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September 12, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wright, Jeff Dickerson

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:00 PM)

Just sitting up here at Halas Hall as the Bears bask in the glow of a victory Monday. Fun way to start the season yesterday at Soldier Field.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Who do you think will be the Best Rookies for the Chicago Bears in 2011?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:02 PM)

Gabe Carimi and Chris Conte. Those are the only two I see making any sort of impact on game day.

Goose (Chicago)

Jeff let's be honest, how much of the lack of preseason hype about the Bears from the so-called experts has to do with a blatant dislike of Jay Cutler? Top special teams unit, solid defense, great RB and QB...that is a nice recipe for success even with a lackluster OLine and WR corp.

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:05 PM)

Goose - I really can't speak for other people. I don't know why people predict what they predict. Here was my preseason Bears thoughts: they would beat Atlanta in Week 1 and finish 9-7. I stand by that even though they looked great yesterday. My biggest fear is health. If Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers, Matt Forte, etc all stay healthy, the Bears could be one of the best teams in the NFC. But, it's rare for NFL teams to have such good luck with health in two consecutive years. That's why I only gave them 9 wins. But if all things remain equal, the Bears should be a fun team to follow this year.

John (Chicago)

Who deserves to be MVP of the game?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:07 PM)

1. Urlacher2. Peppers3. Forte4. Melton5. Cutler

Dan O. (ISU)

I think ESPN and Sportscenter refuses to show Bears highlights, because none of them wants to admit they were wrong. Thoughts?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:08 PM)

I don't think that's the case. Please continue to visit ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000 for Bears coverage. Trust me, we don't ignore the team win or lose.

Alan (Missoula)

The Bears looked great this weekend but the offensive line was pretty poor, is this just a case of a unit with some turnover needing a chance to gel or will they be this bad all year?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:10 PM)

I think the O Line is going to be a work in progress for much of the season. They weren't terrible in Week 1, mind you, but there's certainly room for improvment. Teams will continue to test the young tackles the entire year, and Webb will always have his hands full with elite pass rushers on the left side. C. Williams and Garza appeared to be working well together, but RG is now an area to watch because of the Louis ankle injury.

Sal Paradise (Montana)

hey! if Lance Louis is going to miss significant time, are they planning on keeping Spencer at Guard and Garza at Center or will they flip flop them?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:13 PM)

First of, I'd keep Garza at center. Cutler seems to like Garza at that spot, and if the QB is happy, I'm happy. But, the Bears could always make the switch with Garza and Spencer, because Spencer is a much better center than guard. They could leave Spencer or insert Edwin Williams at right guard and put Spencer back on the bench. It's a little early in the week to know exactly what the Bears are going to do. We'll have a better idea when practice resumes on Wed.

Justin (Winfield, IL)

Does the Bears victory against Atlanta tell you anything about how the Bears will fare against the Saints on Sunday?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:15 PM)

Not really. The NFL is so week to week it's ridiculous. But I think the Bears defense has a great shot to slow down Drew Brees. My main concern early in the week is how the offense will fare in the loud and noisy Superdome. That will present a new challenge, especially for this offensive line.

Shane (Miami Fl)

When is Henry Melton a free agent? It seems like the Bears would be well served to resign him before he potentially blows up this year.

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:16 PM)

Henry Melton is signed through 2012.

Gary (Antioch)

What is the go forward plan with Merriweather?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:16 PM)

Gary - I believe he will continue to rotate in at safety. He played a few series versus Atl.

Michael (Vermont)

So whats your opinion about Roy Williams after game 1?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:18 PM)

That he's an okay option in the passing game. I like the fact he caught all four balls thrown his way, but I don't like the fact he got injured. Hopefully he won't have to miss much, if any, time the groin problem.

Ethan (Warsaw, Indiana)

Do you think the Bears are going to get any media respect, yet? Or is the media just going to chalk it up as bad play by the Falcons?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:20 PM)

Ethan - It only matters how you feel about the Bears. Media respect is overrated.

scooter (chicago)

where was briggs yesterday?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:21 PM)

Lovie just said Briggs had a "great game". I disagree. I thought he missed a few plays. He can player better....much better.

sam (iowa city)

Did major wright get benched towards the end of the game? i feel like i say meriweather out there a lot...

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:22 PM)

Sam - the plan going into the game was to get Meriweather a few series at safety. That was predetermined.

Bob (Denver)

It was a gret game yesterday, but how do you think the Bears stack up against the high-powered Saints offense, especially Sproles?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:24 PM)

Bob - I think they match up well. As long as the Bears don't give up big plays (Atl had only one yesterday on the Turner 53 yard run)they will be in almost every game this year.

Kyle (Jensen)

How is Matt Toeina still ahead of Amobi Okoye on the depth chart?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:25 PM)

Toeaina is a nose tackle. Okoye plays the three technique.

Nathan (DC)

What's the deal with Wootton? Thought he was going to play a little bit yesterday, but I don't remember seeing him out there.

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:26 PM)

Wottoon was inactive. Bears hope to have him resume practicing without restrictions either Wed or Thu.

