The best Bears offense in ages? Who gets cut? Super Bowl dreams. Matt Forte drama. All this and more in today's weekly reader Q&A. Let's get started!
Do you think the Bears’ offense can be their strongest unit this season? – Eli Levin, via Twitter
There’s no doubt about it, in my opinion. Before Cutler went down in 2011, the Bears’ offense had put up an average of 26.8 points per game on the season and an average of 32.2 points through their last five (a five-game win streak). That was pre-Marshall, pre-Bush and pre-Jeffery. One also has to factor in the addition of Jeremy Bates, who, despite what the Bears have said officially, will have a hand in the game-day playbook. Even the addition of Jason Campbell can’t go unnoticed in the event that—God forbid—Cutler goes down again. There are plenty of reasons to be excited about what this offense has the opportunity to do. Many will still harp on the offensive line concerns—and I get that—but remember they had that five-game win streak with a slew of injuries along that line and Mad Mike Martz behind the wheel. I believe the defense will shine yet again, but for the first time in ages, the offense has a chance to chauffer them around in the backseat.
Will Gabe Carimi have a breakout year? – Marco Garcia, via Twitter
Of course, I don’t know the answer to this question, and I know you realize that. My opinion, however, is that he certainly could have one . . . as far as “breakout” seasons go for right tackles, anyway. Here’s the thing: we still have very little tape to evaluate on Carimi at the NFL level. His season ended after just 98 snaps (not quite two full games), and we’ve yet to see him get back on the field after his knee stabilization surgery. But, according to Mike Tice, he’ll be back before the end of veteran mini-camp in a few weeks. I’ll tell you this: I personally watched Carimi very closely in training camp last year and was impressed. Keep in mind, too, that he’s still technically transitioning to the right tackle position. Don’t expect great things from day-one, but there is no Xs and Os reason to believe he can’t play the position at a high level.
Does Corey Wootton or Chris Spencer get cut? – Erik Grogan, via Twitter
I’ll start with Wootton: the Bears kept five actual defensive ends on the final roster in 2011. They have seven right now; three of them being Cheta Ozougwu, Thaddeus Gibson and Chauncey Davis. So, from a numbers perspective, there’s no reason to think Wootton is on his way out. His biggest issue will be proving he can stay healthy, as he’s played just 13 games through two seasons. I think the Bears will give him another shot. Personally, I believe Spencer is an asset to this group and will likely emerge as a starting guard with Chris Williams competing at tackle along-side J’Marcus Webb. He proved himself to be a versatile player and can move into center if needed. He sticks.
I’ve heard good things about TE Brandon Venson. Does he have a shot at the final roster, and at 6’ 3”, 245 lbs., is he a threat to Spaeth or Clutts? – Lance Poirrier, via Twitter
Great question. The truth is I have yet to see him play. I missed him at rookie mini-camp but some reporters called him the best TE in attendance. And keep in mind that the TE the Bears drafted, Evan Rodriguez, was present. I’m not calling anyone out, but we won’t be able to tell anything for sure on this guy until they get the pads on, and even then we may not know. I think his chances at earning a roster sport are low, but it’s certainly possible. As for Spaeth and Clutts, the Bears will hang on to Clutts if the roster allows, but I’d be willing to bet we’ve seen the last of Matt Spaeth—a one-dimensional tight end, brought in by Mike Martz, and due $1.775 million in 2012. Say goodbye.
How does the Bears’ wide receiver height compare to the average cornerback? – Jordan Kristopher, via Twitter
You’re going to put me to work, aren’t you? The average height of the guys we presume to be the Bears’ top-four (Marshall, Jeffery, Hester and Bennett) is just over 6’ 1”. But Hester’s 5’ 11” certainly drags that down. At 6’ 4” and 6’ 3”, respectively, Marshall and Jeffery are big targets. Having said that, it would be foolish to assume Jeffery will be ready to start in the NFL right away. Since looking at the average cornerback size in the league would be too large a sample to really mean anything, I thought I’d take a look at the starting corners in the NFC North for you. The Lions don’t have a corner over 6’ 1”, and most are closer to Hester’s size. The Packers are about the same with their tallest at 6’ 1”. And the Vikings average is just below 6’ 0”, with Chris Cook checking in at 6’ 2”. Truthfully, the desire for receiver-sized corners is a newer concept. And the League’s top corners are not huge by any stretch. Darrelle Revis is a shut-down CB at 6’ 0”, while Nnamdi Asomugha is more evenly matched with League receivers at 6’ 3”.
