The Mailbag: Super Bears, Super Bowl?

superbowlshuffle

Welcome to The Chicago Homer’s Mailbag. It runs once a week unless it doesn’t, and in it I answer questions from readers via Twitter or email. The questions can be about any damn thing you please, and there likely isn’t a question I won’t answer. There may be questions I can’t answer, but I’ll try.

If you’d like to submit a question for the next edition of the mailbag it’s pretty simple. Either ask the question on Twitter using the #AskTCH hashtag — as long as you use the hashtag I will see it — or send an email to TCHMailbag@gmail.com.

And now that you know how to do it, let’s get to the this week’s questions.

Now that the NFL Draft is over and we’re only a few months away from training camp, what are your expectations for the Bears this season? – Eric Stone

It’s really hard to answer this question in May. Yes, we’ve seen what the Bears did in free agency, and we’ve seen what they did in the draft, but that still isn’t really enough information to know for sure, particularly in the NFL where things change drastically in the blink of an eye.

While I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears finish 5-11 or 6-10 my actual expectations are quite a bit higher than that.

I’m thinking it’s all going to come down to the first half of the season to determine their record for the year. The Bears play six of their first nine games on the road with the only divisional games in that span being both of their games against Green Bay, making it that much more important a stretch. Yes, both Detroit and Minnesota are going to be better this year but to win the division you still have to get through the Packers.

Now, if the Bears can get through that intact with a 5-4 record or so, playing five of their final seven games at home — with the only road games being Minnesota and Detroit — could work to their advantage.

But putting the schedule aside, I look at it like this: last season, with an atrocious defense, the Bears managed to go 8-8. They were one blown coverage on fourth down away from winning the division and going to the playoffs. So if the defense has been improved this season, and I believe it has been, both through free agency and the draft, then you have to think that’s worth at least two wins. Maybe more.

I’m going to be conservative and stick with two wins, though, because the schedule does look difficult at the moment. So if I was forced to make a prediction on how things finish out right now I’d say the Bears are going to go 10-6, though I think 11-5 or 12-4 are possible as well.

And, as I said at the beginning, so is 4-12.

So I guess my expectations are that I don’t know what’s going to happen.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all, no. Ego Ferguson was taken in the second round because the Bears really like the potential they see in him as a player, and I get that. Plus, as I’ve said here before, he’s already shown he can be a very effective defensive tackle against the run.

But he’s not a finished product. In fact, a lot of people were surprised that he declared for the NFL Draft this year and thought he’d go back to LSU for one more season. I’ve even had people tell me that they think had Ferguson stayed in school another season he could have worked his way up to being a first rounder.

Well, being a second rounder isn’t exactly terrible, and Ferguson says he left school to help support his mother (I believe her name is Id).

Since he’s not a finished product and is still growing, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he saw less snaps than Will Sutton. I don’t need to go into how I feel about Sutton again, as I’ve explained how big a fan I am of him on this site numerous times. I feel he could end up being the best player the Bears took in this draft, and I expect him to make an impact right away.

So, yes, it’s totally reasonable to believe we’ll see more of Sutton on the field this season because that’s exactly what I think is going to happen. And it won’t mean that Ego Ferguson was the wrong pick, though that won’t stop people from calling him a bust, either.

I assume this is in response to what I wrote about Forte inside my blurb on Ka’Deem Carey in my draft pick power rankings. There are a few reasons why I don’t think Forte will still be here after 2015, and they aren’t that complicated.

Matt Forte has two years left on his contract, with a scheduled cap hit of $7.9 million in 2014 and a hit of $8.8 million in 2015. In December of 2015 Forte will celebrate his 30th birthday, and after that 2015 season ends he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

Simply put, in this day and age of the NFL, teams aren’t going to give big contracts to running backs after they hit 30. Hell, they might not give those contracts to backs under 30, either. The position has become less vital in recent years, because unless you’re an Adrian Peterson type of back, you’re replaceable.

Also, when Matt Forte signed his contract extension with the Bears in 2012, he did so on a team that wasn’t paying Jay Cutler the kind of money the Bears will be paying Jay Cutler now. Simply put, even if the Bears wanted to bring Forte back after 2015, they wouldn’t have the room for it.

Also, depending on how Ka’Deem Carey plays, there’s a chance Forte doesn’t even last in Chicago through 2015. If the Bears were to release Forte after the 2014 season he’d only count for $1 million against the salary cap in 2015. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but stranger things have in the NFL.

OH YOU MEAN THIS PUPPY?

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 12.02.09 PM

Lynn and I will be picking her up on May 27 and after that I will spend the next few months doing everything I can to keep her from pissing and shitting in the house, or chewing on things she shouldn’t be chewing on.

