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 folks, let's kick off this chat off right. JD and I are at Halas Hall, but we've got JD doing the heavy lifting today so I can chat with you guys.
mike [via mobile]
Do u see an increased role for the te position this year
Michael (1:02 PM)
Mike, I do. But you've got to remember there are only so many footballs to go around. So the only way the tight ends become involved is they get open on a consistent basis. The players the team has at the position are certainly capable of that.
In the Bears 3rd preseason game the Giants 1st team was abusing the Bears on offense and defense. Cowboys had success on Wednesday against the super bowl champs, how can the Bears keep up?
Michael (1:04 PM)
Jason, it's a tad shortsighted to get caught up in what happened in the preseason because of the lack of game plans. It's a lot easier for a defense to pin back its ears and go after the offense when the O hasn't put together a game plan. You've also got to remember that on offense the Bears were purposely playing a very vanilla game plan because they didn't want to reveal any of the new things they plan on running. On defense, the Bears' system by nature isn't a very aggressive one. So the Bears weren't bringing blitzes or stunting much with the front four.
what's the deal with Carimi?
Michael (1:05 PM)
Brandon, really there is no deal with Carimi. Yes, he's still gaining strength in his knee, which won't fully strengthen until he gets some real games under his belt. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice mentioned that the other day at practice. But you've got to remember he's been saying that for more than a month dating back to our time in Bourbonnais. Carimi himself said just yesterday that his knee is just fine. So to me, this is a matter of Tice hedging things more than anything else.
Im taking my 6 yr old son to his first Bears game for his Bday on October 1st against the cowboys. The Boys looked good the other night, can the Bears win that game?
Michael (1:07 PM)
Happy birthday to your boy, Sandra. Absolutely the Bears can win that game. If they couldn't, why even play the games, right?
I have Matt Forte on my fantasy team...Do you see him being as involved in the passing game as he has been in the past?
Michael (1:08 PM)
I do, Travis. One of his best attributes is that ability as a receiver out of the backfield. The Bears won't re-invent the wheel with the offense. They'll do the things they do well, and part of that is throwing the ball to Forte.
Did I hear that Devin id going to be the KR/PR?
Michael (1:09 PM)
You did hear that. I don't know why there was reason to expect anything different.
Hunter (Park Forest)
Will Alshon Jeffery be an ROY candidate?
Michael (1:10 PM)
He's a rookie, right? That would automatically make you eligible in my estimation. Seriously though, it's gonna depend on how much the Bears actually use him to gauge whether he'll be a legitimate ROY candidate.
Aryeh (New York)
Is the offensive line really as bad as everyone says it is?
Michael (1:12 PM)
I don't think so. As I've said a zillion times, 18 of the 23 sacks Cutler took last year came in the first five games. It's no coincidence that once the Bears switched things up with the system the offensive line played better. This year will be different because the Bears will start out operating a system that won't put the offensive line in bad positions (i.e. 5-man protections out of empty backfields).
Andrew Luck will throw for 300 yds 2 TD's against Bears but I predict Bears win 27-21. Not as easy as you might think.
Michael (1:13 PM)
Bobby, I don't see a 300-yard game because the Colts won't have the ball long enough for Luck to cook. He might have a 300-yard game if the Bears build a big lead and the Colts are playing from behind all game.
What are your realistic expectations of J'Marcus Webb in this game? Will Tice be able to protect him enough to make him effective.
Michael (1:15 PM)
It's gonna be difficult, Dan. The good thing about this situation is that Tice has seen plenty of Freeney from his days of coaching the Jags in the AFC South. So he'll have a good idea of Freeney's tendencies that he can relay to Webb. Still, it's gonna be up to Webb to hold up on his end. I doubt Webb will be able to do that consistently. But I also think Tice will find a way to help in that area with play calling and schemes designed to neutralize Freeney.
With the game next thursday vs Green Bay wouldn't make sense to limit urlacher vs the season opener vs the Colts to protect against any additonal injury to his knee. I feel Green Bay is the game where he is needed the most not to mention its a divisional game.
Michael (1:18 PM)
Larry, you play to win the game; divisional or not. I think folks make too much of divisional games because they're only important if it comes to a tiebreaker situation. You can go undefeated in the division, and lose too many non-divisional games and be out of contention to win the division anyway. So really this early in the season, all games are almost equally important. Green Bay is important, but so is the season opener.
Jacob (Crystal Lake)
Rank your concerns with this year's team (since there are far fewer than usual): 1. Age on the defense, 2. Offensive line, 3. Injuries/injury-prone players
Michael (1:21 PM)
I don't buy into the age thing to be honest. As long as the guy is playing at a high level, age means nothing. Injuries/injury-prone players is also not a concern. Injuries are a part of the game, and some teams have better than others in that category. People tend to forget that in 2010 with many of the same supposedly injury-prone players, the Bears finished with very few injuries, which played a major role in the team's success.Of all the concerns you listed, the offensive line is the only one I agree with.
