This week on Reader Q&A: Chicago Bears' LT J'Marcus Webb weighs in! Also, WWHD (what would Halas do)?
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Realistically, how many seasons does [Brian] Urlacher have left in him? – Cory Mosiman, via Google+
If the Bears win a Super Bowl? Just one!
I’m not Urlahcer’s body, so the best I can do for you is this: Brian has played 12 seasons (although he stole one while out with a wrist injury in 2009). According to a study released by the NFL in 2011, the average career length for a player selected to at least one Pro Bowl is 11.7 years. Urlacher is over that, heading into his 13th season. Digging a little deeper, and taking a look at some other iconic Chicago Bears’ linebackers, Dick Butkus and Otis Wilson each played nine seasons, Mike Singletary played 12, Wilber Marshall played 13 and Bill George played 15. All different eras, surely, but the average career length for those I listed is . . . wouldn’t you know it 11.6 years. Urlacher has continued to perform well, but to answer the specifics of your question, I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect more than one more season from No. 54.
Does [Jay] Cutler have no say in Draft choices? The offensive line looks neglected. – Keith Haughian, via Twitter
In short: he has no say. What Jay Cutler has a “say” in is expressing his opinion on the overall needs of the team, which he admittedly did this off-season by saying, “I told Phil [Emery] we needed an X [receiver], and he went out and got one of the best in the game.” Whether or not Jay shared his concerns about the offensive line with Emery is unknown. But the day Phil Emery starts drafting the way his quarterback tells him to, is the day he should lose his job. The Bears believe that the offensive line, which improved last season amid a host of injuries, will continue to improve, especially in the new offensive scheme. The NFL is a game of priorities. The wide receiver and defensive end positions were given highest priority this off-season. It’s that simple.
Did the Bears do enough to get better at wide receiver? – Marco Garcia, via Twitter
The simplest answer to this question is that I’m not sure what more they could have done. The obvious answer is, yes, of course they got better, but I suspect you want to know if I think the wide receiver position is finally solidified. And that, I do not know. What I do know is that Brandon Marshall has been incredibly consistent throughout his NFL career, and he’s done it catching the ball from sub-par QBs during much of it. There’s zero reason to expect anything less than true No. 1 WR play from Marshall. While the Bears have spent some time talking up Devin Hester to us yet again this off-season—more on that coming up—we have zero reason to believe he will live up to that. And we won’t know what we have in Alshon Jeffery for a while. Did they get better? Hell yes. Is it enough? We’ll find out.
Why does Roberto Garza get a free pass? I feel like he and Spencer should switch positions. – Steven L. Smith, via Twitter
Simple: he moved to the starter at the center position for the first time in his career, played solid, earned a Pro Bowl alternate nod in his first season at the position, did all of it in a shortened off-season, and has Jay Cutler’s full support. That’s plenty of reason for me. Garza played well at center, Spencer played well at guard. I disagree wholeheartedly with the idea that they should now switch places.
How’s Dom DeCicco looking in the middle? Bulked up and kept his speed, coverage skills from PITT? – Lance Poirrier, via Twitter
DeCicco looks good. He’s big. He’s yet to make a start at LB, but he took the first-team reps at the middle position in OTAs on Wednesday. Urlacher sat out as a precaution, coming off a knee injury. Dom actually finished second on the team in special teams tackles last season with 17. He led or tied for the lead in four out of 15 games played on special teams in 2011. He has the potential to develop into a solid backup at LB.
Can you see [Brandon] Hardin legitimately contending for a safety spot, or simply on special teams? – Blair Henry, via Twitter
Phil Emery originally told us he would compete with Major Wright for the SS position but has since backed out of that, saying he’ll contribute mostly on special teams in 2012. I don’t think it’s fair to consider Hardin an immediate contributor on defense, but I still do. He needs to show that he can actually play the safety position, and play it at the NFL level, but he has all the tangibles.
Why are the Bears waiting to put [Johnny] Knox on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) List? Trade bait? – Erik Grogan, via Twitter
There’s no reason for the Bears to add Knox to the list now. Technically speaking, until the mandatory portion of the off-season begins, it would be meaningless. The PUP is for players who cannot practice at the start of training camp due to a football related injury. There isn’t a team in the League who would sniff at a trade for Knox. Until he comes back to the game and plays a season, his value is literally non-existent.
