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September 9, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Wright, Jurko

Michael
  (12:01 PM)

Welcome to another chat, folks. I'm here live from Halas Hall waiting for your questions. So fire away. I'm sure everyone is excited the regular season is finally here with the Bears set to take on the Detroit Lions. If you're worried about how things will pan out, let me mention the Bears are 8-2 against the Lions over the past 10 meetings dating back to 2005.

Bill (Chicago)

The Bears added Peppers, a healthy Urlacher, a healthy Tinoisamoa and finally have what appears to be a healthy Harris to their Defense from a year ago. They also shed the revolving door that was Orlando Pace and moved Williams back to his more comfortable postion, LT. They added Taylor to take some of the pressure off of Forte without losing much in terms of production. They added an OC who is known for an uptempo offense and putting points on the board. The WR's have another year of experience under their belts. Am I missing something that a lot of so called "experts" are seeing in saying they haven't improved enough to win at least 8 - 9 games this year? Please explain.

Michael
  (12:08 PM)

Bill, good question. I'm not sure you can call all the prognosticators "experts", but I think most of the gloom-and-doom predictions stem from what we saw in the preseason. The offense didn't produce and the defense couldn't get off the field on third down. When Mike Martz came aboard as the offensive coordinator, folks expected expected immediate fireworks from Jay Cutler and the young receivers. Well, if you know anything about football, you know such expectations were somewhat unrealistic. At least, initially. For the record, my prediction is 9-7, and I honestly think it could be better if a couple of things go right for the Bears. My main concern is the defense, which - despite the addition of Julius Peppers - seems to be lacking somewhat up front. I'm not sure I'm a believer in Tommie Harris just yet. I'm not sure I'm a believer in the way the Bears deploy players in their system as well. To me, to play great Cover 2, you've got to have big defensive tackles that stuff the run and make teams one dimensional. The secondary is also a major concern to me. Offensively, I actually think the Bears are going to surprise people.

Shane (Chicago)

Do you think Major Wright should start the opener?

Michael
  (12:12 PM)

Shane, that's a tough one. Based on physical ability, I'd say, yes, Wright should start. The problem, though, is I'm not sure how well he understands the system. Even if Wright has demonstrated a solid grasp of the system at practice, we all know there are things that happen in a game that can make an inexperienced player melt under the spotlight. So I think the Bears are taking a smart approach to handling Wright. In a perfect world, I think you put Wright in some of the substitution packages and ease him into things when you're confident he's comfortable. However, if the incumbents - Chris Harris and Danieal Manning - struggle early, my question becomes: What do you have to lose? Play the young guy.

Andrew (Silvis, IL)

With Cutler being sacked so many times in preseason everybody is blaming the O-line and the running backs for not blocking well or missing a block. Is it ever the case where our recevivers are not experienced enough to know how to get open. I noticed that last year and in the preseason is that our receivers cant get open but do they know how to get open. Everyboddy wants to blame our O-line for Cutler getting sacked so much but I think that you could argue that the receivers knowing or not knowing how to get open takes is as much to blame. Cutler always says the receivers are in the right spots for the most part but from what I'm seeing they can never get open

Michael
  (12:16 PM)

Good observation, Andrew. The receivers, actually have admitted to what you're saying. Devin Aromashodu told me a couple of weeks ago that the biggest problem is that everybody is new to the system. So when the receivers and quarterbacks recognize certain looks on defense, they're not on the same page in terms of how to react and improvise. That's a situation that improves with time and experience in the new offense. Aromashodu explained to me how in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning knew the offense so well that when young receivers got in the huddle, he could tell them exactly what to do based on the way a corner or safety was playing them. So when Cutler and the receivers get more comfortable in this offense, you'll see the same sort of thing happen. In fact, you could see that as early as Sunday against the Lions. The Bears have dramaticaly streamlined the gameplan to focus solely on the looks they expect to see from the Lions. So don't be surprised if Cutler winds up lighting them up for big yardage on Sunday.

Corey (Chicago)

Michael, how does Major Wright look in practice this week and can we just assume he will be playing, if not starting against the Lions opening day?