Has Urlacher limped at all in practice or does he look okay?
Michael (1:23 PM)
Candy, he's not limping. But let me also say that us reporters are only allowed to watch the first five minutes of practice. During those five minutes, the team purposely doesn't do much to keep us from reporting what we see. But from what I have been able to see, Urlacher has looked fine.
Chris (Glen Ellyn, IL)
What happen to Brandon Hardin? Did he break his neck? The injury seemed minor, then all of a sudden he was on IR.
Michael (1:24 PM)
The injury was just as the team described: nothing serious. The thing about Hardin was that he wasn't going to contribute anyway. So the Bears didn't want to waste the roster spot. In fact, if you go back and look at what he did in the preseason, it wasn't very good. Hardin will need more time to acclimate to the NFL game. Consider the IR designation somewhat of a redshirt year for him.
Besides Brandon Marshall, do you see any receiver breaking the 1000 yard mark?
Michael (1:25 PM)
Jack, I'm not convinced that Marshall will do it because of all the extra coverage that will be devoted to him by opponents, coupled with the fact the Bears have so many other weapons capable of making things happen.
Erik (Eugene, OR)
I think Lovie is a great coach, but many in Chicago disagree. If they don't make a playoff run this year would you see Lovie's contract chances in danger?
Michael (1:26 PM)
Yes, Erik. But I also think there are other factors that will be involved. Is the arrow pointing up or down at the end of the season? Did injuries ruin the season like they did in 2011?
Jay Cutler seems to have things to prove, but I think the defense will be in question more than the offense. What do you think?
Michael (1:27 PM)
Ron, the defense has solidified it's status over the years and the offense hasn't. Roster additions don't prove anything. It's all about what you do on the field. So to me, the offense has more to prove than the defense.
I am coming down for the game from the great white North am I going to be disappointed with the outcome of this game?
Michael (1:28 PM)
I don't think so.
Chris (Glen Ellyn, IL)
How Wrong is Major Wright? All preseason he's looked slow and out of position to make plays.
Michael (1:29 PM)
I get the play on words with the Wright being wrong thing, but it's old and unoriginal. Wright has actually played pretty well throughout the preseason. I'd say you should go back and watch the preseason games again.
Adil (East Lansing, MI)
Do you see the Bears possibly making a trade before the deadline for an offensive lineman if things don't work with Webb & Williams?
Michael (1:32 PM)
Adil, do you think teams around the league are itching to trade away good offensive tackles? Trust me, they're not. When teams get good offensive linemen, they hold onto them like gold. So if things don't work out for Webb or Williams, free agency and the draft are the only real options in my opinion.
i understand why they are essentially 'red shirting' hardin-but does it really make sense to waste a 3rd round pick, on a win now team?
Michael (1:33 PM)
Did you watch Brandon play in the preseason? If you did, you would have seen that he's not ready to play in this league just yet. If the Bears forced him onto the field, they'd be sorry.
TheDano (Mankato, MN)
Did you say Marshall wasn't a lock for 1000 because teams would gear for him? Who else did MIA have? He is a lock for 1000 or more barring injury.
Michael (1:34 PM)
Marshall is ALL Miami had last year. The Bears, meanwhile, have lots of other weapons in the rushing and passing game, which is why I'm not sure he's a "lock" for 1,000.
Do you feel that if Tice has the Bears offense in the top ten, he may get interest as a head coach again? Another offense for Cutler to learn next year.
Michael (1:35 PM)
That could happen, Don. I've talked to Tice lots of times about him becoming a head coach again. He doesn't think it will ever happen (he's tough on himself) again. I disagree with him.
Peter (Chicago )
Will Jay Cutler throw for more than 300 yds?
Michael (1:36 PM)
Will he have to? If he throws for 10 yards and the Bears still win, there's no issue to me.
Conrad (Wpg, Mb, Canada)
How much playing time do you expect to see Alshon Jeffery get? The Colts secondary looks small and the size advantage could be huge [forgive the pun].
Michael (1:37 PM)
He'll play plenty Conrad. The Bears think he's ready for primetime now.
Lisa (Denton, Texas)
What is your prediction for this season?
Michael (1:38 PM)
11-5 and that's if everything doesn't go right.
Jesse (Dallas, Texas)
Please answer this one! I think the Bears know especially the Defense that this is their best shot at a Super Bowl after this many players like Urlacher might be gone. Is there a sense of urgency in the locker room?
Michael (1:39 PM)
Not in the locker room. You've got to realize this is these guys' job. So every day in the locker room it's a work environment. Lots of play study, joking around, etc; stuff that happens in most locker rooms around the league. Where you see the sense of urgency is on the field.
Michael, from what you've seen so far, is this the best team you've ever covered?