Teddy (Cal City)

With an impressive showing yesterday, do you think the Matt Forte contract talks will heat up

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:27 PM)

I think the door remains open to get a deal done. The better Forte plays, the better the chance the Bears raise their offer. But Forte can still get franchise tagged in 2012. That's the ultimate leverage play for the Bears.

Brad M (Retirement)

I guess you guys don't miss us, do you?

Jeff Dickerson
  (1:29 PM)

A shot at Maynard of all people, come on!!! Uncalled for. But Podlesh punted well yesterday. On that note, I turn it over to my guy Michael Wright. Talk to everybody soon.

Michael
  (1:31 PM)

Hello folks, hope all of you guys are feeling good about what happened on Sunday. Dominating performance. So let's talk about it.

Nick (OB)

Hi Mike, who was at fault for the Cutler pick?

Michael
  (1:34 PM)

Nick, that wasn't Cutler's fault in my opinion. The defensive end made a heck of a play there. I'd partially blame the offensive tackle for allowing John Abraham to get a hand on that ball.

Jeff (nocal)

Why is Paea not dressing? Not ready or did not show as much as they had hoped for when they got him in camp?

Michael
  (1:35 PM)

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli described Paea as "solid" but said that the rookie needs to "be more than solid". So Paea still has somewhat of a learning curve. You've also got to remember that he's had a little trouble with the knee he hurt last spring during workouts at the college all-star game.

Trent (Marquette, MI)

Who in your opinion has the bigger game next week, Cutler or Forte?

Michael
  (1:37 PM)

Actually, I think it will be Forte. He's motivated by the lack of a contract. Plus, he's a Slidell, Louisiana native who played college ball at Tulane. So you can bet his entire family will be at that game, and he'll definitely want to put on a show.

Ryan F. (CHI)

In your opinion, how would a healthy Marion Barber be used next weekend?

Michael
  (1:38 PM)

Easy, short-yardage situations and goal line. Barber isn't near as good a receiver as Forte is out of the backfield, but he can certainly hold his own. Short yardage is where Barber will earn his money.

James (Indianapolis)

Hey Michael, do you think Melton can keep this pace up throughout the season, or will production fall off with teams paying more attention to him now?

Michael
  (1:39 PM)

James, it's inevitable that Melton's production dips at some point throughout the season. That's not to say that Melton isn't a talented player. But an NFL season is a long one. Players get nicks and bruises all that time that slow them down. But I still think Melton will be effective. I just don't see him playing the way he did against the Falcons every game.

Brodie (Iowa)

Everyone is talking about the Bears schedule being brutal.. but is it just me, or can the Bears do some major damage to the 2nd half of that schedule?

Michael
  (1:40 PM)

Actually, Brodie, a lot of folks don't realize, but it's one of the league's easier schedules. It's the first three games that give folks pause. But you're right, they can do mucho damage in the second half of the schedule.

Ken (Tinley Park)

What impressed you the most yesterday? Their front four, o-line, WR's?

Michael
  (1:42 PM)

Ken, I've got to roll with the front four. Not only did they get sufficient pressure off the edge with Julius Peppers and Nick Reed, but the Bears were able to bring the heat with the interior d-linemen. Even more impressive is they did that with a hobbled Anthony Adams and without Corey Wootton. When everybody gets healthy, I think you're going to see that depth really on display. I totally forgot to mention Amobi Okoye, but I think you're going to see some production from him, too.

Sage (Chicago)

Are you saying players (i.e. Forte) don't try as hard when their family is not at the game ?

Michael
  (1:43 PM)

No, I'm saying that when you've got 100 or more of your family -- who haven't seen you play in person in a LONG time -- in the stands, you're going to be even more motivated. That's just how it goes.

Nick (Madtown)

The nfc north was 3-0 against the nfc south yesterday. do you think the nfc north is the best division in football?

Michael
  (1:45 PM)

After Week 1? Sorry, Nick. But I won't say that just yet. Let's let the season play out a little while before we start making bold declarations. Obviously, I believe the NFC North is one of the tougher divisions. You've got the defending Super Bowl champs, and a 2011 conference championship participant in the division (the Bears).

Chuck (Chicago)

Michael, the players don't really say much, but do you think they are playing with something to prove against all the "experts" who have predicted them to be mediocre this year?

Michael
  (1:47 PM)

Chuck, I never buy into that no-respect thing. I don't think the players do, either. More than anything, I think the Bears are a very confident team. They just don't voice that confidence very often. They're playing with a sense of urgency because guys on that defense are getting older, the offense feels better about Year 2 of the system, and they made it to the NFC Championship game last season. They want to go back.

sam (iowa city)

For not showing up on the stat sheet, i though Reed had a good game at DE. Did he earn a chance to stay on the feild when wooten comes back?

Michael
  (1:48 PM)

Sam, I think he earned strong consideration for that. You're right, Reed didn't do much in terms of stats. But the few times I focused in on him, what I noticed was that he was relentless as a rusher. My guess is he tired some Falcons o-linemen out on Sunday.

