Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, Nov. 4: Will Anquan Boldin play Sunday?

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It's Wednesday, the start of a busy week of preparation for Sunday's game with Arizona, but let's jump into the mailbag before we get rolling.

Q: What do you think the chances are Anquan Boldin will play Sunday?

Mark B., Hammond, Ind.

A: The Cardinals said Boldin would be day-to-day on Monday, one day after he aggravated his sprained right ankle in Arizona's loss to Carolina. The injury first occurred back on Oct. 11 and as Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic points out, the Cardinals may have to make the difficult decision of sitting Boldin on Sunday to ensure that he can heal up moving forward here. No one is going to question the toughness of Boldin, who missed only two games last season after surgery to repair fractures in his jaw and sinus, a result of a vicious hit by Eric Smith of the New York Jets.

"If I'm good enough to play, I'm going to play," Boldin told reporters in Arizona on Monday. "If I'm able to run, I'm going to play football."

But Somers makes a case that Boldin is hurting the team right now and the Cardinals would be better off with Steve Breaston as the foil to Larry Fitzgerald with Jerheme Urban and/or Early Doucet getting expanded opportunities.

And that leads me back to Fitzgerald. There's a very worthwhile piece on him by ESPN.com's Mike Sando that I suggest you check out. Would you believe he's averaging just 10.8 yards per reception? That's more than three yards off the pace he was on last season. The wide receiver who obliterated the postseason record books has a long catch of 27 yards this season. Now, the injuries to Boldin have something to do with it, but defenses have long honored Fitzgerald as Arizona's No. 1 target.

"It seems like every time we try to throw it down the field, we're getting Cover 2," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It's a guessing game."

The Cardinals, once again, don't have much in the way of a running game. As one scout said, you can go with six defenders in the box against them and not worry too often about being pounded. That gives a defense extra tacklers downfield to bring down Fitzgerald and prevent him from breaking the big one. But none of this is new. There's no new scheme to slow him down. Kurt Warner, despite the protests of Fitzgerald's younger brother earlier this season, isn't the problem.

It probably will not last all season, but if it continues for another week it's good for the Bears, who know a little something about Cover 2.


Q: While most fans have complained about the playy of left tackle Orlando Pace and left guards Frank Omiyale and Josh Beekman, my concern has to do with right tackle Chris Williams. He is the first-round draft pick of Jerry Angelo that has not been performing well. Is he the biggest issue on this offensive line right now?

Justin F., Chicago

A: When you're talking about the future of the offense, sure. Williams was drafted 14th overall last season and the plan was for him to be the left tackle of the future starting then. There is no question Williams has had some rocky moments here. There have been enough false starts to channel memories of Fred Miller, and while Jay Cutler probably could have gotten rid of the ball, it was Williams' man who recorded the first sack on Sunday against Cleveland. But let's consider right now that Williams has seven career starts to his credit. I don't subscribe to the "redshirt class" theory that the Bears often like to peddle with their draft classes, but when Williams missed half of last season following back surgery, that made this the first season we could use to really evaluate him. He's young and the hope is he will grow into the position. He needs to play better but so does everyone else on the line. You're absolutely right, Williams is the most important one to watch when you're thinking longterm, especially considering he's the first offensive lineman in the first round for general manager Jerry Angelo since Marc Colombo in 2002. But in the present, I believe the Bears need to find a way as a unit to become more effective running the football. Period. If they can do that they'll be able to add some needed balance to the offense.


Q: I understand that Johnny Knox has played well, but he is still a rookie. Devin Aromashodu led the Bears in the preseason, Jay Cutler even lobbied for a tall receiver like him in training camp. It seems just like last year when Brandon Rideau led the team in the preseason and never saw the field, only this time there is no question as to whether or not he has the speed to play the game. On top of that I can think of several times where a tall receiver could have helped in the red zone. I know he was hurt a the beginning of the season, but he has not been on the injury report since week one. So what is going on, the passing game is not lighting it up, and Rashied Davis has not made a big impact on special teams. Why not change things up and activate Aromashodu on game day and even use Kellen Davis more in the red zone? I believe it could only improve the red zone offense. With the upcoming games I think both these players could help, so what is with the Bears and why are they not being used?