How different will the Bears’ offense be if Matt Forte sits? Michael Bush and Forte are each different style RBs. Will Tice call the same plays if Bush is in? – Quinn Jordan, via Twitter
In short: very different. Time seems to have dulled what most fans remember about what kind of player Matt Forte really is. Here’s a brief reminder (don’t feel the need to read all the following, I’m being overly emphatical. I will actually answer the question below):
- Prior to his injury, led the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,487), ranked 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards (997) and ranked 4th among all running backs with 490 yards receiving and 3rd with 52 catches.
- Led the team in catches (5) and receiving yards (90) and added a receiving TD and rushed for 68 yards on 16 carries vs. ATL (9/11).
- Became the first Bears player since 2002 to record 10 catches and 100+ yards receiving (117) in a game at NO (9/18) and also added 10 carries for 49 yards.
- Led the team with 7 catches for 80 yards (11.4 avg) and carried the ball 9 times for 2 yards vs. GB (9/25).
- Rushed for a career-high 205 yards on 25 carries (8.2 avg) and posted his first rushing TD of the season vs. CAR (10/2); added a team-high 4 receptions for 25 yards.
- Posted his second straight 100-yard rushing day, finishing with 116 yards on 22 carries (5.3 avg) to go along with 4 catches for 35 yards (8.8 avg) at DET (10/10).
- Rushed for 87 yards on 17 carries and led the Bears with 6 receptions for 36 yards vs. MIN (10/16).
- Ran for 145 yards on 25 carries (5.8 avg) and 1 TD, while adding 2 catches for 38 yards (19.0 avg) at TB (10/23).
- Surpassed the 100-yard mark, carrying the ball 24 times for 133 yards while adding 3 catches for 17 yards at PHI (11/7).
- Rushed for 64 yards on 18 carries and 1 TD while posting 1 catch for 3 yards vs. DET (11/13).
- Carried the ball 20 times for 57 yards while adding 4 catches for 26 yards vs. SD (11/20).
- Averaged 4.9 yards per carry (12 rushes for 59 yards) and led the team with 6 receptions for 25 yards at OAK (11/27).
- Finished with 5 rushes for 12 yards before leaving
Personally, I don’t believe Forte will sit for very long once the season begins. If he does, he’ll likely be fined $30K per missed day in accordance with the CBA. Oh, and he won’t be getting paid that $7.8 million he’s due by the Bears either, so he won’t be inclined to afford it. Bush is definitely a different type of player and Tice would be limited with only Bush and Bell in the mix.
What’s the latest on Matt Forte? I understand his concern, but I personally think he needs to get on board, win that ring and reap the fruits of the TEAM’S labor. The Bears have the right ingredients, now they need to swallow their pride and BearDown! – Shannon Wilson, via Google+
The latest is probably the same as the last you heard. Jay Cutler told us Forte was lonely but . . . that’s about it. I have to believe that at this point, the team has made its offer and the Forte camp has said no—it’s really that simple. They’re waiting to start the hold-out unless Emery comes back to the table. I have said that I believe Forte will ultimately play under the tag in 2012, and I still believe that. Although, it wouldn’t shock me if Emery could pull something off at the late hour. Flip a coin!
Here’s my question: will the Chicago Bears ever win another Super Bowl? 1985 is a distant memory for me, and I would love to know that feeling again. – Cory Masiman, via Google+
That depends. Do you believe the Mayans were right? I wish I could answer that, and while I have to believe the answer is “of course they will,” my wife is a Cubs fan, so . . . Honestly, Cory, Phil Emery and company believe they have a damn good shot in 2012, and if all goes as planned, I think they might be on to something. You’ll feel that glory again. I have to believe that!
Filed under: QandA