Chicago Sun-Times

Your questions, my answers: The weekly Q&A

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1. Q: I'm a staunch Cutler fan, but he has really upset me with his performance, particularly the dumb picks against the Redskins. Is it time to give up on him? --- Dennis Lathers

A: Let's give him a couple years in the same system and a solid offensive line. If he fails then, feel free to give up on him. I think Cutler could end up being one of those quarterbacks --- like Brett Favre --- who loses two games every season because of interceptions. I also think he --- again, like Favre --- can carry a team for long stretches if he has the right surrounding cast.

2. Q: How is the Chicago Media not asking Jerry Angelo about his inability/refusal to draft O-Line for several years now? How can he trade the farm for Cutler and then ignore the line? Is he afraid to draft OL? Why doesn't the media ask him about it? --- 1990

A: I wrote a story about this a while back. Angelo has drafted 11 offensive linemen since joining the Bears and only two remain on the roster, and we still don't know if Chris Williams or J'Marcus Webb can play. I'm not sure what there is to ask him about. His record speaks for itself. I do believe he planned to address the line with he struck the Jay Cutler deal, which sent two first-round picks to the Broncos. Over the same period, he has drafted 15 defensive linemen, while also trading for Adewale Ogunleye and the late Gaines Adams. None of the those players are currently starters.

3. Q: Through the first 7 games, do you think Julius Peppers has made the impact that warrants the money he was paid? Would you say he has underachieved to this point? I do not recall his name being called much the past 2 games. --- Allen Leppellere

A: I don't know if anybody warrants the money he's being paid, but I do think Peppers is making a big impact, even if it may not showing up on the stat sheet. He dominated Redskins rookie Trent Williams early in Sunday's game. With the exception of the Seattle game, when he disappeared, he has made his presence felt in every game. Here's what Mike Shanahan said about him: "Julius Peppers did an outstanding job. I'm not sure of his stats, but he is definitely a difference maker. I tip my hat to him the way he played."

4. Q; How in God's name is Brad Maynard still punting for this team? With such terrible run game and pass blocking comes a lot of punts and the guy just can't punt us out of trouble. Is there a possibility for change or like many other Jerry Angelo moves will we hang on to a player too long? PS- I know they signed a punter to the practice squad, but something needs to be done. --- Fulphil

A: Maynard is having a tough season, no question. His current average of 38.4 yards per punt ranks among the worst in the league. Maynard does rank among the league leaders with 15 punts inside the 20, however. The biggest reason why Maynard is getting some slack is because he has been such a steady, heady veteran. He also holds for field goals and extra points, which can't be overlooked. As you know, punter Richmond McGee was signed to the practice squad this week, which tells you that management is losing patience, although I still expect Maynard to snap out of his funk and keep his job.

5. Q: Do you see Jerry Angelo firing Lovie Smith and promoting Dave Toub or one of the former head coaches to interim head coach before the season is over? I just can't seem to come to the conclusion that Lovie's blunders are not a fireable offense. --- Mike

A: I don't see it. It's just not how the Bears operate. It would take a scandal or a player mutiny or some other epic event for them to ponder a coaching change during the season.

6. Q: I watched "The Blind Side" the other night and noted the description of the desired left tackle (at least according to the movie): wide butt, thick in the thighs, long arms, big hands, and quick feet. I know J'Marcus Webb is tall and good size. Does he have the tools to be a legitimate left tackle? --- Kevin K

A: I think so. More importantly, Tom Thayer thinks so. The Bears' radio analyst believes the sky is the limit for Webb not only because of his size --- 6-foot-7, 328 pounds--- but his quicker-than-you-would-expect feet (size-22s). He also has extremely long arms, which is what you want in a left tackle.

7. Q: If the Bears continue to play poorly and end up with a 6-10 or 7-9 record on the season, what changes do you expect a Halas Hall? --- Darryl

A: I sometimes think they are looking for any excuse to keep Jerry and Lovie because they are known and trying to hire another general manager and coach and could be a real headache for President Ted Phillips, who isn't a football guy. Then again, maybe Phillips won't be the one making that decision this time. A possible work stoppage next season could also dramatically impact any decision. I'm not trying to duck your question here, and changes could be coming, but they won't come until after the season.

