Star Quarterbacks Are People, Too. And Other Points of View

Bears

  • 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.”

    Moron.

Elsewhere

  • 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.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers | Leave a comment

On the Value of Player Introductions and Other Points of View

Bears

  • I’m sure that Jared Allen was due for a veteran’s day off. But they had to give it to the new defensive end that everyone wants to see on Family Night at Soldier Field? Jeremiah Ratliff also got the night off.

    I understand that by giving these guys Saturday off, the Bears are effectively giving them two days in a row. But I still think it’s odd. They’re usually more fan-friendly. Via Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune.

  • On a related note, cornerback Tim Jennings‘s continued absence is becoming troublesome. Remember that he’s effectively trying to reconnect with the nickelback position. This is almost certainly stunting his growth.
  • Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times notes that Outkast was reunited during Lollapalooza across the street Saturday. That’s probably why Ratliff and Allen needed the night off.
  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com on the continued absence of Chris Conte and Craig Steltz due to offseason surgery:

    “It’s hard to guess how significant their injuries are to the team’s future at safety as both players could be long shots to make the club this year after Adrian Wilson, Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and Danny McCray were all brought in via veteran free agency and Brock Vereen was drafted in the fourth round.”

    “Wilson got his first reps with the starters at Friday’s practice and quite a few more Saturday night. While both starting safety spots will almost certainly be up for grabs for at least a few more weeks, the five-time Pro Bowler will be extremely difficult to unseat if he proves to be 100 percent healthy.”

    “Wilson and Mundy are the most experienced and accomplished of the safeties in camp and while both have played mostly strong safety, it’s hard to ignore they ran together with the first unit at Saturday night’s practice.”

    I would have to agree with Hub. We’ll see how the preseason goes but I think Bears fans might have seen what will eventually turn out to be the starters last night.

  • Also from Campbell:

    “There was another shotgun snap on the ground, this time by Roberto Garza. It’s happening too frequently.”

  • Most writers (including me) have trashed the idea of signing Kyle Orton to back up quarterback Jay Cutler. Most of us are convinced that Orton left the Cowboys because he wants to retire. Nevertheless statements made by general manager Phil Emery to ESPN radio make it apparent that he hasn’t ruled it out. Via Michael C. Wright at ESPN.com:

    “‘There’s an interest on our end on looking at any player that can help this team, and we continue to do that,’ Emery said. ‘We want to keep looking at players that can really have a legitimate chance to make our team. If there’s a quarterback, a wideout, a defensive person — a DB that could help us — we’re certainly gonna look at him.’ “

  • John Mullin at CSNChicago.com points out that the Bears third preseason game will be more significant than usual because its against Seattle:
  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune and Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press get together in this video and echo many of my own thoughts on the NFC North race:

Elsewhere

  • Former NFL general manager Charlie Casserly doesn’t seem to be thrilled with the Dallas Cowboy’s linebackers. To say the least. From The Dallas Morning News:

    “[Rolando] McClain … let me say this. I would never have taken this guy with the eighth pick in the draft. I think this guy is not good enough. I don’t think he’s physical enough. I don’t think his instincts are good. I don’t think he can cover; I don’t think he can play. To me, it was a trade that is a waste of time. They were hoping, I guess, to get a big guy in the middle because [Justin] Durant and [DeVonte] Holloman aren’t that kind of a guy. Hey, I’m going to go see them in 10 days. I hope he’s not there to waste my time with him.”

    Damn.

  • Brandon George a The Dallas Morning News says that Caleb Hanie is making the same impression on the Cowboys that he did with Bears fans:

    “The veteran quarterback from Forney [High School] hasn’t been sharp throughout the first week of camp. He’s struggled with his accuracy and seems far behind backup quarterback Brandon Weeden at this point.”

  • Steve Van Over at the Cowboys Nation has a request:

    “Tell me I did not read that Jerry Jones sent out playoff ticket options? No, really. I want you to tell me.”

    Sorry, Steve. Can’t help you, buddy.

  • Frank Buffington, also at Cowboys Nation, has an interesting take on the ability of Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as a game manager:

    “Last season, Jerry Jones talked about Garrett learning and improving as a head coach. Jones appears to be banking on Garrett being able to either learn to be better in game management situations or simply hoping that he improves with experience. But what if assessing multiple variables in mere seconds while under tremendous pressure and while performing several other tasks just isn’t a particular talent or ability that Garrett has? Garrett appears to be a very analytical thinker, which is an asset for the development of a long term strategy. However, studies of personality types indicate that analytical people typically struggle when forced to make quick decisions. This is likely because they like to analyze and process a large amount of information when making decisions, which typically isn’t possible when a quick decision is required.”

    Buffington goes on to suggest that the Cowboys hire a “game management specialist”. Not too sure about that one…

  • Nick Fairley might still face a suspension from the NFL for his DWI in 2012. From Kyle Meinke at MLive.com.
  • Packer’s first round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix remains a back up behind Micah Hyde. It’s still early but considering how miserable the Packers were at the position last year, I’d say its not a good sign that Clinton-Dix hasn’t broken the lineup over one of the incumbents. From Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • To my eye the Packers were one of the worst tackling teams in the NFL last year. So I guess its no surprise that there’s some distress in Packer land about the lack of tackling in camp. Also from the Journal Sentinel.
  • The Packers are an anomaly in that, though they seem to draft reasonably well, Tom Silverstein at the Journal Sentinel points out that they’ve continued to miss in the first round. And its killing their defense.
  • Officials visited the Packers during their Family Night on Saturday and the defense got a little shock. From Rob Demovsky at ESPN.com

    “Even though they know the officials are placing an emphasis on contact in the passing game, they did not expect what they saw. There were about 20 reps in the [receiver-defensive back one-on-one drill] and by unofficial count, the officials threw flags on 10 of them. Only one was on a receiver.”

