In this week's edition of Five Questions, PFW publisher and editor and Bears expert Hub Arkush gives his take on whether Devin Hester should make the Pro Football Hall of Fame and says it's easy to see why Bill Belichick gave up on Brandon Meriweather.
1. How many players are more valuable to the Bears than Devin Hester?
Arkush: Five — Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Jay Cutler and Matt Forté. It might be zero if Hester was a contributor instead of a liability at wide receiver, but because he isn't a factor on every play, and the new kickoff rules have altered his value on kickoff returns and teams can choose to just not punt the ball to him, his value is limited most of the time. Could the Bears be .500 without any of the other five players on the team? I doubt it.
2. Hester obviously hasn't panned out as a receiver, but should he make the Hall of Fame based on his performance as a returner?
Arkush: I think it's a great debate and I really haven't decided yet. The answer is probably not yet because the people whose records he's just broken, Brian Mitchell and Eric Metcalf, have never been considered or even discussed for the Hall of Fame, and they were both actually much bigger contributors on offense than he is. If he puts these records out of reach over the next couple years, which I think he might, then maybe it becomes a legitimate argument. Right now, I'd say it's wishful thinking on Bears fans' part because he's gotten there so quickly.
3. Are there any personnel or schematic changes you'd like to see on the defensive line to help a pass rush that has been sluggish over the past three games?
Arkush: Yes, I think Israel Idonije should move inside to the three-technique and line up whomever you want at DLE. Henry Melton is a nice project, but I don't think he'll ever be a difference maker against elite competition. I think Idonije could be. Also, is Stephen Paea that bad that he can't even dress on Sunday? You traded up in the second round to get him so stop hiding him, throw him out there and let's see if he can do the job or if the Bears blew another high draft choice.
4. Who is a better option to start at right tackle if Gabe Carimi doesn't play Monday night — Lance Louis or Frank Omiyale?
Arkush: Unfortunately, neither. That the Bears didn't bring in a single journeyman veteran swing tackle to compete after Omiyale proved last year he couldn't play the position is inexcusable, and Lance Louis is still a blown-up tight end who hasn't proven he can play guard. What makes anybody think he can play tackle? Believe it or not, your best option — not a good one, just the best the Bears have — is to move Chris Williams back out there because he can't play guard either. At least on the right side he was occasionally serviceable before they moved him to the left side, which he clearly couldn't handle. If Louis has to play, continue the experiment at guard where he has shown flashes and leave Chris Spencer on the other side. Why the Bears aren't working out vets off the street every week right now is a mystery to me.
5. What's your assessment of Brandon Meriweather's play through four games?
Arkush: Physically he looks to me like he can play free or strong safety, but mentally it's pretty obvious why Bill Belichick gave up on a first-round pick with two Pro Bowl appearances after just four seasons. He continuously screws up his assignment in the two-deep and I counted at least three plays vs. the Panthers where he could have been flagged and/or fined by the league for launching himself at players and leading with his helmet. Can someone please show me the list of how many ex-Patriots have gone on to play better somewhere else? Or is it a blank slate?