Chat with Michael Wright
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN NFL Nation Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright drops by to chat and answer all of your Bears questions.
Wright joined ESPNChicago.com 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.
Send your questions now and join Wright Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Michael (1:00 PM)
Sorry for the confusion on last week's chat, as I had taken the week off for some vacation. It's good to be back now though. Let's get into some of your questions.
collin van lonkhuyzen (chicago, il)
do you see shea getting any playing time at linebacker this year?
Michael (1:02 PM)
I see him playing, but he's gonna have to win a job. The Bears aren't just going to give it to him. He'll compete with Jonathan Bostic for one of the linebacker spots, which I don't see him winning. But even if he doesn't outright win a starting job, I could see the Bears using McClellin in some capacity as a pass rushing specialist.
Moe (Richton Park) [via mobile]
How much better will the BEARS defense be this year
Michael (1:03 PM)
It can't get worse than it was last season in my opinion. I see the Bears making a pretty dramatic turnaround in 2014. The key will be for the offense to maintain the momentum it built in 2013.
Donovan [via mobile]
How will the bears use all the different DE they have? Will Houston play inside?
Michael (1:05 PM)
Good question. I could see the Bears playing Houston inside some on passing downs, but I think he'll start off as the starter at left defensive end. Then, when the Bears go into passing situations, my guess would be that they'd put Willie Young at left end, keep Jared Allen on the right side and kick Houston inside. That would make for a pretty formidable pass rush in my opinion.
Is the defense still going to be a cover-2?
Michael (1:08 PM)
Dave, I get this Cover-2 question quite a bit, and I want you to know that pretty much every team in the NFL plays Cover 2. Cover 2 is just a two-deep coverage on the back end. Lots of people like to call Chicago's defense a Cover-2, but even under Lovie Smith, the Bears didn't run a ton of Cover-2. The Bears will keep a lot of the things they already had in place in 2014. But as I said, Cover-2 is just a coverage in the secondary. The Bears will play some Cover 2, but they'll also give opponents tons of other looks. So if you're asking me if Chicago's defense will stay the same in 2014, I'd say for the most part, yes.
Karl (Cincinnati, OH)
What's next for the Bears? I believe they have a tad below $6 mil in cap space, and given the fact that they will likely allocate roughly $2.5 mil towards the draft, they have around $4 mil in space. Not much to work with. Can they still restructure any of the current contracts to create more room?
Michael (1:11 PM)
The draft is next, Karl. And they'll have to allocate more than $2.5 million towards the draft. I don't want to say the Bears will just stay put with what they have because situations always change with decent players suddenly becoming available throughout the offseason. But I don't see the Bears spending big on anybody else this offseason. If anything, the Bears may add a veteran or two still on the market looking for a job with a very minimal deal. Most of the activity moving forward for the Bears will be in the draft. As for the final part of your question, the Bears can always make more cap room through restructures, cuts, etc. But I don't see the Bears doing any of that in the coming weeks because it won't be necessary.
I haven't heard much talk of this but...I feel Chicago should spend it's 1st rounder on a CB...with Tillman close to retirement and no one on the roster besides T.Jennings being starter material. Why hasn't this notion been addressed?
Michael (1:13 PM)
John, I think the notion has been addressed. And there should be plenty of pretty good corners on the board when the Bears pick at No. 14. The Bears don't have their heads in the sand regarding the need to at some point address the future at the position. I could see a corner being a serious possibility with the first pick.
Ashton-Columbus Ohio [via mobile]
Mike as you just mentioned good players suddenly become available..as Adam Schefter just reported D Manning has been released by the Texans, would he and or the Bears consider a reunion?
Michael (1:16 PM)
I don't think so at this point because I think Manning will command more than what the Bears might be willing to pay. But obviously, as you know, the longer a guy stays on the market and as the reality of the possibility of missing checks sinks in, players typically come down from their original asking prices. So I'd say it doesn't look like it will happen at this point, but that could definitely change. Manning was asked to take a pay cut by the Houston, which put an offer on the table that Manning refused. Manning was willing to take a pay cut from the Texans, but not as significant a reduction as the team asked.
I don't get why others (Ashely Fox) have pushed the idea that Peppers will be really motivated this year and wasn't last year. I feel Peppers has realized he just signed his last contract and will have little motivation no matter who his position coach is. Your thoughts?
