Reader Q&A: Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
The Tribune's Bears columnist weighs in on Gabe Carimi, Johnny Knox and a Tim Tebow-Bobby Douglass comparison in his weekly mailbag.
Bears tackle Gabe Carimi has a laugh on the sideline during a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field. (Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune / September 1, 2011)
By Dan Pompei Chicago Tribune reporter November 10, 2011
Seeing how much better the offensive line is performing compared to the beginning of the season, barring an injury, would it not behoove the Bears to figure Gabe Carimi into their plans for next year and just stick with the five guys they have now? Jeremy, Washington
Tough call with Carimi. You don't want to take a player like Lance Louis or Chris Spencer out of the lineup who is playing well, especially given the fragile nature of offensive line play. But if Carimi's presence gives you a chance to be a better line, it's probably worth taking that chance. Carimi has to be completely healthy and able to play to the top of his abilities, though.
Is there that much of a difference between Johnny Knox and DeSean Jackson? They both average about the same amount of yards per catch, they're both very good returners and they've both made the Pro Bowl. However, Knox isn't thought of nearly in the same light as Jackson. I've always thought Jackson is overrated and not a true No.1 receiver, especially considering he's never had more than 63 receptions in a season. Am I wrong in thinking he and Knox are virtually the same player? Ken Hill, Rochester, N.Y.
It's not a bad comparison because both players have elite speed and are on the slight side. Jackson probably has better short-area quickness and ability to separate, and maybe more savvy at this point of their careers. But they are similar weapons and opposing defenses have to give both players respect. (Knox gets less respect because he's a Bear and not an Eagle. He's a victim of the "let's pimp the Bears" syndrome the press loves to hang on to. Also, Knox is not having a banner year either as a WR or a KR)
I am a lifelong Bears fan. I admit to listening to the 1963 championship game on the radio (Hello, Irv Kupcinet). That said, I'm talking Tim Tebow. Why is he not the son of Bobby Douglass? Why is no one making the comparison? Douglass may have had a better arm but they are clones. They are both terrific athletes, but not NFL-quality quarterbacks. RJ, United Kingdom
Interesting comparison. Like Tebow, Douglass was a big (6-4, 225) left-handed quarterback who was better at running than throwing. Like Tebow, he had a pretty strong arm. He averaged 12.8 yards per completion over his career. And like Tebow, Douglass was a pretty successful college quarterback. He led Kansas to the 1969 Orange Bowl and finished seventh in Heisman voting that year before being chosen in the second round by the Bears. Douglass set a record, since broken, for most rushing yards in a season when he ran for 968 yards in 14 games in 1972. He also averaged 6.5 yards per carry over his career. But unless Tebow can pass more successfully than Douglass did, he won't stand a chance. Douglass completed 43 percent of his career passes. His career passer rating was 48.5. (I hadn't thought of this before but he's right about the similarities. For those who never saw Douglass play just watch Tebow struggle with his passing and you'll get the idea. The other difference is that Douglass couldn't hit the broadside of a barn passing but he if did hit the barn it wouldn't have stopped the ball. It would have broken through one side and out the other. His passes had so much velocity that sometimes the receiver couldn't even catch up with the ball let alone hold on to it. They must have had to have buckets of ice on the sidelines for guys to dip there hands in after a catch. He threw what you might call "a heavy ball".
Do you think Martz is finally getting it? To lead two offensives -- Rams and Bears -- differently from each other will actually enhance his reputation and not harm it. It seemed last year he was trying to recreate the famed Rams offense and corrected himself just in time and then at the start of the year he tried to recreate the Rams offense again until finally realizing these Bears are different. Why not be known as a great offensive coordinator leading two offensives differently? To me, that would be very satisfying and probably garner a lot of respect around the league, resulting in Martz being known as the offensive genius he seems to want to be known as. David Phillips, Orlando, Fla.