  • Ben Goessling at ESPN.com quotes Vikings special-teams coach Mike Priefer, on the NFL experimenting with a rule to move extra points back to the 15-yard line:

    “Eventually, it’s probably going to change. I’ve kind of accepted that fact. It’s going to be tougher for the northern cities that have the wind and the weather because a 33-yard field goal, to me, is still not a chip shot. Even the extra point, I know it’s 99 percent, but it’s something they want to change and if they want to do it, we have to embrace it like any other change on special teams. You’ve got to embrace it and change what we do a little bit and move on.”

One Final Thought

Wright on the player introductions last night:

“During Family Fest, the players are introduced by the public address announcer by position before the workout, and they run out of a smoke-filled tunnel as fireworks go off as they enter the field. As the offensive players were announced, they ran out of the tunnel individually. When the defensive players were announced, each position group came out of the tunnel simultaneously, as somewhat of a display of solidarity.”

I’ve never been a big fan of these player introductions. The NFL isn’t the NBA (thank goodness). Each player at least to some extent suppresses his individuality for the good of the team. The introductions of single players or even of position groups counter a lot of what the game is about.

I know they’re traditional and the Bears work hard to make them look nice with all of the smoke and the inflatable tunnel and all. But, really, would fans miss them all that much?

Honestly, they’re a waste of time and money.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Points of View | Leave a comment

Where Does Being the “Head” Coach Stop and the Interference Begin?

DeAngelo Hall confirms to Comcast Sports Net‘s Chick Hernandez that former Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan was occasionally overruling defensive coordinator Jim Haslett‘s defensive calls last year. Via Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post:

“‘Yeah, I mean, it was probably more difficult for Jim than us,’ Hall said. ‘You know, we were going through all week practicing a certain call, knowing that we were going to call it in certain situations. And there would be certain times where Mike WOULD overrule Jim.'”

“‘And football, especially defense, it’s a game of chess moreso than checkers,’ Hall said. ‘You can’t go out there thinking you’re going to just put a chip here and jump. You’ve got to almost set it up four or five plays ahead of time, knowing you’re going to come back to something that looks pretty similar to the defense you just ran.”

Just how much input a head coach should have in these situations is an interesting question. He is, after all, called the “head coach” for a reason. In the end, its his “head” on the block. You aren’t hired to coach the offense. You’re hired to coach the whole team.

Contrast Shanahan’s handling of the situation to what new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer plans to do. As documented by Ben Goessling at ESPN.com:

“‘Honestly, I trust [offensive coordinator Norv Turner]‘s judgment,’ Zimmer said. ‘I’ll come in and talk to him about, ‘How are we going to get this guy blocked this week? What do you think the best runs are?’ We talked about a couple things last night. But the biggest input for me will be, ‘Alright, it’s this situation, Norv; we need to run the ball here. We’ve been running it down their throats. Let’s not throw it three times. Let’s get another run in there, give the ball to Adrian [Peterson] or whatever it is. Or things that I see on tape; they’re having a hard time [with] no-backfield formations, or things like that.'”

But even that might be going too far. If the Vikings start losing (and the odds are they will) such interference might be resented in the same way that Shanahan’s was.

I’ve pushed repeatedly for Bears head coach Marc Trestman to be more involved with the defense and I hold to that. But its evident that it should have its limits. When I think about these types of situations I’m reminded of the way that former Rams head coach Dick Vermeil handled the penchant of offensive coordinator Mike Martz to pass the ball too much. Verimeil said he would occasionally call up to the booth and gently remind Martz not to forget about the run. But he never told him what to call or when to call it. My guess is that’s about as far as it should go on game day.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins | 1 Comment

Under the Radar Players and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Gavin Crowell and Stephanie Stremplewski at the Chicago Sun-Times ask Bears rookies which veterans have been most helpful:

    David Fales, quarterback: ‘‘Jay Cutler has been great. Anytime you have someone with the experience he does, with that ability and talent, it’s so helpful. He’s reached out to me on several occasions, which he didn’t have to do, so that means a lot.’’”

    This has become a common theme. Recall that backup Jimmy Clausen mentioned that Cutler spent a weekend studying with him after he was picked up by the Bears. I think Cutler learned a lot from his experiences with Josh McCown.

  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh on Jordan Palmer:

    “‘[Palmer] knows the system very well and had some work last year — but not a lot, even in practice,’ Cavanaugh said. ‘So that’s where he’s catching up now is on the field, and he’s doing a good job. He’s a tall [6-5], strong-armed guy who’s smart and makes good decisions.’

    “The Bears covet quarterbacks who can make decisions and avoid turnovers more than anything in Trestman’s offense, and Cavanaugh said those are two of Palmer’s strengths.”

    Clausen has been generally considered to be the better quarterback in camp because of his willingness to push the ball down field. But its possible that’s not what the Bears are really looking for in a back up quarterback.

  • Potash on linebacker Christian Jones

    “Jones will be an interesting test case for the Bears coaching staff — can they find the right spot for him and develop his unique ability? Jones was incredibly versatile at Florida State — he played the strong side and weak side linebacker positions in 4-3 defenses; and inside and outside linebacker positions in a 3-4. But for some strange reason, players like that sometimes find themselves without a position in the NFL. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bears can find the right spot, because they seem to know they have something to work with, but also that it won’t happen overnight.”