8. Q: On the sneak attempt from Jay Cutler in the last game it was obvious watching on television what the play was going to be. Was it that obvious to everyone, especially Albert Haynesworth? Why do we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot all the time with this type of obvious play? Where is our creativity that you see with other teams? --- Dennis Da Bears Fan

A: Actually, Haynesworth did know what was coming. Here's what he said after the game: "Right before the play, Jay [Cutler] and [center Olin] Kreutz and [left guard Chris] Williams were talking, so I figured they were probably going to try and come to my side," Haynesworth said. As for your second and third questions, I don't know what to say. I really thought Mike Martz would be the solution to these types of situations. He has always had a knack for getting somebody open for an easy score. So far with the Bears, however, it has only gotten worse.

9. Q: Can you please explain to me again why they aren't playing Devin Aromashodu? To me that is one of my biggest disappointments this year. Do you think he will play more the 2nd half of the season? I thought we finally got a tall receiver to go up and get the ball. I like Johnny Knox's speed but he looks soft when fighting for position. Also, it seemed like Cutler was lobbying for him to play more last year and the beginning of this year. Has he lost confidence in him? --- Tim Miller

A: I thought Aromashodu was going to have a big year because of his size, talent and the chemistry he had with Cutler. What you know is what I know. He took some big hits against the Lions. He also dropped some balls and the coaching staff felt like he was reluctant while running routes over the middle. He has been a nonfactor ever since. Another reason why Earl Bennett has reclaimed his spot after missing most of the preseason is he is a terrific blocker, which we've seen several times this season. The coaching staff hasn't been enamored with Aromashodu's blocking, either, but it seems to me that they should find a role for him somewhere because his size and skills makes him unique among Bears receivers.

10. Q: With all of the injuries over the years to both the opponents and Bear players alike (Mike Brown starts a long list) with all the slips and falls seen every week, broken plays --- when for God's sake are the Bears going to put in field turf? Do they feel they have a better chance to win on spray painted dirt? --- Peter Iovinelli

A: Phillips has said that the main issue in his mind is safety, and he wants to see results of a study about injuries on field turf vs. natural grass. Also, keep in mind, that Soldier Field isn't exclusively a Bears venue. It hosts other events, such as soccer, and some of those events require a natural surface or something close to it. If the Bears do decide to replace the natural grass, it will likely be with some sort of grass/artificial mixture similar to what the Packers have done at Lambeau Field. This is starting to make too much sense not to be seriously considered. Expect a change in coming years.

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I wrote a story about this a while back. Angelo has drafted 11 offensive linemen since joining the Bears and only two remain on the roster, and we still don't know if Chris Williams or J'Marcus Webb can play. I'm not sure what there is to ask him about.

Here's a question:

"Mr. Angelo, do you think the Bears inability to consistently draft and develop quality professional football players calls into question your ability as an NFL general manager?"

Here's another:

"Mr. Angelo, many fans and football analysts thought your decision to extend Lovie Smith after the Superbowl wasn't warranted at the time, given many of the decisions he had made regarding player personnel and game strategy and it appears that given the poor performance of the Bears in the last four years those critics were correct. Does that call into question your judgment and ability to correctly identify competent NFL head coaches?"

Here's one more:

"Mr. Angelo, if the Bears fail to make the playoffs once again this year, will you, for the good of the team, fire Lovie Smith and resign as general manager to allow the Bears organization to have the chance to hire a new head coach and general manager?"

Neil, I understand you had to trim my question for the sake of space so I'm reposting it just so people can see that I wasn't just throwing out another "FIRE SMITH NOW!!" rant without a specific reason.

And JohnF, that was hilarious. Sean and Neil, any chance you can get this guy a position at the Sun-Times?

By Mike on October 28, 2010 1:21 PM
Neil, I am still absolutely bewildered by the challenge/non-challenge fiasco from Sunday's game against the Redskins.

If I may begin with the first challenge, where was the necessity in that? It was first and goal, from the one yard line, and the Bears were winning by four points. Again, first and goal, with the lead. Would any other coach in the NFL throw the flag there?

Then, Cutler gets the ball in the endzone on a sneak, but it is ruled a fumble. I clearly saw the replay on TV and expected an easy challenge only to explode in disbelief when McNabb snapped the ball on the subsequent play.

From there the Bears missed out on an eleven point lead and the offense imploded with a plethora of turnovers. The very same offense Lovie believed was "in control."

Anyway, do you see Jerry Angelo firing Smith and promoting Dave Toub to interim head coach, if not another former head coach that's on the team, before the season is over? I just can't seem to come to the conclusion that Lovie's blunders are not a fireable offense.

Even Mike Pereira, former VP of officiating, is dumbfounded by the aforementioned sequence of events and he proceeds to call Smith out on this.

I know getting rid of this long term headache who should have been gone by the end of last year at the latest may seem unlikely, but the Bears have made shocking moves in the past such as the acquisition of Cutler.

