- Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune notes, as I did earlier, that perhaps the most interesting roster decision the Bears are going to have to make is at linebacker. He’s the first person I’ve read who has suggested this, though:
“[There might be] two spots for three players — Shea McClellin, the 2012 first-round pick who has converted from defensive end; Khaseem Greene, last year’s fourth-round pick with more special teams experience than McClellin; and undrafted rookie Christian Jones, who has shown himself to be among the Bears’ most physically gifted youngsters.
“If Jones plays well in exhibition games, the Bears won’t be able to stash him on their practice squad. McClellin, whom general manager Phil Emery has steadfastly supported, must show promise in these exhibitions.”
- The Bears released their first depth chart of the season as passed on by Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune. It was notable for a number reasons:
- Though virtually everyone assumes that Marquess Wilson has won the third wide receiver job, the Bears chose to name a starting fullback (Tony Fiammetta) and list Wilson along with Eric Weems on the second team.
- Weems was the punt and kick off returner, not Chris Williams. Everybody’s favorite underdog, Williams was not listed anywhere on the chart (with Kevin Fishbain at chicagofootball.com pointing out that the third team pair was Josh Bellamy and Josh Morgan).
- They listed McClellin alone at strong side linebacker. There continues to be some who are wondering if he’s being handed a position he didn’t earn. He’ll be worth watching closely on Friday.
- Ryan Mundy is your strong safety and Brock Vereen is your free safety. For now.
- Danny McCray and M.D. Jennings are the back up safeties with veteran Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson nowhere to be found (John Mullin at csnchicago.com notes that he’s listed with the third team). Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times notes that Wilson might be facing an uphill battle to make the roster if he doesn’t start because he doesn’t play special teams.
- Jordan Palmer apparently has the edge over Jimmy Clausen for the back up quarterback job. Reports consistently indicate that Clausen has been more impressive in camp but I’m starting to wonder if Palmer isn’t simply doing more what the Bears want in terms of taking care of the ball.
- Shaun Draughn was chosen as the back up running back over Michael Ford and Ka’Deem Carey.
- Trevor Scott was listed as the fourth defensive end over David Bass and Lane Austen. Bears 2013 draft pick Cornelius Washington appears to be in deep, deep trouble here.
- The two punters and two long snappers were listed together with the Bears failing to make a choice between the competitors.
- Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times compares this year’s second team to last year’s. He thinks the depth is better on defense. I would rather say its better on the defensive line. Other than that, I’m not too sure I see a big difference anywhere.
- Being a punter involves more than just kicking the ball. From Jahns:
“‘The field goals are different than college,’ said [rookie punter and holder Pat] O’Donnell, a sixth-round pick. ‘Especially here in Chicago, if the wind is blowing left-to-right or right-to-left, the hold changes quite a bit.
“‘[Kicker Robbie Gould]’s showing me how to adjust to that. He’s been a great mentor for it. He demonstrates it. He works with it every single day. He critiques it on film.'”
- A fan ran out onto the field during Family Fest at Soldier Field. It was notable for this exchange:
“After pondering aloud why someone would run onto a field full of pro football players, [Judge Adam] Bourgeois asked [John J.] Annoreno, ‘Why you gotta be so silly?’
“Annoreno, still bedecked in a Jay Cutler jersey, had no answer for the judge.
“‘I bet if you sat across the street in the county jail, you’d know,’ Bourgeois said.”
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune visits Lions training camp:
“The Lions lit about the last fire they can under DT Nick Fairley, declining to pick up his fifth-year option for 2015 that would have cost the team less than $6 million. Fairley, drafted 13th overall in 2011, has been a consistent underachiever and has struggled to remain in shape. He still has considerable upside but needs to commit himself, and the Lions are about done waiting for that to happen.”
- Nate Ulrich at the Akron Beacon Journal think s that Johnny Manziel is closing the gap on Brian Hoyer in Cleveland’s’ camp:
“In the first unscripted, live action of training camp, Manziel’s run-around-and-create-something-on-the-fly style was on display more than any other time since the Browns drafted him 22nd overall May 8. It’s his greatest strength, though it’s not always evident in a regular practice setting.”
It’s not always evident in a practice setting because the practice is supposed to prepare you for the games. I don’t know what kind of football they watch in Akron, but “run-around-and-create-something-on-the-fly” doesn’t win games in the NFL. It can help you win games. But if its all you can do, I assure you it will add up to a bunch of losses.