  • This statement goes against the comments of many observers who have’t been impressed with Marquess Wilson. It may speak more to the mediacrity of the competition. Via Potash:

    “Second-year pro Marquess Wilson still leads the competition for the No. 3 wide receiver spot, [Bears head coach Marc] Trestman said in a rare acknowledgement of positional rankings.”

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune quotes analyst Cris Collinsworth on former high school teammate and current Bears linebackers coach Reggie Herring:

    “‘He was Mr. Intensity before that was the cool thing to be,’ Collinsworth said. ‘He was born to coach. In football, passion sells. It’s hard to go to practice every day. Something hurts all the time or it’s hot or the pads stink. Football is a lifestyle of ‘something is wrong.’

    “‘With Reggie, every day was sunshine. Every day was the greatest day of his life that he got to walk around the field and play football.'”

  • From Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:

    “On a day in which the defense was active and energetic, linebacker Lance Briggs made plays. During one session of 11-on-11 work, Briggs broke on a Cutler pass to Martellus Bennett and deflected it, punctuating the play by running past the bleachers with his right fist in the air. Some fans, however, are never happy. ‘Next time catch it!’ one yelled to Briggs.”

  • Although I’d never heard of him before the Bears signed him, linebacker DeDe Lattimore‘s name keeps popping up in reports from camp. He’s making plays against back ups but the more I see his name, the more I think it may mean something.
  • Speaking of under the radar players, I think this report from Michael C. Wright at ESPN.com is notable:

    “Veteran defensive end Trevor Scott hasn’t received much publicity throughout camp, but he’s proven deserving over the first several days of camp. In addition to size and physicality, Scott showcases a plethora of pass-rushing moves on a day-to-day basis that could make him a contributor to the rotation up front. One staffer called Scott ‘the real deal so far’ at camp.”

    Lattimore is probably competing for a spot on the practice squad. But Scott very well might be a major contributor before this thing is all over. He’ll be someone to watch very closely in the preseason games.

  • Arthur Arkush notes something that I, also, have been meaning to get to:

    “Special teams units are often filled with younger players, but there is no shortage of established veterans [general manager Phil] Emery has brought in this offseason to bolster [special teams coordinator Joe] DeCamillis’ transitioning unit. From [Jordan] Senn to Danny McCray to M.D Jennings to Ryan Mundy, not to mention returning contributors like Sherrick McManis and Eric Weems, the Bears have a wealth of experienced and prideful core special teamers.”

    Unlike many fans, I gave DeCamillis a pass for the most part last year. They can’t all be Dave Toub.

    But that’s all over. Emery paid a lot of attention to special teams in the offseason and if they under-perform again, I strongly suspect that DeCamillis will (and should) pay the price.

  • Speaking of special teams, Wright lists the current members of the first string kickoff return team for those looking for clues as to who has the edge for a roster spot.
  • I think labeling this one “unofficial” might be more accurate:

Elsewhere

  • San Antonio Chamber of Commerce executive Richard Perez told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Raiders are taking “a serious look” at the city. Via Mike Wilkening at profootballtalk.com:

    “Perez also shed some light on Davis’ message to city officials.

    “‘I will you tell that I felt very, very comfortable and confident that his word was true,’ Perez said. ‘And he said, ‘Look, you know, I’m not telling you that I’m coming today, but I will tell you that I’m looking, and you all are definitely someone that we’re looking very closely at.’'”

    This probably isn’t smoke. The Raiders are on a one year lease and Steelers owner Art Rooney told Sirius “The Raiders have a stadium situation that’s difficult. Something is going to have to give.” With the 49ers the NFL doesn’t need two teams in the Bay Area. Whether its San Antonio or somewhere else, the possibility that the Raiders will move sooner rather than later is very real.

  • Even with the difficulties involved in this particular case, I’m not entirely sure why Josh Gordon‘s hearing is taking so long. But it can only mean good things if you’re a Browns fan. From Darin Gantt at profootballtalk.com.
  • Something tells me that Jim Haslett better shut up and listen. Via Josh Alper, also at profootballtalk.
  • William C. Roden at the New York Times on the effect that Rex Ryan is having on the Jets. Ryan has toned it down in recent years because in an effort to keep a lower profile, something the organization apparently wanted at the time. Not so this year:

    “With his job possibly on the line, Ryan has apparently decided that if he is going to get fired, he will go out the way he came in — with bravado on full throttle.

    “[Offensive tack D’Brickashaw] Ferguson said the importance of Ryan’s return as the coach with the bullhorn was that he was re-establishing confidence in his players.

    “‘When you believe, ‘Maybe I can do it,’ and you have people who motivate you and encourage you, it really puts you in a position to say: ‘You know what? This is going to happen; I need to buy in.’ ‘”

  • Former Bears Scouting Director Greg Gabriel at the National Football Post on Julius Peppers, now with the Packers:

    “Peppers will have some big games early in the season and many in the media will criticize the Bears for letting him go. The problem with that criticism is that the season isn’t five or six games, it’s 16. I have no doubt that the Julius Peppers we see in September will not be the Julius Peppers we see in mid-November and December. I am sure his play will drop off dramatically, just like it has over the last few years. When you are in your mid-30s and have played 13 years in the NFL, that’s what happens.”

    Bashing Peppers, especially among Bears fans, is fashionable nowadays. But everyone, including Gabriel, would be well advised to remember that Peppers release was almost entirely about his cap number. If he’d been making less, he’d still be a Bear and we almost certainly wouldn’t be hearing any of this.

One Final Thought

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the Green Bay Packers:

“The Packers are waiting for a tight end to emerge from a three-man competition with no guarantee anyone will in the club’s effort to replace Jermichael Finley.

“For the second straight offseason, Aaron Rodgers lost a primary target at wide receiver as James Jones departed via free agency for the Raiders.

