tend to think fans have pretty much seen the best Cutler has to offer. He's definitely "elite" in terms of athleticism, and arm strength. But he's lacking in the intangibles department, which is where a good portion of the best quarterbacks are strongest. Unfortunately, I don't think you can teach those intangibles. Cutler will develop some of those with maturity, but he'll have to hone them quite a bit to somehow fall into that elite category. I honestly don't see it happening.
Mike, with the recent replay blunder last week, I think its time that more technology was utilized on the sidelines. Are there league rules against say having TVs on the sideline or giving Lovie an iPad with the game broadcast on it that he could pause and rewind?
Michael (12:17 PM)
Great question, Brad. I actually checked into this with the league. Teams can't have anything on the sideline such as what you described. The teams are only allowed to have NFL-approved monitors in the coaches booths upstairs ONLY if said monitors are airing the live network broadcast of the game. Obviously, you know there's some inconsistency from network to network, which means the teams are a little bit victimized by luck of the draw. To me, this is something the league needs to change because these situations are winning and losing football games for teams.
its a well known fact that peyton manning puts it a large amount of off field work with his WRs to get on the same page and increase their chemistry. Does Cutler do any of that?
Michael (12:18 PM)
Frank (Hoffman Estates)
What's the status on Major Wright? He seemed to be one hell of an improvement at Safety for the Bears and he's been out since the Dallas game with a "Hamstring Injury." Really, it takes that long to come back from a Hamstring Injury? Any idea as to why he's been M-I-A?
Michael (12:19 PM)
Frank, there's no secret conspiracy going on. Wright's hamstring injury was really THAT bad. I told you guys way back when he first hurt it that a 1-month prognosis would be an optimistic one. Wright is finally back at practice, and he's on target to return for the Buffalo game. I'm not sure where he fits now, though, because to me Chris Harris and Danieal Manning have played fine.
How well can the bears do with Forte and Taylor in the backfield at the same time? I mean, it can't hurt right?
Michael (12:21 PM)
Can't hurt at all DJ. Did you know the Bears have lined up in two running back formations (and all of those didn't feature both Taylor and Forte in the backfield) just nine times this season? Out of that formation, the Bears ran the ball just once. How crazy is that?
Matt (Gurnee, IL)
Please explain why the players keep getting days off when they've obviously have to become better in MANY, I REPEAT, MANY AREAS of their jobs! C'mon Lovie, is it that hard to understand? If you were a boss and your employees don't do their job 100% (Especially when they're making huge dollars), why would you give them time off? Hello Lovie, I used to like you, but enough is enough! Open up your eyes!!!! What are your thoughts on this Michael?
Michael (12:23 PM)
Matt, I sort of agree with you. But at the same time, you've got to realize that a 16-game schedule is a meat grinder. These guys get beat up physically, and need those days off to let their bodies heal. So I see where you're coming from, but at the same time, these guys do need time to rest and let the bodies heal. They're not (although they look it at times) robots, you know.
Gaurav (Chicago, IL)
I already see this season as a bust. What off season changes do you think the bears will make? Can we expect an org wipe clean, starting all the way from Jerry Angelo down to the players?
Michael (12:25 PM)
Hey man, if it continues down this path, I'd say clean house. I'd also say trade the QB and for whatever you can get or put Cutler into an offense more commiserate with his skillset.
With Martz coming out and saying we are going to run the ball more, did Martz finally open his eyes or did lovie actually speak up?
Michael (12:26 PM)
Taylor, both coaches have paid plenty of lip service to running the ball more. But we haven't seen it on the field just yet. I'll believe what they're saying when I see it.
Bears will atleast make da playoffs.iam right?
Michael (12:27 PM)
Mikey, they've got a good shot. But they definitely need to put the breaks on this skid.
When I watch the Bears games, it seems like there is no consistent plan to drive the ball down the field? Who develops the game plan each week? I know its surprising to say, but I agree with Angelo we need a consistent identity on offense?
Michael (12:28 PM)
Rich, the game plan is developed by the entire offensive staff working in conjunction with the quarterback for portions of it. This team does have a consistent identity on offense (bad pass protection, no running game, lots of 3-WR sets). It's just not one we like at this point.
