- Former NFL safety Matt Bowen makes some interesting points about the Bears-Eagles matchup on Chicago Tribune Live on CSN:
- John Mullin at CSN Chicago also makes the point that the key to slowing down the Eagles will be to stop the run. I would add that the key will be not just to stop the run but to do it without bringing an eighth man down in the box. Its tough enough to sep a balanced offense like the Eagles. Once you put a defensive back into the run defense you compromise the pass coverage and allow Michael Vick to utilize those weapons more effectively.
- In Philadelphia they apparently think the offensive line is going to be the difference as explained simply in a cartoon form that every Bear fan can understand:
- Brad Biggs and Vaughn McClure point out that the Eagles will have a rookie kicker and a rookie punter sending the ball to Devin Hester.
- PTI on ESPN debates the Matt Forte contract situation.
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:
“Midway through the season, how do you see the 2012 draft for the Bears? Are they going to take another offensive lineman or do they trust the young group to improve? Without knowing much about J.T. Thomas, the linebacker position looks old and without much depth. Are they going to take a linebacker who can compete from Day One? Or is it going to be defensive line? Henry Melton is more down than up and Matt Toeaina and Israel Idonije, while stable, aren’t producing much. — Mortensen, Denmark
“A lot can change between now and next April, but if the draft were to be held tomorrow, I’d say you pretty much hit it on the head. The Bears would have to be most concerned with drafting a young, building-block offensive lineman (maybe a center/guard), another pass-rushing defensive lineman (an end would be preferable to a tackle) and a linebacker who can be groomed to eventually replace Urlacher or Lance Briggs, who, don’t forget, wants to be traded after the season. The Bears also could look at cornerbacks and wide receivers.”
I would also say that this fan nailed it. But the truth is that, like last year, the Bears could go in almost any direction in the draft and no one would argue it based upon need. The only set positions are quarterback and running back and the running back part depends upon just how stubborn Matt Forte is ready to be. The Bears might take a back to prepare for his eventual departure even if they can use the franchise tag for a couple years, yet.
- Pompei answers another fan question, this one about former Bears safety Chris Harris:
“It was a rapid fall from grace for Harris, I will grant you that. But a few things were working against him. The Bears had two young safeties they wanted to play. Harris was in the last year of his contract. And he had played poorly this year. At 29, Harris looks slower than he did at 28. It’s not unusual for safeties to start to deteriorate quickly and at a young age. Their bodies take a lot of abuse. It’s possible Harris hasn’t been completely healthy and that he’ll get some of his burst back. I’ve talked with some people with the Lions who are excited about having him. But for the Bears, it was time to move on. I understand their perspective.”
- Brian Urlacher continues to cry over the new rules. Its worked so well so far, why stop now? Via Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com.
- I honestly thought left offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb was playing OK. But offensive line coach Mike Tice felt the need to tell Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times that he has been battling injuries. I suppose the braces are obvious but it’s not something Bears players and coaches are generally allowed to talk to the press about.
- Offensive coordinator Mike Martz on receiver Earl Bennett. Via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune.
“What Earl has that people don’t realize until they play him is that he has real speed,” Martz said. “He made so many key plays in key situations for us last year. I call him Mr. Third Down almost. It’s almost a foregone conclusion you throw him the ball it’s going to be a completion. It’s good to have him back.”
- Logan Rhoades at the Bleacher Report thinks the Bears should pay Matt Forte:
“Fortunately, though, Jerry Angelo now has a chance to prove to the league that the Bears take care of their players. If they want to get more guys like Forte to come to Chicago, then Angelo needs to show everyone that talent doesn’t go to waste in the Windy City. He needs to make a statement with Forte’s contract. And it needs to be the right statement. Because this isn’t about business anymore—it’s about respect.”
- But Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune doesn’t:
Jerry Angelo’s Bears have done enough dumb things through the years. Angelo’s Bears will continue to make mistakes.
But this time, Angelo has it right. Angelo is playing it smart. Maybe that’s why some Bears fans are so mad and have started a website to get Forte paid: They’re not used to seeing Angelo do things right.
- Mullin contrasts the way Peyton Hillis is handling his contract problems with the way Forte is doing it. No matter what else you say about him, e can all be grateful that Forte is a football player.
- Mullin also had this interesting note on defensive tackle Henry Melton’s meeting with head coach Lovie Smith:
“What Melton admitted noticing was a possible difference from his speed of play from last year, when he was a reserve coming in with a high motor and high impact, and this year, his first as an NFL starter.