Richard N., Lombard

A: Aromashodu was active at Cincinnati and I believe the hope was to get him involved some offensively before that game spun quickly and irretrievably out of control. Running back Adrian Peterson was healed up from a knee sprain this past week and he claimed the spot that Aromashodu had. I know he looked good in brief parts of preseason and also in training camp, and it certainly has to be frustrating for him that his chance on offense has yet to materialize. But I would disagree with you that Davis has not made a big impact on special teams. He's one of the core players for Dave Toub's units, and while his holding penalty on Devin Hester's punt return Sunday didn't help, the play is probably made on Hester if he doesn't grab some jersey there. Davis might not have overwhelming special teams statistics, but he's counted on as a core contributor. The Bears have a big red zone target in tight end Greg Olsen and have not utilized him very well there other than the times that they have been right at the goalline. Who do you want Kellen Davis on the field in place of? He's gotten more time on offense than in the past and he has some touchdown receptions as proof too. What I think might help them in the red zone is if they throw the ball into the end zone more when they get inside the 20. Take a shot at the end zone. That would have been a better call than running Garrett Wolfe behind Olsen as a lead blocker as they did vs. the Browns. But I've gone over the play calling enough in other stories. We'll see when a chance arises for Aromashodu, but it really likes it may take an injury for his opportunity to come. Could the Bears be better at receiver? Sure. But that's maybe the least of their offensive concerns right now, in my opinion.


Q: Do you believe the Bears can catch the Vikings?

Nelson M., Parts Unknown

A: Well, they've got their work cut out for them, that's for sure. The Bears (4-3) are already two games behind the Vikes (7-1) in the loss column and they even up on the number of games played this weekend with Minnesota on a bye. The good news for the Bears is that they have yet to play Minnesota, which means Brett Favre still has a chance to cool off. But coming out of the bye, the Vikings have three straight home games vs. Detroit, Seattle and then the Bears on Nov. 29. It's cliche, but Lovie Smith is dead on when he talks about the significance of the month of November. The Bears have got a lot of work cut out for themselves between now and then. When you look briefly at the idea of the wild card race, games vs. Arizona, San Francisco and Philadelphia in the next three weeks take on added significance. The loss at Atlanta didn't help that cause, either. Don't worry, we'll have plenty of time to break the Vikings down in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading and thanks as always for participating.

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8 Comments

Brad: Our pass rush has been no where to be found the last 3 games. Will Gaines Adams get into the rotation or did we really give a second round pick for a guy to play special teams??

Also, will Gaines Adams be able to recreate the chicken neck dance that Merton Hanks used to do? By all accounts there necks seem to be the same size.

GO BEARS.....

Considering the Bears problems on the 0-line, and Greg Olsens obvious lack of blocking ability, wouldn't it make sense to play Kellen Davis more as a blocking TE ? With 2 games against the Vikings rapidly approaching, it seems Orlando Pace could use some help against Jared Allen.Line Davis up across from Allen and double team him EVERY down ! Davis could bump him , then release on some plays to keep Allen off balance.Mr. Turner, use the players you have to your advantage ! Quit putting in WEAK players (Olsen, Wolfe, R.Davis) and use your bestbloskers, playmakers when you have to. K.Davis, A. Peterson, and lets see what D.Aromashodu Brings to the table. Its not like J.Knox is tearing it up anymore. Teams know about him now and he's not surprising anyone !

"Aromashodu was active at Cincinnati and I believe the hope was to get him involved some offensively before that game spun quickly and irretrievably out of control."

So you tell me Brad - When your team is losing by 30 points in the 3rd-4th quarter, and your team is playing like they are beat...Why aren't you playing and throwing to the guy who is an unknown? What, would he have cost us the game? Slowed down our offensive rhythm? The exact problem is that he was active, the game was out of control, and we STILL didn't use him.

Good thoughts about helping Pace against Allen, mrmick. He certainly seems to have trouble enough against average rushers, so Allen may eat him alive.I'll go along with K.Davis getting in more time in key situations,but I'm not sure I would prefer Peterson over Forte. When Forte misses a protection block, it's usually because someone else blew his assignment. Peterson does block well and runs with a bit more power, but he has never really been a game-breaker like Forte is.

