Mailbag Vol. III -- answers

The referee has thrown the flag and Ive been whistled for a five-yard penaltydelay of game. More like delay of Q&A. So without putting this task off any further, well jump into the questions and comments that were selected. Keep them coming.

Its been since before the Green Bay game that we came with answers, so here we go:

Q: They called a defensive holding penalty on Israel Idonije that turned a Green Bay third down deep in its own territory, into a 1st & 10. As usual, no replay, no explanation. They went to a commercial and we fans had no idea what happened. A very big play, could you shed some light on what went on?

Tim J., Garden Homes, Ill.

Tim: I tracked down the guilty party last Friday and asked him specifically about this play. That shows you how long Ive had the intention of getting to these questions.

“It was a double team and the guard was trying to come off, Idonije said. “I just had him right like this [as he got a hold of my sweatshirt], he tried to come off and I just snagged him. I watched it on film and it was tough. It was literally on and then off. I guess he saw me on.

Q: After Adam Archuleta was benched during the second half of the Minnesota game are you finally convinced the Chris Harris trade was a bad idea now? Archuleta looks like the same guy he was in Washington.

Marty B., North Side

Marty: Did you miss the memo last time? I said no more Chris Harris questions. Yes, Archuleta played poorly on Sunday, especially in running the wrong way as Troy Williamson blew by him on the 60-yard touchdown pass. Im not so sure Harris would come through six games unscathed in pass coverage however. That wasnt his forte and were not talking about Brian Dawkins here or an ex-Archuleta teammate in Sean Taylor.

But I think Ive come to grips with the Harris fascination here. Chicagoans love their hard-hitting safeties. If theyre a nice guy, like Harris, theyre loved more than that. It has to go back to the days when the team wasnt very good and guys like Doug Plank would say if we cant beat you, were going to beat you up. Remember when Tony Parrish was allowed to leave in free agency following the 2001 season for San Francisco? Oh boy, there was quite an uproar, and Parrish was a fine player.

He went to the 49ers and got even better, making it to the Pro Bowl one season. He had 16 interceptions in his first two seasons there. To hear it in these parts, though, he was a Hall of Famer, not a good player on a decent defense. Parrish brought the wood. Harris was a big hitter, too. But to keep Harris, the Bears would have had to retain six safeties on the roster. Then they would not have been able to keep six wide receivers.

Q: Did anyone ask Lovie Smith why they kicked to Adrian Peterson after the Bears tied the score at 31? Why not give the Vikings some of their own medicine by squbbing or short kicking it? It was obvious that the Bears couldnt get close to Peterson once he kicked it into gear. If Robbie Gould hadnt distracted Peterson for a split second he would have run the kick back all the way.

Joe T. Twin Cities, Minn.

Joe: Yes, Smith was asked about the kickoff and said in hindsight he would have instructed special teams coordinator Dave Toub to try something different. The Bears didnt have problems with Peterson on his three previous runbacks, one of those deals where special teams was able to stop him, just not the defense. No doubt, it was an error, but I think many other areas were more mismanaged in that game. How else do you account for Petersons success running the ball?

Q: Will another three turnover game demand an examination of Brian Grieses play?

Matt M., Parts Unknown

Matt: Do you really think it takes a three turnover game here for the quarterbacks play to go under the microscope? Come on. If Vikings rookie nickel back Marcus McCauley had not dropped a ball in his hands late in the fourth quarter prior to Muhsin Muhammads touchdown catch, Griese likely would have ended up with one touchdown pass and four turnovers. As it was, he hit Muhammad and then hooked up with Devin Hester to finish with three touchdown passes, two picks and the one fumble on a poor QB sneak call.

Sure, that would have brought about examination of Grieses play, and I know hes had some of the same turnovers that led to Rex Grossmans demise. But Lovie Smith is not going to start spinning the QB carousel based on a bad game or two. Hes committed to Griese for the foreseeable future. Both quarterbacks have started three games now. Grossman had one TD and six picks. Griese has seven TDs and six picks.

