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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The Dangers of Drafting a Vic Beasley

Todd McShay at ESPN evaluates pass rushing prospect Vic Beasley:

“I’m not as high on Beasley as some others are, because I didn’t see any power element to his game on tape. I also have a hard time putting a top-15 type of grade on a defensive front-seven defender that turns down contact and likes to pile-inspect. Yes, his production at Clemson was off the charts. And yes, his workout numbers are rare. I also believe he is a hard worker with good football character. But I just don’t see the value as a first-half-of-the-first-round draft pick. When it’s all said and done, Beasley might be best suited to play off-the-line in a role somewhat similar to that of Von Miller (Broncos) or Anthony Barr (Vikings).”

I couldn’t agree more. Beasley (below) concerns me on a number of fronts other those that McShay points out (all of which I saw myself when watching him last fall).

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Beasley is the very definition of a late riser who found himself floating up boards after the Combine. He was at best a mid-first round prospect before that because, as McShay points out, he had no power to his game. I’ll also point out that I thought his instincts were suspect. Then he showed up at the Combine 15-20 pounds heavier and he carried the weight well. Now teams apparently think he projects to show more power.

But the question is, “Will he be able to carry that weight through the course of an NFL season?” Once a player starts getting regular snaps with an NFL defense, the weight has a bad habit of melting off, especially if it isn’t natural for the player to be carrying it.

Beasley looks to me like the prototypical case of a player who you have to stick to the video on. He is what he was at Clemson. Suggesting otherwise is a dangerous game. If I’m the Bears, I’m not touching him with the seventh pick.

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Gabriel Not a Believer in Jameis Winston

Nate Atkins quotes Pro Football Now draft analyst Greg Gabiel who scouted for the Bears and Giants for 26 years on Jameis Winston:

Bill Parcells used to tell me, ‘You’ve only got to be sprayed by the skunk one time to know it stinks.’ I don’t trust Jameis Winston to comply. He has a fault. He doesn’t get it.”

Maybe. I still think Winston’s major fault is that he’s impulsive (on and off the field). I’m not convinced he’s a bad guy and I’m not convinced he won’t be able to stay out of trouble after he’s drafted. At least for the most part.

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When Is Due Diligence Called For and When Isn’t It?

Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times profiles defensive tackle Danny Shelton:

“[G]iven that the team will morph into 4-3 defense on nickel and dime situations, the Bears could be cautious drafting someone who could be limited to two downs.”

“The 6-foot-2, 339-pounder has been compared to Haloti Ngata and Vince Wilfork. But he’s athletic enough that, growing up, he wanted to be Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.”

“He showed that athleticism when, in the rival Apple Cup matchup with Washington State this year, he barrel-rolled along the ground at line of scrimmage before the snap, lining up in a new position, and then sacked the quarterback.”

Having looked at some video of Shelton I can say that the comparison to Wilfork is a pretty good one. He’s plenty athletic and I think its entirely possible that he could be more than a two down player. But even as a two down player he’d be valuable. Finley points out that the Bears might be better off drafting a pass rusher – and they might. But there’s a decent chance that with proven 4-3 defensive ends like Jared Allen and Willie Young on the team, any pass rusher they take could well be restricted to being a two down player as well.

But here’s the paragraph that really caught my eye.

“Shelton talked extensively with the Bears at the Senior Bowl and at the NFL Scouting Combine, and, he said, with a Chicago scout after that. His only official visit after the combine was with the Browns, though he said teams have learned enough about him during his showcases to not need one-on-one visits.”

Do the Bears do their “due diligence” by brining in Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota – two players who are unlikely to be there at the seventh pick. They bring in Mario Edwards and T.J. Clemmings presumably on the off chance they find a way to trade down. But they don’t bring in Shelton, who is likely to be there when you pick and who fits the defense to a T? And not just the Bears – nobody seems to be brining him in.

I don’t get this. Each team gets 30 visits with prospects. The Packers general manager Ted Thompson restricts his mostly to low round players and free agents who weren’t at the Combine. That makes sense. But if you are a team like the Bears, how do you decide which prospects you do “due diligence on” and which you don’t?

The process seems random. Hopefully its not.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers | Leave a comment

Draft Day Trade of Cutler? In Some Ways It Makes Sense.

