Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

August 27, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wright

  (12:59 PM)

Hey guys, glad you're here for this week's chat. Glad to finally be out of camp mode in Bourbonnais, and back to somewhat of a regular-season schedule. Anyway, get your questions in ASAP, and let's get this thing rolling.

joe (pittsburgh)

Michael, I've been reading the Bears blog every day for a while and all I can find is positive stuff. there are 5 positive stories about the bears to every 1 negative story for a team that finished under .500. What's up with that?

  (1:01 PM)

Joe, I'd say to check out the stories written about all the teams this time of year. It's all sunshine and rainbows, man. Everybody looks like a playoff/super bowl contender in the preseason. As soon as Week 1 finally hits, I promise you'll start seeing changes in media coverage all around the league. The way it is right now is just par for the course at this time of year.

Robert (Belvidere, IL)

Who do you believe is the odd-man/men out to make the 53-man roster at tight end, Richard Angulo, Desmond Clark, or Kellen Davis?

  (1:03 PM)

Because of my experience with Richard Angulo in Jacksonville, I hate to say it. But Angulo will be the odd-man out, more than likely. Davis has come on like gangbusters recently. He made a nice 23-yard catch against the Raiders last week, and he also laid one of the blocks that sprung Matt Forte for that 89-yard run. Clark, meanwhile, is just a steady, savvy veteran. I'll admit I've been surprised by Clark's athleticism. Besides that, he's listed as the No. 1 h-back currently. I think Angulo is a good, underrated player, but the talent is just too thick at that spot for him to stick in my opinion. I hope I'm wrong, though.

John (Wichita Falls, TX)

How do you think the Hirschi Huskies or West Texas A&M Buffaloes will do this year?

  (1:05 PM)

Wow, since you went back to the teams I played for back in the day, I'll say the Huskies are gonna be a playoff team. I really don't keep up with WTAMU much anymore, but I'm sure I'll make friendly wagers with Johnny Knox and Danieal Manning when they play Abilene Christian.

sam (Cincinnati, OH)

how will the addition of Julius Peppers enhance the Chicago defense this year? And do you think that Brian Urlacher can actually stay healthy this season?

  (1:08 PM)

Sam, don't read too much into Brian Urlacher being held out this week. He's fine. I watched him run full-speed sprints yesterday at Halas Hall. The Bears are just keeping him out as a precautionary measure. I don't think he'll have any problem staying healthy. As for Peppers, he - in my opinion - enhances the Bears in more ways than I can actually count. He gives them flexibility on the back end because he'll be able to pressure the QB, which means the secondary doesn't have to cover as long. Because of all the attention he'll command, he'll leave his teammates in more one-on-one matchups, which is always a good thing. Because of Peppers, I like the idea of the Bears trying some overload blitzes, similar to what the New York Giants did against the Patriots a few years back.

Carl (Valparaiso)

Hey Michael, love the work for ESPN. What are the chances of the Bears making a move to help the offensive line? Either through trading away a late draft pick or a TE to help this struggling offensive line.

  (1:11 PM)

Carl, thank you. But sorry to say, I think the Bears' chances of picking up more offensive line help are slim to none. For right now, I'd say we kind of have to take them at their word until they prove otherwise in the regular season. The Bears claim to like what they have on the offensive line, and say some of the protection issues come as a result of experimentation. I'd say this preseason game against Arizona will be a great litmus test for the Bears because they'll actually gameplan to neutralize the Cardinals blitz. After this game, the Bears can't legitimately make any more excuses for shoddy protection. If the offensive line falters, I could see them sniffing around for available talent. The problem is there isn't much out there.

Cole (Cedar Falls, Iowa)

Michael I enjoy your coverage! Do you anticipate Major Wright being a starter week 1?

  (1:14 PM)

Thanks, Cole. That's a good question. Half of me says no because he just hasn't been on the field enough to get the requisite reps that come with trying to make the transition from the college to the pro game. The other half says yes because even though he's injured, you better believe the Bears are suiting him up every day at practice and having him take non-contact reps. I'm starting to believe the Bears are going to rush him into action before he might be ready. Also, Wright is getting the kind of man-love from Lovie Smith that Jay Cutler gets from Mike Martz. And we all know how gushy-mushy that's been lately.

Kurt (Chicago, IL)

Michael, J'Marcus Webb seems to be doing allright for a rookie reserve roll - do you think they will have to keep him on the active roster or can they slip him to the practice squad?

  (1:17 PM)

Kurt, if they want a shot at keeping J'Marcus Webb, their best bet is to go ahead and use a roster spot for him. Because of Webb's size and athleticism, there's no way the Bears will be able to hide him on the practice squad. Kurt, I'd say keep an eye out for this scenario: Injured reserve. Teams aren't supposed to do this, but I've seen several talented rookies who weren't yet ready to play over the years go down with phantom injuries toward the end of the preseason, and go on the injured reserve. I'm not saying the Bears would do this...but.

