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, welcome to the chat. Chicago's backs are against the wall Sunday when it faces the Arizona Cardinals. The Bears need to win to stay in contention for the postseason. So I'm sure you guys have a lot of thoughts on what needs to take place for the Bears to win out. So let's get started.
I think Marshall is hands down the Bears MVP. If he ever got hurt we wouldn't pass for more than 100 yards in a game. How long do you see him in a Bears uniform?
Michael (1:06 PM)
That's a good question, Jeff. I agree with you that Marshall is this team's MVP, but the length of his stay will ultimately come down to production. If Marshall can continue to produce at a level similar to his output now, he'll be here for at least the duration of his contract, which runs through 2014. He's making $9.3 million in base salary (yes more than Jay Cutler) this year, and will receive base salaries of $9.1 million in 2013 and 2014. So considering what he's being paid, Marshall needs to continue to produce at a level consistent with the salary. Obviously if Marshall puts together another season in 2013 like what he's done so far, I could see him and his agent Kennard McGuire taking the Bears back to the negotiating table prior to the 2014 season.
JJ (Huntington Beach, CA)
Hey Michael...I don't know how the politics of NFL franchises works, but I expect Lovie to stay regardless of what happens the remainder of the season. With that said however, can or will Emery hire coordinators without Lovies' blessings should he hire a new staff?
Michael (1:08 PM)
JJ, typically general managers control personnel and other administrative staffs, while the head coach is given the power to make the decisions regarding his staff. So Emery won't be the guy hiring the coordinators. He can make suggestions, but that's about as far as it goes.
Wouldn't you want to give Lovie some time to work with Emery? Lovie is a good coach; I think firing him is the "we have to blame someone" move.
Michael (1:09 PM)
Dan, I agree with you. If someone needs to be blamed, it's the players. They're just not very good, and everyone from personnel to the coaching staff miscalculated the ability of the guys they have on offense.
I was surprised to see that Matt Forte is still averaging over 4 ypc and is only 97 yards short of topping 1,000 for the season.Why do I feel that he has not been playing to his full potential this year?
Michael (1:12 PM)
Because you're watching the games, Bob. Matt Forte has rushed for 100 yards or more in just two games all season after doing that four times in 2011 (including a 205-yard game against Carolina) through 12 games before suffering the knee injury that put him out for the season. It's not all Forte's fault, though. Chicago's offensive line has failed Forte too many times this season.
D.Rivas (salt lake city) [via mobile]
I agree with what you said in FOUR DOWNS. It's not lovie's fault. The offense hasn't been productive and that falls on the OC. Not trying to compare Rodgers to Cutler but the team up north has a bad o-line and they're doing good.
Michael (1:13 PM)
That may be true. But look deeper, and think about the quarterbacks lining up behind these bad offensive lines.
Do you think the Lovie will be fired if Bears missed playoffs after 7-1 start? If so, who do you think the Bears will look at to replace him?
Michael (1:15 PM)
Let's wait a while to see how ownership and Phil Emery plans to proceed after the season. Out of respect for the coach, I won't discuss potential replacements until he's actually out of the door, and we don't know for sure if that's going to happen. There will be plenty of time to talk about that if Smith doesn't survive. Now is not the time.
kenny (oakland illinois)
what are the playoff scenarios for the bears
Michael (1:16 PM)
Their best chance to go is to win out. Even if they win their last two games the Bears would still need some help to get into the postseason. The Bears actually could get into the playoffs if they lost one of the last two remaining games, but some pretty far fetched scenarios would have to unfold for that to take place.
Do you think that going out and getting Jake Long is feasible for the Bears. I know its an expensive purchase, but we NEED to fix the o-line, and not drafting an OT early gives us the opportunity to go after the TE position as well as other spots.
Michael (1:19 PM)
Luke, I highly doubt the Bears would go that direction. Long has missed the last month of the last two seasons with injuries. Besides that, he's way, way too expensive. Luke, you don't fix a bad offensive line by adding one great player. The Bears don't need great players on the offensive line, to be honest with you. All they need is competent guys that can get the job done. If you look at the offensive line right now, its best two players -- Roberto Garza and Lance Louis -- are average. If you've got at least average players across the board on the offensive line, I think you're O.K.