I still think Chris Williams is gonna be a very good tackle for Chicago. The sack Williams allowed vs Cleveland was only his second sack allowed this season, that isn't great, but that isn't that bad either. Didn't Cleveland Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas allow a sack sunday also? Like Brad said, the guy [Williams] only started 7 games, some people act like they want to cut him and call him a bust already for petes sake. Give the guy time to develop, some of the leagues better tackles had their problems early. Take Pro Bowl tackle Jordan Gross of Carolina, early in his career he went back and forth from right tackle to left, he had his struggles early like a lot of linemen do early in their careers, he eventually came on. Even our own Roberto Garza, he's not a tackle but a lineman all the same, people were all over him a year ago, he's now our best lineman and has been playing some pretty good football for Chicago as of late. When you build a line, your gonna play young linemen who will struggle. But if you give them time to get on the field and play, they'll come on, it just takes time playing and building continuity with their line mates. You can't always expect a tackle to be an all-pro straight out of college, if it were that easy every team in the league would have all-pro tackles. Again, give Williams time to develop before saying he's a bust, I still think the guy has a bright future in Chicago. He is Chicago's best bet moving forward at tackle, give him time to play, I bet a year from now he'll be a very good tackle for the Bears GO BEARS!!

Williams is obviously a OLT and not a ORT. Give him some time to develop and play the left side some, which probably won't come until next year.

The question I'm curious about: It seems like the Bears try to run the "power" plays regularly - which is not at all their strength pretty regularly. How about some more movement-oriented plays which suit the athleticism on the line? Nobody on the O-line is a power blocker.

Hey Kevin A. I agree that to label Williams a bust is way to premature at this point, this is a team in transition that has had raised expectations due to the fact we traded for Cutler in the off-season. Most posters to this blog, (you and I included) said last season o-line needed an upgrade. Angelo thought he accomplished this by bringing in O-pace, Omiyale and Schaffer, so far that hasn't proven itself out. I feel that age on the O-line has impacted our team and the interior of the line has been to blame this season, although all the attention is on the tackles.We never seem to establish a pocket for Cutler to step up into, this is the job of the guards and center, who if not for Omiyale would not have been complained about much on the blog. Olin's performance has been down the last few years and is magnified when he sees big nose tackles in front of him, I saw where someone said he is helping out the guard, but the fact of the matter is he's getting blown up, and these large guys know they can push him back into Cutler, Beekman has some fire and may help, take some pressure off Kreutz, but his performance must improve for the o-line to improve. the ends get the sacks because Cutler can't step up to avoid the rush and let the tackles push the d-ends around on the outside, that is why Omiyale was brought in to put some size next to Olin and make it harder to get middle penitration. Hiestand has to do some work on his protection schemes in order for the team to protect Jay and keep finding ways to WIN ballgames, we have 9 games left, if we go 6-3 the playoffs are a possibility, but it still won't take rebuilding the o-line off the list of things to do in the off-season.....Go BEARS....

Williams is a bust Kevin. Angelo drafted him in the first round to play left tackle and now he's on the right side and he can't even do that right. When guys are picked on the first day of the draft their expected to help the team immediaetly and Williams has not tdone that. Fofregt what the stats say Kevin look at him play he is horrible. He leads the NFL in false starts and if Cutler wasn't so good feet the sacks would be up to. But it's not all his fault part of theblame goes to Angelo for drafting him. Here this kid has a bad back other teams stay away from him and Angelo picks him up. Even with out the injury he went and got a finesse blocker when Lovie talks all the time about this team being a run irst team. He was the wrong fit from the start. I still think Shaffer would be b a better fit sense he did help Atlanta lead the leauge in rushing two years in a row. Wake up Lovie how can you not see that?

Oh and were is Brando? F*** you f**. You want to joke about me being king? Guess what looser I am king. I am so the king on hear that even Elvis would kill to be like me. I guess you must be upset that you Broncos lost again. Awww that's to bad Brando. But that's what you get for being an Orton fan. You probably still hate Cutler and were having such a peachey happy fun fun time untoil Orton got exposed by the Baltimore. Oh and hows your boy Metcaf? Man, you sure now how to pick winers don't you. Me on the other hand I have been right about pretty much everything with this team. I'm telling you Brando instead of attacking me you should just follow like everyone else on here sense I know what I'm talking about most of the time. Then you will stop having o be so crazy angry for being wroing all the time. Trust me. It's the only choise you have. Stop resisiting. I am the ultimate power.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on November 4, 2009 5:00 AM.

10 thoughts and then some coming out of an ugly Bears' victory was the previous entry in this blog.

Report: Browns' Wimbley fined $7,500 for hit on Cutler is the next entry in this blog.

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