Michael
  (12:18 PM)

Corey, a lot of guys were privately saying they expected Wright to start the opener. But yesterday, I'm told (since we're not allowed to see much of practice) Wright ran with the second team. I think it's safe to assume Wright will play on most of the special teams. If the Bears are smart, which I think they are, they'll find a way to get Wright into some of the sub packages.

John (Ohio)

Do you think the offensive line will be able to protect Cutler sufficiently enough in his seven step drops? Will they show improvement from the preseason?

Michael
  (12:22 PM)

They'll show improvement from the preseason, John. But the answer to your question lies in what you consider to be sufficient. It's a proven fact that in Martz's offense, quarterbacks take a beating. Just look back at his history. Throughout Martz's career, his offenses have ranked in the top 10 in terms of sacks allowed in eight of his 10 seasons as a coach. Martz's offenses have averaged 577.4 passes and 47.4 sacks. Let's remember that Cutler is coming off a career-high 35 sacks. So based on Martz's history, that number is sure to grow.

Lenny (Springfield, NJ)

With Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo obviously on the hot seat this year. How much patience or lack thereof will they have in terms of making changes throughout the season?

Michael
  (12:23 PM)

Lenny, I'm not sure the Bears will be quick to make a change during the season. But a couple of days ago, team president Ted Phillips made it known that the status quo is unacceptable. So we'll see.

Dennis (IN)

1.) I think Wright will be starting by week 2, what do you think about that? 2.) Can anyone honestly not respect the Bears D minus the safeties? there are pro bowlers and playmakers all across that D. 3.) In regards to Cutler, where is the respect? He can win games and no one even considers that when they talk about the Bears. Anyone who watched the Bears last year knows 10 of the picks were due to the WR's and look how he played to end the season..

Michael
  (12:26 PM)

Dennis, I could see Wright starting by Week 2 if the other safeties falter. To answer question No. 2, I'd remind you that a lot of players make the Pro Bowl off reputation as opposed to production. So in my mind, the Pro Bowler argument doesn't hold water. As for Cutler, I agree with you that he's got all the tools of the elite quarterbacks. But he's lacking the most important one: the ability to make players around him better. Until Cutler takes that next step in terms of bettering everyone around him, I think he'll continue to be an enigma.

Freddy Robles (Las Vegas)

Will the bears get more than 10 wins this season?

Michael
  (12:27 PM)

I'd cap the wins there, Freddy.

Frank (Chi)

Why wouldnt the bears try to make a play for Haynesworth? He would really solidify the bears front 7 and make them scary good on paper.

Michael
  (12:30 PM)

He'd also cost the cost-conscious Bears a lot of paper. I will say that a player like Haynesworth is the type of defensive tackle that makes Cover 2 work. I don't like the Bears insistence on using quick undersized guys in the trenches. They get worn down in the clutch, and teams can run the ball freely on them.

Rashad (Texas)

Im a big believer in Cutler and the young recievers I think Johnny Knox will excel in this new offense and be the Bears' number 1 reciever. Who do you think will make a name for themselves at WR?

Michael
  (12:31 PM)

I keep saying it over and over again, but I think Devin Aromashodu will make a name for himself if given the opportunity. I like Devin Hester, but I think Aromashodu should be the guy opposite Knox. In fact, I think Hester's speed better suits him for a slot role because of all the mismatches he'd present in coverage.

Eric (Chicago)

Michael, what are OTA's, 2 a days and practice for? Lovie, Angelo, Cutler, etc. always are talking up practice and this and that, how everyone is looking so good, Cutler to Olsen combo in practice was spot on, etc. etc. Then we get to game day and Cutler doesn't trust his O-Line, the WR's aren't where they are supposed to be, Cutler getting hammered in preseason games, turnovers, etc. What is the offseason for? What is Lovie saying in practices? Seriously, all is good in Bourbonnais and then the second they step on the field, there is finger pointing. What gives?

Michael
  (12:33 PM)

Eric, you've got to realize that installing a new offense such as Martz's is a tremendous undertaking. Sure the Bears are gonna look like world beaters in scripted practices against a defense they see day after day after day. Then, when they get into games, they'll struggle because they're seeing unfamiliar looks. That's a part of what happens in these types of situations. That's why I can't get overly concerned about what we're seeing. Let's wait until after Sunday before we start pressing the panic button. I honestly think you guys are gonna be pleasantly surprised.

