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 (1:00 PM)
Hello folks, hope all is well. Here live from Halas Hall, where I'll actually be missing interviews to talk to you guys. But, hey, no biggie. You guys are more entertaining. Besides, JD and Jesse Rogers have everything covered. Let's go.
Reggie (at work)
Clearly, Hester and Earl don't have the same qualities that Alshon brings to the offense. How will the offensive game plan be tweaked to make up missing one of our twin towers?
Michael (1:03 PM)
Reggie, I understand that you guys are enamored with what Alshon Jeffery has been able to do as a rookie. But I'm not sure a lot of folks realize that Devin Hester has actually been more productive than Jeffery over the last couple of games. Don't believe me? Look at the numbers. Both have five catches and a touchdown over the last two weeks, but Hester has 87 yards compared to Jeffery's 52. So I'm not sure there's going to be a ton of "tweaking". But I do think you'll see more plays designed specifically to get the ball into the hands of Hester. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said as much on Thursday. With Bennett, I see him being more of a threat in the slot down the seams and on crossing routes. I think both Bennett and Hester are plenty capable of picking up the slack left by the absence of Jeffery.
Jeff (Houston, TX)
Looking at the rest of the schedule, do you have the bears beating Houston and San Francisco?
Michael (1:05 PM)
Jeff, I'm not really looking that far ahead. As you know, the NFL is so fluid and injuries play a big part of it all. All I can tell you is I think they absolutely have to win at least one of those games because they've got tough matchups the next two weeks against Minnesota and Seattle, which has proven it isn't a slouch this year.
Michael (Denver, CO)
How's Brandon Hardin doing?
Michael (1:06 PM)
Michael, I've seen him in the locker room and around the facilities over the last few days and he seems to be doing just fine. In fact, I wouldn't be suprised if he's back to 100 percent health. More than anything, I consider 2012 to be somewhat of a redshirt year for Hardin who isn't quite ready to contribute in the pros.
With Jeffery out, who steps it up?
Michael (1:07 PM)
Jim, see my answer to Reggie's question from earlier. Devin Hester and Earl Bennett are plenty capable of getting it done.
Why doesn't Phillip Rivers receive the same if not worse criticism than Cutler for the way he behaves when things aren't going his way? His attitude seems far worse than Jay's.
Michael (1:08 PM)
I'm absolutely stunned this question is just now coming in. Look, I'm not the guy to ask. Honestly, I could care less how either behaves on the sidelines. It's all about what happens on the field.
I think Corey Wooton has really come to life this year. If this run of good health continues i think he really has the body and work ethic to be a very good end of the future. What do you think?
Michael (1:09 PM)
Dave, you've got to remember that Wootton was viewed at one time as a potential first-round pick before suffering that knee injury in the Alamo Bowl just before his senior year. Say what you want about Jerry Angelo, but he took a chance on Wootton -- who I'll add is a great kid -- and hit.
So barring injury, are you ready to lock Marshall into 1,000 yard season? Only needs to average 46 yards a game from now on.
Michael (1:11 PM)
Yes, barring injury for sure. I'm amazed that he's averaged 7 catches per game this season. At some point, teams are going to try to take him away. But what's surprising is defenses haven't done that yet. They'll learn. Play with fire, get burned.
Thatnks for dooing the Chat Mike! So far the Detroit D line isn't playing near where they're expected to or did last year. Suh hasn't looked good at all. I know the Bears o-line is looking better but are you worried that the Lions D-line breaks out this game and shuts down our improving offense?
Michael (1:13 PM)
Matt, that could definitely happen. Am I worried about it? Nope. The Bears know Detroit well, and although they haven't put together huge performances against the Lions, they've found a way to come out of games with the "W". The big thing is for the Bears to establish the run -- and stay committed to it -- so they can work in playaction, which is where the big chunks of yardage come from.
John (home working)
How is the offensive line depth looking for the future games. Any practice squad call ups?
Michael (1:16 PM)
John, I don't think they'll need to call up any of the practice squad guys. Think about it: the Bears have three veterans waiting in the wings in backup guard Chris Spencer, backup center/guard Edwin Williams and reserve tackle Jonathan Scott. These three guys have started a combined 134 games in the NFL. So if one of the starters goes down, the Bears are pretty confident in the depth they have.
Patrick (South Bend, IN)
The numbers for Nick Roach aren't flashy, but I've always liked him as a player. Does being in the company of Briggs and Urlacher downplay his importance?
Michael (1:18 PM)
Patrick, I don't think it downplays his importance at all. In a 4-3 scheme, the SAM linebacker does the dirty work (fills on leads to create piles, takes on the tight end as the other LBs scrape to the play), and doesn't get a ton of opportunities to make the plays you see from guys like Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. It's rare that your SAM puts up big numbers, but his importance is more, uh, important than you think.
Vincenzo the great (NJ)
Who is the back up left tackle? Why are they carrying 4 TE's?
