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September 28, 1:30 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wright

Michael
  (1:30 PM)

Hello everyone. Going to be a busy day here at Halas Hall. But we're three-deep today. So we've got you covered on Bears news. Anyway, let's get this chat rolling.

Gabe (Jersey)

Happy football Friday Michael!I thought we would see a lot of designed QB roll-outs to "help" the offensive line. I can't recall seeing it much in the first few games. Is it something the Bears work on in practice or plan on implementing in games any time soon?Love your columns! Keep up the good work.

Michael
  (1:32 PM)

Thanks, Gabe. You're correct that we were supposed to see some rollouts, and the Bears haven't showed a ton of them. But I think a lot of it has to do with the matchups the Bears get on a weekly basis. You can't necessarily call rollouts just for the sake of doing it. You have to know it's a call that is going to help your team. Obviously, the Bears haven't felt the need to implement roll outs as a regular part of the offensive game plan. There's definitely a reason for that on the part of the coaching staff. But we haven't been privy to that.

Ari (Skokie)

Is DJ Moore the best pure tackler on da Bears? He made some amazing 1-on-1 tackles last game

Michael
  (1:34 PM)

Ari, if you ask D.J., I'm sure he'd tell you that. Just last week we were in the locker room talking and I said, "You're one of the best nickel corners in the league." He was like, "One of? One of? What are you talking about?" Gotta love his confidence.

Fan (Champaign)

Is there any indication whether Rodriquez will be able to play against Dallas? He seemed to be a pretty decent lead blocker and that could be a big loss if we are trying to get the running game going.

Michael
  (1:35 PM)

It's not looking good for him. From what I understand he's got an MCL sprain, which is the same injury that knocked Jay Cutler out of the NFC Championship Game a few years back, and the same one that put Matt Forte on the shelf last season.

Bill (Ragmier)

Do you think that Devin Hester will have over 40 receptions this year?

Michael
  (1:38 PM)

Bill, good question. It certainly isn't looking that way. Right now, he's got 2 catches in three games. So at this point, he'd be lucky to get half of that. That's sort of unfortunate, too, considering his contract is up in 2013. He's scheduled to make a little more than $1.8 million in base salary and has a $4.4 million base salary escalator that he's probably not going to see if the production doesn't increase. Besides that, even if Hester doesn't get the escalator, the Bears might determine that $1.8 million would be too much to pay Hester.

Andrew (Seattle)

Being from Texas, who are you rooting for in this upcoming Bears-Cowboys game? Or are you contractually obligated as an ESPN-Chicago writer to pull for the Bears?

Michael
  (1:39 PM)

Being from Texas, I used to LOVE the Cowboys. Then in the 90s, I began to HATE them. Now that I cover the NFL for a living, I don't root for any team. As a journalist, we always root for good stories, not teams. So I'm not pulling for the Bears or the Cowboys.

JJ (Los Alamitos, CA)

Mr. Wright, if (or maybe when) Jay Cutler has a poor performance in Dallas, will Lovie, possibly fearing the loss of his job, consider looking into going with Campbell?

Michael
  (1:41 PM)

Good question, J.J. You know that Lovie Smith is a fiercely loyal guy. So my guess is he'll try to ride with Cutler for as long as possible. But like you said, at some point, you have to protect your own interests (I.E. job). I'm not sure a poor performance against the Cowboys would sway Smith into looking at Campbell considering it's just the fourth game. My guess is it would have to depend on how bad Cutler plays. If it's similar to what transpired in Green Bay, I'd say the thought will cross Smith's mind. But I doubt he'd pull the trigger.

Justin (Singapore)

Both team's offensive lines are shaky. Besides better protection what is the key to winning?

Michael
  (1:44 PM)

Justin, I think this will be one of those field-position, defensive type of games. You're absolutely correct that adequate protection is paramount to the success of both of these teams. But I think field position will be a huge determining factor in the outcome of this game, as well as both of these teams' ability to run the ball. If one of these teams can establish the run, it will open up things to make plays in the passing game. So the team that can run it will probably win it. I think the Bears are more equipped to do that then the Cowboys at this point.