Dee (Texas)

I know its coming it will be a surprise if it doesn't. So what week does Major Wright crack the starting line-up? From what i've seen he needs to be in there asap

Michael
  (12:35 PM)

Agreed. But I'm also in that camp that believes Wright needs to know the defense sufficiently before he's inserted into the lineup. If they play him before he's ready, you guys will be calling Wright a bust. You don't want him in a situation where he's set up to fail.

John (Cincinnati)

Do you think it would be possible for the Bears to replace Lovie Smith (assuming they don't do well this year), but keep Martz? Surely they can't give Cutler yet another offensive coordinator? I think he could do well in this system, but he may need some time.

Michael
  (12:37 PM)

If the Bears get rid of Lovie, I cant see how Martz would NOT be at least considered as his possible replacement. I'm not saying that's ideal. I'm just saying I'd be surprised if he wasn't considered or at least retained because, you're right, the Bears can't expect Cutler to be successful with a musical-chairs situation at offensive coordinator.

Garrick (Macomb IL)

Michael, whats the injury status of earl bennett? Will he be ready to go for the opener? and if not does that mean Rasheed Davis will be our #4 wide receiver?

Michael
  (12:38 PM)

Garrick, Bennett practiced yesterday. Lovie Smith said everyone was healthy going into the opener with the exception of safety Craig Steltz.

Eric (Chicago)

Michael, I'm perplexed, I've seen many people be between 7-9 and you're saying that the most wins they can get is 10...Melissa Isaacson said 6-10. Who are there wins against? I have them beating Detroit twice (if they're lucky), Buffalo, Seattle, maybe Carolina, maybe Washington and once against the Vikings...so who else do you have them beating?

Michael
  (12:39 PM)

I try not to pull out the schedule and go game by game to figure out who the Bears can beat. Decent teams, which I think this team can be, always win one or two games they're not supposed to win. That's just how it goes.

Dan (Texas)

Michael,I'm a big believer in building your team through the draft. Why didn't Jerry Angelo take a O-Lineman during the draft, (a area that seems to be a big issue in protecting your highest asset)?

Michael
  (12:41 PM)

Dan, I'm a big believer in that philosophy, too. Your guess is as good as mine about Angelo. Good teams are built from the inside out on both sides of the ball. It's that simple. With the situation at hand now, I'm sure Angelo is privately kicking himself in the rear for not making a more serious effort to build up that line. If he's not kicking himself, I'm sure one of you guys would be happy to do it.

Saheed (Chicago, IL)

If the Bears have an awful season do you think Phillips on down will get sacked? Or just Angelo and Smith?

Michael
  (12:42 PM)

I think Angelo and Smith would be the main victims if things don't go well.

wayne (illinois)

how many wins do you see for the bears, with their schedule I see maybe 4 if their lucky

Michael
  (12:43 PM)

My prediction is 9-7. I'm gonna stick by that.

james (Chicago)

Where do you see Major Wright plying this sunday. I think from watching him at florida and in the one preseaon game he is the most fluid safty we have. will he be starting or just special teams. thanks keep up the good work

Michael
  (12:44 PM)

James, he won't be starting. He'll play primarily on special teams, but I could see the Bears getting him into the game in some of the sub packages. If they don't, they're doing themselves and the fans a -- pardon the pun -- Major disservice

William (Peoria)

As previously mentioned, the Bears front office has added a lot to a team that last year was only a couple injuries away from being back in the playoffs. Now all I hear is how bad that the secondary and O-line look. Are we really in that bad of shape and can that nullify the ridiculous talents that are on the roster?

Michael
  (12:46 PM)

I don't think this team is in THAT bad of shape. But I do believe that a couple of problem areas can ruin a talented team if improperly addressed. The o-line will be better, even though it's gonna give up more sacks than what the Bears are used to. The secondary is the biggest question mark. But if the defensive line comes to play, it would go a long way toward hiding some of the warts in the secondary.