Michael (1:21 PM)
Vincenzo (what a cool name), Jonathan Scott is the backup left tackle. He's got plenty of experience as a starter, too. As for the tight end situation, they carry four because all of them add different elements to the offense. Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth are the blockers, while Davis gives you a little in the receiving game, too. Kyle Adams is an "F" tight end, or a move tight end, a guy who isn't as much of a blocker but contributes more as a receiver. Brody Eldridge is a little more of a wild card, and I haven't seen enough of him to give you a scouting report. In a sense, the Bears actually have 5 tight ends on the roster. Remember, Evan Rodriguez is a tight end wearing a fullback's number. He's more of the h-back type.
Oliver Clothesoff (Peoria)
Hey Mike, how worried should Bears' fans really be when watching Stafford throw to Megatron Monday night? Do you confidence in our secondary to slow him down?
Michael (1:25 PM)
Another interesting name here. Uh, Oliver, I've been here three years and I haven't seen Calvin Johnson have a field day at Soldier Field yet. He did catch 7 balls for 81 yards the last time the teams played, but he never scored a touchdown as Charles Tillman, Major Wright, Tim Jennings and Corey Graham each picked off passes. So, no, I'm not really worried about Johnson being a huge factor. He'll get his catches and yards, but the Bears should fare well against him for the most part. Obviously, they just have to keep him out of the end zone.
Craig (Villa Park)
I don't understand why people criticize Cutler for giving salty answers , the questions the media asks are absurd. It seems like you guys are just trying to bait him with your stupidity.
Michael (1:26 PM)
Yep Craig, I'm a dunce.
Jeremy (Penn Yan, NY)
When will we see more passes to Earl Bennett ? I seem to forget he's on the team, given Marshall has seen most of the targets thus far.
Michael (1:27 PM)
Jeremy, you've forgotten about Earl Bennett because he hasn't played in the last two games after suffering that hand injury. In the first two weeks of the season, he caught five passes for 71 yards. So I see him getting back in the groove when he returns on Monday night. He's chomping at the bit.
Alfonso (Northwest Indiana)
I've seen just about every game that Cutler has played in a Bears uniform. From watching him play and listening to his interviews he definitely likes to have the play called as soon as possible so he doesn't have to scramble at the line to avoid the delay of game penalty. When teams run the no-huddle offense they really put the defense on their heals since they can't substitute and can't get everybody on the same page like they'd normally would. From what I've seen Cutler runs the no-huddle offense really well. Why don't the Bears run the no-huddle more often? Especially when they see they have a matchup they can exploit. Does Jay have the option of going into no-huddle when he sees the right opportunity or is that solely Mike Tice's call?
Michael (1:29 PM)
Long question, but I'll give you a short answer Alfonso. It's Mike Tice's call. But Tice has said recently that he likes the way Cutler runs the no-huddle offense and plans to implement more of it in the coming weeks. So that's definitely something you should watch out for on Monday night.
Considering his Monday night success and track record againt the Lions. Do you see Hester taking one to the house Monday night?
Michael (1:31 PM)
Kevin, I don't even consider his track record on Monday nights when I think of Hester's potential for taking one to the house. If I'm a special teams coach, I'm worried about kicking to him every time regardless of the situation. So absolutely I see there being a good chance of Hester scoring on a return against the Lions.
Jon (State street)
Do you and Vaughn coordinate outfits on gameday?
Michael (1:31 PM)
Please, it's not even close. I'm a much better dresser than Vaughn.
What's the injury report looking like? Who's in who's out
Michael (1:33 PM)
Josh, the way it's looking right now Alshon Jeffery will likely be the only Bear out of action. He's already been declared out. Other injuries to guys like Blake Costanzo, and Sherrick McManis don't seem significant enough to kep them out against the Lions.
Michael- Is Greenberg from the Motor City? It's the only reason I can fathom why he would pick them snicker. The Bears don't sleep on teams via veteran leadership and one of their Head coaches strength. I got them (like my ND boys sat) by 2 touchdowns over the kitty's
Michael (1:33 PM)
Nope, he's from Ohio.
Katie in Elgin [via mobile]
Do you think Bears passing attack will dominate Monday or will we see more of a balanced approach with the run game?
Michael (1:35 PM)
Katie, look for a very balanced attack. You can't try to come out slinging the ball all over the yard against a dominant defensive line like Detroit's. Chicago will have to establish that run and be patient on offense to have success.
Big Jay (Portsmouth, Va.)
Hey Mike! Miss ya in Newport News. Do you think our o-line can continue gelling and take us to the promise land? I have liked what I have seen out of them since the week we played GB.
Michael (1:36 PM)
Miss you guys, too; especially Harpoon Larry's. As for the offensive line, I definitely think it's going to continue to improve. But I also wouldn't be surprised if there's a hiccup here and there in the group's development. It's bound to happen, but the offensive line isn't a major concern of mine because the coaching staff will do everything in its power to put it in position to succeed. That wasn't really a strong suit of former offensive coordinator Mike Tice.
