Chicago Bears

Hub Arkush: Questions pour out of mailbag

You know the most frustrating part of my job? Every day I get to talk at you, but I so rarely get a chance to talk with you.

We think we’ve found an answer. On Friday, we hosted our first Twitter chat, allowing me to take your questions, and answer them, and it’s something we’re now going to do every Wednesday after the bye week.

Just check my Twitter account (@Hub_Arkush) every once in a while and we’ll get you the actual times and dates. Send your questions, and I’ll do my best to answer what I can.

Of course, the one issue with Twitter is there are times when 140 characters just isn’t enough, so we’re also going to start using my weekly mailbag column here.

1. John wanted to know why we don’t hear more about the shortcomings, or at least concerns, about the Bears’ safeties in pass coverage?

Actually, that’s something I’ve been writing and talking about fairly consistently going back to our first day at Bourbonnais. Major Wright and Chris Conte are average to good against the run. But both are a liability in pass coverage.

Conte and Wright are more than athletic enough to run with tight ends and running backs, and to bracket quicker receivers with a cornerback in double coverage.

But when a team is playing zone coverage, basically Cover 2 or Cover 3, the safety’s primary responsibility is to always be the deepest man on the field and never allow any receiver to get by them.

It’s as much a mental discipline as physical and both Bears safeties continue to fail at it multiple times in games.

2. Just Bill wondered with the Bears’ injuries at defensive tackle and Amobi Okoye and Matt Toeaina both on the street, why don’t the Bears bring one or both back? And let’s add to that a number of folks who’ve wondered why the Bears don’t sign recently released Marvin Austin or Jay Ratliff.

Thirty one other teams don’t want them either, and those 31 other teams are the key. Okoye never really did anything when he was here. Is he suddenly going to be better because the Bears have injuries? Toeaina had his moments, but left with bad knees and may not even be physically able to go.

Marvin Austin was a 2011 second-round pick of the Giants, but they cut him after one year. The team that is currently 26th in the league against the run and dead last rushing the quarterback doesn’t want him. Miami just cut him, too. I’d have no problem if the Bears kicked the tires with a workout, but also no problem if they don’t.

Jay Ratliff was released in Dallas for a failed physical. I’d love to have the old Jay Ratliff, but apparently that guy’s not available.

3. Mark Leinhart asked what happens to players such as Henry Melton, who bet on themselves and lose. Mark, I assume, is referring to Melton not getting a longer term deal with some security from the Bears.

I’m afraid the question is flawed, as my sources tell me the Bears never offered a “good money” long-term deal that had any more money guaranteed than the $9-plus million Melton is getting under the franchise tag. And he had no opportunity to shop himself because he had the tag.

Melton basically took what the Bears were offering, he will collect the full amount of the contract and, if he’s smart, will never have to work another day in his life.

His football future is up to how he rebounds from reconstructive surgery on his ACL and knee. If he can come back 95 to 100 percent, he may have to play on a shorter money, one-year deal in 2014, but he’ll still have a crack at one more big deal if he plays well.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and Write to him at

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