Dave (Glendale Heights)

The Danieal Manning situation is maddening to me. I keep hearing that he has all of this talent, but he can't seem to stay on the field. He was the next starter at safety, then nickel, then safety again. Do you think his problems stem from the coaching staff not allowing him to zero in on one position or is it that he makes too many mental mistakes to stick at any one position?

Michael
  (12:50 PM)

Dave, you're hearing correctly about Manning. He's got the physical gifts to be an elite talent. But he's got to cut down the mental errors to be what the staff envisions. Danieal told me that he likes to be in a situation where he's involved in the action on every play. He said at times he'd get kind of lulled asleep by boredom (he didn't say it in those words), and that caused some of the mental lapses. So I would think the Bears need to put him in a position to keep him involved in the action. Drop him down in the box as an extra run defender, and man him up on tight ends on passing downs maybe?

Eric (Chicago)

Ok Michael, I definitely get where you're coming from with the practice answer...but isn't also up to the DC to show different looks throughout the course of practice? And how has that come along?

Michael
  (12:51 PM)

Marinelli did show several different looks over the course of both practice and preseason games. There were mixed results, but Marinelli said his reason for trying so many different things was an effort to find out exactly what the Bears do well and what they don't do well. I think he's got a good idea of that now, and I think - just like on offense - you'll see more streamlined gameplans that allow the defense to play faster.

Frank (Chi)

Do you guys know what kind of car Jerry Angelo drives? I swear I was driving next to him the other day.

Michael
  (12:52 PM)

Can't help you with that one. I do know Lovie drives a black Benz.

Shane (Chicago)

It seemed like in the preseason we blizted alot and the left openings in the secondary. With the additions of Peppers do we really need to blitz that often because i don't think we are good enough in man coverage besides (Bowman) what do u think?

Michael
  (12:53 PM)

I think you're correct in your assessment. The addition of Peppers is supposed to negate the need to manufacture pressure via the blitz. In fact, the hallmark of good Cover 2 defense is generating pressure with the front seven, and allowing the secondary to keep everything in front of it.

Bill (Chicago)

Is the North up for grabs this season or do you think it is just down to two teams. GB is good, MN is the same but with Favre's ankle who knows, the Bears have improved and then you have Detroit who I think has also improved. Who wins the North?

Michael
  (12:56 PM)

Every division is up for grabs in my opinion. Did you see the Saints winning the Super Bowl last year? I surely didn't. That's what makes the game so popular: the uncertainty, parity, and the fact that in any given year, your team could win the big one. On paper, Green Bay looks to me like the best team in the division. But I'll stop short of saying the Packers will win it, because nobody really knows what type of team the Bears have, and you can't discount the injury and chemistry factors.

Adam (Chicago)

Should I be as concerned about Chris Harris as I am? Wright looks solid, but let's remember that two safeties take the field.

Michael
  (12:59 PM)

I think your concern is valid, Adam. Let's face it, he hasn't looked good. You're also correct in saying Wright looks solid and there are two safeties on the field. You also need to be aware that one bad decision in the secondary - regardless of the position - can result in a touchdown. That's why the Bears shouldn't rush Wright onto the field before he's ready.

Mark (Frankfort)

I'am perplexed, I do not see how everyone can think this team is a sub 500 team? With the addition of peppers on the D-line, no one is going to run the ball on the our D. I think people are looking way to much into the pre-season on the offensive side of the ball. Since when did the pre-season mean so much?

Michael
  (1:01 PM)

Mark, the preseason means nothing. It's an evaluation tool for coaches and a sharpening tool for offenses and defenses. The addition of Peppers on the defensive line isn't gonna shore up the run completely, man.

Michael
  (1:01 PM)

Guys, that's my time. Gonna turn it over to my main man Jurko. Thanks for the questions.

Jurko
  (1:03 PM)

Welcome to the 2010 NFL season! Hopefully the Bears will be better than I think they're going to be.

doug (evergreen park)

Jurko,Do you see Cutler being sacked another 35+ times this year with this Bears O-line?