Hey Neil, doesn't the park district own solider field? I thought they only way the bears get new turf was if the payed all the cost.

"As for your second and third questions, I don't know what to say. I really thought Mike Martz would be the solution to these types of situations. He has always had a knack for getting somebody open for an easy score. So far with the Bears, however, it has only gotten worse."

When Martz calls passing plays and they don't work he is attacked for trying to be to fancy. When Mike Martz calls running plays and they don't work he is attacked for being too obvious.

This offense was terrible last year and this year, with almost the exact same players, the offense is terrible again. Rather than heaping blame on Martz why don't we admit that no one could succeed with these players (specifically, this offensive line and these receivers)?

I know screaming at coaches is a Chicago media tradition, but what exactly is it you want Martz to do when none of his receivers will finish their routes and none of his lineman can so much as find their assignment?


Good post, you are right about why would anyone challenge the first one and then compound it by not challenging the second situtation when everyone in America including the announcers saw the Cutler touchdown holding the ball and breaking the plane of the end zone.It wasn't that the Redskins ran a play right away, it had to be two minutes later before that play ran to eliminate the ability to challenge the play.

Something has to be done about Lovie this year regardless, even if the Bears make the playoffs. Angelo, I am on the fence about him, he and Phillips may have both earned a trip out of town.

Now I am sure this will be a popular suggestion.

How about moving Marinelli up as interim coach with Toub moving up to take on the defensive coordinator's position.

I believe that Marinelli got a bum rap in Detroit because he inherited a totally inept team from the GM (forgot his name, tip of my tongue) that they finally booted out the door. Lets face it Marinelli had no power at that time in making the player decisions in the draft.

Matt Millen

Matt Millen, if I'm not mistaken. 2 years later, the Lions are still in the basement.

"Phillips isn't a football guy"

Nuff said.


You're on the fence with Angelo? Have you been living in a cave for the past decade? He should have been gone 4 years ago. And the GM in Detroit was Matt Millen who was, by far, a better GM than Angelo. You can def. argue that taking a WR 3 years in a row was not a bright idea, but where he drafted his players was right in line where all the "experts" said they should have been drafted all along. The question about Millen comes with the coaches he brought in to "coach" up the talent. Roy Williams was pretty dominant his first couple of seasons and Mike Williams has turned his career around.

As for Angelo, he is head and shoulders above any other GM with regard to incompetence. He has jumped into the FA pool heavily twice while being GM. Both times were due to his lack of ability to draft and discover college talent. Through 2009 he has drafted over 70 players and by my estimation his failure rate is over 70%. I even included guys playing for other teams as successes like Gage, Columbo, Berrian, etc. How often do you see Polian or Belichick make huge splashes into free agency? Not often because they're so successful drafting. The whole reason there is a Peppers, or Taylor is because of the failures of Anderson, Gilbert, Brown, {although I did list him as a success for Angelo} Wolfe, and Bell. And Angelo's failure rate in the first 2 rounds is even worse. More of these guys have panned out, but the number who have gone on to All-Pro status is dismal. On top of that, there needs to be some sort of "trade value" chart like there is a draft value chart because Jerry has no clue as to what the market is worth and what it's not. Take Gaines Adams for example. And although I had no problem with the Cutler trade, it sort of makes you wonder what a Polian or Belichick would have given up for him. It might have been a first and a 2nd the following year. Who knows.

Marinelli is not head coach material. His Detroit team was bad, but it wasn't 0-16 bad. Some guys have "it" to be head coaches and some are better left as positional coaches. perfect example of this is Art Shell and Russ Grimm. If I wanted 2 guys who could turn an OL around it would be those 2, but neither of them needs to be the HC. On the other hand, guys like Belichick, Tomlin, Payton, & Ryan have "it". When they talk about their teams, what it takes to be successful, and their philosophy of winning, you can tell they have "it."

How about riding out this season with these clowns and then having a major house cleaning. You don't want another Cubs situation. The worst thing that could happen is for a Marinelli to take over, the Bears win 3 out of their 4 last games, the players rally around those 2 and they become the permanent coaching staff. While, Jerry Jones, who probably won't be able to pry Jeff Fisher from the Titans, "settles" for Cowher. Does Quade do it for you if you're a Cubs fan? They screwed up in the past letting Girardi out of the organization, and it appears they're doing the same with Sandberg. Once again, you would have never thought as a player he would have had the "it" factor to be a successful manager, but, by all accounts, he just might have it. From a drafting perspective, look at what "Wanny" did back in 97 that screwed the Bears for years. Well, it began the previous year when he made a public push for Rick Mirer and he was worse than horrible. He was plain sad. He couldn't even win the starting job that year. Then he did get the job midway through the year, lost it again and the Bear's won 3 out of their last 5 games to go from the 1st pick in the 98 draft to the 5th. Manning #1 {although, I still contend that the Bears would have taken Leaf.} and Enis #5. End of story. Don't lose on purpose, but "dance with the girl you brought to the dance". Let Lovie, Angelo, and company hang themselves.

