Leonard Williams Would Make Bears Fans Smile

AP-NFL

AP-NFL

Todd McShay looks to bring great joy to Chicago in his latest mock draft:

Leonard Williams Chicago Bears (5-11)
COLLEGE: USC Class: Jr HT: 6-4 WT: 302 POS: DE

“Analysis: To be clear: Williams dropping to No. 7 here has nothing to do with my opinion of him as a player. He’s the No. 2 prospect on my board and I’ve had him ranked as one of the top players in this class since the preseason. But this scenario does show how he has the potential to drop a little bit if he gets out of the top two picks based on the needs of teams picking third through seventh. He wouldn’t fill a huge need for the Bears, but at this point he’s too good of a value for them to pass up, especially given how bad their defense has been the past two seasons. The Chicago Bears ranked 31st in the league in scoring defense? That’s just not right. Williams is an impact run-stopper and above-average interior pass-rusher who can play multiple roles in different schemes. If Williams isn’t available here, then WR Kevin White would be the pick.”

“He wouldn’t fill a huge need?” You’ve got to be kidding me. The Bears needs on the defensive line are probably they’re greatest. Regardless they’re need for impact players at any position is an overriding priority.

The Bears wouldn’t just dash to the podium to take Williams. They’d do cartwheels all the way. Heck, if there was more room in my living room, I’d do cartwheels.

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New Schedule Offers Bears Fans a Chance to Get Some Rest

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reviews the newly released Bears 2015 season schedule:

“The Bears went from being a big draw for networks in prime time, playing five night games in 2014 and 12 over the three seasons before that, to getting just two this season. The first is a visit with the Chargers on ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ in Week 9 on Nov. 9 and then they are at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night when the Packers will induct Brett Favre into their ring of fame Nov. 26.”

Alle-freakin’-luia. It looks like Bears fans are going to get to go to bed early more often this year (Biggs does point out that games would be flexed into prime time if – against all expectations – the Bears turn out to be any good).

The only minor problem I have is that this could throw off the Bears evaluation of quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler is notorious for falling apart in big games against good opponents. This was especially true in prime time last year. In other games he has a habit of looking pretty decent. You could argue that this increases the chances that Bears head coach John Fox could be fooled into thinking Cutler is a good quarterback.

But overall, I’m relieved and happy. Cuter’s situation will eventually work itself out. One way or the other, whether he’s actually better with the new coaching staff or not, the truth will eventually come out. And I’d rather get some sleep.

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Some Creativity May Be Required to Find Safety Help As Well

In , I highlighted the Bears need at safety. However, the safety class in this year’s draft is rather thin. I thought that Kevin Fishbain at chicagofootball.com came up with an intersting solution to this delema in his most recent mock draft:

“Round 2, Pick 39 (potential trade-up):Connecticut CB Byron Jones

“For a feature on the safety position in our Chicago Bears Draft Preview magazine, Solomon Wilcots singled out Jones as a college corner with the athleticism and instincts to play safety in the NFL. Whether he is a corner or safety in the pros, a good defensive coordinator will find a place for the Combine workout warrior.”

As in the case of teams with a need at tight end, its clear to me that teams are going to have to get creative if they wish to find safties this year. Converting athletic corners that don’t excel in man coverage may be one option.

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Doug Buffone Was a Rare Bird

buffone-1

Fred Mitchell and Peter Nickeas at the Chicago Tribune report on the passing of former Bears linebacker Doug Buffone:

“‘It seemed to me he was lucky that he never had any serious injuries while he played with me,’ Dick Butkus said. ‘He had like bird legs but a developed upper body. He was just a good guy and we had a lot of fun.'”

“‘Not only a great football player, a great person on the radio but more than anything, just a great individual,’ [WSCR operations director MitchRosen said. ‘Somebody that everybody loved. When you met Doug Buffone you fell in love with him, and that’s how we feel.'”

Many will tell you that they remember Buffone best for his play with the Bears or for his frequent rants on the Bears postgame show after a Bears loss. But I’ll always remember him best during his Saturday afternoon shifts when he was regularly hosting on WSCR. Buffone had a way of instantly connecting to listeners. He talked into a microphone but it was just like sitting across the table from him with a drink in your hand. You couldn’t listen five minutes without liking him.

I can only give Buffone the highest praise I can give anybody I didn’t know personally. I never met the man but I sure will miss him.

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Secrets to Success In Football No Different that Anywhere Else: Prepare and Grind

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” The guess here is that few people know that better than football coaches.

Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press quotes Sean Payton as he discusses having play calling duties pulled from him in his first year as an offensive coordinator under Jim Fassel with the New York Giants:

“Payton had been a coordinator before, in college at Miami (Ohio). But calling plays in the NFL was different, and Payton said he learned one thing above all else from that experience.