Jurko
  (1:04 PM)

Yes, I expect the sack numbers to be similar this year -- 2-2.5 sacks per game. They will probably throw more with Martz as the OC and these patterns take a longer time to develop. Hopefully Jay's mobility help him to escape worse sack numbers.

Eric (Addison, Illinois)

Do you think this is the last year for Jerry and Lovie?

Jurko
  (1:05 PM)

If they don't make the playoffs, it's absolutely the last year. And I would throw Ted Phillips out too.

Todd (Indiana)

Are we going to see more two backs sets in Martz's offense since both backs are sound recievers?

Jurko
  (1:05 PM)

Not as many as last year. You'll see a lot of Dez Clark (or Olsen) motioning out of the backfield.

Demedrick (Texas)

Do you think that the O-line will do enough in the run game to help Matt Forte and Chester Taylor do damage via runs or screen plays? And if so dont you think that would soften up the pass rush and therefore give Jay the time he needs in the pocket?

Jurko
  (1:06 PM)

Any time you force defensive line to become hesitent, the advantage then goes to the offense. But, you need to EXECUTE for that to work.

Jurko
  (1:08 PM)

The pre-season doesn't mean too much. Nobody is suggesting it does. BUT, when your left tackle can't make a one-on-one block, that's a legitimate cause for concern. Peppers came in for two DEs, not one -- Ogunleye and Brown are both gone.

Nolan (chicago)

Hey Jurk, what was for lunch today? (give us some professional analysis)

Jurko
  (1:09 PM)

Chicken breast sandwich, grilled, with olive oil mayo, shredded lettuce and sliced plum tomatoes on a kaiser roll.

Bill (Chicago)

Why does Jerry Angelo still have a job? This guy fails over an over at the draft......yes he's found some nice talent but for every Briggs there are several Haynes, Grossmans, etc. Add Gilbert, Iglesias to the list now I guess....these kids don't get more than a season to try and prove themselves and develop. Even if this team wins 10 games, I'm not sure Lovie or JA need to still be here. Lovie is the same guy who kept Aromashadu on the pine for all but the last few games....Fans were calling for him to play out of camp last year and yet the coaching staff didn't see that he was the type of receiver we needed out there? Having a burner like Knox or Hester is fine but you need size as well. Someone who will go up and get the ball. I think that hurt Cutler a lot last season as most of his receivers were not "go and get it" type of guys as they were more run under the ball guys.

Jurko
  (1:11 PM)

Your best teams in the NFL usually don't have a ton of flux -- There's consistency at the leadership positions. Unfortunately for the Bears, they haven't found the head coach/GM combination where they can consistently draft and develop talent.

Eric (Ames, IA)

I think an inexperienced Wright who missed most of the preseason is still the best FS on the roster. Chris Harris is a mediocre SS and a terrible FS. I think Wright will see the field once Harris gets benched or moved.

Jurko
  (1:14 PM)

I don't believe the Bears with how they analyze picks. I don't buy a third-round pick coming in making an immediate impact. I don't trust the Bears organization when they tell me a guy's a player. They don't tell the truth. They tried to convince us last year that Al Afalava was a good football player, and we all know what we got there. It's just hard to trust them when this "talent" doesn't come to fruition.

Adam (Chicago)

Jurk - love your show. I can't think of a better person to ask than a veteran D lineman..how much will the loss of Alex Brown hurt Peppers? Will teams respect Idonijie and Anderson or just focus on taking Peppers away?

Jurko
  (1:16 PM)

Thanks Adam. The two biggest mysteries in the world for Bears fans are what happened to Mark Anderson and what happened to Devin Hester. Since we're talking D, let's focus on Anderson. Can the combination replace Alex Brown. He was a better combination guy -- a guy who could really help you on the run and provide a somewhat consistent pass rush. Peppers can replace 1.5 of them, but now you're asking one of those other guys to replace .5 an Alex Brown, which I don't think they can do. Harris is now a 1.5-step guy -- he can't cover the same ground he used to. So, in short, I don't think.