The biggest question is can Cutler read a defense properly? I've had a long-lasting heated debate on Windy City Gridiron the past few days.
Michael (12:30 PM)
Paul, I think he reads defenses just fine. But as you know, Cutler and WRs need to be making the same reads, which isn't happening consistently enough. Also, sometimes I think Jay goes against his own reads because of overconfidence in his arm. Jay needs to stay within the confines of the system, which isn't what he does all the time, and that causes this team problems.
Ken (Salem, WI)
I'm a UNC Alumni (GO TARHEELS), so I'm a huge fan of Julius Peppers, but he hasn't seemed right the last 2 weeks. Any injuries or issues going on with him?
Michael (12:32 PM)
Ken, Julius Peppers is still his dominant old self. It's just that teams are deploying quite a bit of manpower toward neutralizing Peppers. Although he's not putting up huge sacks, he's actually helping folks around him get to the quarterback. Don't worry about Julius. He's fine in terms of health, and playing well.
What is the identity for the Bears offense???? If Cutler replicates ANOTHER bad performance, will the Bears look toward his backup???
Michael (12:34 PM)
Eric, people called me crazy for pondering your very thoughts. I think the Bears should at least give Hanie a shot if Cutler continues to falter. But given the financial obligation and the picks the Bears gave up to acquire Cutler, my guess is the team will continue going with him no matter how badly he plays. Is that the right decision? Heck no it's not. But that's sort of the reality of the situation.
Kevin (Oconomowoc WI)
How impressive has DJ moore been this season in your opinion?
Michael (12:36 PM)
Kevin, I really like D.J. Moore's swagger and the fact he backs it up with his play on the field. I'd like to see how he reacts to playing in a really big game because, so far, he's very nonchalant about the various receivers he faces. He once told me, "They run the routes and I cover them." He was totally matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Moore's got great speed, hands and anticipation skills. I'd like to see him become a little more physical as a tackler. But he's been a great addition at the nickel this season.
Chester Taylor = "A huge offseason acquisition" and an "excellent "3rd down back" yet, The Bears rank amongst the league's worst on 3rd down conversions. Is Martz to blame for that?
Michael (12:39 PM)
Since you're posting from my city of residence, I'll answer this (just kidding). I wouldn't say Martz is solely to blame for the ineptitude on third down, but he plays a major role because of his play calling. But you've got to look at everything: the horrible OL, miscommunication between WRs and Cutler, etc. There's quite a bit causing the problems on third down.
Rob (Vernon Hills)
What's the satus on Lance Briggs?
Michael (12:40 PM)
Rob, the Bears are expecting him back for the Buffalo game. I saw him in the locker room yesterday, and he was walking around just fine. No limp at all.
How many wins do you think the Bears will end up with?
Michael (12:41 PM)
Bob, my prediction before the start of the season was 9-7. I felt like a dunce early on in the season when this team was rolling, but I'm sticking with that.
Whats up with Urlacher's groin is it serious or effecting him on the field?
Michael (12:42 PM)
Shane, it's still sore. But I think he'll come back from this bye 100-percent ready to go. Although the injury has affected his play a little, Urlacher has still managed to perform pretty well.
Bobby (Lake Forest)
Do you trust the Bears to make the most of this bye week?
Michael (12:44 PM)
Do you, based on what you've seen so far? I don't. But I'm gonna give them the benefit of the doubt because I've only been here since April. The Bears no the task at hand after the bye. The schedule intensifies quite a bit. If they don't use this bye to clean up SEVERAL areas, they're doing the fans of this team a major disservice.
steve wood (antioch)
I used to live down the street from you....glad to see you are doing well for yourself...I was curious on your thoughts of the bears fans and how much longer we can take all this...i mean with all these failing qb's and offensive players not living up to their expectations, how much longer can we take all this??thanks, tell the family i said hi!!
Michael (12:47 PM)
Thanks for the kind words, Steve. I think Bears fans are some of the most passionate I've been around. They definitely keep us media folks on our toes because of the insatiable appetite for information. Since I'm not a fan, I can't speak to how long the fans can take all this. The fan base has been pretty supportive through some lean times thus far, and I don't see that changing.