“It may have been the difference between the way a starter works in baseball, planning to go seven innings or more, vs. the way a closer operates, in abruptly but firing all-out from the moment of entering the game.
“’Your mindset doesn’t change,’ Melton self-analyzed, ‘but when you look at the film, it does look like sometimes you’re not sprinting as hard as you were, when you’re getting in limited snaps.'”
- Much has been made of Smith’s apparent decision to single out Melton for his play. But I’ve got a feeling that he’s not the only one hearing it from the head coach. When Biggs sought out Smith for comment on Anthony Adams‘ problems with gout, Smith shrugged it off and said Adams “needs to play better”. Smith obviously expects more from the defensive line than he’s getting.
- Eagles special teams coordinator Bobby April on Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub via Biggs:
“You know, just the culture is that those guys don’t get recognized, those special teams coaches don’t get recognized like somebody else. You know, whoever, ‘They have a really good year on offense and this guy’s one of the greatest coaches in the league (and) he should be a head coach. Why isn’t he?’ (I think) Toub should have that consideration I think because that’s what he’s done.”
I could not agree more. If I were hiring a head coach in this league, Toub would be near the top of my list.
- Bears quarterback Jay Cutler says that “It’s not OK to mock me for worshiping Satan”. From the Sports Pickle:
“I can see why some people don’t like Tim Tebow because he’s so in your face about his faith,” said Cutler. “But I’m not an evangelical Satanist. Have I tried to win a few teammates over with pregame sacrifices? Sure. From time to time. But I don’t push anyone. I just try to live my life as miserable as possible and hope that darkness consumes those around me. And if not, well, they’ll burn in hell alongside me one day anyway, so what does it matter?”
- The fan reactions indicate excitement after St. Louis registered their first win of the year. Via The Onion:
“Only one win away from clinching the NFC West!”
- Also via The Onion it seems that Marvin Lewis has plunged into depression after realizing that he’s been with the Bengals long enough to register the most wins in the teams history.
- ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert pulls up this interesting Adrian Peterson stat:
“Peterson has gained a higher percentage of his total yards (57.3) after first contact than any other NFL running back. That speaks both to his relentless running style and the relative lack of room his offensive line has afforded him.”
This stat more than any other tells me that Peterson is the best pure running back in the NFL and it tells you why he’s the first choice of most NFL experts. A running back should be judged by the yards he makes on his own. No one does that better than Peterson.
- Seifert also notes this Matthew Stafford stat:
“Stafford has thrown an NFL-high 256 passes out of the shotgun formation. That’s 85.6 percent of his total attempts and a clear illustration of how the Lions have shifted to a spread offense. Even so, the Lions have still been effective in play-action. They’re averaging about one touchdown for every 7.5 play-action passes (seven touchdowns in 53 attempts).”
- Pompei, writing for The National Football Post, gives his Mid-season All Pro Defense. This member was a surprise:
“Defensive tackle—Ndamukong Suh, Lions. Lots of good ones to choose from, including Geno Atkins, Marcell Dareus, Jay Ratliff and Richard Seymour. But none of them impacts games as much as Suh.”
Many writers, most notably Don Banks at Sports Illustrated, think Suh is under-achieving.
One Final Thought
Speaking of Suh, Warren Sapp thinks he needs to shut up. (Via Biggs at The National Football Post.)
“We’re talking about taking credit for a quarterback that you didn’t sack, you didn’t take to the ground. His offensive lineman stepped on him. Remind me, didn’t Atlanta win this game?
“I’m really trying to find the karma. The quarterback missed two plays, come back in and torched you for the rest of the game … and you don’t get him on the ground, and now it’s karma?
“Why are you prancing all the way to the commissioner’s office and you almost ripped somebody’s helmet off? Are you kidding me? You don’t know that’s against the rules? That’s a wasted trip. … He almost ripped Jake Delhomme’s head off. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Pompei, who is apparently a Suh fan. had this to say on the matter:
“Warren Sapp telling Ndamukong Suh to shut up is like Kim Kardashian telling one of her sisters to stop seeking the limelight.”
That doesn’t mean he’s not right.
I couldn’t agree more with every word that Sapp said. Never have I seen a team waste so much national good will going into a season like the Lions have. Too many members of the team have gone over the edge from competitive to mouthy (and in Suh’s case – whiney) jerk over the course of the season. I couldn’t tell you exactly why but I can say that the personality of the team often reflects the personality of the coaching staff, most the head coach and, in this case, the defensive coordinator.