“But the Packers have Rodgers back, healthy and rested, and that alone makes them the favorite in the NFC North.”

It’s hard to argue with him. The addition of Eddie Lacy to the running game and Peppers to the defense is going to make them very tough. Again.

But it goes well beyond that. Over the years the Packers have shown a bad habit of getting it done when they have to. The Bears often haven’t. Not as often as the Vikings. But pretty often. They’re are going to have to start showing that they can perform when it counts if they want to be in the Packer’s class. I’m pretty sure that’s what part of what Trestman means when he says that they have to get “tougher”.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Points of View | Leave a comment

Technology for the Sake of Having Technology? And Other Points of View

Bears

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune makes thinks this is a good sign. I would agree:

    “I want to single out defensive end Jared Allen for two stops he made against the run in third-and-short situational drills. Allen’s affinity for sacks is well documented. On third-and-short, though, when the offense has the luxury to either run or pass, Allen read the running plays and executed accordingly. His suddenness getting off blocks helped the defense win the downs, as did his understanding of where his help was.

    “‘I just try to set an edge and make sure the ball doesn’t get outside me, and then try to fall back in and help on the tackle,’ he said.”

  • Pretty much all reports indicate that linebacker Shea McClellin is having a rough transition to linebacker. Campbell’s is no exception:

    “McClellin plays with the second-string nickel package and the first-string base defense, which means he currently is not on the field in many obvious passing situations. That could change during games, of course, but it’s something to keep an eye on, especially because the Bears have touted McClellin as a pass rush specialist as they try to jumpstart his career at linebacker.”

  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes defensive end Willie Young:

    “Defensive end Willie Young senses a heightened sophistication in the Bears’ defense compared with the one he played in during his first four seasons with the Lions. Said Young: ‘I didn’t have too many responsibilities besides getting after the quarterback and doing everything on the run. … (Here) you definitely have to have some brains. You have your responsibilities. It gets more complex than that. But everybody has a job to do and everybody is held accountable to be where they’re supposed to be.'”

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Young on how he managed only three sacks last year when he had a massive 48 quarterbacks hurries last year:

    “‘Some sacks I just completely freaking blew,’ Young said. ‘Beating the tackle so quick, moving so fast, it’s, ‘Whoa! How did I miss this guy?’ You just name (the game) and go down the list, there were games I could have had five sacks. Could is a big word with my statement.'”

  • Let’s hope its a word he can drop this year. Most of the time when this happens its because the defensive lineman is going so hard after the quarterback that he can’t control his body and make adjustments to the quarterback’s movement in the pocket. Whether Young can get to the quarterback with the same consistency and still maintain the balance needed to finish will be interesting to see as the season progresses.

  • I think most of us assumed this but Biggs confirms that Lamarr Houston will be moved into defensive tackle in the nickel package.
  • Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes offensive guard Matt Slauson on defensive tackle Will Sutton:

    “‘His mental side of the game I am very impressed with,’ Slauson said. ‘The things that he picks up about what I do, now I have to change my whole game for him.

    “‘A lot of times you go against a rookie and you’re like, ‘Ah, I can just take a normal set because I know he doesn’t know a lot.’ But that worked for a day. He’s changed everything, and now I’ve got to change. It’s awesome.'”

  • To this day this topic is so painful it was all I could do to just scan the article.
  • Referees at Bears camp also went over new points of emphasis this season. Via Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times:

    “The most common ‘new’ flag we’ll see in preseason, they said, is a false start penalty for offense linemen — particularly centers — who made sudden movements, under the guise of communicating with their teammates, to try to draw an offside penalty.”

  • Kevin Fishbain at chicagofootball.com adds this one which may turn out to be more important:

    “In the past, a grab of the jersey would be ignored if it did not impede a receiver’s route to make a catch, but with the precision of so many timed routes around the league (like the Bears’ offense), jersey grabs will be watched closely. Cornerbacks Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and Kyle Fuller, who can all be very physical, will need to keep that physicality inside the five yards when the quarterback is in the pocket, otherwise flags will fly.”

  • Jenning’s quadriceps injury is stunting his growth at nickelback. Again From Finley.
  • Arthur Arkush at chicagofootball.com thinks that Pat O’Donnell has “likely” won the punting job. Let’s wait and see how the preseason goes, shall we?
  • Lance Briggs doesn’t automatically buy into the annual preseason hype surrounding the team in his interview with Chris Boyle at csnchicago.com towards the end of this clip:

Elsewhere

  • Sam Farmer, writing for the Chicago Tribune, reviews the state of the 49ers going into the 2014 campaign:

    “Coach Jim Harbaugh would describe the maturation of his quarterback in terms a techie could appreciate.

    “‘Colin [Kaepernick] is at the highest level, where he can auto-correct,’ Harbaugh said of his fourth-year quarterback at training camp this week. ‘You know, like auto-correcting in texting or whatever. Even if a coach makes a mistake, it’s wrong in the script, the play is called into him wrong, he just auto-corrects it and doesn’t ask, ‘Hey, is that right or wrong?'”

    The 49ers seem to be depending upon former Bears wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to do big things this year:

    “‘He does this thing in meetings that I have not seen before,’ [Harbaugh] said. ‘He’ll be sitting in his chair watching the tape and go through his route. And all of a sudden here comes a swim move [pantomiming the move], or a slap of the arm. And then sometimes he’ll stand up and, you know, it’s a jab step.

    “‘Talk about full speed mentally and 100% engaged in the meeting. I mean, I’ve never seen a guy at any level go through a meeting like that. It just makes me giggle and giddy to watch him do it. Wish I had seen that earlier in my career and could have adopted that into my meeting game. It’s awesome.'”