Deigh (Chicago)

How do you feel about the run/pass balance on offense? I would like to see a bit more running from the Bears especially when we have the lead like we did yesterday. Some of the pass calls late seemed ill-advised.

Michael
  (1:49 PM)

Deigh, I'm with you in that they can probably go a little heavier on the run. But for the most part, the Bears were pretty balanced against the Falcons. They ran the ball 27 times, and passed 32 times. Not bad.

Darth Ditka (Sunny Florida)

Why is it when the Bears win, the media says the other team screwed up, instead of giving the Bears credit for one heck of a perfomance?

Michael
  (1:51 PM)

Well, I'm the media. And I say the Bears put on a heck of a performance. The other team didn't mess up. They were thoroughly dominated.

Bill (IA)

How much of a luxury is it that you can get away with rushing only your 4 down lineman and they actually put pressure on the QB? If the line can play that way against the Saints next week, I think the Bears win. Agree/Disagree?

Michael
  (1:53 PM)

It's an extreme luxury because then you've got seven guys back in coverage just waiting to break on the ball when the quarterback releases it. If the defensive line plays that way against the Saints next week, I think it significantly increases the chances of the Bears walking out of the Superdome victorious.

Jeremy (Mishawaka, IN)

Is it me or did Urlacher look 22 again on Sunday? He looked a lot better then Briggs did.

Michael
  (1:54 PM)

Urlacher played well, but don't count out Briggs. I know he's under a lot of scrutiny because of all the attention being paid to his raise request. But Briggs is Briggs. He'll have his big games. Lovie Smith mentioned today that he expects things to just go back and forth between Briggs and Urlacher in terms of big performances. I kind of expect the same thing.

Iceman (Nashville TN)

Is it a coincidence that the bubble screen to Hester finally worked when they had Roy Williams throwing the key block instead of Knox?

Michael
  (1:56 PM)

Nice observation, Iceman. But did you notice that Knox actually threw a nice block on Forte's touchdown reception? I think Roy Williams and Johnny Knox will only make one another better. Why is it an either/or situation, when you can have both?

SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)

Bears say they're a speed team and get the Saints in a dome on turf and with Colston out, I can see the Bears really bringing it to the Saints next week. Is it true the Bears are a 7 point dog early on? If so, what a slap in the face.

Michael
  (1:58 PM)

Why would that be a slap in the face? It's difficult to play in the Superdome. It's a loud, hostile environment. Given the question marks along the offensive line, a loud environment like the Superdome will affect communication along the line, defensive calls, etc. So it's not a slap in the face in my opinion. It's very difficult to win on the road, especially in domes like New Orleans and Indianapolis. I've been to both, and your ears literally ring when you walk out of those stadiums (not so much Indianapolis anymore since they've opened the new stadium).

Ryan B (Chicago)

Do you think Roy Williams will actually produce this season?

Michael
  (1:59 PM)

Did he not produce yesterday? He caught all four balls thrown his way for 55 yards. Not a bad debut, in my opinion.

Michael
  (1:59 PM)

Did he not produce yesterday? He caught all four balls thrown his way for 55 yards. Not a bad debut, in my opinion.

Michael
  (1:59 PM)

Did he not produce yesterday? He caught all four balls thrown his way for 55 yards. Not a bad debut, in my opinion.

Michael
  (1:59 PM)

Did he not produce yesterday? He caught all four balls thrown his way for 55 yards. Not a bad debut, in my opinion.

Michael
  (1:59 PM)

Did he not produce yesterday? He caught all four balls thrown his way for 55 yards. Not a bad debut, in my opinion.

Michael
  (1:59 PM)

Did he not produce yesterday? He caught all four balls thrown his way for 55 yards. Not a bad debut, in my opinion.

Michael
  (2:00 PM)

Did he not produce yesterday? He caught all four balls thrown his way for 55 yards. Not a bad debut, in my opinion.

Michael
  (2:00 PM)

Did he not produce yesterday? He caught all four balls thrown his way for 55 yards. Not a bad debut, in my opinion.

Kameron (Idaho Falls)

Michael, I wasn't as impressed with the special teams play yesterday as most people seem to be. I saw poor tackling early on, and while Corey Graham had some nice tackles, he had a holding penalty called on him. What did you think of the third phase?

Michael
  (2:01 PM)

Kameron, Atlanta started all but one of its drives on its own 20 (the Falcons started one on the 15). Robbie Gould made all three field goals. Adam Podlesh had a 46.3-yard net punting average, and booted one ball 57 yards. Atlanta's punt returner averaged 3.3 yards per return. Still mad at the third phase?

Amobi Okoye (Your local 3-technique)

Doh, nice typo up top, didn't realize it was Michael from 12pm-1pm. Sorry, I'm too focused on my d-line work.

Michael
  (2:03 PM)

I had more faith in you, considering you plan on being a doctor once the playing career is done.

Michael
  (2:04 PM)

Guys, that's my time. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with Jeff Dickerson and me. Come back and talk to us on Thursday, and keep checking ESPNChicago.com for the latest Bears news.