David (San Antonio, Texas)

Michael-I enjoy your work! These two teams are so alike in many ways: Questionable QBs, Inconsistent offense, lots of playmakers but never really living up to their potential. To me this game is a disaster waiting to happen for the Bears...its MNF, Cutler plays horrible at night against good teams and its on the road. Something tells me they get exposed and Bears will be up and down all season. Thanks

Michael
  (1:47 PM)

David, I think many observers of the Chicago Bears share your thoughts. But I'm not ready to pass judgement just yet on this year's team. I think the offense is still going through some growing pains, and I think eventually they'll get things together. You've also got to remember that Romo suffers his fair share of meltdowns, too. Facing a good Bears defense could trigger one of those, which might be able to cancel out a potential Cutler meltdown. Seriously, though, I think Cutler learned a lesson against the Packers and he'll try a lot harder to not turn over the ball.

Jesse (Dallas, Texas)

Is Jay Cutler due for a good game? Any chance he totally loses it like against GB?

Michael
  (1:48 PM)

Jesse, I think so. But the potential for another Green Bay fiasco always exists with a streaky quarterback like Cutler. If you go back to 2010, the Cowboys put a ton of pressure on Cutler early in the game and it looked like he was going to crack. But somehow (with Frank Omiyale at left tackle) the Bears managed to weather the early storm and Cutler played very well. Who's to say that won't happen again?

Pete (Wisconsin)

Hey Michael, love your work keep it up! just wondering if you think that our spectacular start on the d-line is more attributed to playing subpar o-lines or are we that good?

Michael
  (1:53 PM)

Good question, Pete. You guys have some reporter instincts. I'd say it's a little of both. You've got to give the Bears credit for what they've been able to do with that defensive line. Thirteen of the team's 14 sacks come from the front four. So that's nothing to sneeze at considering the Bears aren't "manufacturing" pressure by blitzing corners, linebackers and safety. This team's 14 sacks through the first three games is the second most in franchise history at this point since 1982, when sacks became an official statistic. Yes, the Bears have faced some subpar offensive lines. But I think what the Bears have done is move players all over that line, which has enabled them to get free for sacks. Israel Idonije is healthy now after playing most of 2011 on one leg. Julius Peppers is, well, Julius Peppers. Henry Melton has posted 10 sacks since 2010, which ranks as second in the NFL among defensive tackles. You also have to give the personnel side credit for bringing on Stephen Paea, and rookie Shea McClellin.

Matt (Normal)

Do you see there being a move on the depth chart at WR? Devin Hester still hasn't made that jump that all the coaches were talking about in the off-season. Could Bennett or Jeffrey move up anytime soon?

Michael
  (1:55 PM)

Matt, I think No. 1 and No. 2 -- all that stuff -- are just labels at this point. Really, Hester is designated as the No. 2 receiver. But he played just 11 snaps last week against the Rams. So on the field, the move up you're talking about has already happened in my opinion.

Joe (Wicker Park)

Hey Michael, just wondering if you had any info on Matt Forte's status for Monday night.

Michael
  (1:57 PM)

Joe, Matt is hopeful that he'll play. He said Wednesday that he'll be ready to go for the game. But what gives me pause is the fact that Lovie Smith keeps cautioning against expecting Forte to be in the lineup on Monday night. I get the impression the Bears are considering holding out Forte, but the running back actually wants to give it a go.

Eric (Chicago)

Any chance based on production/salary - that Devin gets traded to a team needing only a return game? His WR slot would open up to someone else then.

Michael
  (2:00 PM)

Eric, I explored this possibility during training camp and texted one GM I know, one head coach, two assistants and several scouts from both AFC and NFC teams asking what a team would trade for Hester. One head coach told me they wouldn't give anything more than a seventh or conditional pick. But the common theme among everyone I contacted was that Hester doesn't give you enough on offense to provide any value in a trade, and a special-teams beast isn't valuable enough to warrant giving up a fairly high pick. A sixth-round pick was the most that any of the people I contacted would give up for Hester.

