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December 23, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Wright, Jurko

ESPNChicago.com
  (12:34 PM)

Guys, really sorry about this delay. Michael is getting into Halas Hall shortly and will be answering as many as he can. Thanks.

Michael
  (12:48 PM)

Guys, if you were here in front of me, I'd let one of you punch me in the face or something. I totally goofed on the time, and scheduled a radio hit for the time I was supposed to be on. Anyway, hopefully I can make it up with an extra 30 minutes or so after Jurko jumps off the chat today.

Andy (Denver)

How realistic are the Bears playoff hopes? Their defense will carry them as far as they can, but the road to the Super Bowl goes through Atlanta. Not an easy place to win.

Michael
  (12:50 PM)

Andy, Atlanta definitely isn't an easy place to win. But I think the Bears match up well with the Falcons. Atlanta utilizes that big running back Michael Turner, which is sort of right in Chicago's wheelhouse. I'd be more concerned if Atlanta had a smaller, more explosive back. Atlanta is very similar to the Bears, actually. But I don't think the team's linebackers are near as good as Chicago. Roddy White would really be the only thing that scares me about the Falcons if I'm the Bears. I actually like the match up.

TK (Orand Park, IL )

What are the chances the Chicago Bears extend Lovie Smiths contract? Also, I heard rumors that Jerry Angelo is close to retirement, could that be after this season?

Michael
  (12:52 PM)

There's been a ton of talk about that lately, TK. I'm don't think the Bears will be in a hurry to extend Lovie. Remember what happened last time they extended him early (no playoffs for 3 years). Add the uncertainty about the collective bargaining agreement to the equation, and I honestly don't see it happening after this season. As for Angelo, I haven't heard those things. This offseason will definitely be an interesting one. From what I know, the team has already approached some of the guys about extensions.

Colin (Chicago)

What is the most important thing the Bears need to improve on in the offseason (wrs oline or dbacks)

Michael
  (12:53 PM)

Colin, I think the offensive line should definitely be the priority. Most of this team's struggles can be traced to that offensive line. I think the Bears can get by with the receivers and defensive backs they have. But that o-line is always gonna be a problem area if they don't address it.

matt (chicago)

how are the field conditions looking this week at soidler field

Michael
  (12:55 PM)

Right now, the turf is just fine (or as fine as it's gonna be for this time of year at Soldier Field). If you're worried about it being frozen or having snow on it, neither are a problem as of right now. But if I'm not mistaken, there's some snow in the forecast this week. There's a 40 percent chance of snow this weekend, but my guess is the grounds crew at Soldier Field will have things taken care of.

Michael Cotton (Atlanta GA)

why is it that going into the season all of the analst were saying the bears have the toughest schedule.. Then when the bears start winning its "ohh they havent beaten anybody" Why dont the media respect the Bears?

Michael
  (12:56 PM)

Michael, it's tough to get that respect when they played so badly against the Patriots. Don't get me wrong, the Patriots are a buzzsaw right now. But the Bears had the perfect opportunity to gain that respect they coveted, and squandered it.

Saiah (NY)

How come Cutler can't get a break. He has 20 tds and 13 ints this year but it seems like critics harp on issues based on last year's statistics. A lot of the errant throws are because of miscommunications with the WRs on hot reads and not because Cutler is a gunslinger.

Michael
  (12:58 PM)

Well, Saiah, he's made some bad decisions. Let's not forget that. All of his interceptions except for one this year have been the result of bad decisions. So I don't think folks are harping too much off last year's stats.

dean (northbrook, il)

if the bears beat the jets, and the eagles lose to the vikings, would they clinch the 2nd playoff spot? Then would the bears play their starters against the packers?

Michael
  (12:59 PM)

Yes to your first question, and probably no to your second question.

Michael
  (12:59 PM)

Guys, I'm gonna get off of here and let Jurko take over. Remember, I'll be coming back for another 30 minutes after Jurko is done. Again, my apologies.

Aaron (Aberdeen)

Jurko, Is Corey Wootton the real deal or did he make the biggest play he'll make in his career by maybe ending Favre's?

Jurko
  (1:03 PM)

It was a sack. Favre's career was well on its way to being over before the Corey Wootton sack. Wootton gets credited with driving in the final nail. Hopefully you see more of Wootton,but that will be predicated on the coaches being able to trust him.

Jesse (Midland, Texas)

Jurko,Really worried about the young team on the offensive side of the ball going into playoffs. Any chance this team is one and done or do you think they at least win one game? Thanks

Jurko
  (1:04 PM)

That's the nature of the playoffs. Four teams in the first weekend go one and done. If they don't get the No. 2 seed, yes there's a chance of that happening.