Oh, and her name will be Frankie. We’re naming her after Frank Thomas. So I’ll also be calling her Lil’ Hurt. You can hug her any time after that.

I have no idea what this question is in reference to, but I’m assuming that if he needs to, Mike Trout can pay for those windows or any other windows he wants to. He just signed that $144.5 million extension after all.

Who should Hawks fans be rooting for in game 7 of the Ducks-Kings series? – Chris Hartig

Now, you sent this question in before we knew that the Hawks would be playing the Kings again. Even though we know now, I’m going to answer anyway, because I’m just so fucking nice like that.

Honestly, I didn’t think it would make much of a difference. It’s funny, last week’s mailbag started with a question of whether or not we should be concerned about the Blackhawks. Now, a week later, I’m actually arrogantly confident about this team.

They aren’t perfect, but of the four teams left in the playoffs, I think the Blackhawks are the best.

When it comes to the Kings and Ducks, I see two good teams that each presented certain problems for the Hawks, but also have flaws I can see the Hawks easily exploiting. Essentially it came down to would you prefer giving up home-ice to face an Anaheim team with a questionable goalie situation, or did you want home-ice even if it meant dealing with Jonathan Quick?

I’m happy with the home-ice, but I truly think the Hawks are winning a series against either of these teams. And since we know it’s the Kings, I may as well make my official prediction for the series.

Hawks in six because they have the better goalie in Corey Crawford.

Now, now, I’ve actually seen plenty of Carlos Rodon, and he’s the player that I’d prefer the Sox draft right now. I did start the whole #RoadToRodon thing as the Sox were tanking at the end of last season, after all.

That being said, you’re right, I really don’t know much at all about the prospects in this summer’s draft. I can only go by what I read, and I haven’t read all that much just yet. What I do know is that a lot of people seem to think the Sox are going to take Tyler Kolek, a big flame-throwing righty out of Texas. He might be awesome, but I don’t really want the White Sox to take him.

I’m always hesitant to take high school pitchers in the draft because a lot of things can change — read: go wrong — between high school and actually getting to the bigs. Now, just as much could go wrong for Carlos Rodon, even though he’s a college pitcher, but I’m more comfortable with college pitchers than I am high school pitchers.

As are the White Sox, apparently. Since 1993 the Sox have taken 21 pitchers in the first round of the draft (including compensatory picks), and only four of them have been high schoolers. Gio Gonzalez was the only one of them to accomplish something of note in the Majors, but by the time he was ready to contribute he’d already been traded by the Sox. Twice.

Ideally the Sox would take a position player. Much higher rate of success going that route.

I wouldn’t say a better chance than Wes Lunt because I’m fairly certain Lunt knew he was going to Illinois when he decided to transfer from Oklahoma State in the first place. But I do think the Illini have a decent chance with Ty Isaac, though I wouldn’t call them the favorite.

If he truly is transferring for no other reason than being closer to home, then it seems to be a two-horse race between Illinois and Northwestern. Which one does he prefer? I have no idea. He is friends with Illinois running back Josh Ferguson, though, which could give the Illini an edge, but I’m not sure how heavily that will factor into his decision.

But the real question for me would be “is Wisconsin closer to home? Michigan?” I don’t think we’ll have to wait very long to find out, though.

I feel like I’ve answered this question numerous times, and I’m fairly confident I’ll have to answer it again before the summer is over.

Like you, I don’t think the Bulls are getting Carmelo. If they don’t I do think Lance Stephenson would be somebody they could target, as it makes sense for different reasons. First of all, Stephenson would make the Bulls better, and secondly, it would also weaken a division rival in the Pacers at the same time.

The question for me is how much Stephenson will cost, because I’m not sure how much he’s actually worth. He’s a good player and all, but he’s also only had one really good season, and he did so on a team in which he wasn’t the primary option. He wouldn’t be with the Bulls, either, but he’d be relied upon as a scorer a lot more here than he was with the Pacers.

As for Gordon Hayward, maybe? I’m just not sure what Hayward gives the Bulls that they don’t already get from Mike Dunleavy, and Dunleavy was actually a better shooter than Hayward was this season. Plus signing Hayward would mean that Jimmy Butler continues to play shooting guard, and that’s just not a winning formula to me.

I’d prefer the Bulls get Stephenson so they can move Butler to the three and just allow him to be the role player he’s always been destined to be.

Do you hear that, Jimmy Butler acolytes? HE’S JUST A GUY. A GOOD GUY TO HAVE ON YOUR TEAM, BUT NOTHING MORE. GET OVER IT.

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