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 12 p.m. CT/1 ET!
Michael (1:01 PM)
Hello folks, I know you've got a ton of questions. I do, too, considering all that's going on. So let's get started.
What chance does Gruden have at returning to the NFL, or as the Bear's HC?
Michael (1:03 PM)
That's a good question, Lance. From what I understand, Gruden hasn't yet talked to anyone about one of the openings, and I'm not convinced the Bears are interested. With Gruden, you have to remember that offense - full of verbiage - he'd bring. To me, that's not the best fit for a team that claims to want to win now. But hey, Gruden did it in Tampa. I think that Tampa team, however, was better than the one he'd inherit out here.
Mr. Wright, what is your short list and pipe dream for the HC for the Bears? Mine are McCoy and Carmichael in that order and pipe dream is Jon Gruden. Thoughts?
Michael (1:08 PM)
Scott, it sounds bad. But I don't know for sure because I haven't actually talked to any of the candidates. I'd want to know what the immediate plans are, long-range plans, what he'd do in terms of keeping the defense viable, etc. I like what Mike McCoy did in switching up the offense in mid-season to cater to Tebow. You can talk about the success McCoy had with Kyle Orton. But you also have to remember that Orton was eventually benched and shipped out of town. You can talk about what McCoy has done with Peyton Manning, but hey, that's Peyton Manning. I think what's transpired there has been more of a collaborative effort by McCoy and a quarterback that is arguably the best to ever play the game. As for Carmichael, I've talked to some folks about him. From what I've heard, he's a really low-key guy that won't necessarily command a room. Is that what the Bears are looking for? I'm not so sure. But you can't deny what he's done out in New Orleans (even though Sean Payton was really the man out there until he was suspended). As for Gruden, I'm not really sold on him to be quite honest. Yes, he won a Super Bowl. But he inherited a team that had been to the playoffs in three of the previous four seasons prior to his arrival. If you look at Gruden's overall record,it's very similar to Lovie Smith's. In Oakland he had 10-6 and 12-4 seasons, but a couple of 8-8 years in there, too. So with Gruden, I'd encourage you to look closer.
Tom (Pingree Grove, Illinois)
Hi, Michael: Would you agree that, considering the available candidates that have been discussed or interviewed, Bruce Arians is definitively the best qualified for being the Bears next head coach? His work with Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, along with amassing a 9 - 3 record as an interim coach under challenging circumstances, would make him the best choice. His age, 61, is irrelevant, considering the average timespan of a head coach's tenure with one team. I would not understand how even the most promising young offensive coordinator available, Mike McCoy, would be selected as head coach instead of Arians. Thank you.
Michael (1:11 PM)
I like Bruce Arians, Tom. People forget that he worked with Peyton Manning during his rookie season in 1998, and that running back Marshall Faulk finished that season with 86 catches (remember, Emery said he didn't think the Bears used Matt Forte enough). Like you, I consider his age irrelevant. But you also have to consider that he left Pittsburgh because the club didn't renew his contract. My question is why?
Sam (Loudoun County, VA)
Think we switch to a 3-4? What postitions players will transfer over well?
Michael (1:16 PM)
Sam, I doubt they'd consider 3-4. In fact, Emery said that with the personnel on hand, the potential new coach would have to do a heckuva job convincing him to make that move for it to actually happen. You do realize that the 3-4 defense has been around forever. It's nothing new. It wasn't long ago that the 4-3 was the hot, new thing. Now that teams have reverted to 3-4, it's hot again. I'll tell you this though, Bill Belichick was one of the first to make the 3-4 relevant again. But he's since switched back to more 4-3 stuff. To answer your second question, I think Julius Peppers and Henry Melton could play defensive end in 3-4. But they'd have to find a huge guy to play the nose. Who would be the linebackers? Lance Briggs and Nick Roach could probably be just fine as inside backers, but you need big stand-up pass rushers at the outside spots. Also, you have to ask what type of 3-4 you're wanting to run here? There's the traditional 3-4, which is more about two-gapping versus the one a lot of teams use now, which is more of a one-gap penetrating style.
Kent Long Island [via mobile]
Mike, with regard to Tom Clements, how involved is he really with the Packers offense in terms of play calling?