In his heart of hearts, Mike Martz would like to be flinging the ball the way he did with the Greatest Show on Turf. No secret there. In fact, most coaches would. That's the best way to win in today's NFL. But the Bears don't have what it takes to do that. They are set up to win another way. Martz realizes that now. But that doesn't mean he won't continue to push to try to do it the way he used to. The essence of good coaching is being able to win with different styles, based on the personnel that's available to you. The way Martz is calling games is a testament to his coaching ability. (And a testament to the fact that A) his QB was beginning to get mightily pissed at him, and B) that if he didn't change his ways he'd never get the chance to be known for being an offensive genius with two different teams. He'd have been out of a job right after the final gun of the final game sounded)
With the Bears' O-Line jelling their offseason moves look pretty good all of a sudden. Gabe Carimi and Chris Spencer are solid. Marion Barber has played well backing up Matt Forte. Roy Williams still has his drops but makes some plays as does Dane Sanzenbacher. Letting Greag Olsen go still puzzles me, though. Kellen Davis doesn't have his playmaking ability. My question for you: Was Olsen's blocking bad enough to make him a liability? I know Davis has a big frame but I've seen him beat a few times this year. Why not a least keep Olsen in the mix? Neile, The Netherlands
As I have written, I don't think there is any question the Bears would have been a better team with Olsen on it. But Olsen is not the type of tight end Martz prefers. Instead of dictating how Martz should play offense, general manager Jerry Angelo chose to give Martz the type of tools Martz felt he could best win with. The move also was made in what was thought to be the best long term interests of the organization. Olsen was entering the last year of his deal. The Bears were not going to resign him as long as Martz was the coordinator. So they traded him when they still could get value for him, rather than letting him walk away as a free agent. At least the team has a third-round pick to show for Olsen. (A reasonable deal if we don't waste the pick. We gave up a guy who could haul in 50 catches a year for us and we need to replace him with a guy who can do the same and RWill isn't that guy. If we can use that 3rd to draft the guy or to trade up in the 1st round for a stud WR then we made a good decision. If we use it to draft another undersized DE who can't make the team it was a waste)
What's the deal with Corey Wootton? Is he going to play at all this year? I thought he was going to be ready by the first couple of games of the season. We're going to need a solid third end for the stretch run and Nick Reed hasn't impressed me very much so far. Don't you think Wootton should be given a chance to show what he can do? Mark, Birmingham
I think Wootton needs to earn his playing time. Wootton needs to step it up on Wednesdays in order to get a chance to help out on Sundays. He's a talented player with a lot of potential, but he's been a big disappointment so far this year. (Maybe if he hadn't been covering kicks in a meaningless preseason game and gotten hurt this question wouldn't need to be asked. I think Wootton is a slow healer and we won't see much from him anymore this year. He's still on the comeback trail)
Every one of you experts expected the Bears to lose Monday night. Now how do you feel? Is humble pie in order? Michael D. Anderson, Mason, Mich.
How do I feel? Like I got a pick wrong. Wasn't the first time. Won't be the last. No one gets all the picks right. You have some hot streaks and some cold ones. Good years and bad. Unpredictability is one of the reasons the NFL is so successful. I don't feel I have to apologize about picking a team that was an 8 1/2-point favorite. What is clear, though, is that the line was way too high. Vegas -- and maybe even some sportswriters -- haven't caught up with how much the Bears have improved over the last few weeks. I always jokingly say if I could get all the picks right, I'd become a professional gambler and retire from sportswriting. (That would be nice. What can we do to help you with that?)
Since NFL contracts are not guaranteed and teams can cut players at any time without having to honor the remainder of the contract, why wouldn't the Bears offer Matt Forte a contract he deserves for a top-tier RB and then cut him if he gets seriously injured or underperforms like Chris Johnson? That would make all of this media hoopla around his contract end and will keep Forte happy. Brian Glickman
The Bears wouldn't do that because extending Forte's contract would involve giving him a large amount of guaranteed money, probably in the form of a signing bonus. For comparison purposes, Adrian Peterson's contract extension included $36 million in guarantees. Chris Johnson's included $30 million.
(One way to deal with this is put less $$$ into the signing bonus and add annual roster bonuses on top of the salary. The players still gets a significant amount of guaranteed $$$ as long as his production remains high and he's on the roster on some pre-agreed upon date (usually March 1st or June 1st). If the players production drops to unacceptable levels or if he's sustains a career ending injury the team can release him without further obligation. One example of this would be Tommie Harris. The Bears were not gonna pay him $11.5 mil this year based on his play over the last two years. Bye, bye Tommie)
I just watched an ESPN group excoriate the Bears for not negotiating a contract for Matt Forte and Matt was interviewed over the phone. Matt was (for him) pretty critical of the front office and said that the situation in the locker room after a game is a little weird. I thought I read online in the last week or so that the Bears had made an offer to Matt's agent -- the details were not laid out, except that $14 million was guaranteed. The agent apparently turned it down. I am one of Jerry A's biggest critics, but if the team made an offer and was turned down, even though the guaranteed money may not have been enough, at least that information should be made public, don't you think? Do you know if an offer had, in fact, been made? Tom K., Bethesda, Md.
It is fact that an offer was made before the season began. The team believes it was a very fair offer. Forte and his agent obviously disagree. Some of the numbers that have been reported about the offer have been inaccurate. As David Haugh reported, the truth is it was an offer with $14 million in guarantees and worth an average of $6 million a year. There has been very little movement since the season began that I am aware of. The Bears chose not to do their negotiating in the media. Sometimes, a little public disclosure might help their cause. (Tom K, Bethesda, Md.. Why not join DaBears.com and post with the rest of us Angelo critics and haters here. Love to have you. The more the merrier.)