Michael (1:39 PM)
They haven't played a game yet, man.
Candace (McKinney, Texas)
Is it pretty neat to be in the locker room with all those big hunks? LOL
Michael (1:40 PM)
There was a rumor that the bears were talking to the dolphins about trading for jake long, have you heard anything about that?
Michael (1:40 PM)
No, I don't believe that to be true.
Kurt (Naples Fl)
Heavy dose of Forte & Bush in this match-up so as not to show the Pack the real deal?
Michael (1:43 PM)
Kurt, they'll do whatever they have to do to win the game. People tend to treat the Packers like the game is gonna be the Super Bowl. It's not. It's one of 16 games the Bears play this year. Do they want to win it more? Yes, it's a rivalry. But they can't look ahead to the Packers with the Colts staring them in the face. That would get them into trouble.
Can you enlighten us concerning the punting situation?
Michael (1:46 PM)
It's still up in the air, Scott. Adam Podlesh punted on Wednesday, but didn't do anything Thursday. So I think with him it's going to be a game-time decision. We should know more later this afternoon when the team releases the injury report. I think the Bears will be fine if Ryan Quigley has to be the man this week. Quigley and Podlesh possess similar legs. Podlesh is just better at directional punting.
If Jay Cutler doesn't play up to expectations these next two years, is there any chance the Bears let him walk and go in a different direction?
Michael (1:47 PM)
That's a very real possibility, Gus. But I really don't see Cutler not playing up to expectations. Physically, he's one of the most talented QBs I've covered on a day-to-day basis.
Hey Mike, in your opinion can the Bears win 10 plus games if Urlacher cannot play? I mean that he will be done for the year due to an injury
Michael (1:48 PM)
I do believe they can still win 10-plus games if Urlacher is out for the season. I just think they've got too much talent at other positions. Also, I'm confident that Nick Roach can fill in adequately. He's not Urlacher; nobody is. But I think Roach can get it done in the middle.
What concerns you about this team besides the obvious topics (O-line/Defense age/Urlacher's knee)? If all teams stay healthy can you realistically see the Bears wining the NFC North?
Michael (1:50 PM)
I still think the Packers are the best team in the division until someone proves otherwise. But I also think the Bears are the team best equipped to knock them off. The Packers typically struggle against the Bears and I don't see that changing this year. I can see the Bears winning the North as long as they at least split with the Packers.
HenryA (Daytona beach Florida)
will Chris Conte be able to start?
Michael (1:51 PM)
I know he wants to, but I think this is going to be Lovie's call. Conte has practiced all week. So based on that, I'd say he'll be playing. We'll know more in about four hours when the team releases the injury report.
Happy football season Michael!Do you see the Tice calling a lot of bootleg/deception type plays to try and hide the ineptitude of the Bears O-Line? Hopefully not to many straight drop-backs for Cutler?
Michael (1:52 PM)
Gabe, I'm not sure we can call the offensive line inept. It isn't. Will Tice do all he can to lighten the burden on the OL? Absolutely, but I'd say that's the job of a good coordinator: to play to the strengths and mask the weaknesses. We'll see some boot action and quick drops this week I think; especially with Freeney and Mathis on the edges.
Mike (Great White North)
What kind of season do you expect out of Major Wright, assuming he stays on the field?? Big assumption there...
Michael (1:55 PM)
Based on what we've seen so far, that is a big assumption, huh? I think if he can stay on the field, Wright will play much better than he has in the past. He looks quicker (Wright says he lost some weight) and he admits he actually knows now what he's doing. So I'd expect to see Wright's best year as a pro provided he can stay on the field.
Corey minix (Indianapolis)
Bears over under 5 sacks?
Michael (1:55 PM)
Under, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as the team gets pressure.
Will Lovie Smith get a contract extension in the middle of the year if the Bears start off great?
Michael (1:56 PM)
I don't think so, David. I think if the team wants him back, it would wait until the offseason to start those discussions.
Robert Brushenko (Elmhurst)
Even though the O line is in the same situation as it was last year, do you not fear Forte might have problems with running outside having to rely on the ends for blocking?
Michael (1:59 PM)
I think not having a legit fullback like Tyler Clutts makes a difference. But at the same time, I think the staff evaluated the situation thoroughly and decided the tight ends can get it done just as well as Clutts, which is why they made the decision to move him. The Bears won't rely solely on ends for blocking though. Remember that on some of the team's outside running plays, it actually pulls linemen.
Any talk about a new contract for D.J Moore ?
Michael (2:00 PM)
None at all, and you know that if you ask D.J., he'll say the team should've re-signed him yesterday. I think they'll probably look to address his situation (provided he performs) sometime towards the end of the season or early in the offseason.
Michael (2:00 PM)
Guys, that's my time. Thanks for stopping by to chat. Catch you next week.