Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag - chicagotribune.com
Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
Tribune Bears columnist answers readers questions on Bushrod, Bennett, Grossman and the need for speed
Given their other needs at linebacker, cornerback and guard, how long in the draft could the Bears wait to get a complementary speed receiver like Johnny Knox to stretch the field, and do you see that as a bona fide need? -- Randy Lenser, Glenview
I don't believe the Bears will reach to take a speed receiver. They probably will wait until one comes to them -- meaning they will look for a good value. Phil Emery probably won't be driven to select a receiver who can run fast, as much as he will be driven to add a receiver who he thinks can make plays. Ideally, though, that would be a speed receiver. A speed receiver can provide benefits for the offense even if he is not catching the ball because he takes defenders with him downfield. I'm not sure I would classify it as a glaring need for the Bears, but a speed receiver would be an awfully nice thing to have. You can find speed receivers outside of the early rounds. Knox was a fifth round pick. Mike Wallace, who just signed a five year, $60 million contract with the Dolphins, was a third round pick. Jacoby Ford, who ran a 4.28 40 yard dash, was a fourth round pick.
Dan, I have been hearing that the Bears need a speed receiver that can complement Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Do you think the recently released Darrius Heyward-Bey could be a fit? He may be considered a bust after being picked number seven overall by the Raiders, bust his speed is undeniable. -- Peter Dimas, Chicago
He might be a little out of the Bears' price range. That has yet to be determined. Heyward-Bey's size and speed package is enticing. Unfortunately he has been a career underachiever who never has been able to produce the way a player with his abilities should be able to produce. Some of his issues were the result of playing in dysfunctional offenses in Oakland. But some of his issues were on him. He'll probably never be a great player. He still is only 26 years old, however, and could be worth taking a chance on -- at the right price.
Now that the Bears have addressed TE and LT via free agency, isn't it critical that they utilize the draft to acquire some young defensive talent? Would it be advisable for the Bears to select Barkevious Mingo as either a linebacker or DE, assuming he is available? He performed well in the linebacking drills at the NFL Combine and his measurables aren't radically different than Urlacher's at the start of his career. -- Nicholas Secco, Chicago
Given the ages of some of the key defenders, it would be optimal to draft a number of young defensive players. But the beauty of signing Jermon Bushrod and Martellus Bennett is it gives the Bears flexibility on draft day. They can be reactive to however the board breaks. They don't have to take defenders if better offensive players remain. As for Mingo, I don't see any chance he falls all the way to 20. I think he's a top 10 pick. Also, I haven't heard any talk of him playing middle linebacker. He's a pass rusher all the way -- either a defensive end in a 4-3 or an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
With the addition of Bushrod as our left tackle, what is the next most glaring need on the offensive line in your opinion and how would you address that need? -- Bill Daniels, Chicago
Guard is the big need at this point. With Lance Louis unsigned and Chris Spencer not expected back, the Bears don't have a single proven starting guard. The candidates, if camp opened today, would be converted tackle Gabe Carimi, James Brown and Edwin Williams. The Bears need to have at least one guard with a proven body of work. Signing Louis would be an easy fix, assuming his price tag isn't too high. He is a good young player with a lot of potential. It would be a shame to let him walk after developing him to this point.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bushrod didn't grade out too much better than J'Marcus Webb. Would you rather have a 29 year old LT who has already hit his ceiling or a 24 year old who is just scratching the surface of his talent? -- Rafael Torres, Jr.
It wasn't an either-or proposition Rafael. The Bears have the 29-year old who has hit his ceiling as well as the 24-year old who is just scratching the surface of his talent. One will line up at left tackle, and the other likely will line up at right tackle. As for Webb, you make a good point, and a point that has been lost to many. He still has considerable potential, and it sometimes pays off big to be patient with players like him. The Bears have shown patience. I wouldn't get too caught up in Pro Football Focus ratings. They have value, but they are not definitive evaluations of players. Phil Emery said as much when I asked him about it the other day.
Do you know if there has been any talk of bringing in a starter-ready center via free agency or the draft and moving Roberto Garza back to guard? To me Garza is a much better guard than center and doing this would make the OL better at the two positions. Hopefully that Alabama center is available in the second round. -- Norbert Wleklinski, Niles, Mich.