Whats the deal with Devin Aromashodu? He seemed to have great chemistry with cutler the last four games of last season and there was a lot hype with him this year. It seems like our offense could benefit from a bigger WR.(bigger than hester and knox)
Michael (12:50 PM)
I'm in agreement, Ante. But for whatever reason (he dropped some balls in the opener, and missed several downfield blocks), he's fallen out of favor. Bye using Aromashodu and Knox on the outside, I think the Bears could present huge matchup problems by using Hester in the slot. I've been screaming that forever, but the Bears staff doesn't appear to be crazy about that idea. If you've paid attention, Aromashodu has gotten a little more playing time over the past two weeks. But he hasn't played enough to make the impact I think he can make. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Martz's arrogance has made for a lot of bad decisions so far this season.
Robert (Notre Dame)
Despite the optimism spewing forth from Smith and Martz, I get the feeling that Jerry Angelo is starting to worry. Any chance he steps in and tells these two what's up? Is that part of his job description? If I were him I'd march in there and tell Martz to give Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashodu more reps- they are clearly the most in touch with Cutler so far
Michael (12:50 PM)
Robert, sadly my man, Angelo doesn't have any say over what happens on the field.
Any chance the Bears bring in Kurt Warner as a consultant? Warner said he'd listen if the Bears called and Cutler might benefit from his tutelage.
Michael (12:51 PM)
Tom, Warner actually reached out to Cutler. Yet the two never connected (I'm guessing that was more on Cutler than Warner).
Isaac (East Moline)
Has anyone tried to sit down with Jay and ask him "What do you want out of your career?" I have never heard him say anything about wanting to win a championship or play at a high level. It's almost as if he is just going through the motions.
Michael (12:53 PM)
Man, that's a great question. I've only been here for a short time, and from what I can tell he hasn't ever had to answer that question. I can't say he's just going through the motions, because he seemed to be genuinely affected by Sunday's loss. But I'm curious as to what his aspirations are. I'll ask as soon as I get the opportunity. Hopefully I'll have an answer when we chat next week.
With how bad the line o-line has played,why hasn't Martz implemented more quick out passes(the ones the Bears get burned on at regular intervals)Is he just that stubborn?
Michael (12:55 PM)
John, Martz implemented more quick routes in the second half last week. But as I said, there's a downside to a bunch of quick drops and short routes. Corners are taught to read a quarterback's drop. If they see three-step drop, the gambling corners are gonna sit on routes and break on the short stuff immediately, which leads to interceptions. I think there was somewhat of a correlation between all the short routes the Bears ran in the second half against the Redskins and the interceptions.
W. Theodoros (Crown Point, IN)
The Bears say that they are going to start incorporating Matt Forte and and Chester Taylor into the offense more. Are they doing it to establish some kind of run game, or because Cutler is having trouble throwing the ball downfield?
Michael (12:56 PM)
The claim is the club just wants to do it to be more balanced and less predictable on offense. But if you remember, Lovie Smith was calling for balance two weeks ago. Yet we still haven't seen it.
What do you think about the notion of Jay Cutler being the next Jeff Jones? The similarities are astounding. And depressing.
Michael (12:56 PM)
Reed, I think you mean Jeff George. And you're right, there are some similarities.
Assuming some coaching turnover in the off season, do the Bears have the players to succeed under a Gruden or Cowher?
Michael (12:57 PM)
I actually think they do. But if Cowher comes in, I'm guessing that defense will change to a 3-4.
Why arnt the bears doing the shotgun more to give cutler more time?
Michael (12:58 PM)
Shotgun hasn't helped the Bears, truthfully. They've operated out of shotgun less than any other team in the NFL believe it or not. Interestingly, six of the team's sacks have come when the Bears were operating out of the gun.
Michael (12:59 PM)
Guys, that's my time. Practice is letting out, and I've got to get out there. If I couldn't get to your question today, my apologies. Hopefully, I'll get to them next week. You guys enjoy this cold day.
Jurko (1:01 PM)
Bears on bye, thank heavens, give themselves an extra week to try to solidify this OL. Hopefully Garza can settle things down, and Mike Tice can convince Mike Martz to become more conservative and avoid any and all 7-step drops.
Steven (Birmingham, AL)
I don't believe in curses, but the Bears organization just can't seem to make any QB work. Is this some kind of systemic organizational problem that needs to be fixed?
