Rolling through a handful of questions before we head out to see who’s on the field and who’s not at the Friday practice. Send in your queries and we’ll do our best to get them answered next week during the bye.
Q: Kyle Orton played well two years ago, only to be benched. I think he’d make a more viable option than Brian Griese. What do you think from seeing the team every day?
Adam D., Parts Unknown
Adam: After watching Griese lead the Bears back in the fourth quarter at Philadelphia, I think it’s fair to say he’s the best option for the Bears right now. As far as Orton’s development, that is the great unknown. He didn’t get a lot of chances in the preseason, and how can you really judge the guy playing with third-teamers? He’s got little talent to work with and he’s going against guys with little talent. We don’t get to digest much of practice each day, in fact just a little bit more than stretching. I can tell you this: Orton has gotten more serious about his career in the last year and has handled everything like a pro. His contract runs through next season and he’s anxious for a chance somewhere, here or elsewhere. With Rex Grossman expected to depart following the season, Orton could go into 2008 as the No. 2 with an eye toward free agency.
Q: What is the deal with Cedric Benson? Haven’t they seen enough to make Adrian Peterson the No. 1 and use the new kid Garrett Wolfe on spot duty to change the pace? Bring in Benson for short yardage once in a while. It has to be demoralizing for Benson himself to realize he is not up to the caliber he thought he was and it is hurting the team. Doesn’t Lovie Smith talk about the best players playing? Is he really our best back? If so that doesn’t say much about how well the Bears drafted and planned to enter the year. Please tell me he is not their best back. Lets give the other two guys split duty for three or four games so we know exactly what we’ve got by the end of the year.
Chris B., Vancouver, Wash.
Chris: You know as well as I do that with $16 million guaranteed in Benson, he’s going to get the ball and he’s going to get more than his fair share of opportunities to succeed. What the Bears did in trading Thomas Jones away for very little, and adding only Wolfe (who was drafted a few rounds earlier than he should have been) was ensure that there isn’t a viable backup plan this season. General manager Jerry Angelo (as well as the McCaskeys) are deeply invested in Benson, and there are those who wanted to see him get his opportunity before Year 3. Right or wrong, that’s the way it is. I don’t know any football people who view Peterson as a potential No. 1 back as some backups are elsewhere. Wolfe showed little in preseason and hasn’t done anything to stand out during the season. He’d sure get help if Ron Turner would quit running him into the middle of the line, particularly the Minnesota Vikings’ line. Sure, if the running game continues to operate on a treadmill—the Bears have been running in place—there may be a push for Peterson to get a shot. But with the loot tied up in Benson, no one is going to give up on him any time soon.
Q: Can some writer tell fans where the run game is going to come from?
Ralph L., Gold Canyon, Ariz.
Ralph: The running game will come off the bus doing what else? Running. If I had answers to questions like this, I could quickly enter a new tax bracket. One theory is that Thomas Jones was most dangerous the last few seasons finding his way through cutback lanes. Benson doesn’t have the lateral quickness to exploit those holes when they are there. You can talk all day about the eight-man fronts Benson is facing, but just remember those same stacked fronts opposed Jones. Every defense was daring Rex Grossman to beat them, too.
Q: Any chance that the Bears may be interested in acquiring the recently released run stopper from the Atlanta Falcons Grady Jackson?
Ian, Parts Unknown
Ian: Your question was picked from a handful of several on the same topic. Suddenly, Jackson has become an all-world tackle judging by the interest there is in him. Jackson is 34 and he’s in the same mold as ex-Bear Ted Washington, just not as dominating and not quite as large. The Falcons listed him in their media guide as 6-2, 345 pounds, but he’s heavier than that. There are health questions surrounding Jackson as well as attitude. The only way the Bears make a run after this run stuffer is if they change their defensive scheme. In other words, forget about it.
Q: I can’t believe that Lovie Smith called Brian Griese an ``unknown’’ until the Detroit game. Griese has been in the league for what, 10 years, most of them as a starter, and Smith doesn’t know anything about what he can do? Aside from what this says about Smith, this really shows the value of Ron Turner. Everyone complaining about him would be really unhappy if he weren’t offensive coordinator, because obviously no one else in the Bear organization knows anything about offense.
Jeff H., San Francisco
Jeff: While I think it’s fair to question the time it took the Bears to pull the plug on Rex Grossman and make the move to Griese, I’m not going to criticize Smith in this instance. What was unknown was how Griese would perform for the Bears in this offense. You don’t know what you have in a player until he’s been inserted into your scheme. Now, should the Bears have made the change to Griese last December when he was given 50 percent of the reps in practice prior to the St. Louis game? That’s a fair question to pose.