- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on why the Bears moved Henry Melton from defensive end to defensive tackle:
“[Defensive coordinator Rod] Marinelli said playing in space didn’t bring out the best in Melton at end as he had a tendency to ‘look around.’ But he quickly showed the pad level and leverage necessary to be effective inside. The switch was in the works at the start of his rookie season in 2009 before he was placed on injured reserve with a minor ankle injury. His assignment was to bulk up for the move inside and he did that.”
- Special teams coordinator Dave Toub on how they are trying to make the best punt returner in the NFL even better. Via Biggs:
“’We’ve been working on [Devin Hester] catching the really short punts, going up and getting those instead of letting them drop,’ Toub said. ‘That has been our emphasis. He really has done a good job. Devin has had a great camp, not only as a wide receiver but as a returner too.’”
- Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has been uncharacteristically high on the current Bears team. In a limited way, he even finds a way to talk around the fact that the Bears failed to add to the offensive line:
“But there might be a more notable reason the Bears ignored improving the unit that usually defines great teams: The Bears plan to have [quarterback Jay] Cutler run away from the bad blockers.”
Yes, that’s a good part of the game plan, I think. In fact, though I haven’t bought a single thing the Bears have actually said about this topic, this one thing that they haven’t said seems to be the one reason for optimism: that when Jay Cutler was at his best last season, it was because he made plays on the move despite a poor offensive line. Nothing proves that more than seeing what happened to the targets that replaced him after he was injured. The guess here is that the Bears plan to use more designed rollouts and bootlegs the way the Broncos tailored their offense for him in Denver. And, indeed, it might work.
- Speaking of the offensive line, Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes offensive coordinator Mike Tice on what he’s been working on with the group.
“One of the areas that we wanted to improve across the board was our hands, using our hands better, keeping the players away from us. We know we have guys that can run, so that’s going to help our running game. That’s really all we can look at right now.”
- ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert answers your questions:
“Who wins the Bears LT competition? [J’Marcus] Webb or [Chris] Williams?
“I think they want Webb to win it. If [offensive coordinator Mike] Tice thought Williams could do the job, he wouldn’t have moved him to guard a few years ago.”
“You don’t move a productive left tackle out of that position if he is in fact productive. It’s much easier to find a guy to play guard than tackle. It was a reflection on Chris to a large extent.”
- Hayes hypes up the Bears wide receiver corp. I have to say that I’m not completely buying into the hype here either. If the Bears are smart enough to play thier smaller, speedier wide receivers inside to match them up with nickle backs and allow them to get off of the line of scrimmage, that will be a plus. But even given that, as far as I can see a lot is going to depend upon Alshon Jeffrey. He’s a big target that could demand a double team which he won’t get as long as Brandon Marshall is on the field. The problem is that wide receivers rarely produce in their first year.
Frankly, with all of the high expectations being generated in the media for this team, I have to wonder if they aren’t being set up for failure. The Packers are still the class of the division and if the Lions play up to their potential, as far as I’m concerned the Bears are still the third place team in the division.
- Joe Cowley at the Chicago Sun-Times tells us what Matt Forte thought of his teammate’s comments about him as he continues to stay away in a contract dispute.
“While [Lance] Briggs had Forte’s back, Forte didn’t appreciate quarterback Jay Cutler recently speaking for him.
“Cutler said he ‘would be shocked if [Forte] doesn’t sign his tender by July 15, or whenever it is, and show up.’
“‘I don’t know, it depends on how we’re doing in the negotiations,’ Forte said when asked if he would sign and be in camp on time. But it kind of looks bad when other people speak for you. [Cutler] doesn’t really know what’s going to happen. He’s not in the negotiations. He’s just being optimistic.’”
I thought at the time that Cutler made those comments that it was an uncharacteristically stupid thing for him to do. Forte has now confirmed that impression. Forte’s only leverage in negotiations is the threat of a hold out. If his friends and teammates are saying that he’s not going to do that, it can only hurt.
- Nathan Enderle, we hardly knew ye. Hell, we never knew ye at all. Via Biggs.
- I, personally, loved it but Dan McNeil at the Chicago Tribune didn’t seem as thrilled with the blanket Bears coverage during their minicamp:
“This Bears minicamp media blitz, however, is maddening. It’s got me worried about those in my fraternity.
“In case you’ve missed the local newspapers, sports radio or the television sports magazine shows lately, you’ve been spared Bears blather of epic proportion. The kind of overkill that hasn’t been seen around here since the 1985-86 woof woofers were packing for training camp in Platteville, Wis.
“Slow down, boys. Almost all of these stories will stand up when the Bears start smacking each other around in the sweltering heat in about six weeks.”
- I hope you all will forgive me but I’ve about had it with the Saints bounty scandal and I’m just not going to talk a lot about it. I’d like for the thing to just get done and over with.
Having said that, I did find one comment from Browns linebacker Scott Fugita regarding the players appeal hearing interesting. From Dave Zirin at SI.com:
“‘People said I was stupid for confessing to paying for big plays. I didn’t think of that as a big deal,’ Fujita said. ‘Is it against the rules? Technically, yeah, it’s against the rules, but that’s the way it was done when I was a young player and I’m not ashamed of that. If that’s what I’m going down for, let’s call it for what it is. The problem is that the league has billed this thing as being this super-organized pay-to-injure scheme, which it never was.’”
What caught my attention was the first sentence. Many players and union representatives have questioned why commissioner Roger Goodell has not shown the players all of the evidence against them. This comment is probably why.
As I see it, the process of gathering information in the NFL is like going before a federal grand jury. Prosecuting attorneys in this situation don’t have to show you the evidence against you before you testify and they frequently don’t. The reason is simple – they want you to tell the whole truth, not just confess to what you know they have you nailed on. They don’t want you to tailor your confession to the evidence.
If the “people” who are telling Fujita he’s stupid for telling the truth are other players, particularly other players implicated in the scandal, then I think we all know that the NFL is handling this situation the right way. They’re going to have to force these players to tell them the truth or they’ll never get it.
- The Sports Pickle brings us “Manning Face: The New Generation”:
- Also from The Sports Pickle haters finally have the proof they need of Tim Tebow’s hypocrisy:
One Final Thought
Cowley quotes Forte further:
“Even if Forte and the Bears reach a deal, Forte said the process has left some ‘scars.’
“‘That’s what happens when you get into the business side of sports,’ he said. ‘There’s an easy way to get over those scars, but we’ll see. Everyone looks at it and says, ‘Oh, it’s only about money.’ It’s not only about money. It’s about you going out there and putting your heart and soul on the field, being respected for what you do, and then being rewarded for it.’”
If I had to point to one problem across all sports, especially professional sports, it is the idea that athletes get into their heads that “money equals respect”. Many if not most of the greatest men and women in history were not rich. Indeed, I would say that most of the very best were poor.
What Matt Forte is really saying is that this negotiation is about pride, the greatest of the seven deadly sins and the one that is the root of them all. I’m all for using every point of leverage to negotiate a contract and Forte is well within his rights to do as he has done so far. But if the negotiation gets to the point where it really hurts himself or the team, I’m going to be very disappointed.