Chat with Michael Wright
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Friday, our Chicago Bears reporter Michael Wright makes his weekly appearance.
Wright joined ESPNChicago in April 2010 after spending the previous four seasons covering the Jaguars. He also covered the Redskins for two seasons. A native Texan, Wright was a four-year football letterman at West Texas A&M University. He covers the Bears for both ESPNChicago.com and Chicago's ESPN Radio 1000.
Send your questions now and join Wright Friday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Michael (1:01 PM)
Hello everyone. We're at Halas Hall awaiting Jason Campbell at the podium. He's just been announced as the starter for Monday night's game against the 49ers. Also, rookie DE Shea McClellin is out. Let's get it started...
Michael, what is up with everyone downing Campbell. The guy has been a consistant 85 rating QB over the past four years. Over the past 4 years jay had averaged an 82 QB rating. Sure Campbell doesn't take many risks, but the bottom line the way Chicagos defense is playing, I almost want a QB who is more cautious. Am i crazy to think the bears have just as good a chance with Cambpell as they did with Jay against the 49ers. Maybe starting Campbell will force them to do something they should have been doing the past 10 weeks....Give the ball the Forte.
Michael (1:04 PM)
Ryan, I don't understand it either. I covered Campbell when he was a rookie in Washington, and this is a guy that definitely possesses the talent to play at this level. His problem is he's played for too many offensive coordinators. The good thing about Jason is he's more of an anticipation passer, meaning he'll throw to the spot where the receiver is supposed to be on a given route. Jay Cutler likes to see a receiver actually get open before he throws it. So what I'm saying here is the receivers will have more room to make something happen with the ball with Campbell at quarterback as opposed to Cutler. Speaking of Campbell, he just walked into the media room.
Joe B (Oxford, CT)
Will Alshon Jeffery start if he plays? Would you anticipate him logging regular playing time even after being out so long? If so, does Bennett go back in the slot where he belongs and Hester focus more on returns?
Michael (1:06 PM)
Joe, back when Jeffery was playing, he started just two games with Devin Hester starting two and Kyle Adams starting another because the Bears came out in a three tight end set.
Al (Downers Grove)
What will it take for the Bears to get a turf field?
Michael (1:07 PM)
A different "study". The Bears claim they've done a study that says grass is safer than field turf. That's why they've opted against the artificial surface.
With the way cutler has been so wreckless with the ball, if Campbell plays a flawless game and we win, do we have a quarterback controversy?
Michael (1:08 PM)
Good question, Brandon. I've thought about this myself. Like, what if Campbell throws for 400 yards and four touchdowns? After thinking about that for awhile, I doubt there would be a quarterback controversy internally. Maybe there would be one with the fanbase and the media, but Lovie Smith doesn't strike me as a guy that would allow someone to lose their job because of injury.
We haven't won in SF since '85....with that in mind, how important is it for us to at the very least show some progress in our game planning?
Michael (1:10 PM)
First off, the gameplan wasn't the problem against the Houston Texans. The gameplan was actually pretty good. The Bears just didn't execute. When you turn the ball over four times in the first half, I don't think you can blame the game plan. The game plan didn't fumble, throw interceptions or drop a pass in the end zone that would've gone for a TD.
Should the bears switch TE's for blocking and have Rodriguez in Kellen Davis's spot. Davis is just god awful and lost us most of our chances last week. In my opinion he has got to go.
Michael (1:11 PM)
I'm never a guy to call for someone's job. But with that being said, I'm told Rodriguez will have an expanded role in the game plan this week. That's been the plan all along, but Rodriguez hasn't been 100 percent healthy after suffering that sprained knee.
What is the status of Alex Smith? If him and Cutler are both out, who wins the battle of the back-ups?
Michael (1:12 PM)
Rob, Alex Smith is playing on Monday I believe. I know he's been cleared and Smith is saying he feels fine. At this point, it's up to the coach as Smith has said he wants to play.