Q: My friends and I cant believe Devin Hester is not used on every offensive down. Muhsin Muhammad is well past his prime and cant get open. We also need to utilize the speed of Mark Bradley and have him play the slot with Hester and Berrian at wide-outs. We also would like to see Garrett Wolfe get a chance now that Cedric Benson has failed so often. With these changes and Greg Olsen at tight end we would then have one of the fastest offenses in the NFL. We just cant believe the personnel decisions the Bears continue to make or not make. Just because money has been spent on Benson does not make it automatic that we use him as often as we do. We think Jerry Angelo and these coaches are stubborn to a fault. We made good decisions on drafting Bradley, Berrian, Olsen, Wolfe, etc. We made a bad decision on drafting Benson. But all of this speed is on the bench while we watch Muhammad and Benson struggle. If we want someone with great hands we have Mike Hass who should get a shot someday as well. Do you have any thoughts?

Rick W., representing a dozen Bear fans from Sacramento, Calif.

Rick: I might have some thoughts, but I dont know if I possess quite as many as you and your buddies in Northern California. Hester is dynamic and Ron Turner is right when he says he continues to get more work in each game. Remember, the kid wasnt given chores on kickoff returns last season until the second half of the season. The Bears found success bringing Hester along slowly, and when you switch the guy from defense to offense, you need to be patient. He cant play every down, or youll see him crumpled in a heap from an injury. Remember when he got a neck stinger blocking on a run play in preseason? Theyve pledged Hester will be fed even more this week. I think its smart to bring him along slowly.

As far as Bradley, what leads you to believe he was a good decision? Hes shown very little the last two seasons to justify his selection in the second round, and his skill set as a long strider really dont make him ideal as a slot receiver.

More Garrett Wolfe? Again, why? The only time he showed up in the preseason was in the second half of a preseason game vs. Cleveland against a bunch of guys now out of football. What they need to do with Wolfe is stop running him into the middle of the line. Thats where Benson should go. Im not sure what role Wolfe should really have at this point, but I wouldnt argue with a little more Peterson.

Q: From your article: “First-year starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson came in as a turnover machine with a cranky groin muscle that was going to turn the elusive Jackson into a pocket passer. Instead of making Jackson beat them, though, the Bears got steamrolled by rookie Adrian Peterson, who set a franchise record by rumbling for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings’ 34-31 victory.

I am from Minnesota and I read your article yesterday and would like to clarify something about Tarvaris Jackson:

— If you call a QB a turnover machine after ONE bad game, you do not know football.

— Who told you that T. Jack was not a pocket passer to start with? He will not run like Michael Vick, never has, never will. What he has is the ability to buy time moving within or out of the pocket or to get a first down taking off, but his forte is passing, not running as you implied. Understand that T. Jack could have beat you. See dropped passes by Robert Ferguson in the end zone, slant by Sidney Rice dropped looking at an open field, Troy Williamson drop and others.

Aldo R., Minnesota

Aldo: I feel that having witnessed Bears quarterback play for seven seasons now, I am well qualified to distinguish what a turnover machine looks like. Jacksons body of work in the NFL, while small, has been tainted by turnovers with four career touchdown passes vs. nine interceptions. Add in four fumbles, only one of which was lost, and I think that earns the designation.

That being said, hes got a nice arm and was poised in a noisy road venue. Im not sure how he will develop and how easy it will be to judge his progress with his current cast of receivers. Dont forget, Bobby Wade had a bad drop, too. But, he wouldnt have beaten me, he would have beaten the Bears.

Q: What is the fascination with Bernard Berrian switching to Drew Rosenhaus? No one likes Rosenhaus, but who cares who negotiates his next contract? Whats the big deal?

Javier E., Ballwin, Mo.

Javier: That Rosenhaus will get 3 percent (or likely a smaller negotiated fee) for crafting Berrians next contract is not big news in itself. But that the Miami-based agent now has seven players in the Bears locker room, three of which are seeking big deals soon, constitutes news in my book. Linebacker Lance Briggs is angling fir a huge payday and is playing like hell get it. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris is signed through 2008, and will command a blockbuster deal, one youd better believe the Bears will start working on in the offseason if he remains healthy. And then theres Berrian, the teams best young wide receiver, who is also headed to free agency. Three young players, three good players, one agent.

Also, consider that the Bears quarterback situation come the spring is a complete unknown. If they make a move, theyre going to want Berrian around to work with an new quarterback, not spending his time elsewhere while the team is involved in the offseason program as Briggs and running back Thomas Jones, another Rosenhaus client, did recently.

Thanks for the questions. More fun next time.

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