Interesting thought Norbert. Barrett Jones probably could step in and start at center for the Bears. He also might be able to step in and start at guard though. He has some positional versatility. So if the Bears did draft him, the question would be if their coaches saw him as a better fit for their positional profile at guard or center. There is extra value in having Garza at center because he is a veteran and has seen it all. It helps to have a veteran calling the protections and helping pick up defensive adjustments.
I was wondering what the Bears' situation will be this year in regards to back-up QB? Jason Campbell was a one year insurance policy and is now a free agent. Are there any talks regarding his future with the Bears, or do you think the Bears are going to wait and address this issue with the draft or very late FA signing? -- Eric Thevenot, Oswego
I think the Bears would very much like to have Campbell back. But it would be at a greatly reduced salary from the $3.5 million he made last year. Campbell likely will have better opportunities, either from a money perspective or a play time opportunity perspective. So the chances of his return are slim. The Bears still are likely to sign a veteran backup. I would expect it will be a free agent who they pick up late in the process, possibly even after the draft.
Might cause a chuckle with some but could bringing back Rex Grossman be good move? No starter but a good backup who knows the Bears. -- @The Big Egg, from Twitter
You could do worse, certainly. Grossman, 32, is at the stage of his career when he has accepted his role as a backup. He told me he doesn't like it, but he has accepted it. But he started 13 games just two years ago. He left the Bears on good terms, and always was well liked at Halas Hall. Of course, most of the people who were around before he left five years ago are gone now. And if Grossman were to come back, it would be in the role that many Bears fans often thought he should be in: the No. 2 QB.
If there are a bunch of quality CBs available in free agency this year as expected, doesn't it make sense for the Bears to cut Charles Tillman then hire him back at the prevailing FA rate? He is set to take a huge chunk of cap space next year but the Bears have a bunch of needs. I absolutely love Peanut but isn't it the right business decision to lower his cap hit this year? -- Chris Marshall, NJ
You can't treat a valued, long-term Bear who has played beyond expectations that way. What kind of message would that send to the locker room? And how could you expect Tillman to be happy and committed if the team screwed him that way? There is something to be said for doing the right thing. That would be doing the wrong thing. And it also would entail a risk of losing him.
Don't you think that things are more difficult for new coaches taking over teams with the new CBA? Seems like they don't have as much face time to get to know the members of their new team. They don't have as much time to evaluate the talent live without the contact drills that others had before. My imagination or real? -- Robert Gancarz
The new CBA has cut down the amount of time coaches can spend working with players in the offseason, so it unquestionably makes it more difficult for new coaching staffs to implement their ideas. It also makes it harder to develop young players. A number of coaches have complained to me about the new system. But these issues can be overcome. Just ask the Colts, who went 11-5 last year in the first year of a new coaching regime after going 2-14 the previous year.
Can you explain why the Bears are not going to try to bring back D.J. Moore? I thought he was the best nickelback the team has ever had. He constantly made plays when he was on the field, he was a very good blitzer, and was probably the nicest player to fans on the team. -- Jimmy Crespo, Arlington, Texas
I always appreciated Moore's playmaking ability, his confidence and his excellent quickness. And he is a good guy. But he didn't play well enough last year. He has size and speed limitations, and that makes him a potential mismatch against some receivers and tight ends. The Bears want to get better at the position.
Will Phil Emery be getting his own statue outside of Soldier Field any time soon? He sure deserves it! -- Joe Perry, Lawrence, Mass.
I think he has done a fine job. But they don't erect statues of people who make acquisitions that resonate with fans. If they did, there would be monuments to Daniel Snyder all over Washington. It's how those acquisitions play that will determine Emery's legacy as the general manager of the Bears.
Obviously Lovie Smith was never a big fan of talking to the media. Still, I find it somewhat odd - maybe even churlish - that he has yet to speak to the media at all since his dismissal. Whatever one thought of Lovie as a head coach, he always seemed like a standup, high character guy. I wonder if he took the news even harder than one would think. What are your thoughts? -- Ron S., Seattle
I know Smith took some time off after going on some job interviews for travel and relaxation. He wanted to get away and forget about his frustrations. Rehashing the incidents that led to his dismissal probably isn't very appealing to him--especially if it meant rehashing it with media members who were calling for his head. My guess is you won't hear him talking about anything that happened in Chicago until he lands another job, perhaps as a media analyst in the fall, or as a coach in 2014.