Besides Jay not playing monday night has there been any other release on his health status. Has he been cleared by the concussion test? Whats the probability we see him against the Vikings?
Michael (1:14 PM)
No other updates, Ryan. Cutler hasn't been cleared as far as we know, which is why he hasn't talked yet to the media. My guess is he'll be back for the Vikings game.
Agreed that the gameplan didn't include fumbling, throwing interceptions, or dropping passes, but it also didn't address the fact that throwing the ball 50,000 times to semi-frozen receivers in the wind and rain probably wasn't the most surefire way to put points on the board. A heavier dose of the sure-handed Forte was probably in order. We were not in a position where we had to throw all night, yet we did for the most part.
Michael (1:15 PM)
I guess you didn't notice that Forte averaged 2.4 yards per carry (16 carries, 39 yards)? They gave him 16 attempts, and Forte couldn't make anything happen. That's a big reason why they went to the passing attack. Houston was committed to taking away both Forte and Brandon Marshall.
Coming into this game im a little nervous at our qb situation. Are the bears going to pick anyone up to help the offensive line? Because if this keeps up we wont see Jay in the playoffs
Michael (1:17 PM)
The offensive line played fairly well against the Texans. In fact, the group pretty much shut down J.J. Watt. Besides that, Cutler's concussion wasn't an issue with the offensive line. Cutler was past the line of scrimmage when he took that hit. So at that point, he was a ball carrier. I don't think you can put that on the offensive line.
Who wins Monday night?
Michael (1:18 PM)
Brandon, you'd have to log onto ESPNChicago.com to see my pick, which I haven't yet made. It's coming soon though.
I have a wager with an old college roomate each season on which team with place higher in the division, the bears or the vikings. If the bears lose to SF then they are only 1 game above the vikings, should I be worried about my wallet getting thinner?
Michael (1:19 PM)
I wouldn't worry about it at this point. It's way too early.
Please tell jack the Conc had nothing to do with O line
Michael (1:19 PM)
Jack, I already let him know.
Paul (Park Forest, Illinois)
In light of the sub par performance of not only Kellen Davis but also Brandon Marshall, who dropped a sure touchdown pass, is it possible we might see more of Evan Rodriguez in pass routes and possibly a two TE set with Spaeth used primarily as an extra blocker? Ane can we just quit the Devin Hester experiment already?
Michael (1:20 PM)
Paul, I expect Alshon Jeffery back this week, which means Hester's snaps are likely to be limited. I'm also told that Rodriguez will be a pretty big part of the game plan this week. So we'll see what happens.
you cannot put that hit on the line you are correct, but has tice talked to cutler about being more cautious about scrambling around? Instead of running head first for a first down maybe throw the ball away?
Michael (1:22 PM)
Jack, the coaches talk to Jay about those types of things all the time. That doesn't necessarily mean he's gonna listen. Jay is a competitor, and it's pretty difficult to ask a quarterback to stop being himself. But absolutely Tice and Smith have talked to Cutler about taking those types of risks.
Why are people so upset with Urlacher and his handshake and was his response arrogant?
Michael (1:24 PM)
Gilbert, I'd never call anyone "arrogant." I thought Urlacher's response was just fine, and I thought his handshake with Danieal Manning was also just fine. Folks are upset because they believe that somehow Urlacher's focus is taken away by congratulating a friend for a good play. These guys' humanity doesn't go away once they strap up the helmet. At the end of the day, they're all human.
What was up with all of Campbell's passes going 1-3 yards? Was that him not being comfortable or Tice?
Michael (1:26 PM)
Dan, that was Jason trying to stay within the confines of the system. Remember, he hadn't gotten a ton of reps going into that game. So in that situation, Campbell played tentatively. I think he'll definitely be more apt to let it rip this week. At the same time, you've got to realize that San Francisco's secondary is very good. So Jason will have to be selective with the risk taking. He's not as much of a "gunslinger" as Cutler, but I can tell you that his arm strength is about the same as the starter's.