  • As this video from Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com implies, most people think the contract that offensive tackle Tyron Smith signed yesterday with the Cowboys is a horrible deal. It’s 10 years with relatively little money guaranteed. That’s OK if all it affects is Smith but the contract is so egregiously bad that the NFLPA and most of the agents are angry and they fear that the will affect negotiations for other players.

One Final Thought

The NFL is implementing what amounts to a GPS system (though that’s not precisely what it is) for players on the field in 15 stadiums this year. The system provides positioning data to broadcasters and, eventually, coaches. I’m having a hard time getting excited about this but we’ll see where it goes. Via Ellen Jean Hirst at the Tribune.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Points of View | Leave a comment

Defense Helps Offense and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribunenotes a few observations from Hall of Fame reciever Michael Irvin:

    “Irvin pointed out how Marshall uses his size and speed to separate on horizontal routes. At 6-foot-5, Marshall is imposing. So when Marshall bears down (pun intended!) on a cornerback at the top of his route, a cornerback has to respect Marshall’s physical presence, sometimes by backing off. That often helps Marshall create space coming out of his break.

    “He lauded [Alshon] Jeffery’s fluidity and spatial awareness after Jeffery caught a deep pass from quarterback Jay Cutler near the right sideline at the end of practice. From a wide split, Jeffery drove his route up the field, pushing rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller inside. That created space for Cutler to target his pass toward the sideline. Cutler exploited the space with an accurate throw that Jeffery ran underneath and caught. Irvin appreciated how Jeffery created the space for himself with his route direction and then smoothly got back to the outside.

    “After practice, Fuller said he must be more aware of the space between him and sideline and narrow that to limit Cutler’s margin for error and Jeffery’s range to catch the ball. Such lessons are part of his daily development at this point.”

  • I found this statement from Irvin via Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times to be easy to believe:

    “Irvin joked there was one thing Marshall and the Bears’ receivers do better than he did: block. He praised the Bears’ receivers ‘fervor’ for blocking.

    “‘I’ve always found that part difficult,’ Irvin said. ‘It was nowhere in my contract that (owner) Jerry (Jones) was willing to give me any incentives for blocking.'”

  • Campbell continues with this observaion of rookie quarterback David Fales:

    “When he was pressured during team drills, he climbed the pocket to extend the play. He kept both hands on the ball — a technique coach Marc Trestman and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh want their quarterbacks to prioritize in the pocket — and maintained a sound, athletic base. That enabled him to keep his eyes downfield and complete a pass to Chris Williams over the middle.

    “On a similar play earlier in camp, Fales’ legs were too close together as he shuffled forward. That resulted in him being too upright. He had to quickly reset into a throwing position, but the awkwardness resulted in an errant pass.”

    It wouldn’t be right to do it or I would have quoted most of this article for the blog. It’s recommended reading.

  • Fred Mitchell and Campbell note that Danny McCray took the first team reps in place of rookie Brock Vereen at safety yesterday. Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times elaborates:

    “With only 10 career starts, McCray was considered just a special-teams addition. But the Bears have lived up to their promise that the competition would be wide open.

    “‘Everyone has an equal chance,’ McCray said.

    “‘Danny has worked to an extent that he gets a chance to get some work there,’ [head coach Marc] Trestman said.

    “‘We just wanted to see how Brock handles the situation. And how does Danny handle moving up? It all goes into the gathering of information to make decisions at the end.'”

  • Though offensive guard Kyle Long has been cleared to play by doctors, Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times notes that the two days of noncontact work before he actually practices in pads Saturday night is required by the collective bargaining agreement.
  • Potash also says that “Will Sutton continues to look like the rookie DT who will make the most impact this season. But it’s early.” I would say that Sutton is more likey to appear to make the most impact. The position of nose guard isn’t very glamourous, especially if Ego Ferguson‘s primary responsibility will be to keep the offensive lineman off of the linebackers. But its probably going to be darned important.
  • Kevin Fishbain at chicagofootball.com makes an interesting point I didn’t find elsewhere:

    “Linebackers coach Reggie Herring and defensive backs coach Jon Hoke worked with the offense — Herring with the tight ends and running backs and Hoke with wide receivers — in a ball security drill. Marc Trestman is very vocal about ballcarriers putting the ball away. Herring and Hoke can offer pointers from the perspective of having coached defensive players on stripping the ball.”

  • Another interesting observation from Fishbain:

    “Trestman praised second-team left tackle James Brown for his block out in front of a run play.”

    It’s the first mention of Brown, whose roster position I think is in serious jeopardy, that I’ve found since camp began.

    Another name I haven’t heard much is “Isaiah Frey” as Fishbain states that “Kelvin Hayden played first-team nickel with Tim Jennings limited”.

  • You people need to settle down. From csnchicago.com:

    “According to the online sports book Bovada, 95 percent of the money wagered on the Bears’ upcoming season has Chicago favored to win more than 8.5 games, meaning only five percent of the public is betting they won’t have a winning record after going 8-8 last season.”

  • Shame on Tony Andracki at csnchicago.com (or whatever editor is responsible for the assignment) for drumming up this non-story so early in the year.
  • Michael C. Wright at ESPN.com makes an interesting observation:

    “Trestman spent several minutes after practice working with backup quarterbacks Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen, putting the duo through rope-ladder drills. Holding the ball, the quarterbacks simulated their drops through the ladder. It appears the coach is working to improve the quarterbacks’ footwork.”

    Not to be too critical but I would have liked to have heard that Cutler was doing it with them.