Give me your mock Depth Chart at the wide receiver position for Week-1, and your outlook Depth Chart with the current roster. – Curtis Shaw Flagg, via Twitter
Curtis, for those who don’t know, is a ChicagoNow blogger at As I See It and a friend. Had this request not been from him, there’s no way you’d be getting the whole thing.
X/Split End – Brandon Marshall (1) | Earl Bennett (2) | Devin Thomas (3)
Z/Flanker – Devin Hester (1) | Alshon Jeffrey (2) | Eric Weems (3)
Y/Slot – Earl Bennett (1)
As for the rest of the squad (I’m not going beyond starter/backup in most cases) . . .
TE – Kellen Davis (1) | Matt Spaeth (2) | Evan Rodriguez (3)
LT – Chris Williams (1) | J’Marcus Webb (2)
LG – Chris Spencer (1) | Edwin Willams (2)
C – Roberto Garza (2) | Chris Spencer (2) | Edwin Williams (3)
RG – Lance Louis (1) | Chilo Rachal (2)
RT – Gabe Carimi (1) | Mansfield Wrotto (2)
QB – Jay Cutler (1) | Jason Cambell (2) | Josh McCown (3)
RB – Matt Forte (1) | Michael Bush (2) | Kahlil Bell (3)
FB – Tyler Clutts (1) | Evan Rodriguez (2)
LDE – Shea McClellin (1) | Israel Idonije (2)
NT/LDT – Henry Melton (1) | Jordan Miller (2)
RDT – Matt Toeaina (1) | Stephen Paea (2)
RDE – Julius Peppers (1) | Corey Wootton (2)
SLB – Geno Hayes (1) | Nick Roach (2)
MLB – Brian Urlacher (1) | Blake Costanzo (2)
WLB – Lance Briggs (1) | Nick Roach (2)
LCB – Tim Jennings (1) | Jonathan Wilhite (2)
RCB – Charles Tillman (1) | Kelvin Hayden (2)
PR – Devin Hester
KR – Eric Weems
P – Adam Podlesh
K – Robbie Gould
LS – Pat Mannelly
Will Devin Hester take a backseat in the receiving game and become more of a special teams player, or does he have a place [in the offense]? – Mark Beck, via Twitter
It doesn’t sound like he will, no. The Bears have begun the annual off-season ritual of telling us that this will finally be Devin Hester’s year. And, in their defense, they have little more in options. We know what Marshall’s role will be, but with Knox’s status up in the air, Jeffery still in the development stages, and Bennett more appropriately suited for the slot, Hester has to be their No. 2. He knows the route tree really well, and he’s crisp and fast. Whether or not we will see that translate—once again—remains to be seen. But we’ve been down this road before. As for your second question, absolutely he has a place in the offense. Just, ideally, you’d have a more defined No. 2, and you’d be able to use Hester situationaly. The Bears hope the No. 2 will ultimately be Alshon Jeffery in the long-term.
Who do you predict will be the most explosive Bears’ player this season? – Jodi Herschelman, via Twitter
While I don’t believe it will be for his role on offense, ask yourself this: who has been the most explosive player on this team for years? Why none other than Devin Hester.
If Papa-Bear stepped out of his grave and into present day Chicago Bears’ business, what would he approve of? And on the flip side, whose heads would roll? – Cory Mosiman, via Google+
I think we can all agree that he would be happy to still see the commitment to defense. I’m not so sure if he and Jay Cutler would get along, but neither did the Punky QB and Ditka.
As for heads rolling? Well, let’s think about that a bit . . . in Halas’ second term as the head coach of the Chicago Bears (1933-1942) he took the Bears to the playoffs six times (60%) and won three NFL Championships. As Lovie Smith heads into his ninth year in the same capacity, he’s taken the team to the playoffs just 37.5% of the time and has zero Championships. I’m sure Halas would expect better. He might even join the “Fire Lovie Smith” crowd!
You guys are a trip. Can’t a guy be anxious about hitting and playing? It’s like not being able to talk about Christmas! – J’Marcus Webb, via Twitter
Webb didn’t send us this question in response to our Reader Q&A, but rather in response to a post I wrote last week in which we suggested a more humble approach to his off-season might a tad more appropriate.
I have to admit, I smiled when I read this, and it went a great deal toward curbing my original opinion, if only slightly. But to answer Webb’s question: yes, I think you should be anxious. Especially considering it means “to feel nervous.” Honestly, I know what Webb meant, and I have said all along that he can do as he pleases. My opinion should mean squat to him, and if he wants to get excited for the season and joke about Julius Peppers being a girl, by all means, go for it.
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