Five Bears questions with PFW publisher Hub Arkush

Posted Dec. 01, 2011 @ 9:42 a.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

In this week's edition of "Five questions," PFW publisher/editor and Bears expert Hub Arkush says it's wishful thinking to expect significant improvement from Caleb Hanie in Week 13 and that Anthony Adams' future with the Bears is very much in doubt.

1. Do you expect much improvement from Caleb Hanie in his second start?

Arkush: Improvement, no. Fewer mistakes, yes. Hanie is not a rookie. He is nearing the end of his fourth season in the NFL and at this point he is who he is. Yes, the lack of experience hurts him, but if he's not good enough to step in and play well after four years in the league, why is he your No. 2 quarterback? The idea that there is significant improvement to be made at this point with a couple games' experience is wishful thinking. I do think he'll be more conscious of avoiding dumb interceptions like his first one he had against Oakland, and throwing the ball where he shouldn't like the third. The bad throws like pick No. 2 against the Raiders will continue, but hopefully not all that often. He really wasn't pressured all that much by Oakland, but the Chiefs are the worst pass-rushing team in the league, so that should help. Like the Raiders, the Chiefs have one of the league's weakest run defenses so that'll help as well. The end result will be better vs. the Chiefs, but I wouldn't expect Hanie to look all that different.

2. Why do you think it took so long for the Bears to reduce Devin Hester's role on offense?

Arkush: Stubbornness and possibly some friction between the front office/scouting department and coaching staff. Jerry Angelo told me during Hester's rookie training camp that even though he was a cornerback at the time, he envisioned him as a big-time NFL receiver. Then a couple seasons ago Hester held out for a couple minutes in training camp and the Bears paid him like a No. 1/No. 1½ wideout. It's one thing when a team has to acknowledge a player just doesn't have the talent it thought he did, but it's a lot harder to get to the point where you know he does have the talent but he just doesn't have the head. I'm not calling Hester dumb and he has great work habits — in fact he's one of the hardest workers on the team — but it's obvious he just doesn't get it. His route running is mediocre at best and it seems like every third or fourth play he's on the field on offense, (Jay) Cutler is barking at him or repositioning him before the snap. He just doesn't have the instincts, and the Bears just don't want to admit they're not going to get what they paid for.

3. Anthony Adams has been a healthy scratch in two of the past four games — is he not worth activating on game day as long as Matt Toeaina and Stephen Paea are healthy?

Arkush: That was a real puzzler in the Raiders' game. It wasn't shocking when they scratched him a few weeks ago, as it seemed they were using it as a motivational ploy, and he seemed to respond well, coming back the next week and playing hard. But the decision to scratch him again last Sunday clearly says they don't think he's as important as Toeaina or Paea and that's hard to understand, as neither of those two are real difference makers either. Part of the problem is all three are strictly anchor tackles and (Henry) Melton and (Amobi) Okoye are strictly three-techniques. I always thought it'd be interesting to see what Adams could do at the three-technique, but that's never happened. What this tells us is Adams is almost certainly gone after this season and the Bears will be drafting a DT high again.

4. Chris Conte has six starts under his belt. What's your assessment of his performance?

Arkush: He was somewhat invisible until last week, which wasn't a bad thing considering what they were asking him to do. But he missed a number of plays vs. the Raiders and that was disconcerting now that he has some real experience under his belt. You have to like his size and speed for the position, but we've seen nothing yet to suggest he has the instincts. The bottom line would appear to be the jury is still very much out. It would be nice to see him making some big hits in the box over the last five games while also coming up with a pick or two while playing centerfield and making some big breaks on the ball. We haven't really seen any of that yet, but in fairness, that's at least partially because the Bears have tried so hard not to expose him. They're going to have to turn him loose the next few weeks and if and when they do we'll be better able to answer the question.

5. Would you consider keeping Lance Louis as the starting right tackle beyond this season, or is that Gabe Carimi's spot in 2012?

Arkush: I don't think Carimi can play on the left side at this level and Louis wasn't very good at guard so this one is a puzzle. Louis has earned a chance to continue to compete at right tackle. The answer might be moving Carimi to left guard to compete with Chris Williams next year as it's unlikely Edwin Williams will make a difference and Chris Spencer has been settling in at right guard the last few weeks. The problem is Carimi's biggest upside is at right tackle, and it probably is higher than Louis'. The one question nobody has asked yet is can Louis compete at left tackle? Everything I thought we knew says no, but the athleticism we saw in him chasing down Kamerion Wimbley last Sunday argues otherwise. I suspect you go to camp next summer with both of them at right tackle and be prepared to move Louis depending on how the other positions stack up. Another thing to keep an eye on is Roberto Garza. There's a lot of wear on those tires and he'll be 33 when they report to camp next summer. Spencer could be headed back to center and the Bears might need two guards — one to compete with Chris Williams and a second for the other side.

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