Mailbag Vol. V -- answers

After a bye weekend for everyone, we jump back into the blog. Send your questions and well have another round out in no time.

Q: Brian Griese has thrown more picks than TDs; fumbled three snaps in five games called out Mark Bradley for not picking up his signal against Detroit that led to, according to Griese, the free safety knowing where the ball was going, notwithstanding that his arm could not get it there; underthrew a fly to Devin Hester, who had two steps on the corner at Philly; took credit for calling the plays in the Philly game; blamed his coach for not opening up the playbook, even though he typically dumps the ball off before the receivers have broken on their routes; is a Green Bay collapse and Ed Hochuli call away from being 0-5; has said that he has never seen a team lacking leadership (shot at the captains, coaches, Rex Grossman?); and slid instead of diving for the first down against Detroit, when all needed was one more yard to the get the first down and keeping the defense on the sideline?

Not sure when you and the other media members will wake up to these facts, but this is why Mike Shanahan ran him out of Denver. It’s time for you to stop trying to justify the change to Griese and report on his unique way of disrupting team chemistry and otherwise playing like a poor man’s Shane Matthews.

Timothy C., Chicago

Timothy: Can you tell us how you really feel about Griese? I understand hes played very poorly at times, theres no other way to describe how the Detroit Lions intercept you seven times inside their own 40-yard line in two games. Take away the bulk of those and its probably two wins for the Bears and theyre not currently delirious in Motown with a 4-4 club.

But where would you have the Bears and Lovie Smith turn? Most of the people clamoring for Griese to go are forgetting how bad Rex Grossman was in his three starts. One touchdown. Six picks. Nine sacks. The deeper we go into the season the more apparent it is that Jerry Angelo will once again be on a quarterback of the future hunt. Its a tired storyline in this town.

Q: You really should have mentioned Israel Idonije in your midseason review of special teams. Kickoff team, kickoff return team (he IS the wedge now), blocked field goals, punt return team, filling in quite nicely at defensive tackle and end … in fact Id have him rotating in more and keep Mark Andersen fresh.

Anyway, Idonije is having a hell of year and playing his butt off. He has done much more than anyone else you mentioned in your Special Teams A- grading.

Jim G., Schaumburg

Jim: I did mention Idonije as well as linebacker Rod Wilson, who has quietly developed into the kind of consistent cover man the team lost when safeties Todd Johnson and Cameron Worrell departed in free agency. Brendon Ayanbadejo, the Bears representative on the NFC Pro Bowl ballot, is deserving of another trip to Honolulu. Its too bad Idonije cant get a spot on the fan ballot as well. I wouldnt be surprised if he gets some support from coaches and players when their turn comes in the selection process.

Q: Regarding Rex Grossman’s situation and/or standing with Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith and the coaching staff, what are the chances that he is brought back under a contract arrangement similar to what the Ravens did with Kyle Boller at the end of last season? In other words, a shorter deal for backup money? In that scenario, if he then wins the job in next year’s camp and performs well, he’s back in line for a starter’s deal for bigger money and a longer contract term. If a lot of that depends on whether he gets back in the lineup this season, given Brian Griese’s less than stellar play, how close are we to see that happening?

Sam A., Irving, Texas

Sam: Well, with Tony Romo staying in your backyard for the foreseeable future, you can scratch him off the list of possible Bear quarterbacks in 2008. Oh wait, that never would have happened. To think the Bears let him get out of their backyard at Eastern Illinois.

Its not out of the realm of possibilities Grossman will get another shot before this season is over, but the way things have gone its my opinion that both parties would be better off with a fresh start. Grossman was put through the ringer here and you get the feeling anything he ever does will never be enough to satisfy some. Grossman could benefit from a change of scenery, perhaps some different coaching and the opportunity to start anew. I think Angelo needs to focus on solving the starter issue before he worries about the backup. While nothing outstanding to this point, hes already got Griese under contract longterm and Kyle Orton is signed on for one more season.

Q: Why draft defensive end Dan Bazuin in the second round? Why not a free safety or strong safety or cornerback and let Charles Tillman go to FS free safety. The Bears have four good defensive ends.

Alex, Parts Unknown

Alex: Thats a question that was tossed about in April when it happened. The Bears were exploring ways to trade Alex Brown, who wanted out, and thought Bazuin could contribute immediately in the rotation. That changed when he injured his knee the following weekend in the rookie minicamp. Jerry Angelo has spoken in terms of making certain a strength remains a strength, in other words fortifying where he was solid to make sure he remained that way. Im not saying I agree with the approach, Im just sharing with you one explanation given. Then, the Bears had a very high grade on Bazuin and weve still yet to see what he can do with him on the injured reserve.

As far as Charles Tillman to free safety, I hear that a lot and I wonder why? Why is everyone so anxious to move the teams best cornerback to a position that is lower on everyones board in terms of significance? Tillman is a very fine left cornerback. No one is going to confuse him with Champ Bailey, but when you look around the league today you can do a lot worse than Tillman. I would put him in the second tier of cornerbacks out there. I dont think his traits would translate as well as a safety, either. Could he play the position sure? But if you moved Tillman to safety there would be a whole new line of questioning that would be formed about what the team is going to do at corner.

Q: With the dropped passes against the Lions, how come a sure-handed receiver like Mike Hass isn’t in the game? There should be zero tolerance for critical drops. From what I have read and seen, Hass at least can hold on to the ball. Brian Griese has stated that he is very comfortable throwing to Hass, if this is so, how come he isn’t in the game?

David L., Parts Unknown

David: How about this — why is Hass on the roster if he isnt going to get a shot? Hass, a former Biletnikoff Award winner from Oregon State, has dressed for only the Philadelphia game and played only special teams in it. The short answer is that as a bottom tier receiver hed have to be a terrific special teams player to dress.

The long answer involves the teams fascination with Mark Bradley, who continues to get countless opportunities and has done little with them. He has two catches through eight games. The Angelo regime is draft pick driven. Hass was a free-agent pickup who spent last season on the practice squad. Im not sure who you take out if not Bradley to give Hass a chance. I think the team needs to get Bernard Berrian the ball more, in fact I know it, Muhsin Muhammad needs to be used in the slot more, and Devin Hester needs to be brought along. Where do you fit Hass in?

Q: Brian Griese and Rex Grossman have gotten their chances and their play has been broken down every possible way. When will we get to see Kyle Orton, or what will it take to see Orton play? Im not saying hes the answer, but how will Jerry Angelo, Ron Turner, Lovie Smith or the ball boys know if the man can do the job if we only see him in mop-up time against stiffs from Somewhere State University in mid-August? Enlighten me.

Steve F., Downers Grove

Steve: Thats a tall order youre requesting in terms of enlightenment. Heres the thing that strikes me about the Bears current situation: Mired at 3-5 theyre in a real rough spot if they cant get this thing turned around soon. When teams are struggling through the final quarter of a season, thats when you get a look at younger players who dont have a lot of experience and might or might not factor in to your future.

Dick Jauron waited until the Bears were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in 2003 before turning to Grossman in his rookie season. If it came to the point where this team has nothing but pride on the line, youd think Orton would be given a shot. If the Bears dont turn to Orton in a situation like that, I think it would send a pretty clear message about how the brain trust feels about him.

Now, if a roll or even a mini-roll starts Sunday at October, well, youve got some waiting to do to see Orton under center next August.

Thanks for the questions. More fun next time.

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