Gear Head:

I knew it was Millen, I just couldn't pull it out of the air as I was running and trying to blog, sometimes not a good recipe.

Angelo has problems, I am one of the first to admit that and of course his drafting record is suspect except from the 3rd round down where he has had some good choices.

Lets face it Gear Head, first of all this is the Bears not the Cowboys and the Bears don't have the backbone to spend the money needed to let both Lovie and Angelo go at the same time. Lets remember the McCheep family owns the Bears and how about Phillips to, why not get a real president with football knowledge. If I recall doesn't Angelo have two more years left on his contract? Do you really think that the Bears are going to eat a two year contract, has that ever happened in their history? Also, lets give Angelo credit where credit is due and that is in acquiring Cutler, not that QB position has ever been a problem for the Bears? Angelo also aggressively improved the Bears defense by getting Peppers which had to happen and has helped the defense. The moves that were needed to be made were made with the exception of course the O line where they need help but they also needed help at RB (Taylor) and Tightend blocking. Both were addressed in Free Agency by Angelo.

Angelo has even had some luck with late round picks that are starting or have started in the NFL. Take a look at the roster. Every team does not have all 1st round draft picks starting for the team, in fact many first rounders fail in any system. For Jerry to get Cutler guess what it was evident he would have to give up two years of the draft. Gear Head, your Gears are not working if you think that Millen has done a better job as GM than Angelo, take a few more puffs of the good stuff you are smoking. Millen single handedly destroyed the Lions for years, don't they have the worst record in the NFL over some 15 years.

What I was trying to say was that it is time to get Lovie out of the system, on an interim basis move Toub and Marinelli up, what I did not say was give them both the job and a contract for it. Let the season play out and after the season start pursuing a new coach of course consider Marinelli but if Cowher were to be available and interested it would pretty much be a no brainer. If Cowher was not, then you have the ability to evaluate Marinelli and what he did for 1/2 the season and take it from there.

Gear Head Boy, by the way being a Cave man does have some nice benefits.


I believe I correctly pointed out WITH FACTS how Millen was better. Millen doesn't go back 15 years. And if you read my posts over the last couple of years here with regard to Angelo, I have stated time and time again, that I don't expect the GM of the Bears to be perfect. What I do expect is that over a 10 year period the GM have at least 1 or 2 years where he hits on almost everything. Go back and look at great teams over certain eras. The guys making the personel decisions had those couple of magical years where the core basis of the team was built.

Bears of the 80's: Look at 83-85 for Jerry V.
49er's of the 80's: See 84-86 for Walsh
Steelers of the 70's: I think it was 74 & 75 where they hit on almost everything.

Don't react to something based of of talking points. Go back and look at his drafting record. It's honestly much better than Angelo's. Take 2001. Jeff Backus, Raiola, and Sean Rodgers in the first 3 picks. {When has JA had 3 picks like that?} And some of the building blocks to the current Lions is due to Millen. As i said earlier, the 3 years of WR's...not the brightest move in the world, but you can't argue with where they were taken. For JA, you can't say the same. Mark Bradley, G. Wolfe, M. Okwo, D. Bazuin, Tank Johnson, and C. Williams are just a few off the top of my head that were taken well before they should have been. And in some cases, 2-3 rounds before they were projected to go.

I don't hardly ever agree with the Ego maniac, Jerry Jones, but as he stated just today, you can't evaluate a HC in 1/2 a season. He wouldn't have the ability to install his philosophy on either offense or defense and he would be working with Lovie's players. There would be so many disadvantages. And there would be the built in excuse for the McCaskey's to leave the interim coach in for a couple of years. It is best to let these guys hang themselves and clean house. According to NFL network {reported just last week} Cowher is making it known that the job he covets is the Chicago job if it comes available. Let's just hope that it does.

One last thing. I don't smoke anything.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on October 29, 2010 7:47 AM.

Bears not allowed in nightclub on "rookie night" was the previous entry in this blog.

Haynesworth fined for hit on Webb is the next entry in this blog.

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