Jurko (1:03 PM)
Besides Mike Martz, name the offensive guru that they brought in. Mike Holmgren was the hot name in 92-93, coming out of Walsh system, and the hired defensive coach Wannstedt. They've had oportunities to take offensive guys, and they keep taking defensive guys. So the year they hired defensive guy Jauron, they let Andy Reid go to Philly. So I don't think it's curse, it's a philosophy that their head coach is a defensive minded coach.
Jason (Virginia Beach)
As a player when do you swallow your pride and say I am tired of getting my butt whipped and put somebody on theirs? I am reffering to the O Line of course.
Jurko (1:04 PM)
Should have happened a couple of games ago, after the Giants game. Of course if you don't realize you're only as good as you are and have to play smarter and more disciplined, then you're doomed for failure.
Brendan (Miami, Fl)
Does Greg Olsen really work in this system, or is he going to be good trade bait in the off season, if he has any value?
Jurko (1:05 PM)
I don't blame Olsen for anything this year. He's a fish out of water. The same limitations he had as a tight end last year are the ones there this year. But he doesn't receive any extra criticism because of Martz's system.
Can someone please explain why the front office hasn't pursued offensive line help? I can't be the only one who doesn't believe a word Tyce and Martz keep cramming down our throats about just finding the right combination. Our front five is awful, and they need help.
Jurko (1:06 PM)
Nobody available who would be better than the guys in there. It's unfortunate, but that much is the truth.
Why do Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashodu continue to be ignored in this offense? They are productive when they play.
Jurko (1:06 PM)
I don't know who's Wheaties Armashodu stole, but the only receiver trusted by Cutler is the one they refuse to play.
Kind of a weird comment here Jurko, but has the Bears organization ever been approached by HBO to be involved with the show "Hard Knocks". The reason I ask is us Die Hard Bears fans seem to never be able to get answers from the coaches/front office and it'd be nice to learn more about our players and coches personalities. Maybe that would also light a fire under their you know what. I know, weird question, bu t was just kind of wondering.
Jurko (1:07 PM)
They have been approached, and I believe it's something the Bears turned down. They don't want to let you inside the way they think. It would expose the flaws, and there are plenty of those.
Drew (Franklin Park)
Why are the bears not using Chester taylor more? He seems to be much more productive then Forte when does get the ball
Jurko (1:09 PM)
That wouldn't be true. Forte is averaging 3.9 ypc and Taylor 3.6 ypc. I'm not trying to prove poitn that Forte is better, but one is getting 2/3 of the carries and the other is getting 1/3. I think Taylor better at pass blocking, understands the blocking scheme better than Forte. Problem is when you put Taylor in there, you're telling everyone it's a pass. Not that it matters that much, because down and distance dictate more.
Why not use Olsen as a slot? Seems play much better there and might help Culter get the ball to someone much quicker.
Jurko (1:11 PM)
Remember, take a deep breath, the criticism I had of him last year: he plays smaller and slower than he actually is. None of that has changed. He's a liability as a TE and he would be a liability in the slot.
Wouldn't you like to think Angelo learned his lesson? He still thinks a misfit line will be NFL-caliber simply by playing together longer.
Jurko (1:14 PM)
Here's your dilemma, the more continuity you have in the OL the better they're going to be because they're going to be more comfortable with each other, the communication is better, all starts to work in their favor. Problem is, that works great if you have a talented offensive line. If you have mediocre linemen, then you have a mediocre group that's played together a long time. It's still a talent-based business.
Rick (South Bend)
Why are the receivers not getting more blame?
Jurko (1:14 PM)
They should be getting a lot of blame, and I think that started this week when Aikman put the finger on Johnny Knox.
Jurk - compare the Bears to teams you played on during your career or what you knew of teams just from being in the league for a decade. Have you seen a team as reluctant to admit personnel mistakes as the Bears are?
Jurko (1:15 PM)
Cincinnati Bengals, that's the direction you have to go, a team that's stubborn with an organizational philosophy.
Bobby (South Bend )
Which coaches would you keep if there is some turnover in the off season? Tice? Toub?
Jurko (1:16 PM)
I definitely think Taub and Tice and DeBord.
