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Five Bears questions with PFW publisher Hub Arkush

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Dec. 29, 2011 @ 8:44 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

In this week's edition of "Five questions," PFW publisher/editor and Bears expert Hub Arkush says the Bears have too many glaring needs elsewhere to spend time looking for Brian Urlacher's heir apparent in the 2012 draft. He also gives his take on what Pro Bowl voters got right, and wrong, when it came to the Bears and also says the Bears should make re-signing Israel Idonije a priority.

1. We know Brian Urlacher, Matt Forté, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and Corey Graham made the NFC roster, but which Bears players would you have voted to the Pro Bowl?

Arkush: I'd have voted for Urlacher, Briggs and Tillman. Had Forté stayed healthy, I probably would have voted for him, but he didn't and that's part of the consideration. In the end, both Michael Turner of the Falcons and Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks are more deserving, particularly when you look at touchdowns. I'm sure Graham is deserving, but I can't honestly say I've studied the position enough to know. For those who are upset Julius Peppers didn't make it, don't be. Jason Babin, Jared Allen and Jason Pierre-Paul are all clearly more deserving, and Chris Long might be, too.

2. Is it time to draft a player who eventually could replace Urlacher this offseason?

Arkush: It would be if you didn't have so many more glaring needs. It's unlikely you're going to find the next Urlacher outside of the first round and you certainly won't find him past the second or third. The Bears are in desperate need of upgrades at wide receiver, offensive line, cornerback and defensive tackle and also need to get better at tight end and defensive end more than they do at linebacker. If the team hopes to contend in 2012, finding Urlacher's heir apparent in the draft is a luxury they cannot afford.

3. Should the Bears not use the franchise tag and let Forté test the open market this offseason?

Arkush: It's a really tough call and Forté's Pro Bowl nod doesn't help at all. The franchise tag pays him the average of the five highest-paid backs in the league. Is he one of the five best? No. One option would be to use the transition tag, which at least guarantees them the right to match any offer he might get while keeping him less expensive. Running back is a very tough position to use a franchise tag on because we've seen how many viable backups are available. The biggest incentive to use the franchise tag on Forté could be to avoid sending the message to their own locker room that the team is screwing one of its most popular players after promising him a new deal prior to the 2011 training camp.

4. Do you think the Bears have a solution to their backup-quarterback problem in Josh McCown?

Arkush: No. There are a number of reasons he was a gym teacher and volunteer coach four weeks ago. Clearly, McCown was better than Caleb Hanie, but that's like saying vinegar is better than castor oil. Did he win you a game? Did he play like a guy capable of beating other high-caliber teams consistently if called upon? Right now, the sample size is far too small to get excited about him. The Dolphins found Matt Moore, the Chiefs got Kyle Orton, the Texans came up with Jake Delhomme and Jeff Garcia. McCown needs to do a lot more to fit.

5. With Israel Idonije due to become a free agent, what do you think the Bears should do at left defensive end this offseason?

Arkush: They should start by making re-signing Idonije a priority. Why would a team that has extended Roberto Garza, Earl Bennett and Edwin Williams let Idonije get away? He is as productive or more productive than any of the others and a better leader and character guy. They clearly need to add depth behind him and possibly even find someone who can beat him out and make him the depth, but Izzy Idonije is the kind of guy every team wants on their roster for both his contributions on the field and off. If you don't reward Idonije, who do you?

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