  • More hand wringing over the linebacking corp on Sports Talk Live:

One Final Thought

I love the fact that the Bears managed to get not just one but two sponsors for Saturday night’s practice by calling it the “Meijer Family Fest presented by Chase”.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Points of View | Leave a comment

Depth a Concern at What Some Might Consider to Be a Surprising Position

  • Potash also notes that reciever Chris Williams had some first-team reps in practice. On a related note, Potash apparently isn’t ready to concede the third reciever positon to Marquess Wilson like the rest of us:

    “Still waiting for someone to emerge as the No. 3 receiver. Marquess Wilson leads but almost by default. Williams and [Eric] Weems have been the most impressive challengers. But it’s early. “

    The question of who is going to step up at this position isn’t a trivial one. This article from Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com emphasizes the point:

    “Last Monday, a funny thing happened to the Chicago Bears on their march to Super Bowl XLIX. Alshon Jeffery missed practice No. 4 of this year’s training camp with a minor toe injury. Then, the Bears’ perceived juggernaut of an offense stopped working.

    “To say the passing game ground to a halt is a bit of an overstatement but Brandon Marshall started dropping passes, Jay Cutler threw a pick and then started missing receivers and the defense clearly won the day.”

    “I can’t imagine anyone even debating that Marshall and Jeffery aren’t the best wide receiver duo in the NFL, and if both are healthy throughout this season the Bears can be an offensive juggernaut.

    “But Monday confirmed something I’ve feared all summer. The team is dangerously thin behind its dynamic duo and when one goes down, the whole offense can run amok.”

    Arkush goes on to evaluate the competition. Its the kind of thing that makes those who root for the underdog smile. But teh rest of us who recognize that effort can only go so far may have cause for conern:

    “After Marshall and Jeffery, Chris Williams and Eric Weems have clearly been the next best pass catchers in camp, not including Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett, of course.

    “The irony here is that Williams was brought in to return kickoffs and punts and Weems specializes in special teams as well.

    “One standing on the other’s shoulders could barely look Marshall or Jeffery in the eye.”

    Like Arkush, I recognize that with Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett also catching passes, the Bears offense will probably be fine with Marshall and Jeffery. But heaven help us if one of them goes down.

  • Posted in Chicago Bears | Leave a comment

    Cutler for MVP Talk Just That: Talk

    David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune on wide reciever Brandon Marshall‘s Jay Cutler for MVP” talk:

    “Offseason signs of growth in Cutler depict the man Marshall describes. But as good as Marshall’s intentions were, casting Cutler the player as a preseason MVP candidate only establishes unrealistic expectations set unnecessarily high. Cutler needs to run the offense. Protect the football. Make smart throws and decisions. Every now and then, show off that $127 million arm and be the reason the Bears beat a team they shouldn’t.

    “But win the MVP? Cutler could enjoy the most successful year ever and lead the Bears into the playoffs without finishing in the Top 10.”

    Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times counters:

    “That’s where the [Bears head coach Marc] Trestman effect — a higher completion percentage, fewer mistakes and fewer bad games — could turn Cutler into an MVP candidate. An efficient Cutler is an elite quarterback.”

    I’m going with Haugh on this one. The word “elite” is thrown around too easily, especially when it comes to quarterbacks.

    For instance, Aaron Rogers makes the players around him better. He makes up for a host of deficiencies on a small market team that depends heavily upon younger draft picks and almost never spends anything significant in free agency. In contrast, Cutler needs those around him to make him better and when the ship is sinking, he goes down with it. Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com indirectly helps me make my point:

    “Last Monday, a funny thing happened to the Chicago Bears on their march to Super Bowl XLIX. Alshon Jeffery missed practice No. 4 of this year’s training camp with a minor toe injury. Then, the Bears’ perceived juggernaut of an offense stopped working.

    “To say the passing game ground to a halt is a bit of an overstatement but Brandon Marshall started dropping passes, Jay Cutler threw a pick and then started missing receivers and the defense clearly won the day.”

    Cutler is (depending on how you define “MVP”) neither the best player in the league, nor the most valuable.

    I know it sounds like I’m trashing Cutler. I’m not. He can be a fine quarterback and if he performs to his abilities the Bears will be lucky to have him. But there are only – maybe – four quarterbacks in the entire league that you could really call “elite”. He’s just not one of them.

    Cutler’s not going to be the MVP. Or if he is, it won’t be justified. It’s just not who he is.

    Posted in Chicago Bears | Leave a comment

    Being Tougher Than Tough and Other Points of View

    Bears

    • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes linebackers coach Reggie Herring on Jon Bostic:

      “Right now, his ability to play any position and be effective — to me, he’s more valuable than any guy I got. He’s the only guy right now that I feel comfortable that can line up at every position and know what to do and be effective.”

      I also thought this nugget from Potash was interesting:

      “One particularly intriguing Herring project is Christian Jones, an undrafted rookie from Florida State who signed with the Bears in part because of Herring, who played linebacker with Jones’ father, Willie Jones Sr., at Florida State in 1978.

      “‘He has a great body you want to develop,’ Herring said of the 6-3, 240-pound Jones. ‘He’s a great kid. We’re excited about him being here. He’s raw. There is a process. But we are very pleased with where he is.’”

      Given the log jam at linebacker, Jones is starting to sound like a practice squad candidate. But that’s assuming the Bears believe that no one will try to put him on their roster if they release him.

    • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes linebacker Lance Briggs:

      “You know what? I really enjoy watching my teammates make plays. I always have been that way. That’s just the way I am. A lot of guys are, ‘I want to make the play,’ but I genuinely get excited to watch my teammates make plays.”