Shane (WI)

Do u think Bowman can handle Calvin Johnson 1 on 1 or do u think we need to double cover him? That guy is a monster

Jurko
  (1:18 PM)

I think you need a combination of coverages -- safeties over the top, doubles -- certainly will have to pay atten to him, but you can't forget about TE Pettigrew and Nate Burleson. They scored 37 in the two games against the Bears last year and I expect at least that many this year.

doug (evergreen park)

So, If the Bears throw more with Martz and sacks will be higher as a result, can we assume the TDs and INTs would be up as well?

Jurko
  (1:19 PM)

I'm looking for a 2:1 TD to INT ratio. So 30 TDs and 15 INTs. Touchdowns up, interceptions down. Cutler had a BAD year last year. I expect him to be better this year.

Alex (Crown Point (219))

JurkoMy confidence picks are do in 5 minutes before kickoff tonight. Any suggestions on upsets this week or racking up some points on a game that others are stationary on?

Jurko
  (1:19 PM)

I've got NO with a 7, but I like them more the longer I think about it. I should've thrown a 14 down to start the week off right.

Jurko
  (1:20 PM)

I think Green Bay has separated themselves and goes 13-3. Minnesota will go 11-5, Bears 7-9 and Detroit 6-10.

Eric (Chicago)

Only 3 QB's have ever made it through 16 games of the regular season with Martz as head coach or OC. In Ron Turner's glum offense, Cutler led the league in INT's. Now, with an offense that relies on precision timing and route running, expect the INT's to go up. The offensive line looks like swiss cheese and the pass defense when you get to the secondary looks like a hot knife through butter. What are you missing? You're missing the fact that the Bears have a QB who has all the physical tools and traits that teams want, but he wants to fit the ball into the tightest spots thus creating more turnovers. The defense will be gassed more times than not either because the offense scored too quickly or turnovers. The Bears record at best will be 5-11 and I'm no expert. Health doesn't guarantee victory.

Jurko
  (1:24 PM)

Marshall Faulk was also a big receiver in the Martz offense. With the combination of Forte and Taylor, their receptions should be through the roof. Rather than gamble downfield to avoid pressure, I think he'll dump it off to the RBs. I'm not missing anything -- I have them at 7-9 and missing the playoffs.

Pavan (Atlanta)

How much should we read into the Bears poor play on defense in the preseason?

Jurko
  (1:26 PM)

I'd say 40% of what I saw I'll account to this team, knowing they can game plan better. I know they keep saying they weren't game-planning -- which they weren't -- but I don't trust Rod Marinelli and Lovie Smith to come up with a good game plan, or be able to call a good game. As a DC you have to have a feel for calling a game and I don't trust either of them to do that -- Not a good feeeling.

Mike (Bloomington)

Do you think that Lance Louis will be able to handle Suh? I thought he did a good job against Dockett.

Jurko
  (1:27 PM)

Dockett rushed from the DE spot too. It's time for Lance Louis to grow up and be a man. If he doesn't, he's going to be exposed quickly.

Dave (Oswego)

Jurk, Is Tommie Harris finished or can he still be a productive player?

Jurko
  (1:28 PM)

His production per dollar spent will never be high. at this point of his injury-riddled career, he is bad money. Those financial resources would be better spent in a different direction.

Ken (Chicago)

Brett Farve has even said his mind is telling him one thing, but his body is telling him another. After how bad he got banged up at the end of last year and how hard it was for him to come back from off-season ankle surgery, do you feel Brett will make it through this season? If not, is a Farve-less Vikings team still better than the Bears?

Jurko
  (1:30 PM)

No, the Vikings without Favre are not better than the Bears. That said, he'll make it through the season on grit alone -- that's what he does. And llok out for Greg Camarillo -- fantasy sleeper -- look for him and Favre to have instant chemistry.

Devin (Houston)

Will the Bears beat the Loins Sunday? If so, prediction of Cutler's and Forte's stats that game?

Jurko
  (1:31 PM)

Yes, my pick is Bears 38, Lions 27. I have Cutler at 18-30, 267 yards, 2TD, 1INT, and Forte with 127 yards on 24 carries, 5 receptions for 35 yards.

Jurko
  (1:32 PM)

Good luck to the Bears this weekend. They really need this one or they're in for it. We'll chat again on Monday and break it all down.