Has Brian Urlacher ever said how many years he thinks he wants to play? My guess is he has 2 more years left tops assuming good health.
Michael (1:37 PM)
Mike, I think Brian's a guy that wants to play until they tell him he can't play anymore. Health is going to be the biggest issue for him as he continues to age. But one thing about him is he takes immaculate care of his body. I could actually see him going another three years or so.
Thoughts on Webb since the horrible outing against Green Bay? Has he picked up his play to be an average LT or is it more the weak compitition?
Michael (1:40 PM)
Floyd, I think Webb's outing was magnified because of the incident with Jay Cutler. After watching it a few times, I acknowledge his play was bad in that game, but not as bad as it was made out. Other offensive linemen struggled just as badly. I think Webb has played fairly well since that Green Bay game. He's played fairly well his entire time as a starter, but inconsistency has hurt him (and Cutler). Consistency is Webb's main issue. He's got the talent to be a very solid pass protector in this league.
Paul C (Humboldt Park)
Who is your favorite player to interact with as a member of the media? Who is your favorite player to watch on game day?
Michael (1:43 PM)
Paul, don't really have any favorites in terms of players. I do like to talk football and life with Mike Tice and Lovie Smith when the time and situation permits. I admire both of those guys for very different reasons that I won't get into here. As for players to watch, it's probably either Julius Peppers (he does his thing so effortlessly) or Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings (both play with that "dog" in them).
What's going on Mike? Do you see the Bears carving up Detroit's terrible secondary? Especially since they only have 2 healthy corners and Delmas is hurt...
Michael (1:44 PM)
I do see that happening, but only if the offensive line can have some success against Detroit's front four.
What is the Bears biggest weakness/area they need to work on before we get into the late November/early December games?
Michael (1:46 PM)
Two things on offense: 1. They need to get out to faster starts. To me, that's a combination of the guys executing and the staff getting into its play-calling rhythm more quickly. 2. Other weapons in the receiving corps will need to emerge. Sooner or later, with the way Brandon Marshall is playing, teams are going to start devoting EVERYTHING to stopping him. So either Forte or some of the other receivers need to get rolling.
Michael, did you just give us a hint at coming coaching changes? Former OC Mike Tice?
Michael (1:47 PM)
No, Evan. Lovie Smith isn't going anywhere. He's doing a heck of a job right now, and so is Tice.
Why did the Bears resign Bowman?
Michael (1:48 PM)
Why not, Gary? Bowman is a talented player, who was available and is familiar with the defense and can also contribute on special teams.
What duo has the better game on Monday, Cutler/Marshall or Stafford/Johnson?
Michael (1:49 PM)
Cutler-Marshall because Detroit's secondary is beat up.
Robert (Arlington Heights)
The Lions' run D has been good this year. Is this game going to boil down to protecting Jay and throwing the ball or will there be space for Forte to run?
Michael (1:51 PM)
Robert, the Lions did shut down McCoy last week. I'd say that, yes, the game will come down to protecting Cutler. But it will also come down to Chicago's ability to run to keep the Lions off balance. They absolutely have to establish the run. If they get into a passing game against the Lions' front four, that can only spell trouble for the Bears.
When the media says that "sources" have told them about this and that...is that source ever a player? Do players once and a while talk about stuff with in the organization to the media? I mean I am sure you have some friends on the team, do they ever give you little snipeds to put in your articles?
Michael (1:52 PM)
Yes and yes. Sometimes they're coaches, sometimes scouts, sometimes agents.
how is johnny knox comming along
Michael (1:54 PM)
Jason, he's coming along. But I think people should be realistic about his prospects for recovery. I really don't see Knox coming back at any point in 2012, and I think he'd be lucky to return in 2013 based on what I've seen of him. He's definitely put in the work to return as soon as possible. But there's still quite a way to go.
Do you think there's an advantage to having a first time coordinator like Tice who is willing to come in without preconceived notions of what the offense has to be and willing to make adjustments that favor the strengths of the Bears personnel?
Michael (1:58 PM)
Yeah, Dave I do like that with Tice there's a fresh set of eyes and ideas. But I think it's a misnomer to call him a first-time coordinator. A lot of folks don't realize that he played a huge role in building the offense the Jaguars ran back when he was there (especially that potent running game with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew). The fact that he was a college quarterback, NFL tight end, offensive line coach and tight ends coach -- not to mention HEAD coach -- in my opinion gives him great all-around perspective on offensive football.
Michael, do you not remember Zack Bowman's last game with the bears? When they benched Jennings and put him in he couldn't cover anyone and they kept passing right at him...
Michael (1:59 PM)
Patrick, one game doesn't make a career.
Michael (1:59 PM)
Guys that's my time. I hope you enjoyed this chat as much as I did. Keep checking us out on ESPNChicago.com for all your information on the Chicago Bears.