That may be true. But look deeper, and think about the quarterbacks lining up behind these bad offensive lines.What?
Michael (1:20 PM)
Jay Cutler. Aaron Rodgers. It's not hard. One player can light people up with a bad offensive line. The other cant.
Michael (Rome, Italy)
Hello Michael - have you read the chicago tribune article today about what 3 unnamed coaches think of Tice's playcalling? They didn't seem to think it was terribly bad, or that it was simple. However, from listening to beat reporters, as well as radio (ESPN1000), these opinions appear to be right-wing. In your opinion, what is the absolute truth of the situation? Although they were unnamed, were these coaches simply being uncritical?
Michael (1:27 PM)
Michael, I've said this several times on ESPN 1000 and I've written it. It's not the coaching. This is all about the players. Missed blocks, drops, and bad throws have crippled this team offensively. Tice isn't even calling the entire scope of the offense because the offensive line is so bad he's constantly looking to protect them by keeping in tight ends and running back Matt Forte to block, in addition to calling shorter drops designed to get the ball out of Cutler's hands quickly. The problem with calling quick drops is defensive backs start to sit on routes, and break on the ball as soon as Cutler plants on his third step to throw. When everyone was talking about this new dynamic offense the Bears would field this season, nobody -- not Phil Emery, not Mike Tice, not Lovie Smith -- had any idea the offensive line would be as bad as it's been. The offensive line has basically taken down the entire offense. But it goes deeper. Outside of Brandon Marshall, nobody, not even Alshon Jeffery is making plays in the passing game. As I said, it's not coaching. The Bears could be calling the most revolutionary offense on the planet. But if the players can't execute, it doesn't matter.
David (North Dakota)
I saw what D. Rivas said about the Rodgers-Cutler comparison. The only way you can compare these two is if they played in the same system. GB's coaches are better than CHI's, and GB's WR's run circles around CHI's. So enough with calling Cutler a nobody and Rodgers the best there is. Switch them around, and Cutler does everything Rodgers does and maybe more, and Rodgers goes no where. Be fair, or shut up.
Michael (1:30 PM)
Jay Cutler has been in the NFL seven years now. He is what he is. Folks need to stop making excuses for him. First he had no weapons. Then he had no offensive line. Now it's the system. He lit it up in Denver in a system he excelled in, and the Broncos still never won. I think I'm being pretty fair here. That's not to say Cutler is a bad quarterback. But he's not on Aaron Rodgers' level. Sorry.
Tom D. (San Diego, CA)
Curious, have you talked to Jerry Angelo at all recently? I heard he was possibly linked to the San Diego GM spot...
Michael (1:31 PM)
It's been a month or two through text. But we definitely didn't talk football.
Sean (LA) [via mobile]
At what point do the bears take a stand with their O-line issues? It's so hard to watch the talents of Cutler and Marshall wasting away with almost no one to help them. Not even Forte. Any chances they will consider getting Forte back in the passing game as he was so affective a year ago? And if Lovie is out, ill start my campaign for J. Gruden!!
Michael (1:33 PM)
They'd better start taking a stand as soon as possible to get that offensive line fixed. As I've said, they don't need great. They just need capable. I'm not going into potential replacements for the coach. He's still the coach.
are the bears looking to start using thier tight ends that can catch like evan rodriguez?
Michael (1:34 PM)
Kenny, they can't because the offensive line can't block. When they've tried, Kellen Davis hasn't exactly gotten the job done.
Chris (New Market, Iowa)
Does Phil Emry have any say if Mike Tice Continues to call plays and if so should't he shoulder some of the blame for not at least seeing what Jeremy Bates has to offer?
Michael (1:36 PM)
Chris, do you actually think that Jeremy Bates doesn't have a major influence on the play calling? I would think he does. Knowing Mike Tice, he's a guy that takes imput from the staff. Last I checked, though, Bates was fired by Pete Carroll in Seattle.
Chris (Plainfield, IL)
Have you and JD given up on the Bears for the season????Your comments after the last game where that of a quitter...
Michael (1:38 PM)
We don't play for the Bears my man.
