Lots of Bears news so there isn’t anything from the “Elsewhere” category today.
- ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert pays Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett a nice compliment as e evaluates the division:
“Best hands, Earl Bennett: The NFC North has no shortage of elite receivers who have collected Pro Bowl honors, from Greg Jennings to Calvin Johnson to Sidney Rice. None of them displayed the kind of reliability Bennett achieved last season for the Chicago Bears. He dropped only one of the 70 passes thrown his way, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and caught 46. Jennings dropped five of the 122 passes thrown his way. Johnson also had five (on 134 targets). Rice was limited to five games. “
- Gene Chamberlain at The Sporting News gives an opponent’s (anonymous) view point of the Bears:
“Their offensive line needed an overhaul more than most people realized. (Line coach) Mike Tice was trying to get plays blocked with players — yeah, some of them were older, like (Olin) Kreutz — but they aren’t suited for Martz’s system. Most are guys better for the West Coast style: movement guys, quickness and technique. They haven’t been able to beat teams at the point of attack physically with their running game for a long time. They resorted to some deception and got (Matt) Forte on the edge in gimmick plays, but really have trouble blocking the run. …
“On defense, you know what you’re getting, and that’s the problem. I don’t think it’s going to change. They run their cover 2. They might disguise it, but they’ve basically got to do it all with athletic ability. Their coverage guys are using the outside shoulder leverage to funnel receivers into the middle, where there’s help. You know all of this going in, right away. That’s why you see some teams hurting their defense early in games with the prearranged plays.”
He’s spot on about the offensive line. But I think this person doesn’t give Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli enough credit. The Bears started disguising coverages last year and they generally did a pretty good job of it. If they keep doing that, their defense will continue to be less than straight forward to figure out at crucial moments in the game.
- Chamberlain ends his overview of the Bears with this somewhat grim assessment:
“Last season, the defense benefited by facing three third-string quarterbacks, and the team had no starters on injured reserve. Such good fortune rarely occurs for any team, let alone in successive years. Combine that expectation with an aging defense, the reduced impact of special teams and keen competition from dominant Green Bay and rising Detroit, and it all adds up to more pressure on the offense in 2011 — Cutler in particular.”
- Larry Mayer at chicagobears.com quotes Bears tight end Greg Olsen on new Bears wide receiver Andy Fantuz:
“Responding to a question about Fantuz during an in-studio appearance on ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” Monday, Olsen said: “I think he’s pretty good. I have to say I’ve been impressed. He’s a good kid. He’s worked hard. He called us from the very beginning to find out when we were working out and what we were doing. He’s stepped right in and been at workouts.” Fantuz signed with the Bears in February after spending the past five seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League. Last year he caught a career-high 87 passes for a league-leading 1,380 yards.”
I haven’t seen Fantuz play but some commentators have been quick to dismiss him, probably because he’s from the CFL. I intensely dislike that kind of elitism and I’m not at all sure he doesn’t deserve better. If Olsen is being honest, and I don’t see why he wouldn’t be, Fantuz might be able to contribute a great deal this year as a sizable receiver the Bears currently lack.
- Packers safety Nick Collins on who the easiest quarterback to intercept in the NFL is:
“You know. I do have my fair share against, I think, against Jay Cutler. But he is still a good quarterback. I take nothing from Jay. But at the end of the day I do get a good read on him on certain plays. So, but I would say Jay.”
- Chester Taylor is certainly taking more than his fair share of shots after a down year last year. Here’s hoping he has a chip on his shoulder this year.
- Jeff Dickerson at ESPNChicago.com reports that newly drafted Bears quarterback Nathan Enderle has started coming to player organized workouts. Enderle undoubtedly skipped the workouts to this point because he’s not under constract but I doubt he could help himself. Along with the rest of the mid to late round draft picks I expect he’ll be quickly signed after the lockout with none of the usual mucking about. So assuming he doesn’t get hurt (a big assumption) there’s not much reason for him to hold himself out.
One Final Thought
“Every organization kind of looks at former players differently. This is my own personal evaluation. I don’t know if former Chicago Bears coming back in a coaching capacity would really interest the organization. Or at least that’s the way it’s perceived. I would never expect (a Bears coaching opportunity) to happen.”
The Bears always talk about former player beaming part of the “family”. Apparently their former players don’t “perceive” is that way.