Fred (Jacksonville, IL)
What's up with Tommie Harris? That guy is so soft now and doesn't do a thing for that defensive line? I'm tired of his behavior, personality, and inability to provide anything for his team. What's his deal?
Jurko (1:18 PM)
I'm tired of answering Tommie Harris questions. He tore his hamstring tendon, he blew his knee out, the explosion is gone. Once and for all, everybody get this, it's gone. He's no longer a Pro Bowler, and hasn't been since the surgery. All he is now is a grinder. He's the 4th guy in the DT rotation when it coimes to productivity. Get used to that.
The Sane Madman ((Bears Nation))
Sir Jurko. Hello. If you had the money to buy the Bears from the McCaskeys, what are your thoughts to overhaul this organization and bring it to glory? Me personally, Ted Phillps on down to Lovie... gone. Gruden is my coach but who would be an astounding GM candidate out there now. A sack of potatoes is better than potatoes than Angelo, but we must be serious in this matter. Let's hear them.
Jurko (1:20 PM)
Top to bottom, change everything. Everybody would be gone. Bring in more blitzing style defense ala Rex Ryan and more Giants-type passing system. My head coach is Gruden, my GM would be Ron Hill.
Jurko (1:20 PM)
I also wouldn't have my camp in Lake Forest, I'd move to a facility in the Chicago area. Too comfortable of an atmosphere. I'd move to western suburbs.
What is Tice's respondsibilty as far as the offensive line is concerned?
Jurko (1:22 PM)
I don't think Martz listens to Tice or anyone. I think Martz is in love with himself. His weakness is he has to realize his system can't be run by everyone. It has to be run with a specific talent set that the Bears don't possess.
Zib (los angeles)
what do you mean by "too comfortable of an atmosphere"?
Jurko (1:24 PM)
The place reeks of mediocrity. All the stuff, all the history of the Bears .. I'd go about creating a new history. From this point forward, history is created. We get caught up too much in the hoopla of the past and romanticize it, and as a new owner, I may not be so willing to embrace that, as much as I would be about winning.
Jerry (Loveland, CO)
Cutler had great statistics the first couple of games (I know cause he was my Fantasy Football QB), and then it was reported he was dating MTV "The Hills" Kristen Cavallari. Is this another case of the Tony Romo-Jessica Simpson drama? Your thoughts?
Jurko (1:25 PM)
He was dating her when he started the season. The reports were there when he was having good games. You can't create something just to compare it to Romo-Simpson.
Jurko (1:26 PM)
I like Bill Cowher. But you know the Bears will NEVER pay the money it will take to get Cowher here. I'd have no problem with Cowher if I owned the Bears.
sam (iowa city)
so im saying that three of our top 5 draft picks should go to the o-line. thoughts? what do u think the bears should do with their picks? I dont want to see another swimming pool prospect...
Jurko (1:26 PM)
Let's analyze how strong the OL is this year before we start going crazy. Free agency is the quickest way to guarantee improvement in the OL, but not with Omiyale types.
I have always been a Cutler supporter, but quite frankly I'm tired of him ignoring criticism. It seems like every time he has abad game there is always criticism, and Cutler always says the same thing. "I don't listen to criticism. I don't care what people say. I'm going to go out there and prove I can play. " Which never happens. When is this guy actually going to take some accountability and realize he has flaws?
Jurko (1:28 PM)
That's a defense mechanism utilized against the media. Here are your rules as a player: Never say anything negative about the organization or a teammate; stay positive; and spin it to whatever message you want to send. That's what they're taught by the organization.
sam (iowa city)
why havent the bears reached out to kurt warner to talk with cutler??
Jurko (1:29 PM)
I think Jay probalby has. Jay's decisions on the field, whether he talked to Warner, Vermeil, Holt, Bruce, or Faulk, he still has to pull the trigger on the field. And unfortunately, none of those guys are playing on this team, because that's what would help him, better talent.
Melvin (North Carolina)
I really like the way the Vikes use Harvin and the Saints use Bush. Wouldn't this be the best formula for Bears to use with Hester?
Jurko (1:30 PM)
Sure it would. But the difference is Harvin is actually a WR and Bush is actually a RB. Hester is neither.
Jurko (1:30 PM)
Enjoy the bye weekend. Go Blackhawks!