    • Also from Biggs, it was nice to read an uncharacteristically positive quote from former middle linebacker Brian Urlacher:

      “‘I am sure another year under the staff (has [Briggs] more comfortable) and I am sure he knows what they could possibly have there,’ Urlacher said. ‘They could be really good this year.'”

    • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni on the two rookies, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton:
    • “‘I hope they’re leaning on each other,’ Pasqualoni said. ‘Because this is too hard to try to do all by yourself. I hope they’re leaning on each other and I hope they’re leaning on the older guys as well.'”

    • The guys at chicagofootball.com review the action from Monday (they had yesterday off). The thoughts of Kevin Fishbain on the defensive line were interesting. The unit will be critical to the Bears success. He’s particularly impressed with Trevor Scott, calling him the Bears fourth best defensive end. I’m not too surprised. We’ll see if it translates into performances in the preseason games.

    • More love for Jimmy Clausen from John Mullin at csnchicago.com the Sports Talk Live guests (below):

    • Shame on you all for not Tweeting enough.

    Elsewhere

    • People in Buffalo aren’t too thrilled with Bon Jovi‘s bid to buy the team. He’s being backed by a group from Toronto and many if not most fans believe that’s where the team will eventually head if his group wins the bid to buy the team. From Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com:

      “‘It’s the Buffalo Bills, and they will do everything they can to make that work there,’ consultant to the Toronto group recently told the Buffalo News.

      “Which doesn’t make it any better.

      “‘They will do everything they can to make that work there’ possibly means, ‘They’ll dog paddle in Buffalo, saying all the right until the lease allows them to load up the Mayflowers and declare, ‘Well, we did everything possible to make it work there. Bye.'”

    • Darin Gantt, also at profootballtalk.com, on the Browns’ quarterback competition:

      “The Browns are pretty clearly trying to send a message to Johnny Manziel to settle down and get to work.

      “But sometimes in sending that message, they might be going overboard the other direction.

      “Browns left tackle Joe Thomas was praising Manziel’s competition for the starting job, saying Brian Hoyer was ‘a lot like Tom Brady.’

      “Well, they both play football, they both wear silly hats, and they both have three Super Bowl rings. OK, so they both play football.”

    One Final Thought

    Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune on the Bears need to be a tougher team this year:

    “I believe [Lamarr] Houston is a particularly sensitive case when it comes to discipline. Houston and Willie Young, another new defensive lineman. They came from perhaps the two dumbest organizations in the NFL — the Raiders and Lions, respectively — so it’s likely neither has learned what tough really is. The Raiders act like they earn bonuses for stupid play, while the Lions under Jim Schwartz were unanimous winners in the Village Idiots race.

    “But guess what: It’s a lot tougher to display discipline than lash out with fists. So the Bears fights or scuffles or skirmishes fail the tough-guy test.”

    Posted in Chicago Bears, Points of View | Leave a comment

    The Things That Make Us Tick and Other Points of View

    Bears

    • Bears running backs coach Skip Pete on Matt Forte. Via Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:

      “‘The guy has an unbelievable feel for the game. And once he’s seen something, he doesn’t forget it. So early in a game, he’ll see how a defender is playing on a certain route or fitting on a certain block. Then the next time around, when that play’s called, he already has that sense for what he wants to do. He has such a terrific understanding of the structure of a defense and the responsibility of the guys on defense — who can come on a pressure, who’s supposed to fit where. That helps him make quicker decisions on all he has to do.'”

    • The competition for roster spots at positions like defensive line and safety seem to get the most attention. But it seems to me like the real problem spot is linebacker. Michael C. Wright‘s roster projection for ESPN.com is typical. He’s keeping Khaseem Greene and Christian Jones but kicking the Bears best special teams player, Jordan Senn, to the curb. The final list of personnel at this position is going to be interesting.
    • On a related note, Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune has been impressed with Jones:
    • “Undrafted rookie strong-side linebacker Christian Jones continues to stand out because of how fluidly he runs, especially for such a big backer (6-foot-3, 240). The more I watch him drop in coverage, change directions and run, the more convinced I become that he’s going to make the 53-man roster.”

      “Position coach Reggie Herring called Jones raw on Sunday, but the Bears really like his physical ability.”

    • Campbell has been paying close attention to the one-on-one pass rush drills between the offensive and defensive linemen. He is careful to state that the defensive linemen have an advantage in these drills. But his reports on the daily battles between Jordan Mills and Lamarr Houston aren’t doing anything to make me more comfortable with Mills at right offensive tackle.
    • I also found this report from Campbell to be significant:

      “Rookie Pat O’Donnell did not punt as well Monday as he did Sunday. O’Donnell didn’t hit the ball consistently cleanly. In the second punting period — the one I charted — Tress Way unofficially averaged 51 yards and 4.26 seconds of hang time on four punts. O’Donnell unofficially averaged 45 yards and 3.74 seconds on his four punts. And, no, there were no ‘Mega Punt’ chants for O’Donnell on Monday.”

      Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times added this:

      “One thing I’ve noticed over the first few days of training camp is that Way and kicker Robbie Gould are often together.”

    • Reports like this one from Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune are an encouraging sign that Marquess Wilson will win the number three wide receiver spot and will be an upgrade at the position over Earl Bennett:

      “A very fluid athlete, Wilson doesn’t have elite lateral quickness, but he has improved his release points at the line of scrimmage along with his footwork at the top of the route stem when coming back downhill to the football.”