Josh Alper at profootballtalk.com continues to speculate on the possibility that Jay Cutler will be traded. This is, of course, possible and if it is going to happen, it will most likely be close to or during the draft. But it’s highly unlikely to be directly connected to an attempt to obtain Marcus Mariota.

If the Bears do draft a quarterback that they feel could start in 2015 or even one they think they can be very confident will develop this year, they might still be able to trade Cutler for a bag of balls without, for instance, asking for some sort of quarterback in return. If they pass on Mariota, that team could be the Titans, who might want a veteran quarterback to pair with promising but still relatively unknown Zack Mettenberger. That would be some expensive insurance, though, and it’s unclear to me how Cutler would fit into that equation.  It’s possible that such a trade only happens if the Titans, contrary to their public stance, actually have doubts about Mettenberger (as everyone outside of Tennessee seems to have).

Bottom line anything is possible. This assessment of the Bears chances of trading Cutler on draft day from Adam Schein at nfl.com is right in line with that thinking:

“New GM Ryan Pace established that Cutler is the Bears’ starting quarterback, but let’s be honest: It wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. Is it hard to imagine the new regime looking for an opportunity to unload the mercurial signal-caller and his bloated contract? No, not at all.

“Let’s say a QB-needy team — Tennessee or Cleveland, for example — eschews the position early in the draft. Would either entertain the idea of ‘fixing’ Cutler if it only meant taking on his salary and giving up a low-round pick? The Titans need buzz and Cutler made a name for himself in Nashville while starring at Vanderbilt. Cleveland … well, you can never be sure what the Browns are thinking. So who knows?

“Would the Bears get rid of Cutler, even without addressing the position in Round 1? I would, if I were Pace, in a heartbeat. I’d look to draft a quarterback on Day 2 and possibly make a move for a vet. You cannot have John Fox preaching energy as Cutler sucks the life out of the Bears.”

What quarterback on Day 2?  How about Garrett Grayson? I love Grayson and I think the Bears should seriously consider drafting him. Read this article by Troy E. Renck at the Denver Post to see why.

“When I talk to NFL scouts, I tell them to let him show what he knows. He can run a pro offense, and I also tell them to put on the film,” [former Colorado State offensive coordinator DaveBaldwin said. “I tell them to watch the Boston College game, when he hurt his shoulder, hobbled to the line of scrimmage and wouldn’t come out. Or watch when we went down to San Jose State and he pulled his hamstring and had a great day. His toughness is what you want. And his knowledge of defenses is definitely what you should want.”

Insert Grayson and take out Cutler for a low round pick? I’d take that. In a heart beat.

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What if Marcus Mariota Actually Fell to the Seventh Pick? It’s Not an Easy Question Anymore.

Nate Atkins at chicagofootball.com makes the case for the Bears to draft Marcus Mariota if they get the chance:

“Mariota will need time to grow, which is just a continuation of the path he’s been on for years. In the two years between committing to the Ducks and becoming their starter, Mariota made football his life, transforming from an overly emotional teenager to one of the most stoic stars in the game.

“He drew Oregon’s gazillion plays on school notebooks so he could teach them to teammates in practice. He wrote his entire Heisman acceptance speech on a piece of photo paper so he could follow it in one of the toughest moments of his life. Process is his refuge.”

“You reach a point in staring into the eyes of a man that you start to see the person he’s becoming rather than the one he just left behind. In Mariota, you see all the tools – the 6-4, 225-pound frame; the 4.52 speed; the strong arm; and the instantaneous release – and maybe the question to ask isn’t if, but when?”

This is some nice insight in a well-written article. Mariota (below) has risen in the estimation of many evaluators in the media as they’ve had more and more time to study him.  It seems that many are realizing that he did more in the Oregon offense that translates to the pro game than they had originally thought.

Marcus_Mariota_vs._USC

Atkins seems to take seriously the idea that Tennessee would trade the second overall pick for the Bears pick and Jay Cutler. He doesn’t say so but I’m sure he realizes that the Bears would have to throw in more.

More likely the question of whether the Bears should take Mariota will come if he actually falls to the seventh pick. Last week I would have said, “Trade down and take the extra picks.” The Bears have needs all over the field and the opportunity to take more than one young, cheap playmaker with an extra pick or two would be too great to pass up.  But now I’m not so sure that Mariota isn’t going to be the answer at the most important position in football. For someone at least.

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