Eric (Chicago)

Any chance based on production/salary - that Devin gets traded to a team needing only a return game? His WR slot would open up to someone else then.

Michael
  (2:01 PM)

Eric, I explored this possibility during training camp and texted one GM I know, one head coach, two assistants and several scouts from both AFC and NFC teams asking what a team would trade for Hester. One head coach told me they wouldn't give anything more than a seventh or conditional pick. But the common theme among everyone I contacted was that Hester doesn't give you enough on offense to provide any value in a trade, and a special-teams beast isn't valuable enough to warrant giving up a fairly high pick. A sixth-round pick was the most that any of the people I contacted would give up for Hester.

Michael
  (2:01 PM)

Eric, I explored this possibility during training camp and texted one GM I know, one head coach, two assistants and several scouts from both AFC and NFC teams asking what a team would trade for Hester. One head coach told me they wouldn't give anything more than a seventh or conditional pick. But the common theme among everyone I contacted was that Hester doesn't give you enough on offense to provide any value in a trade, and a special-teams beast isn't valuable enough to warrant giving up a fairly high pick. A sixth-round pick was the most that any of the people I contacted would give up for Hester.

Derrick (Chicago)

You might not root for any team but Im sure you have a rooting interest in the Bears doing well. If the Bears go to the Super Bowl that will look that much better on your resume that you covered the Bears...so I gotta think you at least want them to do well? Thanks buddy

Michael
  (2:02 PM)

Breaking stories and well-written features are what looks good on a resume.

Matt (Lincoln Park)

Michael, you mentioned field position -- makes sense. So to me that comes down to special teams. How's the Cowboys special teams unit? Advantage one way or another?

Michael
  (2:03 PM)

Matt, all I know is that the Cowboys ran back a punt for a touchdown on the Bears back in 2010. So I'm sure the Bears have replayed that return on several occasions this week during meetings. The Cowboys are dangerous on special teams. But they don't have Devin Hester, who in my mind is arguably the best return man to ever play the game.

Jacob (Crystal Lake)

Everyone thinks that the Bears play horribly on primetime (which for the most part is true), but I believe I saw somewhere that they're 7-1 in their 8 MNF games under Lovie Smith and I know that Devin Hester always shows up on MNF. Do you think the primetime aspect will affect either team noticeably?

Michael
  (2:04 PM)

Jacob, you're close. Lovie Smith is 7-2 on Monday Night Football under Smith, and they've won five of their last six on MNF.

riz (norfolk,va)

how do you think the o-line gona match up against the cowboys pass rush??

Michael
  (2:07 PM)

Riz, the Bears are definitely going to do some things schematically to neutralize Dallas' edge rushers. You'll see tons of max protect, and when the Bears leave the front in one-on-one situations, it'll be on passes designed to get the ball out of Cutler's hands quickly. Remember this though: in 2010, Chris Williams -- who was starting at left tackle -- went down on the first play of the game. The Bears inserted Frank Omiyale, and he held DeMarcus Ware to no sacks and three tackles. So it's not impossible to neutralize Ware and the Cowboys' rush. But it's got to be done through a combination of scheme, play calls, execution up front, receivers getting open, and the quarterback making quick decisions.

Chris (Glen Ellyn, IL)

With all the spotlight on Jennings so far, how would you assess the play of Peanut Tillman?

Michael
  (2:13 PM)

Chris, it does seem as though Tillman has lost some of his shine. In 142 snaps on defense, Tillman has been targeted five times and receivers have caught the pass on all five occasions. But Tillman has only given upa total of 34 yards and the longest completion was 11 yards. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 95 throwing against Tillman. But they haven't been able to hit him for any big plays and he hasn't given up a touchdown.

Dan (District of Columbia)

Michael, everyone keeps talking about how Hester missed that "easy" TD catch in the endzone last week, however the ball was definitely thrown a little high for him. If that was Alshon or Marshall, it would've been a much easier catch. Why was Hester the man for that play, when he's a relatively shorter receiver? How is a redzone passing play utilizing his north-south speed capatilities? The play call didn't make much sense, and I put that failure not on Hester but on Tice, or maybe Cutler for the high throw. Your thoughts?

