Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
Will Gabe Carimi play left or right tackle? Why would the Bears replace Brad Maynard? Where will Chris Williams play? The Tribune's Bears columnist answers these questions and more
Dan, I have read numerous times since the draft that Gabe Carimi will play right tackle with J'Marcus Webb the left side. I must be confused as Carimi played left at Wisconsin and faced three first-round draft pick defensive ends from the Big Ten this year and played four years at the position. Webb was a seventh-round draft pick from a small school and probably still still hasn't faced as many players of good caliber in the pros as Carimi did in college. Why would we think that a seventh-round draft pick could outplay a first rounder? Are we smoking something down there across the border or what? I say let Carimi play himself out of the position at least. Could you explain it to me please? I am baffled by this nonsense. Trainedape, Kenosha, Wis.
I understand your confusion. When the Bears project Carimi to play right tackle and Webb to play left, they are looking at athletic and physical traits of both players. The left tackle usually is required to be a little lighter on his feet and have better hand quickness and length. The right tackle usually is a more powerful player who can get leverage and engulf smaller defenders. Carimi has more right tackle traits and Webb has more left tackle traits. That doesn't mean Webb can play the left tackle position better than Carimi, or vice versa. It just means that Webb at left and Carimi at right probably is going to be the starting point. And even though Carimi was a left tackle in college, every NFL team I have spoken with thought he would be best as a right tackle in the pros.
Do you think Gabe Carimi could be an above-average left tackle in the NFL? Everybody has him playing right tackle in the league but Mel Kiper Jr. said during the draft that Carimi reminds him of Jimbo Covert, our best left tackle of the past 50 years. Bob Lee, Hibbing, Minn.
There are a lot of players starting at left tackle in the NFL who aren't as talented as Carimi, so there is no question he could play the position. Whether or not he could play it like Jim Covert is another issue. When Covert was healthy, he was one of the best left tackles I've ever seen. I think what Kiper was getting at is that Carimi is physical and tough like Covert was. I don't think Carimi is as athletic. But before I can make a valid comparison, I'd like to see Carimi play for awhile at the NFL level.
Does Chris Williams have even the slightest shot at tackle now that Carimi has been drafted and Webb is held in such high esteem? Where do you think he'll eventually end up on the offensive line, if at all? Andrew, Chicago
I do believe Williams is going to line up at guard at the start of training camp, and his future probably is at that position. The only scenario in which I could see him back at tackle is if Webb, Carimi or Frank Omiyale either fails or is injured. I'd like to see what Williams can do at guard with a full camp under his belt. He was below average last year, but he didn't have the benefit of proper preparation. He was thrown into the position on the fly.
Why on earth would the Bears even contemplate letting Brad Maynard go? Christopher Cokinos
I think the Bears are hoping to have better hang time and distance from their punter in 2011. Maynard remains an outstanding directional punter, and I'll be shocked if he does not punt somewhere in the NFL in 2011. But he is 37 years old, and the chances of his leg getting stronger at this stage of his career are not good. I wouldn't close the door entirely on Maynard coming back to Chicago, but I think the team is going to look elsewhere first.
I was wondering if the Bears coaches are seeking out you and other Bears beat writers more to use you to give messages to the players. Since the coaches can not communicate with the players or their agents, might it be possible that they use the media to pass along information to their players? For example, there were a couple of days before the lockout was briefly lifted where a lot media types in town were writing about the coaches wanting Henry Melton to be a 295-pound under tackle instead of a 270 pound end. I can't help to think that Henry Melton saw that in the news and took that to mean that he better be 295 pounds once the lockout ends. Your thoughts? Thanks. Jayson Becker, Minneapolis
Speaking for myself and the other media members who I am in contact with, I have not found that coaches are trying to use the media to send messages to players. Even during the lockout, there are other, more sensible ways for coaches to send messages to players without having to go through the media. And I'm sure they have sent messages through backdoor channels.
Interesting comment in a recent mailbag about a possible leadership void on the team. Jay Cutler just doesn't strike me as a leader, and a successful quarterback has to be one. Look at Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, even Jim McMahon when he played. Am I way off base here? Rick, Spanaway, Wash.
The best way to be a leader is to throw touchdown passes. If Cutler does that, nothing else really matters. But he certainly can be a better leader in other ways. Remember, one of the reasons he was available in a trade is he wasn't everything that Manning and Brady are in terms of intangibles. The Bears' hope is that he matures into a leader. We're waiting.
I keep hearing that the Bears need a big, physical receiver. Don't they have one on the bench in Devin Aromashodu? I was really frustrated on how they used him this year. I thought he could have been a game changer. Also, Brad Biggs says that Sidney Rice might be on the Bears' radar. Are they similar in size? It seems that Rice has just gotten the opportunity to play. Timothy Miller, Endwell, NY
I would have liked to have seen Aromashodu get a little more playing time last year too. But he clearly did not click in the system or with Mike Martz. He did not help himself when he told the coaches he did not want to play the slot. At 6-4, Rice is two inches bigger than Aromashodu. But Aromashodu is a big, physical receiver. What he has not been is a consistent one. And he has not been a consistent player at any point, going back to his days at Auburn. That's why he's been with six NFL teams, and is likely to be with a seventh next season.
I've watched Bears games without fail during the last 30 plus years, but the rampant greed of the owners and this latest labor dispute have really made me feel like a chump for investing that time. For the first time, I've asked myself "Would I rather go see a movie?" and the answer was "Yes." My question is, do you feel that other NFL fans are increasingly feeling this way? Do you believe the owners feel it? I think they're in real danger of killing the golden egg-laying goose. Or maybe I'm just being naive. Andrew, Portland, Ore.
I think most people are not feeling the kind of resentment you may be feeling Andrew. At least not yet. If we get to the point where regular season games are missed, there will be more soldiers in your army. But even the most disappointed among you will likely come back. You came back in 1982. You came back in 1987. And the NFL product is better than ever. Barring something completely stupid, I have a hard time envisioning a scenario in which the league does not continue to thrive.
What are you thought on the Bears trading for Taylor Mays as a future replacement for Brian Urlacher? I see a lot of similarities. Brian was a former safety--fast, tall, and a little stiff in the hips. I believe he could be a great replacement. Certainly with his body type he can add on more muscle and he loves to tackle. Your thoughts please. Clarence Harris, Gilbertsville, Pa.
Interesting thought. If Mays fails at safety for the 49ers, it's possible he could have a future as a linebacker in a system like the Bears use. He would have a lot to learn though, and it probably would be a difficult transition. Mays is a far cry from Urlacher. When Urlacher came out of New Mexico in 2000, he was much more athletic than Mays. Urlacher, remember, is a freakish athlete. There really hasn't been anyone like him in the history of the game. He's also considerably bigger. He plays at close to 260 pounds, which is more than 30 pounds heavier than Mays. The one area that Mays has the edge is speed.