Ron (San Diego)

With the offensive line being the Bears biggest hole this off season, who and how do you see them filling it? Is there any big name or vet offensive line men that will work with the offensive they may have an eye on?

Jurko
  (1:05 PM)

Until there's labor peace, we don't know who is going to be available. Four-year guys, five-year guys or six-year guys. I still think Chris Williams is going to work out.

Aaron (Aberdeen)

With Mark Sanchez having a shoulder injury what are the chances he misses Sunday's game? andwho is the Jets backup QB?

Jurko
  (1:05 PM)

Brunell or Brad Smith, who played qb at Mizzou. I think he's going to play.

Joshua (Indiana)

Is there any way Peppers doens't have a huge game against the Jets' backup tackle with Woody out?

Jurko
  (1:06 PM)

I would hope he would, but he hasn't had dominating guys against guys you'd think he'd have dominating games against. I'd like to see him step up and have that 3-sack, 2 forced fumble game. That would be nice. Any talk of him being a defensive MVP should go to the wayside.

Kelly (Gary, Indiana)

Jurko,Give me your personal opinion. What happens to the Bears in playoffs and why? Thanks

Jurko
  (1:07 PM)

I believe they'll get the No. 2 seed, end up playing the Saints, beat the Saints, and then it's a battle agianst the Falcons in Atlanta. I like Chicago. Bears!

Ricky (Lombard)

Jurko do you see CUTLER improving ??? or all this critics are right about CUTLER???

Jurko
  (1:08 PM)

I see him improving, but I also see what the critics are pointing at: Bad footwork and poor fundamentals. But his decision making is better as far as when to throw the ball and when to run. When to chuck it out of bounds. The decision making is better.

Rob (Palatine)

Is there a chance the bears land a star wr this offseason? Miles Austin, Sidney Rice, Vincent Jackson, STeve SMith, Santonio Holmes, and Plaxico Burress are all free agents

Jurko
  (1:09 PM)

Miles Austin just signed a big contract. Odds are they'll land a second-tier guy. I still think the OL is such a priority, they'll concentrate their efforts there. Then have to go find a 2nd tier WR we won't be happy with.

Coach JD (Michigan)

Jurko....Happy Holidays. I heard Chester Taylor has some form of injury that is hampering him to a degree, is this true? Who do you think the bears will face in thier 1st game in the playoffs.

Jurko
  (1:10 PM)

Saints after the bye, and there's not a player out there who's not banged up at this point. Every player has bumps and bruises.

Matt Matusek (California)

I think the bears are the most underrated team in the NFL. Even thou they got embarrassed against the patriots at soldier field id still put my money on the bears in the playoffs.What do they have to keep on doing to keep on winning and possibly bringing that lombardi trophy to chicago and putting it next to the stanley cup??

Jurko
  (1:11 PM)

Hold teams down in scoring and having the special teams do what they do. And zero turnovers. That is a recipe for success.

Kid A (Chicago)

Jurko you Cro-hunk, I see a great chance for the bears to put together an extremely strong team for the 2-3 year window this D has left by cutting Harris, Taylor and that joke Manna-I cant Block-anyona and spending that near 20 mil on Oline, WR and DB -- think Angelo is smart enuff to recognize this?

Jurko
  (1:12 PM)

You hope he is. Harris' days as a D-tackle are done. Anybody can do Taylor's job. Brandon's ability to block or be dominant has been exposed.

Jake (Chicago)

Is Urlacher or Peppers the DPOY?

Jurko
  (1:12 PM)

No and no. My vote would go to Clay Matthews.

Ross (Chicago)

do you think there is a chance Martz will find some other head coaching job after this season? and if he does, how do you think that would affect Cutler?

Jurko
  (1:13 PM)

I don't think he'll be on anyone's short list. I think he stays the Bears' OC for two more years.

Joe Koperski (Lisle)

Jurko, I am a HUGE Fan of yours, you Rock. So the Jets are probably going to run the ball, which they did against the Steelers. Do you see the Bears stopping the run and beating the Jets?

Jurko
  (1:14 PM)

I'm sure they're looking at the NE film and the quick-hitting plays they got up the middle and that's what they'll concentrate on. I think the Bears will do a better job against Nick Mangold and Peppers will dominate against the run.

Alex (Chicago)

Jurko - a lot of people are talking about "making" the Jets one-dimensional. Aren't they one-dimensional already? Sanchez either can't throw or is afraid to.

Jurko
  (1:15 PM)

I think he has an inability to get quick reads. If you put any pressure on him, he'll start to fold the tent. Making him uncomfortable and confusing him and making him hesitant would be great for the Bears.