I know that it's easy to point fingers after losses, but how about giving props to the O-line and the plan they utilized in shutting down JJ Watt? He was my biggest fear heading into the game, and he was a non-factor.
Michael (1:26 PM)
Absolutely, Evan. The Bears pretty much shut him down. In fact, Watt graded the lowest he has all season against the Bears.
How much do the Bears really have to scale back the offense for Campbell? He has the physical tools needed, but does he have a good grasp on the offense? Campbell and Cutler have had Mike Tice as OC for the same amount of time.
Michael (1:28 PM)
Very true, Bryan. The difference is Cutler has gotten all the reps. But I don't think they're planning on scaling back anything with Campbell as the starter. He's a very good quarterback, and probably should be starting somewhere in this league.
Mike, can the defense carry the team to the Super Bowl and win it?
Michael (1:30 PM)
Why not, Von? It's been done before. The good thing is the fact the Bears haven't yet peaked on offense. I want everyone on this chat to see this and mark my words here: the Bears WILL hit their stride on offense down the stretch. Then, they'll be the Super Bowl contender people have been talking about. Going into that Texans game, I knew the Bears would struggle on offense and get off to a slow start, which is why I took the visitors and got destroyed for it by the fans. The Bears just aren't there yet on offense. But I'm confident they will be in the coming weeks.
When is the trade deadline? Any more moves for Emery?
Michael (1:31 PM)
The trade deadline has come and gone. No moves, obviously.
With out history in SF, Campbell starting, and San Francisco's defense I say the most important thing is getting ahead early (or not falling behind). Agreed?
Michael (1:34 PM)
Tim, even with Cutler in the lineup the issue has been slow starts. Despite all the publicity Cutler received for being such a good fourth-quarter passer, the truth was he really never had to play from behind. Look, the Bears are 1-7 over the past two years when they've trailed at halftime, but 13-2 over that same span when they lead at intermission. That tells me that it's paramount the Bears get off to a fast start regardless of who is at quarterback.
Michael, I was born in May of 86. I think this is the best Bears team i have seen yet. With a healthy Jay Cutler going into the playoffs and a defense that is hungrier than ever there is no reason I should be scared of a single team in the NFL during the Postseason? Do you agree?
Michael (1:35 PM)
I don't agree. There are several good teams in the NFC and there are no pushovers. Born in '86? Get out a towel and wipe behind your ears young fella.
Do Campbell and Bush have any chemistry going from their days in Oakland? Will we see a bigger dose of Bush instead of Forte?
Michael (1:37 PM)
No Roland, I don't see the history between Bush and Campbell making a major difference in this game. Do they have chemistry? I'm sure they do. Campbell played 19 games in Oakland with Bush. But I highly doubt that short history would prompt the Bears to play Bush more than Forte. Forte still gives you the best chance to win at the running back position.
Who has more responsibility with getting the offense off to a good start on Monday, Campbell or Tice?
Michael (1:39 PM)
I'd put more of that responsibility on Tice because he's got to put the guys in the best position. At the same time, once they're in the correct position to succeed they have to execute.
Regarding last Sunday's game plan, I would rather lose a meaningless regular season game trying to build upon & improve our semi0-dormant offense than be stagnant. You?
Michael (1:42 PM)
I've said it all along, that loss isn't the end of the world for the Bears. They're going to lose again at some point, and guess what? It won't be the end of the world. The Bears face some very good teams over the next four games. After the 49ers, it's Minnesota, and Seattle followed by the Vikings again and Green Bay. It wouldn't surprise me if the Bears lost at least two of the next five. Again, it wouldn't be the end of the world.
I need to win this week for fantasy do you think Marshall is still a good pick to start (Steve Smith Car, Dez Bryant or Heyward-Bey).