Michael (1:18 PM)
I disagree with you, Jake. I do think that Peppers will be a more motivated player because he'll want to show everyone that he's still got it and will want to prove that Chicago may have made a mistake in letting him go (and I'm not saying the Bears made a mistake to be clear). Peppers played on a bad defense in 2013, and I don't think a lot of folks put enough stock into the element of human nature. Some guys just go into the tank when everything around them isn't going so well. I think that's what happened with Peppers last season.
Why have the Bears not brought back Anderson? He was clearly the most stable Linebacker last year and played pretty well on a depleted defense.
Michael (1:18 PM)
I'm not sure the Bears front office would agree with you.
I don't think the Bears have done enough to upgrade the safety position with the signings of Mundy and Jennings. What are the chances they use a draft pick in the first round to get someone to help at safety?
Michael (1:21 PM)
I don't think they've done enough either. But at the same time, I haven't seen tape on Mundy or Jennings to be able to accurately project how they'd fit into Chicago's defense. But with that being said, I do think the Bears need to address the safety position in the draft. I think ultimately Chris Conte winds up one of the starters. But I think they've got to add someone to the mix to ramp up the competition for the starting jobs. I think my only reservation about taking a safety in the first round is that at No. 14, a safety might be a little too rich. But if somehow the Bears were able to trade back and draft a safety late in the round, I think that would be an almost perfect scenario. Probably too good to be true.
Well, do the Bears really want someone "to go into the tank" during tough times? Peppers has always been known to have a very inconsistent motor/drive.
Michael (1:21 PM)
That's why he's a Packer now. He's gone. Time to move on.
Big Jay (Surry, VA!)
Hey Mike. Hope ur vacation was great! Man Im so excited about getting Jared Allen and everything good ole Phil has done thus far. I know we have gotten some depth on the line but do you foresee Phil passing on an Aaron Donald or Jernigan for a safety? Its kinda hard to find beast d-lineman and those guys definitely fits that bill. What do you think?
Michael (1:23 PM)
Jay, I think safety (maybe even corner) is a more pressing need now. But I sort of look at it the same way you do in that it would be very hard to pass up on one of the top players at a premium position such as defensive tackle to address a need at safety, where the prospects aren't as talented. That's why I think the Bears are going to try hard to trade back. If they can't trade back, I see them looking at it the same way as you and taking one of the top defensive linemen such as Aaron Donald.
What do you make of Marshall's comments regarding contract. I love it, but do you take them at face value?
Michael (1:25 PM)
I take them at face value because regardless of what the Bears decide to do with him, Brandon Marshall knows there's going to be a market somewhere for his services. So it's not like he'll be jobless for every long if the Bears decide not to extend him. When you look at the way the Bears are starting to structure contracts, I think they've done it with potential extensions such as Marshall's in mind.
Michael Oceanside,CA [via mobile]
Are the Bears interested in Djax , now that Hester is gone? We could use a return man and a extra receiver?
Michael (1:27 PM)
We've got a press conference today at Halas Hall and I'm sure that will be a question. I think Desean Jackson is a heck of a player, and would give them such a dynamic threat as perhaps the No. 3 receiver taht teams could never double Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery. The reports right now though are that Jackson wants in the $9-$10 million range. Obviously, the Bears aren't trying to pay that type of money at this point given the cap constraints.
Greg K (Sacramento CA)
Just one question, do you think the Bears did enough in Free Agency to come out on top as NFCN Champs? (This without the Draft picks)
Michael (1:30 PM)
Greg, I really try to stay away from trying getting too much into what a team did on paper because you obviously still have to play the games. Plus, you have to account for factors such as injury. So having said that, if the Bears had only done half of what they've done so far in free agency and you asked me that questions, I'd say that they would be legitimate NFC North title contenders. Shoot, I'd probably say the same if the Bears didn't do anything in free agency. Chicago's roster is incredibly talented and I think that offense is going to make a significant leap in Year 2 of Trestman's system. So I guess what I'm saying is they've done enough to be legit contenders for the division crown.
Michael (1:31 PM)
Guys, that's my time. Have to go over to Halas Hall for the Jared Allen introductory press conference. Thanks for stopping by a few minutes to chat. See you next week.