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I've been thinking about that since Monday. I know that we don't have that kind of money right now but I love the idea. I remember how I really wanted JA to draft him back in 2009. Over the past few years DHB has been inconsistent but he's also shown that he was adept at catching short passes, breaking tackles and being physical. And don't forget his speed (4.25s 40-yd dash). If the price is right I'd pick him up in a heartbeat.
Originally Posted by Riczaj01
Just imagine our receiving corp:
BMarshall, DHB, AJ, Bennett
I love it too, but I also loved the idea of Bushrod, Carimi/Brown, Draftee, Louis, Long as well as resigning Izzy and BU. But reality is that the Bears don't have the cap to give DHB a contract that he'll be able to get elsewhere.
Originally Posted by little bear
I do think they will try and get a speed wr they can develop late in the draft or via UDFA rookie, but WR is not a position of need right now, it's a position of want and you don't ignore needs for wants.
Keep your eyes on the prizes Bears fans, no team has ever won a SB b/c it was chaulked full of WR's and RB's. Need a badass OL and DL an good to great QB and competent skill positions.
I think a lot of fans are in denial, and believe that the offensive line is now "fixed" with the Bushrod acquisition. That is crazy thinking. Just as crazy as thinking Garza is worth giving another year of starting for us, due to him being a veteran. Or thinking that he will magically be solid at guard, even though he was looking like a boy against men last year - and getting owned snap after snap, and thrown around like a rag doll. Do people REALLY believe he'd be a better blocker THIS year?
Guard is the big need at this point.
With Lance Louis unsigned and Chris Spencer not expected back, the Bears don't have a single proven starting guard.
Orlando Pace was an infinitely better player than Garza as a veteran offensive lineman - but even a hall of famer like Pace, sucked when he got to the point Garza is at now. Why do we believe Garza will be any better THIS year?
Get rid of Garza. Get a young kid in there who can, you know, actually BLOCK somebody. I don't care if we lose Garza's "veteran" contribution to the oline. Get a guy who can play.
Last edited by JustAnotherBearsFan99; 03-15-2013 at 10:46 AM.
Thanks For The Memories
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Agreed and I think Emery will draft his replacement in the early rounds. I really like the two top "C's" in the draft. Go get em' Phil.
Originally Posted by JustAnotherBearsFan99
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I think more were ignoring the fact that this team is not close to a SB run, and many thought the team just needed a couple 3 guys on the OL and the Bears would be set to turn it around. But the reality is setting in that there are multiple peices on the D, as well as the OL, and w/that it becomes imparrative to readjust what and how you handle FA and the draft.
I think that may have been the case when the D was clicking. We still had Olsen also. If we would have gotten a top WR then as well as 2-3 guys that were good on the OL I think we could have made a run.
Originally Posted by Riczaj01
Unfortunately disfunction and a poor choice of O coaches squandered that window. We are no longer as close as we were on the D but closer on the O. Even the Ol is better, but is worse in the middle than it was.
It is a team thing and they were not looking at the whole team and they were listening to coaches that had no idea what they were doing on the O. Smith really was the captain and he also let too much stuff happen without making corrections when the ship was going off course.
All old news, but at one point I think it was an accurate statement IMO
Geezus... The D was top 5 in yards allowed, top 3 in points allowed, and 1st overall in takeaways & Aikman efficiency. And that was with a very hobbled Urlacher. No vet other than him is "falling off a cliff" and a bunch of younger guys are only just hitting their stride (Melton, Woot). Don't understand the pessimism here. Of course theres challenges to maintain it but This isn't Baltimore by any means.
Originally Posted by bearsinhouston
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IDK. I don't see it as strong as it used to be. JMO and you could be right. Hope you are.
Originally Posted by MPBears68
As intriguing as that may be lb I'd much rather have a cheaper over achiever like Knox was than a more expensive under achiever like DHB. For all of the criticism he took maybe his critics should consider that Knox was a 5th round pick who consistently outplayed his draft status whereas DHB has done just the opposite. Somebody will come long in the draft or as an UDFA with better potential than DHB for a whole lot less money and it would be nice if he had return skills too.
Originally Posted by little bear
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap. Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.
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