The Bears just finished a string of four consecutive night games if you consider the game in London was played at night for them. Has any team ever played four night games in a row? Scott Plocharczyk, Alsip
According to Doug Coletti, the stats guru for the WBBM Bears radio broadcasts, the New York Jets and the Boston Patriots of the AFL each played five straight night games way back in 1964. What's interesting is the Bears won their last three night games after losing the first. Night games tend to take a toll on teams and sometimes affect how they play the following week. That has not been the case with the Bears, at least not so far. (Just turn on the lights at Soldier Field this Sunday and pretend it's night. No sense screwing up a streak)
Question regarding FanVision: With the issues that Lovie Smith seems to have with replay challenges, why can't he keep a FanVision jockey by his side at all times so he can get a better look at replays/angles? This would avoid the need to look at the video screen and call up to the booth. Andrew Bail
You and I can use a device like FanVision, but Lovie cannot. Coaches can look at photographs during games, but that's it. This is from the NFL Game Operations Manual: "Unless specifically permitted by League rules, any device that is capable of recording or replaying video is prohibited in the coaches' booths, on the sidelines, in the locker room, or in any other club-controlled area on game day beginning ninety (90) minutes prior to kickoff and continuing through the end of the game, including halftime. NFL-issued television monitors are permitted in the coaches' booths, provided that they only show the live network broadcast of the game. Still shots of game action taken by team video cameras are considered to be within the definition of Polaroid-type cameras and are permissible." (Wouldn't make any difference. He'd still get 90% of them wrong. It is what it is!)
Sure was good to see Earl Bennett back in the lineup Monday, but what was with the mysterious designation of his injury? With "knee" injuries you quickly hear about ACL, MCL, meniscus, or for Gabe Carimi, the subluxation, but Bennett's injury has never been specified. I guess cracked ribs was denied. But that leaves things like bruised/cracked sternum, or internal stuff like lacerated organ, bruised pericardium, collapsed lung ... What exactly was the "chest injury" and why did it remain so vague? I saw Brad Biggs had a line that Bennett declined to disclose the exact nature as well when asked. I'm almost more interested in the reason for the obscuration than what it exactly had been. Mike, Reisterstown, Md.
The reason for not making the information public is the Bears apparently think disclosing the information would have given their opponents an edge. At least that's the only thing I can think of. (And you are correct sir. Better call than your game prediction. Teams often don't disclose the exact nature or severity of an injury to protect the player against becoming a target for further injury during the game. If you have a bad knee an opponent isn't gonna be nice an avoid it. He's gonna cut you every chance he gets. Geez Dan, how'd you ever get to be a sportwriter)
What are the chances that the Bears make a serious run at Mario Williams in free agency next year if he's allowed to hit the open market? I think he's much less likely to be franchised by the Texans after suffering a season-ending injury this year. Just the thought of having Williams and Peppers on the same line makes me salivate. And after his cheap, bargain-basement signings this past offseason, I think Angelo needs to redeem himself in the eyes of Bears fans and spend some money on a marquee player instead of a string of castoffs from other teams. Philip, Manchester, N.H.
I can't imagine a scenario in which Williams is allowed to hit the open market. It would be an awful move by the Texans. That said, if it somehow happened, I'm with you Philip. Williams would be a great addition for the Bears. I'm not sure they would want to sink that amount of money into the defensive end position given how much they are paying Peppers. But pairing Peppers and Williams would give the Bears one of the most talented pass rushing combinations in history. They could absolutely terrorize quarterbacks. (Don't hold your breath Phil. Ain't gonna happen)
What's your take on the "Suck for Luck" campaign? I highly doubt that any NFL player on any team would toss a game. However, the players aren't the coaches and management (as I believe that coaching is 70 percent of the game). Jim Irsay, owner of the Colts, is on record salivating over Green Bay's accomplishment of cutting Brett Farve and having Aaron Rodgers step in and not missing a beat. It sure seems the Colts have Rodgers' envy, and would love to position the francise (0-16) for the first pick in the 2012 draft in order to draft Andrew Luck, from Stanford. Do you think a lottery of the first five picks in future drafts would eliminate any more "Suck for Luck" talk? Mike, Appleton, Wis.
I don't think a draft lottery is necessary in the NFL. It's rare that there is a player like Luck that teams would be tempted to "suck" for. The system works fine the way it is. Owners might want to "Suck for Luck," but not players or coaches. Any coach who does it is likely to be working for another team when Luck comes into the league. (I could never see any team planning to intentionally lose just to get the #1 pick in the draft but I could see them trying a lot less hard to win. In Indy's case that shouldn't be too difficult. They're pretty shabby without Manning. I don't think they'll "throwing" any games but needless to say I won't be betting on them between now and January.)
Any chance Bears move Angelo into a president role and bring in a person for talent personnel like the Falcons did with Rich McKay and Thomas Dimitroff? Jeff Merkel, from Twitter
I couldn't see that happening unless something happened to Ted Phillips. The Bears already have a president, and I don't think he's going anywhere. The Bears are a pretty lean operation, not the type of organization that will create positions and add layers of management. The Falcons, owned by deep-pocketed Arthur Blank, are. (How about janitor or nightwatchman?)
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