Kyle (Elmwood Park)

Jurko, Plaxico Burress? Viable option for the Bears if released from prison in 2011?

Jurko
  (1:15 PM)

It depends if the Michael Vick effect is there. Vick was humbled by his time in jail. You don't know what effect it will have on Burress. I think he'll be around 32-33, I would be cautious.

Dan (Australia)

What is the one team we dont want the Bears to see in the playoffs?

Jurko
  (1:17 PM)

I don't want to see Philly again. They had the ball in the end zone 7 times. Out of a possible 49 points, they scored 26. The Bears got there 5 times. Out of a possible 35, they scored 31. When Philly plays that film, they'll see lost opportunities and say we should have beaten the Bears in Chicago that day. I would agree with them. But they didn't, no apologies.

Eric (Chicago)

Jets philosophy this weekend: don't kick to Hester and give up field position, making the Bears play with a short field all game. You like? Lovie planning on having Hester return kicks too?

Jurko
  (1:18 PM)

I would hope he'd have Hester returning both. You don't lose anything with Manning, he's as solid as the day is long. Remember he's only returned 6 via the kick and 10 via punt. I've sene guys angle the ball down the sideline and still get 45 yards on a punt. Depends how good you're punter is.

Bill (Michigan)

Jurko,happy holidays! how much blitzing will the Jets do against Cutler this Sunday, and can he and the O line handle it and how?

Jurko
  (1:19 PM)

They're going to blitz their keysters off and the Bears will have to counter with quick hitting plays, slants, seam routes. Slant and go, stuff like that. When the team puts all-out blitzes on you, put on a quick hitter.

Jeff (Chicago)

Da BEARS!! So your under the assumption Chicago will take a OL with their first round pick?

Jurko
  (1:20 PM)

I believe they should. I think they'll take that or a Vincent Jackson/Dez Bryant type.

John (Dallas)

The OLine has improved but they still aren't any good. What are the odds that Angelo actually focuses on the line in the draft and in free agency? I'm worried that he won't because the slight improvement will seem like an all-pro improvement in his eyes

Jurko
  (1:21 PM)

Well there's no teaching size, and Webb has size. Would a solid offseason with weights help, it would. I wish I were convinced he's a player, I'm not.

Enrico Palazzo (Chicago)

Jurko, Bears better off playing the Giants or Saints if they play round one? I think the matchup versus the Saints would be better. "Bear weather" might finally come into play.

Jurko
  (1:21 PM)

I'd rather play the Saints. I think their offense and their inability to run would be greatly affected by the weather. I don't believe in "Bear Weather."

Dlham (illinois)

Jurko.. why do the bears continue to have todd collins as the backup QB when Hanie has proven in the offseason that he is pretty solid.

Jurko
  (1:22 PM)

Obviously they don't trust Hanie. That's what it comes down to. If coach doesn't trust player, he gets moved down and someone moves in.

josh (belvidere)

Will the bears try and use Devin Aromashodu more it seems like every time he gets in the game the ball is going his way?

Jurko
  (1:23 PM)

I don't know why they buried him in the lineup this year. He must have said something to tick someone off. His problem is his mental approach. I don't think the coaches appreciate his lackadaisical efforts.

Chris (MI)

The Jets almost never lose on the road. Is it crazy to say the Bears would be better off if the game were in NJ?

Jurko
  (1:23 PM)

That would be a crazy notion. I know the Bears' record on the road is better, but that would be a crazy thought.

Stephen (Houston)

Why does everyone assume Philly will win out? Dallas has been really good in the last 6 games, going 4-2 with both losses coming by 3 points each (including a 3 pt loss to Philly). Am I the only one that can see Dallas beating Philly in the finale?

Jurko
  (1:25 PM)

I think you make that assumption if you're the Bears, because it forces you to win out.

alexander (westchester)

you think the bears are good enough to go to the super bowl because in my opinion, the nfc championship will be bears vs. giants

Jurko
  (1:25 PM)

NFC is wide open. I think 5 of 6 teams can get to Super Bowl. Not a dominant team. And the 12-2 Falcons? Good for them.

Jeff (Chicago)

Why play Pisa if he is banged up? He should sit til the playoffs.

Jurko
  (1:26 PM)

I agree. If Pisa is banged up, he should sit. Get him 100 percent healthy.

Bill (Michigan)

Jurko there is a lot of talk of bye vs. no bye. given the current situation of the Bears being healthy...which do you think favors our Bears?

Jurko
  (1:26 PM)

The bye. The fewer games the better. Why play in something that could trip you up?