Assuming that the coaches know what they’re doing and don’t give in to public pressure and assuming the owner doesn’t interfere – a very big assumption – there’s no way Manziel starts unless he learns to throw from the pocket. And nothing I’ve read or heard has indicated to me that he’s anywhere close to having done that.
- Armando Salguero at the Miami Herald on their penchant for changing offensive coordinators:
“The folks who love the shifting and motion and so forth love to tell you it helps keep the defense from locking in on guys. It is harder to bracket a receiver who is moving presnap. It also creates indecision for the defense.
“But the folks that approach offense in a stationary presnap fashion — like the Dolphins did under Mike Sherman the past couple of years — will tell you their way of doing things is also well-thought.
“‘When you’re stationary as a football team or ahead of your emphasis on stationary, you might be able to make more adjustments offensively, check a play in another direction, redirect things, signal things differently,’ [head coach Joe] Philbin said.
“‘If you’re snapping a ball and guys are moving, you don’t really have that option. And so you have to kind of go with the play. Your intent is that you’re going to create a little bit of indecision, limit the play speed of the defense with all the shifting and motioning and so forth. The flipside is you’re not always 100 percent sure of the adjustments and you may get stuck into a look that maybe is less than ideal.'”
“It says here that both approaches have won. Both approaches have been highly successful.
“The bottom line is talent.”
- Gene Collier at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gives a reasonably humorous perspective on the state of the NFL before last nights “Hall of Fame Game”:
“Real, live, reasonably authentic football returns to your televisions tonight, America, and you’ve really, really missed it, right?
“Well, me neither.
“The NFL is the perfect new illustration of that old country lyric: ‘How can I miss you when you won’t go away?'”
“Most Americans walk around filled to the neck with NFL info, but if you’re planning your own live look-in tonight, you should be aware of some things for which you are perhaps unsuspecting.
“First, the Dallas Cowboys are not on.”
- Ray Fittipaldo, also at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, lets us know that, much though he would like for it to appear otherwise, LeGarrette Blount hasn’t changed much since his days at Oregon:
“[Vince] Williams went up against [Le'Veon] Bell in the backs-on-backers drill Friday before 7,000 fans at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. Williams bull-rushed Bell and pushed him deep into the backfield. The whistle did not blow and they continued to battle until Williams landed on top of Bell.
“The fight turned into an all-out melee a few seconds later when running back LeGarrette Blount, who was not dressed for practice, rushed to Bell’s defense and dived into the pile. Chaos ensued until coaches were able to break up the fight.”
- Jim Sohan at the Minneapolis Star Tribune thinks that the Vikings organization has bucked its history and finally stabilized. I would have thought that he’d have seen enough of Rick Spielman as a general manager to know better.
Full disclosure in fairness to Spielman: Mike Zimmer looks like a pretty good choice as head coach. And Norv Turner is a great offensive coordinator. And I do have a man-crush on Teddy Bridgwater.
OK. Maybe I need to re-think this…
- If you’re wondering why I think Brdgewater was a brilliant pick, this excerpt from Matt Vensel provides one reason. Again, from the Star Tribune:
“After Matt Cassel was unable to lead the first-team offense to a touchdown in a situation in which a field goal wouldn’t cut it, Bridgewater coolly guided the second-stringers 60 yards for a touchdown. Not counting a spike to stop the clock, Bridgewater completed each of his six attempts for all 60 yards and the touchdown, which came on a 20-yard strike to wide receiver Rodney Smith.
“Chatting with reporters after practice, Bridgewater acknowledged that the two-minute drill ‘went good.’ But he was still stewing over the interception he threw in the red-zone drill moments earlier.
“‘I’m not so happy about the way it ended as I am [upset] about the interception I threw in the red zone. That’s something I’ll learn from,’ Bridgewater said. ‘Coach Zimmer always stresses that we have to outsmart our opponent. If you have points, try to keep those points. I’m not as happy about the touchdown as I want to be.'”
- Bob McGinn at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel interviews Green Bar general manager Ted Thompson. I guess that success is relative in the NFL:
“Q. The Packers’ only playoff victory in the last three seasons was over the Joe Webb-quarterbacked Minnesota Vikings. Have the Packers underachieved in the postseason from 2011-’13 considering you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers in his prime?
“A. We would have liked to have won more, but that’s the way it worked out. The NFL is not an easy business. We’re aware of that, and when you get in the playoffs it gets turned up several notches. We’re hoping to do better this year.”
Looked at objectively, the whole division has under-achieved when you come right down to it.
One Final Thought
You know, when its all said and sifted, all-world quarterback Peyton Manning is just as big a geek as I am. Maybe bigger.