Michael (1:19 PM)
Another good question, Kent. I think he's definitely involved heavily in game planning. But as you say, Mike McCarthy is the one pulling the strings on game day. Clements' credentials, however are pretty impressive. He was an all-American at Notre Dame, decorated QB in the CFL. He's worked with Bill Cowher, Mike Ditka and Lous Holtz. As Green Bay's quarterback's coach, Clements' the work with Matt Flynn can't be denied. Remember in 2011 when Flynn, a seventh-round pick, threw for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns in the season finale? My guess that's as a result of the work he did with Clements because as a backup quarterback, he's not going to spend a ton of time working with McCarthy. That work would all be done with Clements, who was the QB coach at the time.
Danny (Gurnee, IL)
Do you think Cutler could be on his way out of town if he doesn't perform well this year? Do you think they should sign him to a long term deal regardless? I would think they would be able to trade him if they were unhappy after this season.
Michael (1:22 PM)
Danny, the verdict is still out. I don't think the Bears should sign him to a long-term deal because he's got one more year remaining on his current contract. If I'm the GM, I'd let Cutler go into that final year of his deal and prove he's worthy of a long-term contract. If he plays well, then you could either franchise him or work like crazy to get him signed to a new deal. If he doesn't play well, you let him walk as a free agent.
Foy, AZ [via mobile]
Mike, what sounds more realistic: signing a big name OL or 2 in free agency or moving up high in the draft to select one of the top rookie OL?? I'd love a Te'o to replace Urlacher but I'm dreaming!
Michael (1:24 PM)
Te'o probably won't make it to the Bears in the draft. I think he'd go before the Bears make their pick, depending on how he does during the months leading up to the draft. As for big-name offensive linemen, the Bears don't need to go that route. It's too expensive, and the chances of missing are too great. All the Bears need are a couple of "competent" offensive linemen. That's it. You can win with five average offensive linemen. But you can't win with just two, which seems to be what the club currently has on the roster at this time.
Jason (Madison, WI)
Peanut Tillman showed interest in continuing the Tampa 2 defense. Are there any other potential d-coordinators who could join the new head coach and continue to effectively coach the Tampa 2 defense?
Michael (1:26 PM)
Rod Marinelli? He's still under contract, and if you want to maintain continuity, you try to make sure he stays. The fact he remains under contract and is an assistant head coach makes it tough for Marinelli to go with Lovie Smith if he gets a head coaching gig because the Bears can block any potential interview that isn't considered a promotion.
Jason (Denver, CO)
what about Bill Cowher for head coach?
Michael (1:28 PM)
Jason, I know Cowher is the guy everyone wants. But do you realize it took him 14 years to win a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh? He went to the playoffs a lot more often than Lovie Smith did, but it took 14 years to get the big one. It's just my opinion, but nobody cares about the team that lost in the Super Bowl. Super Bowl runner-up means first loser in my book. And isn't winning the Super Bowl the reason all these teams are playing anyway?
Big Jay (Surry, Va.)
Mike, Happy New Year man. What was Lovie's mood when he got fired? One thing I can say, Lovie seems to be a stand up guy that is strong spiritually. Hate to see him go.
Michael (1:31 PM)
Big Jay, Lovie was understandably very hurt by what took place. He devoted nine years of his life to getting this team a Super Bowl trophy. So he was already disappointed about not getting into the playoffs, and the firing only made things worse. I think the fact he failed to win the Super Bowl during his tenure hurt just as bad as the firing to him, as well as the fact he no longer gets to coach the players, many of which, he'd grown to love. As you know, football isn't all about the X's and O's. Lots of bonds are forged.
JNort (Pekin, IL)
What about current HC in the NFL such as John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin? Will the Bears go this route with the interview process, or at least put out feelers to see if they will be willing to interview?
Michael (1:32 PM)
Oh no, you can't do that if the coach is under contract.
Michael (1:33 PM)
Wow, the time passed by quickly today. I've got to get going to make some calls, fire off some text messages, etc. to get to the bottom of this coaching search. Thanks for stopping by to chat. I enjoyed it.