Brian (Philadelphia, PA)

If the playoffs end up with the Bears vs. Packers in a rubber match at Soldier Field? How do you like the Bears chances?

Jurko
  (1:27 PM)

I like the Bears vs. the Packers. I think the Packers are so injured that it really affected them in the second half.

Chuck (Oswego)

Non football related....what is the spread going to look like for Christmas meal?

Jurko
  (1:28 PM)

Spread for Christmas? Looking at cabbage rolls, some lamb, pork, homemake chicken soup. Mostacholli, two types of salads. Turkey and stuffing.

josh (belvidere)

Do you think the bears will use Corey Graham this week against the Jets since hes a solid tackler?

Jurko
  (1:29 PM)

I think he'll play the same amount.

Justin (Chicago)

What is your take on non-alcoholic eggnog? Kind of defeats the purpose ehh?

Jurko
  (1:29 PM)

Non-alcoholic anything should not be produced. I don't drink beer for the taste.

Brian (Philadelphia, PA)

Do you buy into Johnny Knox as legit starting WR or do you still need to see something more out of him before you totally buy in?

Jurko
  (1:29 PM)

I buy into him as a speed burner, not as a No. 1 receiver.

Luke (Westmont)

Jurko, I'm a Big fan of the radio show. You guys are great.Of the possible teams that the Bears can meet in their first playoff game (Pack, Eagles, Giants, im discounting Tampa), who do you think the Bears matchup the best against. I really do think Philly because our overall speed on defense really allows us to limit their big play offense. What do you think is the best matchup for them?

Jurko
  (1:30 PM)

I like the Saints. They only have half a team. And defensively they're not as good as they were last year.

Bob (Chicago)

Will the Rex Ryan foot fettish video's have any effect on NYJ's preperation?

Jurko
  (1:31 PM)

No, I think it affects the coach more than the preparation.

Jurko
  (1:31 PM)

Bears win this week, 17-10. Thanks for all the great questions. Now back to Michael.

Michael
  (1:33 PM)

Thanks for such a smooth handoff Jurko (and we didn't even bang knees). Again chat fans, my apologies. Let's get rolling.

Billy (Arkansas)

Is peyton manning done with indy if they don't make the playoffs?

Michael
  (1:33 PM)

Billy, no way. The organization isn't letting No. 18 go. The Colts ALWAYS have a shot with him behind center.

Chris (MI)

Are Cutler's remarks about Revis just rhetoric, or is he serious about throwing at him?

Michael
  (1:35 PM)

Chris, I think it's a little of both. I think the Bears will throw at Revis some, but they'll definitely be careful about how they do it. Mike Martz said as much yesterday. As for Cutler, you know he's never gonna admit to being afraid of an opponent. But I'm sure DeAngelo Hall is in the back of his mind when he makes a statement like that.

Jeff (Chicago)

Do you hear any chatter about the cold weather from players considering they will play their last 4 games in the elements?

Michael
  (1:38 PM)

Jeff, a little bit. They said they sort of learned a lesson from what happened against the Patriots, and felt like they really needed to bounce back -- which they did -- against the Vikings. They know it's gonna be something they'll have to deal with moving forward. Besides that, they know that Soldier Field has to be a TRUE homefield advantage for this team. So playing in the elements is gonna be something that comes with it.

Tyler (IA)

was the pats game the waking of a giant, or a tell tale sign of concern against the elite teams?

Michael
  (1:40 PM)

Tyler, it taught them the harsh lesson that there are still a ton of things they need to improve upon to compete with the elite teams. The good thing about it is the Bears made no excuses and took the loss as a sign that there are areas that need fixing. It was a disappointing loss, for sure. But it forced the Bears to take yet another critical look at itself.

Brian (Philadelphia, PA)

Of the five starters on the o-line right now, how many return as starters next year?

Michael
  (1:42 PM)

Brian, good question. I actually see them all returning. Olin Kreutz might be the only exception (his contract expires at the end of the season). But if you look at it realistically, the Bears don't have a center of the future waiting in the wings, so I'd lean toward Kreutz returning, too. Look, this offensive line hasn't been able to play together very long. I think the Bears will try to add more depth up front, but give this current group another run at it next season.

Paul (Clarendon Hills)

Your the coach of a dream team. Who is your kick/punt returner? Hester, Desean Jackson, Deon Sanders, Gale Sayers, or other?

Michael
  (1:42 PM)

Paul, Devin Hester hands down. I wouldn't think about it twice.

Luke (Westmont)

What kind of a game do you think Mark Sanchez will have against this defense? Considering he said this week that the Bears D is "unbelieveable" and that he has "no idea how to attack these guys"?