Michael (1:44 PM)
I'm not sure I'd go with Marshall against San Francisco's defense. I don't give fantasy advice though. I try to stay away from that.
So what do you project the Bears record will end up? And will Green Bay catch up and force us to go into the playoffs as a Wild Card? Bear DOWN!!
Michael (1:45 PM)
Dominic, I predicted 10-6 at the beginning of the season and I think I'm gonna stay with that. I wouldn't be suprised it they finished 11-5 though.
sean (chicago )
Why does hester get so much blame ? Some times if the O is not doing good a lot of fans point toward his direction. Last time I checked bennett did not show up, cutler did not show up,and the tight end did not show up. And then I think sometimes we as bears fans get spoiled and expect hester to have seven returns a year but the truth is the players in front have to block better and stop celebrating during returns.
Michael (1:48 PM)
Well, Sean, Hester definitely could've run back that punt at Tennessee had Geno Hayes not started the celebration a little early. Yes I think Bears fans have become somewhat spoiled by all the breathtaking plays Hester makes. There's nothing wrong with that though. I talked to Hester the other day in the locker room, and he said he feels fresher at this point in the season than he has in a long time. So that could mean Hester is poised to make some things happen in the coming weeks. I know in the past, he had tons of nagging injuries that really slowed him down. He's getting fewer snaps on offense these days, and I think that will help him in the return game.
Bobby (LF, IL)
You said Matt Forte wasn't productive enough with his 16 carries, but isn't it the role of Tice to put Forte in positions to succeed? Even Forte admitted the runs that he called were pretty obvious. Also, the best running teams are the ones who show a commitment to running the ball. Is 16 carries for your Pro-Bowl RB enough? I don't think so.
Michael (1:50 PM)
It is Tice's job to put him in position to succeed, Bobby. But there wasn't much Tice could do with Houston's game plan being built on taking away Forte. Go back and watch the game. They took him away as a runner and in the passing game. If anything, Tice should've had contingency plans in place (which I think he did). I just didn't think the offense executed well enough. That includes the quarterback.
Mike Ditka (Chicago)
Why am I the only ESPN "expert" to pick the bears this week?
Michael (1:50 PM)
You're a homer. It's understandable.
Michael, why is it whenever the bears lose "they get destroyed" in the eyes of the "experts" Bears play the worst game of their season against GB in GB they lose by less then 2td's.. thats not a blow out (i.e. Trent Diltard) Bears give up 1 big run and it cost them against The Texans and they have a lot of issues and played aweful (i.e Chris Collinsworth) My word focus on the good. Hey we didn't play well and still had the win within range. How about 0 sacks by their "stud" d I could go on. Just tired of the crap we as fans have to hear sometimes
Michael (1:51 PM)
So you like to hear about "moral victories" I take it?
Campbell should get us a win or if this gets out of hand will he be replaced by McClown? Or they full force Campbell whole game? Any suggestion to keep Cutler after this contract or do you know any veterans available besides drafting a qb?
Michael (1:53 PM)
Dom, they let Caleb Hanie play four games in 2011 before pulling the plug. So it's safe to say Campbell will get at least all four quarters unless he's injured or something.
Joe B (Oxford, CT)
I know it was just announced Campbell will start, but are the Bears going to reveal when Cutler passes the steps to get back on the field? Why so secretive about whether or not he even took the tests? It doesn't seem like other teams are that secretive about it (Smith, Rodgers last year, etc).
Michael (1:56 PM)
Joe, I'll never understand it. It's not like the opponent is gonna prepare "less hard" for the backup. That's just the culture of this place I guess. Phil Emery worked with Scott Pioli in Kansas City, who worked with Belichick in New England. That secret stuff obviously is working well for Pioli in Kansas City. I do understand keeping things close to the vest. At the same time, it can get a little ridiculous.
Michael (1:56 PM)
Guys that's my time. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and chat. I've got to get to the locker room to work on a couple of things.