Patrick Watson (Chicago)

Assuming your "little brother" Major gets healthy wouldn't a back field of him at FS Chris Harris at SS and Daniel Manning at the Nickel be the strongest lineup for the Beloved? Thanks.

  (1:20 PM)

Patrick, little brother needs to kick me down some of that signing-bonus cash. To answer your question, though, I'd have to say I totally agree with you. The possibility you've outlined is being kicked around, internally, I promise. The only concern I have is whether Wright will be totally ready when he's called upon. I think he will be, but you never know.

Ryan (Rockford, IL)

Am I the only person in Illinois who remembers how bad Rashied Davis' hands are? I realize he's quick, runs good routes and can get behind a defense, but will he ever consistently catch the ball?

  (1:23 PM)

I've gotta say Ryan that it doesn't take much memory to recall Davis' hands. I think quite a few people remember, based on how fans treated Davis during the early part of training camp. Early in training camp, Davis dropped a couple of balls, and a fan from the stands yelled, "Go back to the Arena League." After struggling early in camp, Davis has come on in practices, catching virtually everything thrown his way. But I want to see Davis produce in these preseason games. So far this preseason, he's caught two passes for 33 yards. But I've gotta see more before I'll be convinced he can contribute as a receiver. Meanwhile, Davis' special-teams skills are well documented.

Michael (Rockford, IL )

How does Corey Wooten look in your time with the Bears at Training Camp?

  (1:26 PM)

Wootton has a strong motor, takes to coaching well, and goes all-out on every snap. The only problem is he plays way too high at times. At 6-6, Wooton needs to concentrate on playing with proper leverage and keeping that pad level down, especially when he gets tired. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli seems to really like what he's seen so far from Wootton, but pointed out his tendency to play too high as the main issue. What's surprised me most about Wootton is that he hasn't shown any ill effects from his injury-riddled college career.

zach (colorado springs)

Is Devin Hesters speed enough for him to eventually become an elite WR?

  (1:29 PM)

I hate to say it, Zach, but speed isn't good enough. Remember a guy back in the day named Alexander Wright? The guy was blazing fast, but could never develop into a top-tier NFL wideout. What a lot of folks don't realize is for guys who have played receiver from Pop Warner all the way through college, that position STILL is by far, the toughest to transition into as a pro. Hester is hurt by the fact he never was a full-time wideout in college. I was just talking to a colleague about this yesterday. Hester, to me, looks awkward as a receiver.

Andrew (Silvis,IL)

How are Juaquian Iglasius and Earl Bennet progressing in practice and will either of them make the 53 man roster. Do you see either of them contributing as the 5th/6th receivers

  (1:31 PM)

I may be off a day or two on this, but I believe Bennett hasn't practiced since Aug. 8. The good thing for him is the team believes they already know what he can do. Besides that, he's one of Jay Cutler's favorite targets. So I could see Bennett sticking and contributing as a No. 4 receiver, actually. As for Iglesias, I honestly don't see him making the roster. He's caught only 1 pass this season, despite seeing significant playing time. That's not good enough to make an impression. My guess is this time next year, Iglesias will be in Canada.

Kilo (Sin city)

Hey Mike,Any rumors of possible trades with the Bears?

  (1:33 PM)

Kilo, I haven't heard anything concrete. But I will say I've heard a couple of rumblings here and there that the Bears might be looking to trade safety Al Afalava and/or running back Garrett Wolfe. If the Bears can pull off a trade for either one of those guys, it's unlikely they'd get much in return.

Gator (Gainesville, FL)

Michael, yes he had a poor game but dont you think the local media is running too heavy with the Chris Williams is a question mark theory right now? THere has not been a pattern of that play before. Your thoughts?

  (1:37 PM)

Seriously, Gator can you blame folks for questioning Chris Williams' ability at this point? He did play a major role in Kamerion Wimbley sacking Jay Cutler four times in two quarters. Wimbley is no Jared Allen. In fact, Wimbley almost reached his 2009 season total for sacks (6.5) in just two quarters against Chris Williams. Again, I'll take the word of the Bears, who said it was an "aberration" for right now. And you're right, we haven't seen that pattern of play from Williams in the past. But one NFL head coach told me a long time ago to always trust my eyes when it comes to evaluating talent. You should trust yours, too.

Corey (Chicago)

The run defense has really been a disappointment this preseason. I know its only two games, but even when the starters have been in, some plays they have gotten gashed pretty badly. Do you see any improvement this year from Harris, Adams, and Harrison clogging up the middle and forcing RB's outside the pocket?