What's up with Marshall's injury? I don't think we have any sort of offense without him. Will he play?
Michael (1:41 PM)
Reggie, he's just fine man. His hamstring was a little tight yesterday at practice. So they worked him in a limited capacity. He'll be fine to play against the Cardinals.
Did you ever think there was a reason that the powerhouse Vikings and Jags let Mike Tice go... Why isn't the QB guru that Jay wanted Jeremy Bates getting any blame? There's talent and coaching then there is coaching talent. Bears need coaches
Michael (1:42 PM)
Papa, I covered Jacksonville while Tice was there, and coincidentally, came here when he did. The Jaguars didn't get rid of Tice. He simply took a better job.
Reggie (espn studios parking lot)
How do I get your job? You have just as much useless insight as I do, and I appreciate my opinions more.
Michael (1:43 PM)
People tend to say that when the insight they seek doesn't line up with their own interpretation of what they think they see.
Should we expect to see a heavy dose of Matt Forte since the Cardinals give up over 130 yrds on the ground. Or because of the Bush injury will we see the same passing attack?
Michael (1:46 PM)
Rich, why not run it down Arizona's throat? They rank 28th against the run, and as you said are giving up 136.5 yards per game. Bush was used mostly as a short-yardage back, and Lovie Smith said that's a role that we might see Kahlil Bell playing this week. Bottom line, though, is the Bears will run the ball as well as the offensive line allows them to. But I definitely think utilizing the rushing attack is a priority this week.
Have you heard anything about Johnny Knox rejoining the Bears next season?
Michael (1:48 PM)
I've seen him every day here at Halas Hall, and I really don't think he'll be back next year. He's still not healthy, and appears to have lost quite a bit of weight. Besides that, Knox's contract expires after this season. I definitely don't see the Bears trying to re-sign him.
E (Arlington, VA)
Just fire the entire offensive line and be done with it. I suppose we can keep Garza, since he's about the only one who has been consistent at all this season.
Michael (1:49 PM)
E, Lance Louis was playing well before he suffered the knee injury. I think he was actually the team's most consistent performer.
Mike (Ft. Lauderdale FL)
Will Joe Anderson get a chance to play some offensive snaps on Sunday? Id rather see him get a shot and see what he can do. Leave Hester to punt/kick returns. Anderson seems physical and not scared of contact. He made a great tackle on Cobb last game.
Michael (1:51 PM)
Mike, that's a possibility. I mean, where else can the Bears turn? Devin Hester hasn't contributed, nor has Alshon Jeffery in recent games. I don't see how it could hurt to at least give Joe Anderson a shot to see what he can do.
If the Bears don't make the playoffs, how big of a say will the McCaskey family have in deciding whether Lovie stays or not? It seems like they just can't let go of him.
Michael (1:51 PM)
They'll have a huge say. After all, they do own this team.
Dayvboi skokie [via mobile]
What are the chances tim Jennings plays this week ?
Michael (1:53 PM)
I should definitely know the answer to that question in about five minutes. I think his chances are good, though. He's practiced all week, and looked pretty good yesterday. Lovie is actually addressing the media right now as I type this. But since I'm chatting with you guys, JD is actually out there getting the news.
Darth Ditka (Sunny Florida)
One of (the many) reasons I want Lovie fired insane loyalty to bad players. The list includes: Qasim Mitchell, Frank Omiyale, Jmarcus Webb, Kellen Davis. What does Lovie see in these players that NO ONE else does?
Michael (1:57 PM)
If there was this "insane loyalty" that you speak of, Mitchell and Omiyale would still be here. It's not that he sees something no one else sees. Lovie Smith just isn't the type of coach that will rip his players publicly. I'm sure in his mind there are a couple of players that he doesn't want back in 2013. But he'll never come out and say that. That's just Smith's style, and there's nothing wrong with that. Besides that, personnel isn't Smith's job. His job is to cultivate the talent brought to him by the GM and the personnel staff.
Michael (1:58 PM)
Folks, that's my time. Gotta get out of here. We appreciate you coming by to chat, and hope you continue to follow us on ESPNChicago.com. Happy Holidays.