What the Pro Bowl Roster Tells Us and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune stresses that the reception gap between Brandon Marshall and the rest of the receivers isn’t good for the team. This passage might be a telling one:

“The Bears sorely miss a presence in the middle of the field as tight end Kellen Davis has not met expectations. Asked why the Bears can’t get other wide receivers more involved, [quarterback Jay] Cutler quietly said, ‘Don’t know,’ perhaps a reflection he’s not happy in the system.”

  • Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times suggests that the return of Johnny Knox next year might be the solution to the Bears problems finding a second wide receiver opposite Brandon Marshall (he’s not).

“Is there a big difference in what side a lineman plays besides stance? Obviously, left tackle is the all-important blind-side protector but what about left vs. right guard? Chris Spencer seems to play better the last two years at right vs. left. Joe B., Oxford, Conn.

“There are some differences, depending on the system and the specific game plans. Some teams like to put their most physical guard on the right side, and their most athletic on the left. Some players are more comfortable in a particular stance. But generally speaking, if a guard’s play drops off considerably on one side, he’s probably not a very good guard. There isn’t that much of a difference between left guard and right guard.”

I’ve listened to host Ross Tucker on ESPN‘s Football Today podcast repeatedly say that he thinks right guard is the tougher position to play. Teams are typically “left handed” meaning they slant their blocking schemes to the left. The right guard takes the left defensive end leaving the right guard on an island with no help more often than the left guard.

“How do you see Bears addressing o-line? Draft first two rounds, free agency or both? @jimsammons, from Twitter

“It’s early to say, but my hunch is they will sign a mid-level free-agent offensive lineman, probably a guard, and then go for an offensive tackle in the first two rounds of the draft. At this point, I don’t think they could afford to use their first two picks on offensive linemen, given the needs they have on defense and at other positions. That would mean they would come out of the top three rounds with no defensive help.”

  • I love Brandon Marshall but I think his tendency to shoot his mouth off, natural in a good wide receiver, is rubbing off on his teammates as he takes more and more of a leadership role. This time its Henry Melton. Via Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times. Lions center Dominic Raiola‘s response was predictable.
  • And then there’s this comment from Major Wright via Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press:

“‘You’ve got Matthew Stafford; he’s definitely having an OK season,’ Wright said. ‘He can make any throw on that field, so you have to be aware of putting pressure on him because you put a little pressure on him, he kind of folds.'”

I cannot express how much I dislike this kind of thing. According to Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune, some of Melton’s teammates agree with me privately criticizing him for his comments. Its totally unnecessary and, given the way its being reported in Detroit, there’s every reason to believe its going to provide extra motivation for a talented team that has little to play for otherwise.

“‘More than just [head coach] Lovie [Smith]‘ Briggs said. ‘You want to win it for us. If you’ve enjoyed your time here in Chicago and the way Lovie has treated you and us together and this camaraderie that we have, then win it for that. If Lovie is not here, that goes with him.

“‘I’ve enjoyed every moment of being here in Chicago and I don’t intend on that changing. So, it’s time to go out and beat Detroit.'”

If those sentiments help the Bears perform well on Sunday, that’s great. But if the Bears lose there will be a lot of us reading those comments and others like them who will be left wondering if the players aren’t just a tad too comfortable under Smith…

 

  • A comment from this article on potential forthcoming Black Monday changes by Don Banks at Sports Illustrated struck me as odd:

Frankly, Banks couldn’t be more off base. The Bears are amazingly consistent. They’re probably the only team in the league that actually beat all of the teams they should beat. If they don’t win them all its simply because they aren’t good enough to win them all not because they aren’t consistent.

and on [quarterback Jay] Cutler‘s failure to show up in big games:

Smith and Cutler have a prime opportunity to prove both Rosenbloom and me wrong in the next one or more games. Now, with the pressure on and the odds stacked against them, is the time to show up and prove they can compete, some day, for a Super Bowl. Perhaps more than any other time as a Bears fan, I would love to see this team come alive offensively. It’s probably because more than any time in many years, I’m convinced they can’t.

  • Smith might be wearing a new piece of head gear if the Bears manage to beat the Lions Sunday. From the Chicago Sun-Times

 

Lions

Schwartz denies the report.

“‘Shoot, they were able to high/low on the outside of the field,’ he said of the zone coverage. ‘So, we can’t just stay on the outside. We have to move around a little bit more and use all parts of the field.'”

  • Former Lions tackle Lomas Brown says he purposely missed a block to get quarterback Scott Mitchell knocked out of a game. Via the Chicago Tribune:

“Brown, now an NFL analyst, told ESPN: ‘We were playing Green Bay in Milwaukee. We were getting beat (24-0) at that time and (Mitchell) just stunk up the place. He’s throwing interceptions, just everything. So I looked at Kevin Glover, our All-Pro center, and I said, ‘Glove, that is it.’ I said, ‘I’m getting him out the game.’ … So I got the gator arms on the guy at the last minute, he got around me, he hit Scott Mitchell, he did something to his finger … and he came out the game. Dave Krieg came in the game.'”

I can only agree with Mitchell’s comment that this was reprehensible. I’ll be interested to hear what Glover has to say. Mitchell obviously doesn’t think he was involved. This time via James Jahnke at the Detroit Free Press:

“‘I hope Kevin Glover wasn’t involved in this, because he’s one of my favorite teammates of all time. I remember when (Lions linebacker) Reggie Brown was seriously injured on the field (spinal cord contusion), and Kevin Glover ran the length of the field and through the tunnel to get the ambulance. I don’t even want to think that he was involved in any way.'”

Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com chimes in with the disturbing thought on many minds:

“…it’s hard not to wonder whether other offensive players have done similar things over the years, either because the quarterback was struggling or because they simply didn’t like him. Still, it’s something that should never happen.

“‘It’s like a fire department going on a call and the captain saying, ‘Hey, let that guy go in the building and burn because we really don’t like him. He’s not holding the hose enough,’’ Mitchell said Wednesday. ‘People get seriously hurt in this game, and it’s hard enough to play and to stay healthy when all things are equal, but for someone to just lay down like that, it’s just unacceptable.'”

One more interesting note: Andy Barall at The New York Times went back and looked at the tape. What it shows conflicts with Brown’s version of events.

 

Elsewhere

  • Although his absence from the list of candidates is an egregious error, this excerpt from Banks’ column is good news for Bears special teams coach Dave Toub:

“‘When you’ve got some guys who are in different places mentally and athletically, you try to play to their strength,’ Rodgers said.

“For instance, he doesn’t want to call on the back to pick up a blitzing linebacker if the 5-foot-7, 203-pound [DuJuan] Harris is in the game, just as he wouldn’t want to check to an outside zone play better-suited for [Alex] Green than for Grant. He may be comfortable having Grant chip on a defensive end, but if he knows he’s going to have to dump the ball over the middle, [John] Kuhn would be a better choice.

“If he switches to a play where he’s going to swing the ball out to his back, it’s better to have the speedy Green or Harris carry it out than Kuhn or [Ryan] Grant.”

 

One Final Thought

It seems odd to me that the Bears have five Pro Bowlers and Green Bay has only three. In fact, Kevin Seifert at ESPN doesn’t even think Packers center Jeff Saturday should be on the list.

Perhaps this fact more than any other points to the realization that its Green Bay’s depth that sets them apart from the rest of the division. Either that or its coaching…

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