“‘You learn it’s fast,’ Payton, now the New Orleans Saints head coach, said at the NFL owners meetings last month. ‘There’s somewhere between 5 and 7 seconds per decision, and so you make 70 of them (a game), pretty soon you have a headache.

“‘But you learn it’s fast, you learn the mechanics with regards to the quarterback-helmet (communication system), and then quickly you begin to really appreciate Monday through Friday because that’s when — look, if you grind on that and put together a really clean plan, Sundays, I’m not going to say it can become easy, but it’s no different than preparing for an exam.'”

A lot of fans sit around and think that being a coordinator and calling plays in the NFL is a result of sitting in a booth and being brilliant. Payton’s quote highlights that its not. Its not any different than any job that you, I or Colin Powell would ever have. It’s the result of grinding through the week, preparing a game plan which in part consists of asking the question over and over again, “What do I do if this happens?”

Payton was fortunate. He was smart enough to learn from failure that preparation was what was needed and to have had the work ethic to do what was necessary. It’s a winning combination and I’ll bet that’s not news to anyone reading this. And yet we still watch what seem to be spur of the moment decisions all around us made like lightening and forget that they are the result of slow, methodical, put on your overalls work done well beforehand.

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Bears Might Not Want to Find Themselves to Be Too Much On a Rolle Next Season

Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune reviews the Bears situation at safety:

“Both general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox were ecstatic to land 10-year veteran Antrel Rolle during free agency, adding talent and stability to the defense’s back end. Rolle’s best days may be behind him, but he’s still a three-time Pro Bowl selection with sharp instincts, versatility and the leadership ability to rally those around him.”

“By most accounts, this year’s draft class is ultra-thin at safety with very few sure bets at the top. That’s why it was critical for the Bears to make progress in free agency and why Rolle’s arrival has put Fox more at ease. ‘He understands the game,’ Fox said. ‘He plays the game fast. He understands how to prepare for NFL football games. I think that is contagious.’ “

Wiederer concludes that the need at safety is “moderate”. I’m going to have to disagree.

Its now clear that Ryan Mundy belongs at strong safety despite some rumblings when he was signed that he could play some free. He’s turned out to be a reasonably sure tackler and run stopped close to the line of scrimmage and as long as he’s kept in that role, he’s fine.

But Antrel Rolle is a different situation. In watching video of last season, to my eye Rolle definitely left something to be desired in coverage at free safety for the Giants. I was far less “ecstatic” than Fox and Pace apparently are that the Bears are apparently counting on Rolle this year.  Frequently his instincts led him astray as he repeatedly took a step in the wrong direction and left himself out of position. And he’s definitely slowing down.

In fairness, Rolle played better late in the season than he did early. But I think there’s real cause for concern and the Bears need exhaust all avenues to look for more depth at the position sooner rather than laster. I know that the Bears are counting on Rolle to show some leadership with this team. But its awfully hard to do that if you can’t perform on the field yourself.

Posted in Chicago Bears, New York Giants | 2 Comments

Bears May Look to Miami as a NFL Draft Trading Partner and Other Points of View.

Bears

  • Will Brinson at CBS Sports rates wide receiver David Terrell as the worst Bears first round draft pick in the last 25 years. I don’t see how he beat out Michael Haynes and Cade McNown but it must have been close.
  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com continues to claim that the Bears have a “screaming need” for a number one receiver. I’m not too sure that they don’t have one in Alshon Jeffery. In fact, I’m going to be mildly disappointed if he’s not. I look around the rest of the league at what other teams have and I’m not too sure the need at receiver is as great as some Bears commentators seem to think it is. Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune agrees here.  Don’t get me wrong – another playmaker would be welcome and you won’t hear any complaints from me if they draft one. But with Marquis Wilson and Eddie Royal, with Martellus Bennett at tight end and Matt Forte at runningback, I think that the Bears have plenty of receiving talent. The “need” might be for depth.
  • Arkush has the Bears selecting runningback Todd Gurley in his latest mock draft. I would hope the Bears would desperately try to trade back if Gurley is their guy.

    Arkush has been pushing runningback as an underrated need for the Bears for quite a while now. He’s got a point but this might be over doing it. The draft has plenty of depth at runningback and Stanford OT Andrus Peat, Iowa OG Brandon Scherff, Michigan State CB Trae Waynes and West Virginia WR Kevin White – picks 9-12 in Arkush’s mock – all look like better picks to me in that spot.

    The guess here is that Arkush is just having a little fun with it and that he doens’t seriously believe that the Bears will take Gurley at seven.