  (1:41 PM)

Corey, my biggest issue with the Bears defense -- from what I've seen thus far -- is their lack of mammoth, run-stuffing defensive tackles in that Cover 2-based scheme. If you look back at the history of those types of schemes, the best ones operated with huge defensive tackles. The Bears don't have that with Harris, Adams or Harrison. Those guys are quicker, undersized guys, that aren't equipped to keep offensive linemen off the Bears linebackers, which would free them up to make plays. My guess is the Bears will continue to have problems consistently stopping the run. I just don't have a lot of faith in those defensive tackles right now. But hey, they might change my opinion at some point.

Paul (Chicago)

Is it just me or does Matt Forte look so much quicker than Chester Taylor? Taylor looks like a running back in his early 30s, regardless of the mileage on legs.

  (1:43 PM)

It's not just you, Paul. But you've got to realize that Taylor wasn't brought here to be Forte. Taylor is a tougher runner than Forte between the tackles, and a better pass protector on third downs. I'm sure the Bears will get their money's worth out of Taylor. But you've got to also realize that he and Forte are different backs with different skill sets.

Wesley (springfield)

Michael, do you see Henry Melton being a part of the rotation this year? He seems to be an explosive player and I would like to see more from him.

  (1:45 PM)

Wesley, right now, Melton is battling with Jarron Gilbert for one of those last spots. To be honest, I can't say one is doing better than the other right now. So this one could come down to the wire. Before Melton becomes a part of the rotation, he's gonna have to make the team first. I will say that Rod Marinelli and Jerry Angelo have both raved about Melton's play thus far.

Max (chicago)

if the bears get off to a bad start, should we expect smith to be fired right away? also, how aware is he of being on the hot seat?

  (1:47 PM)

Max, I'm sure Lovie Smith is very aware that he's on the hot seat. But he can't let that change the way he handles business because coaches can't coach scared, or they're doomed. I seriously doubt the Bears would fire Smith right away if the club gets off to a bad start. Ownership actually really likes Smith. Besides that, if you fire the head coach before the season ends, you're basically tanking the season. Why would you want to do that?

George (Brady, Texas)

Mike, if Singletary was grading the Bears, Could he WIN with'em?

  (1:48 PM)

George, I haven't spent a lot of time around Mike Singletary. But can you name a coach that would say he "couldn't" win with a team, regardless of how talent-less it was?

Nick (Manassas VA)

Instead of Hester and Knox as the starters at receiver, I would like to see a combo of Knox and Aromashodu with Hester in the slot. I think Knox and DA are the most complete receivers on the team. Your thoughts?

  (1:51 PM)

I agree with you, Nick. I also think that putting Hester in the slot would cause huge matchup problems for teams because most safeties aren't fast enough to run with No. 23. Also, teams won't be able to double Aromashodu or Knox on the outside, because they'd have to respect Hester's speed. That would also open things up for the tight ends. I like your thinking.

Kevin (Chicago, IL)

At this point, can the Bears keep more than 2 QBs due to the need for Special Teams players? Or will they pinch RBs by dropping the Fullbacks and carry 4 TE/HBs?

  (1:54 PM)

Kevin, they're gonna have to keep more than two quarterbacks. I don't care what they say publicly, offensive coordinator Mike Martz isn't comfortable with someone as inexperienced as Caleb Hanie backing up Jay Cutler. That's the real reason they brought in Todd Collins, who immediately moves to No. 2 on the depth chart. Hanie will be the No. 3. You might also be correct about the situation in the backfield, based on the club listing Desmond Clark as the starting H-back on the current depth chart.

Ian (St.Paul)

What do you see the yardage ratio between Forte and Taylor being?

  (1:55 PM)

If Forte stays healthy, I see him having way more yards than Taylor in receiving and rushing.

Josh (Wisconsin)

Are there high expectations for Mike Martz even though his offensive system has now failed with each of his last three teams?

  (1:56 PM)

Josh, what's your definition of failure? From what I've seen, Martz has dramatically increased the passing performance of every offense he's been a part of. I don't know if you can realistically call that failure. He did lead some horrid teams in Detroit in San Francisco, but those offenses performed well.

Tim (KC)

How many games do you thing would Bears win this season, I'm thinking not more than 5 and if the Oline keep giving as many sacks as it did against Raiders then i think we wouldn't even win those 5 games and Cutler would not even finish the whole season.

  (1:58 PM)

Tim, I'm gonna give the Bears more than five wins. I say they win nine games.

Ryan (Chicago)

Could the Bears steal Mike Singletary if things don't work out this year? Do you think he is would be interested?

  (1:59 PM)

Ryan, I think he'd be interested in coming back if things don't work out for him in San Francisco. But I actually think the 49ers are poised for a big year. Besides that, folks shouldn't be so quick to push Lovie Smith out the door.

  (2:00 PM)

Guys, that's my time. It was fun. I appreciate everyone stopping by to chat. Make sure to catch up with either me or my partner Jeff Dickerson next week.