    • Not to make too big of a deal out of these things early in camp but Alshon Jeffrey (sore foot) and Matt Slauson (right shoulder) not finishing practice is a tad alarming. Slauson had surgery on the shoulder in the offseason but was supposedly fully recovered. Cornerback Tim Jennings remains out with a sore quadriceps muscle. Add the fact that Kyle Long, who was supposed to be back on the field by now, was still out due to a viral infection and these issues may add up to something of significance. Wiederer would seem to agree:

      “Long’s absence might be the most troublesome at this point. The Bears continue to insist that they don’t expect the Pro Bowl lineman to miss extended time. But head coach Marc Trestman admitted that Long’s development certainly isn’t being furthered with all the missed practice the past week.”

      Jeff Dickerson at ESPN.com reports that Long saw a doctor on Monday.

    • Jahns quotes defensive tackle Will Sutton:

      “‘The only struggle that I’ve had with the transition is just how strong everybody is,’ said Sutton, a two-time Pac-12 defensive player of the year at Arizona State. ‘The weight room is one of the biggest factors out here right now. I’m a young guy out here with guys who have been doing it for a while, so experience plays a role. I’ve just got to get out here and take the room weight room seriously.’”

      I’m not surprised. Sutton is one of those undersized guys that former head coach Lovie Smith used to love. He is supposed to be relying on his quickness to get by rather than his strength. He undoubtedly does need to get stronger and that will help. But that’s never going to be his strong suit. So he’d better find another way to get it done.

    • Its unusual to hear that Trestman sounded this upset. Via Jahns:

      “Coach Marc Trestman seemed irked by a question from a reporter who referred to a story that indicated Trestman preferred Jordan Palmer to Jimmy Clausen as the backup quarterback.

      “‘That couldn’t be,’ Trestman said. ‘I’ve never said anything to that at all. I’ve said that it’s a competition, that it’s an open competition. I’ve never been asked a question in two years like that, but my answer is as simple as it can be, and that is that it’s a competition. I haven’t even thought about at this point who that guy would be. I want to let it happen, and it will.’”

    • Jahns noted this exchange:

      “[Wide receiver Brandon] Marshall actually called out [rookie cornerback Kyle] Fuller’s name and waved him over to face him during one-on-one drills. After one incompletion, Marshall gave Fuller a fist bump while walking back to their lines.

      “‘I love going against Brandon Marshall,’ Fuller said.”

    • Bob LeGere at the Daily Herald was the only reporter to note that Marshall had “a bad case of the drops” yesterday. It didn’t stand out as much last year but Marshall is known for dropping the ball more than most wide receivers. Here’s hoping that the tendency doesn’t return this year.
    • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com on the back up quarterback competition:

      “It looks to me and a number of other veteran observers like, if the season started tomorrow, [Jimmy] Clausen is the second best QB in camp. [Quarterbacks coach Matt] Cavanaugh is just glad Marc Trestman doesn’t have to make that call yet.”

    • Bowen agrees with Arkush.

    • Tight end Dante Rosario may be in trouble. From Kevin Fishbain at chicagofootball.com:

      “Dante Rosario had a false start and a drop, but did have a catch up the seam late. Matthew Mulligan may have the early edge at No. 2 tight end.”

      Mulligan had the edge going in as it is. He’s a very good blocker that could eliminate the need to bring in back up tackle Eben Britton as an extra lineman in running situations. Mulligan is more of a threat to catch passes in such a role.

    • On a similar, ominous note, we haven’t heard defensive end Cornelius Washington‘s name much in camp.
    • Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes tight end Martellus Bennett on quarterback Jay Cutler:

      “Cutler has a different demeanor this year, Bennett said.

      “‘Usually, he could just easily go through the motions in [individual drills], especially when it’s hot,’ he said. ‘But he’s working on his drops, he’s working on his releases, he’s working on everything, just like every other player on the team.’

      “Told of the comment, quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh laughed that Bennett ‘has a different perspective’ and said he has never seen Cutler ‘disengaged’ in practice.”

    • Dickerson writes about the progress of the younger Bears along the defensive front:

      “Rookie nose tackle Ego Ferguson flashes the ability to get up-field in one-on-one individual pass-rush drills, but Ferguson has ended up on the ground on at least three separate occasions since the pads came on. Ferguson needs to find the perfect combination of speed and balance to ensure he doesn’t take himself out of the play when games begin for real next month.”

    • Are you ready for some football? Apparently this guy is.

    Elsewhere

    • Buried in Dan Pompei‘s article about the state of the Washington Redskins for Sports on Earth was this nugget regarding an organization I never heard of before:

      “[Redskins offensive coordinator Sean] McVay worked under [former Tampa Bay head coach Jon] Gruden for one year before the Bucs staff was fired. Then Gruden founded the Fired Football Coaches Association, which offered coaches a place to watch tape, exchange ideas, and in McVay’s case, absorb a lot of knowledge.”

    One Final Thought

    Defensive tackle Austen Lane messes with the head of Arthur Arkush at chicagofootball.com when he spins this tale:

    “Ever wonder about what type of banter occurs immediately before a training camp practice scuffle ensues?”

    “See, Lane and Britton were formerly teammates in Jacksonville – Lane a 2010 fifth-rounder, Britton a second-round pick one year earlier – and they know what makes the other one tick. But would you believe if we told you tempers flared due to a disagreement over fictional books?”

    “‘We’re in the huddle, whatever, and he started talking to me about how Divergent is the better book series,’ Lane quipped after practice. ‘And I said, ‘no you’re stupid, Twilight is better.’ And that went back and forth … and then by the third play, I had to stand up for Twilight, man. And I stood my ground and we got in a little scrapple. But that happens when you talk about book series.'”

    You know right away that its a joke. Not because science fiction books aren’t worth fighting over to a geek like me. But no one who isn’t a 14 year old girl would claim to have read Twilight. And it definitely wasn’t the better series.

    Not that I would know that.

    Posted in Chicago Bears | Leave a comment