  • The Bears best free agent signing? For my money its linebacker Mason Foster, signed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (profiled here by Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times). Foster wasn’t a great fit for the cover two but I think he’s perfect for an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Football outsiders points to the Bears struggles at linebacker in coverage as a major problem in 2014, one that they think Foster could help solve. Jon Bostic in particular looked lost in space last year.

Elsewhere

One Final Thought

For those of you wondering what Brit McHenry did to get herself suspended from ESPN, the video of this media darling is below. McHenry’s car was towed by a company that is, by most accounts, pretty shady. Note that she is warned immediately that she is on camera.

I get that she’s upset and I would be, too. But taking it out on the employee at the front desk, especially in this manner, is not a good look.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams | Leave a comment

Better Than Diet Pills?

Richard Dent

I’m not much on the history of the league. What’s happening in the moment interests me more. But I found this article from Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune about the 1983 draft to be really interesting. Here he quotes then Bears scout Vince Tobin on eighth round steal Richard Dent:

“We had a combine that year, but he weighed 227 pounds and he had poor teeth. He couldn’t retain weight or anything and the first thing we did after we drafted him is we took him to a dentist and they corrected that and, hell, he started developing and gaining weight.”

That reminds me. I really need to make a dentist appointment. But I also really need to lose a weight…

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A Shift in Culture: The Bears Team Will Be a Reflection of Its Leaders

Bears offensive guard Kyle Long talks about the culture change inside Halas Hall as offseason workouts begin. Via Chris Boden at csnchicago.com:

“The guys we’re playing for now are just older versions of us. They understand what we’re going through … They do a great job of balancing work and your life outside of football, and they’re also football guys. They’re crazy about it and John Fox is hitting biceps curls next to me, talking smack, telling me to put weight on the bar. I think we got the right guys in the building.

“They’re a bunch of ‘men’s men’ upstairs. They love football and everything that comes about with football. That’s apparent here.”

“We need to score more points than the other team, and defensively we need to allow less points than we’re scoring. If we can’t play defense, if we can’t play offense or special teams, good things aren’t going to happen. I feel we have the right people in the building to achieve that. It’s been very evident the past two days it’s a different culture here.”

How this will translate into wins, I don’t know. But the comments are interesting. Presumably Long means that the men upstairs are older versions of the players, themselves, not only as they are but as they should be.  The implication is that the team will be tougher because the coaches are tougher. That makes some sense.

Every team, almost no matter what the sport, is a reflection of its coaches, especially the head coach. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of personality this team emerges into next season with.

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Shelton the Best Available Based Upon Video. And That Makes Him the Best Available, Period.

danny-shelton

Kevin Fishbain at chicagofootball.com evaluates Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton:

“Early on in the draft process, once we knew the Bears would be running a 3-4 defense, Shelton was the sexy choice for Chicago in mock drafts. Several draft analysts still peg him to the Bears, and it makes sense — any good, 3-4 defense needs a stout anchor to plug the nose.”

“There are three knocks on the Shelton-to-the-Bears narrative: one, as listed above, his Combine results bring questions to his short-area quickness. Two, Vic Fangio hasn’t necessarily needed a 330-plus-pound space eater in the middle of his defense (though, Isaac Sopoaga, the nose tackle from 2011-12 under Fangio, is 330 pounds). Three, and this is a line of thinking I can get on board with, is that Shelton is not the seventh-best player in the draft, and there will be better players available if the Bears stay at No. 7, like a pass rusher or one of the top wideouts.

“I’ll throw one more caution to those on the Shelton bandwagon — the first round is deep at defensive tackle, with players like Eddie Goldman, Jordan Phillips and late first-/early second-rounders Carl Davis and Malcom Brown. The Bears could trade down and get one of those players, too, or find a quality interior lineman at the start of the second round.”

A couple comments:

  1. The lack of short area quickness based upon Combine results is nonsense. Sheton shows amazing quickness for a man his size on video and both Fishbain, himself, and former Bears scout Greg Gabriel confirm that in this very same article. He’s not just a pile of blubber that will act as a run stopper. He’s going to supply pass rush.
  2. I agree that Shelton isn’t the seventh best player in the draft. In my mind, he’s the fourth best. Shelton has great instincts and pretty good intangibles that make him a playmaker and a very valuable commodity.
  3. Fishbain is right in that the Bears absolutely should trade down if they can. For one thing, if they can stay ahead of Cleveland ar 12, they can still get Shelton. For another, as much as I like Shelton, they need the picks more. If they get down into the area where an Eddie Goldman of a Malcom Brown become reasonable options, say in the lower 20’s, then that means they’ve picked up a lot of them.

I really dislike it when pundits downgrade a prospect based upon Combine results, as Fishbain is apparently doing here. All indications are that Danny Shelton is a heck of a football player. Absent a trade down – and its going to be tough to pull that off – I think Shelton is the best available in the seventh slot.

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