Michael
  (2:14 PM)

Dan, that play was specifically designed for Hester. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said that yesterday. From my vantage point, Hester did his part in burning his defender. But Cutler does have to throw a better ball on that play.

Jordan (SD)

Our front four is making our secondary look great, but i think the secondary is making some very good plays. Which CB/S do you think will have the biggest impact

Michael
  (2:16 PM)

Jordan, in my opinion Chris Conte will have the biggest impact positively or negatively in this game. Tony Romo will definitely try to look Conte off on deep throws, and Conte can't bite or he'll give up the big play. At the same time, Romo will take chances when he shouldn't, and those are times Conte has to use his natural ballhawking skills to make a play. So Conte potentially has the biggest impact either way in my mind.

Tom (Marine Air Station Miramar)

How confident is the team with tackle J'Marcus Webb vs DeMarcus Ware on this weeks MNF. Military supports you guys good luck

Michael
  (2:17 PM)

Tom, we support the military, too. To answer your question, I'd say that outwardly the Bears express confidence in Webb. But behind closed doors, I can virtually guarantee the Bears are putting together as much as they can in the game plan to help Webb protect against Ware.

Ben (San Antonio, TX)

Is Forte going to play monday night? If you had to put a percentage on it, what would it be?

Michael
  (2:18 PM)

60-40 that he plays.

Efren (Idaho Falls)

Has Forte's status for the game improved?

Michael
  (2:18 PM)

Efren, it's improved. But it's not a slamdunk that he'll play.

Bobby (Lake Forest, IL)

Besides some poor decision-making and holding onto the ball too long, the one thing that has stood out to me about Cutler (perhaps this year more than others) is how inaccurate he seems to be? I mean, he has consistently under-thrown or thrown behind open receivers. Maybe the baby is keeping him up too late.. Thoughts?

Michael
  (2:21 PM)

I've heard that theory tossed about, Bobby. But I don't buy it. You're correct that he's been inaccurate. But I think that's kind of a function of how he plays. Cutler is the type of guy that has to see the receiver get open before he lets go of the ball on many of his throws. That lack of anticipation leads to inaccuracy to me.

Rick (Phoenix, AZ)

Please tell me this team is pumped and ready to go, I do not want to see a lackluster performance like we saw against GB. Thanks

Michael
  (2:23 PM)

Rick, they're ready to go. If you can't get up for a game on Monday Night Football, you probably shouldn't be playing this game.

john (harlem)

The scab refs never had any affect on player safety, and the notion that they would was asinine to say the least. Can you give me one scenario where they would affect player safety?? I have been trying to find one since the preseason and I still can't find one.

Michael
  (2:24 PM)

John, the only one I can think of is when they're late to break up fights that occur on the field. That's a threat to not only player safety, but a threat to any coach on the sideline attempting to break it up.

Michael (Mount Prospect)

Do you feel Webb is on a short leash going into this game? If you do, will Scott be the next LT called upon?

Michael
  (2:26 PM)

Absolutely, Webb is on a short leash. I've been told that he's run out of strikes. As for Scott, I'd say he's a very viable option and there's a good chance that he'd be the next man up. The staff's concern after the Green Bay game was that Scott wasn't quite yet ready. Maybe Scott is now after another week of practice.

Hodo (Ames, IA)

I heard Forte was using a hyperbaric chamber to help his ankle heal faster. How does this machine aide with healing?

Michael
  (2:30 PM)

Well, Hodo, from what I know the chamber provides an environment of pure oxygen, which plays a major role in decreasing inflammation and swelling. I read somewhere that an hour of treatment in a hyperbaric chamber is equal to taking 40 Motrin without the toxic response that comes with taking that drug. Lots of athletes swear by these things and invests lots of money to obtain them.

Michael
  (2:31 PM)

Guys, that's my time. Got to get back on the grind here at Halas Hall. Thanks for taking the time to stop by. See you Monday night in Dallas.