Bob over at FSB’s Bear Goggles was kind enough to exchange questions with me this week. My half of the exchange can be found here. For Bob’s half, I began by inquiring about the general state of the Chicago team:
TVA: It’s been a bad year for the Bears. Are you surprised by this, or did you sort of expect them to fall off after the Super Bowl loss?
Bob: The unexpected drop off took everyone by surprise, Chicago fans, NFL experts, even other teams. I think we are all still in shock of how this season played out. We had one of the best defenses in the league and added Adam Archuletta and Darwin Walker in the off season. We looked unstoppable. Our defense started out decent but Cedric Benson turned into a giant bust and the offensive line was playing with injuries remaining from the Super Bowl season that they were hiding. The result was an offense that was pathetic. Matched with the onslaught of injuries on defense this team looks terrible. But in week 1 I was looking for cheap hotels in Arizona for January.
TVA: How much would you like to see Donovan McNabb in a Bears uniform next year? And were you actually happy when Rex Grossman got injured?
Bob: Well that’s a two part question so I’ll take on McNabb first. I think there has been more support by the sports writers in Chicago for McNabb than by the fans. There is no doubt he is a quality quarterback, but quarterbacks can’t win games from the sidelines. We already went through 3 seasons of Grossman’s leg injuries and having to watch Craig Krenzel run our offense. I would love to get a quality quarterback, but McNabb’s history of injuries worries me and makes me think the money should be spent on other positions.
As for Grossman, the nation may think it was good but it was actually a blow to the gut for Chicago fans. The biggest weakness of Grossman is he thinks he has so much talent he doesn’t need to adequately prepare for games. If he put in more time watching game film and dissecting games he would be amazing. After getting benched Grossman became forgotten about on the bench for about a month and was out of the spotlight. After regaining his starting position after the Griese shoulder injury he looked a little different. He appeared as though he understood the different schemes the defenses were throwing at him. His time on the bench may have forced him to analyze the game and show him things he had previously missed. He didn’t put up big numbers in those 3 games but he was consistent. The remainder of the season was supposed to be his audition for next year and show he has turned the corner, now we just have to guess. The biggest fear in Chicago is letting Grossman go and seeing him turn into an MVP quarterback with another team.
TVA: Bobby Wade seemed to get booed a lot by Bears fans in the first game. Why do they hate him so much? And what do you make of the fact that both Wade and Justin Gage have become the #1 receiver on their new teams? Do the Bears just have no idea how to develop receivers?
Bob: On the contrary, it appears the Bears organization is to receivers what the Broncos are to running backs. Even the players they cut are quality. It doesn’t look like the best move this year based upon the overwhelming case of slippery fingers from the Bears receiving corps this year. However, there is no doubt both Wade and Gage have flourished on new teams. Both players were subject to a lot of criticism and I don’t think either of them were having any fun anymore. Gage was too deep in the depth chart to get enough time on the field and never made a big play to prove he should get it. Wade still brings up bitter memories for a lot of Bears fans, including myself. He was a solid receiver, but his punt return abilities were horrid. On fourth down the entire stadium would hold its breath in hopes that Wade wouldn’t fumble yet another punt. Wade and Gage have been able to renew their careers by going to teams that gave them better chances and a clean slate. I wish them the best, but seeing them on the field can bring back some bad memories of terrible seasons.
(Editor’s Note: Everyone who followed the Bears thought Bobby Wade was a terrible punt returner. Anyone who watched him try to return punts for the Vikings this year knows he’s a terrible punt returner. Still, it took Childress until well into the season to figure this out and give Mewelde Moore the job. Things like this are why it’s hard for people to praise Chilly unreservedly. The team wins, but he still does stuff that drives you nuts.)
TVA: How huge a mistake was it to trade Thomas Jones and hand the starting running back job to that walking fumble-machine Cedric Benson?
Bob: The Bears made 4 key trades in the offseason that turned into their own demise. The Thomas Jones trade has been made very public and was a huge mistake. Jones was the heart and soul of our offense and propelled them through some games they probably shouldn’t have won last season. Cedric Benson isn’t so much a fumbler as a Belly Flopper. He can’t seem to break away for more than 3 or 4 years at a time and falls down at the slightest touch of a defensive player. He has shown no ability to break tackles and get away from defenders. He is satisfied to just run straight into linebackers and take a 3 yard gain.
Not to be discounted are the other 3 moves. Letting Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone go through free agency, two of our defensive tackles that played a big part of the rotation and giving Tommie Harris rest. Instead we signed Darwin Walker, who is a proven veteran, but has been a bust this season.
The Bears signed Adam Archuletta in the off-season, which I thought was the best move of the entire off season. He was a strong player who had a bad year in Washington. Turns out it wasn’t Washington’s fault and he has regressed into a bad player. He has created huge holes in our pass defense that has left us vulnerable to deep plays.
Going into preseason, because we had so many safeties on the roster and Carolina didn’t have many options at safety, we traded Chris Harris to them. He is a quality young player who we drafted and immediately began contributing to the Super Bowl defense. He is having a fantastic year for Carolina and is badly needed on our roster. We thought we were too good and we were reminded how injuries can change a season.
TVA: What’s your prediction for Monday night’s game? Will the Bears be able to overcome the Vikings? How many yards will The Real Adrian Peterson put up on your defense this time? 300 maybe?
Bob: I think the Bears will have the opportunity to embarrass themselves in front of a national audience.
Let’s hope Bob proves prophetic on this last point. Thanks again Bob for the great exchange. And bad luck to your team Monday night.