Michael
  (1:45 PM)

Luke, also let's not forget about the torn cartilage in his throwing shoulder. The Jets are a power running team, and they throw the ball when they need to. I think the Jets will run the ball even more this week, given Sanchez's injury. After hurting the shoulder against the Steelers, Sanchez came back and played well. But the Bears are a different type of animal than the Steelers, defensively. Sanchez has struggled against the four-man rush (I'm working on a story about that now), and that's where the Bears excel. So I don't see Sanchez having a Tom Brady type of performance by any means.

Jon Gruden (ESPN)

Everyone seems to hate my commentary on Monday Night Football. Any chance I am replaced for the 2011 season?

Michael
  (1:46 PM)

You just signed a new deal, man. And I love your commentary, actually. I especially like when you sit down with players and break down film. You're the bomb in my book.

Paul (Chicago)

MW- Last week there was a HUGE dropoff when Chester Taylor was in the game. Forte was running hard, fast and looking to deliver punishment. Taylor was running gingerly, slow, and looking to avoid punishment. Will the Bears increase Forte's ratio of carries this week? They need to.

Michael
  (1:46 PM)

I believe they will increase Forte's workload, Paul. Also, Chester Taylor has been nursing a little bit of a sore knee. That might explain why he's been "tipping" so to speak.

josh (belvidere)

will we see the screen game more this week?

Michael
  (1:47 PM)

I wouldn't recommend it against New York's aggressive corners.

josh (belvidere)

Jon Gruden Da bomb. kinda like Da bears

Michael
  (1:47 PM)

Exactly.

Brian (Chicago)

Will Devin Hester be a hall of famer? I've heard a lot of commentators say that he needs to add more to his repetoire, but last time I checked, punters and kickers make it to the hall.

Michael
  (1:49 PM)

I think he will be. Look at how quickly he broke the record. He definitely needs to add a little more to solidify that Hall spot. But I think he's well on the way. I also wouldn't count him out in his development as a legit receiver. He's made tremendous strides in that area. Probably more than people like to give him credit for.

Mr. Cox (Greenville, NC)

MW - How do you think the Oline will hold up against a hard charging Jets defense?

Michael
  (1:51 PM)

Mr. Cox, the o-line is gonna have to be very disciplined in its assignments this week. I'd say the majority of the protection problems I've seen lately are the result of missed assignments as opposed to them just being flat out beaten, physically. The Jets are very exotic with the blitz schemes, which will probably give the Bears some trouble.

hilton (Chicago)

Why is it Tillman dont know how to look back when the receiver does?

Michael
  (1:53 PM)

Hilton, that's a tough thing for a defensive back to do. It's easy for us to say that he needs to look back when the receiver does. But what happens, though, is the corner looks back at the ball when it's up in the air, and loses track of where the receiver is. It's a lot more difficult than it looks.

Urlachersbigfan (chicago)

If you were Martz. How would you attack this jets defense?

Michael
  (1:54 PM)

I'd game plan some "rub" routes, for sure, and plenty of stuff on the outside that features double moves. The Jets' corners like to jump routes. Double moves are perfect for those types of defenders.

Brandon (New York)

Is DA finally gonna be given more game time this week?

Michael
  (1:55 PM)

Your guess is as good as mine on that one. But if you notice, he's getting more and more snaps every week. He did catch a touchdown pass against the Vikings that ended up being called back.

Alec (on my computer)

What do youthink about the Beras getting the #2 seed? Will they win it or will they get the #3 seed?? Your thoughts

Michael
  (1:59 PM)

I don't know why, but I see them winning it. The Eagles have Minnesota this week and close the season with Dallas, while the Bears have the Jets and Packers remaining on the schedule. I could see both the Eagles and the Bears losing one of the next two. If both teams do that, the No. 2 seed belongs to the Bears.

Jacob (Crystal Lake)

I don't get why Aromashodu hasn't gotten more playing time this year. It was the same way last year and then he had 4 TDs in the last 2 games of the season last year. It seems like him, Bennett and Knox would make up a very nice recieving core.

Michael
  (2:00 PM)

I agree with you, Jacob. But at the same time, if I were a coach, I couldn't play a game without getting Devin Hester snaps on offense. He hasn't found his way as a receiver just yet, but his speed changes the way defenses defend. That's big in my book.

Michael
  (2:01 PM)

Guys, that's my time. I've got a ton of stuff to do today. Please make sure to check us out on ESPNChicago.com. JD and I are working on about four stories as I type this. I'm sure the number will probably grow in the next hour or so.