By Laurence Holmes-
CHICAGO (CBS) With it looking like there is going to be football, we decided it would be a good time to start a Bears mailbag. So once a week through January, I’ll take a look at your questions and try as hard as I can to give you a well-informed answer.
This offseason I’ve heard an enormous amount of smack coming from every direction. Whether it was the whole receiving corps being dissed by the apparent consensus that Jay Cutler has nobody to throw to, or the talk that the Bears have no serviceable O-linemen, or Dhani Jones’ willingness to publicly disrespect Urlacher, or Warren Sapp and a bunch of Packers saying on NFL network that they wouldn’t have let a QB tackle them on the way to the end zone, and let’s not forget the widespread conclusion that Jay Cutler is a wimp and a quitter. Is there any sense that there is a fire burning in any of these guys this year to shut some people up? – Eric, Delavan, IL
Well Eric, beyond tremendous talent, it takes a ton of desire and dedication to get to the NFL. I think the idea of “bulletin board” material can sometimes be overstated. That being said, having talked to some of the Bears wideouts during the off-season, they don’t like being thought of as a weak link. Devin Hester and Johnny Knox feel like they have a handle on where they can improve and have been working out pretty hard. Urlacher is like Michael Jordan in the way that he will use a perceived slight as extra motivation. With Cutler, I’m not sure. His ability to always act like nothing bothers him is both a blessing and a curse. I do know he’s a fiery competitor and not being able to finish the NFC Title game and rally the Bears to a win will be a hard thing for him to shake.
Since the Vikings signed Bernard Berrian away from the Bears in free agency a few years ago, wouldn’t it make total sense to sign Sydney Rice this year? – Greg, Effingham
Revenge is pretty cool Greg, but the Bears reasons for signing Rice would be because he’s a big target with incredible athleticism. He’s 6-4 and proved two years ago that he’s capable of making big plays. The concern with Rice is his injury history. He’s had surgery on a hip and had nagging foot injuries. Getting off the artificial surface could be beneficial for him, but keep in mind that Mike Martz prefers smaller wideouts for his system. With guys who have a lower center of gravity, it’s easier for them to cut.
Will people be able to let last year’s playoffs go (in relation to Cutler getting hurt in the playoffs) and give him a fresh start to the season? – Lee, North Aurora
I hope so, Lee. After the NFC title game, Cutler was unfairly judged by his peers around the league. That led to a perception that he was a “quitter”. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Bears fans got over the hurt of the loss, most seemed to come around to the idea that Cutler was injured and couldn’t play. Sadly, some of the national pundits who trashed Cutler wouldn’t relent. They kept the story alive because it was easier to make Cutler a villain instead of apologizing for a rush to judgement. Cutler still has a lot to prove, but after the beating he took last year, his toughness should never be questioned.
With this spring and summer of labor unrest, what can reasonably expected from Carimi in his first year in the league without the benefit of OTA’s and working with Mike Tice for an extended period of time? – Chris, Monticello, IL
It’s not a good thing, Chris. It’s time that Carimi can never get back. I talked with Carimi last week and he seems confident and convinced he can play either tackle position, but you would’ve loved for him to get some video time and field work with Tice. I am a bit concerned about Carimi’s transition from the Wisconsin offense to the Bears. He told me last week that the Badgers used a ton of seven-step drops. That’s good. The Bears use a lot of that too and it means he’s used to holding blocks a bit longer. He’s got great size and plays with a mean streak. The lost time means less time to perfect technique.
My concern is that Wisconsin was primarily a running team. They averaged about 22 passes a game in 2010. Including the sacks, the Bears averaged over 32 drop-backs a game last year. That’s a significant jump against better talent. If Carimi is on the left side, he’s going to see a steady diet of the best pass rushers in the league.
Listen: Gabe Carimi joins Laurence Holmes and Dan Bernstein on 670 The Score
Thanks for your questions. If you have a question send it to me: Laurence.Holmes@cbsradio.com. Make sure you give me a first name and the city where you’re from. Also, follow me on twitter: @lholmes670.