By Laurence Holmes-
(CBS) Well, the regular season is here. Let’s take a look at what’s on your mind in this week’s mailbag as the Bears get ready for Week 1 vs. Atlanta:
Laurence, Do you think that, with all that’s gone on this preseason–between the dumping of Kreutz, the seeming inability to get a Forte deal done, the Chester Taylor fiasco, and now the Lance Briggs situation–that perhaps these are signs of a sort of “credibility gap” between the front office and the players? The Bears haven’t had the smoothest running house in a while (Ravens trade issues, etc.) and it almost seems that these kinds of issues could make it even harder for the Bears to negotiate with players in the future. Thanks and keep up the good work — best Bears coverage in Chicago. — Chris, Chicago
Chris, for as short of a preseason as it was, it has been bizarre. Some of it looks as bad to us because we’re in the Bears bubble. Some of it points to legitimate problems of communication and checks &andbalances. When free-agency began, there were plenty of players and players representatives that told me that they were unhappy with the way the Bears were handling things. Words like: “dragging their feet” or “pussy-footing” kept getting thrown around.
It doesn’t look good, but overall, I don’t think it’s going to keep the Bears from getting players that they want. It’s still a business and the business is cash and football. There were mistakes made in the past here, but that didn’t stop Julius Peppers from signing a big money deal as a free-agent or Jay Cutler signing an extension. Players really like playing for Lovie Smith and that’s a message that has gotten around the league. They like that he doesn’t kill his players in camp, takes their input and treats them like grown-ups. That’s valuable and shouldn’t be ignored. Some of the perceived problems shouldn’t be ignored either, but if you’re a player, you’re looking for a good pay-day and a place where you have a chance to win.
Hi Laurence, This is my first football season in nearly a decade where I am not in any fantasy leagues. I can easily get hyped for the Bears each week; what other teams excite you enough to go out of your way to watch? — Joe, Blue Island
Joe, there are a ton of stories around the NFL to watch. I think most people are looking at the additions that the Eagles made and wonder if they can live up to expectations. The maturation of Sam Bradford (St. Louis) and Josh Freeman (Tampa) intrigues me, but if you’re looking for interesting storylines, one need not look any further than the NFC North.
The Packers won it all last year after being decimated with injuries. Most of those players are back and healthy. Jermichael Finley could have a huge year for Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is elite. He’s so fun to watch. With another year in Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme, look for their defense to get after the quarterback. Charles Woodson may be my favorite player in the NFL.
Everyone seems to think the Lions are poised for a big jump… I’m not from Missouri, but you gotta show me. They still have issues in their secondary and not having Nick Fairley right away will hurt them. Can Matthew Stafford stay on the field long enough to be relevant and will Ndamukong Suh have more personal foul yards thank sack loss yards?
As for the Vikings, I’d like for Donovan McNabb to prove everyone wrong. With Favre there last year, I thought they went away from Adrian Peterson, which is a BIG mistake. He should get more touches, but only if McNabb can make enough plays through the air to keep the defense honest.
Hey Laurence, Really enjoy all your work on the score and beyond. Do you know, or what is your feeling about whether the Bears will continue to train in Bourbonnais? Thanks. — Brian, Bradley, Ill.
Brian, I know how important the Bears being in Bourbonnais is to the economy in the Kankakee River Valley Region. Usually the area grosses about $2 million each year. That means jobs and fundraising opportunities for charities down there. The Bears will be there for a couple more years, but there’s a growing trend in the NFL of teams running camp out of their own facility. This year with the lockout, plenty of teams: Jets, Giants, Ravens, Rams, etc were able to used the shorten preseason as shield to bring camps home. I expect in the next decade we’ll see most of the league go in this direction. There’s also competition from Lewis University that has tried to get the Bears on their campus. From what I’m told, both the Bears and Olivet Nazarene University are happy with the arrangement, for now. In the short term, I expect that the Bears will continue to be at their “summer home”. In the long term, I see them at some point going back to Halas Hall.
Hey Laurence, We’ve been listening and reading about the so-called experts concerns with the Bears… Which is the most over-blown? — Brandon, Chicago
Well, you didn’t specify which concerns you’ve been hearing about. So I’ll answer you like this. The Bears have struggled with special teams play in preseason games. There was the weird kickoff incident in the first game, bad coverage throughout and a missed field goal that some think had to do with Adam Podlesh being the new holder. There aren’t many things that I’m sure about, but when it comes to the Bears and special teams, you can bet they’ll find a way to make an impact. Dave Toub has a track-record of getting the most out of his players and finding new stars. The addition of Sam Hurd as one of the “gunners” on punts (along with Corey Graham) is significant. I have faith that the Bears made the right decision in getting Podlesh in to punt. The return game is the biggest question. For punt returns, I expect Devin Hester to have the same effect as he always has, but with the new rule, moving up where teams kickoff from, how many good returns will the Bears get? I expect that they’ll take some risks and run out some balls that 7 or 8 yards deep because they believe in their returners.
Hey Laurence, Anthony Adams: 2 touchdowns, 5 sacks and a blocked kick, or am I too low on him? — Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus
Haha. I enjoy the fact that through my show, Kevin (@Kevin_Goldstein) and Adams (@spiceadams) have become Twitter buds. I’m not sure how much football you’re going to watch, Kevin, but you’ll enjoy watching Adams work. He’s an assignment-sound reliable nose-tackle. He does the dirty work of taking on double-teams so that other guys get one-on-one matchups. He’s a grunt, a garbage man (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). Your numbers may be a bit high for him and I know for guys with a sabermetrics background this will be hard to read, but Adams’ contribution to the Bears defense is hard to quantify with the current metrics. He’s just a good football player.
Thanks for a fun week of mail. Check out the show tonight starting at 6 p.m. Please follow me on Twitter (@lholmes670). I’ll keep you updated on the latest news coming out of Halas Hall and on gameday.