The Bears “Best Player” and Other News


“Word around the league is that the Bears aren’t in a hurry to spend more money on Smith. In fact, they may want to trim some salary off the coaching staff. That could be a lot easier to do after next season than this one.

“Phillips negotiated a bad contract with Smith the last time out because his timing was awful. No need to blow it again when you already have the guy for an extra year.”

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune believes that leaving Corey Graham off of the Pro Bowl roster was a snub.  I agree.
  • Biggs also reports that the Bears brought in four punts for a look.  Current punter Brad Maynard will be an unrestricted free agent.  He’s been consistent but he’s also 36 and he’s had health problems.
  • Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times has this quote about Devin Hester from Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy:

“He’s the best player on their football team.  They have a lot of fine football players, too. No disrespect to [Julius] Peppers, [Lance] Briggs and the rest of those guys. He’s having probably his finest year there.”

I guess its not exactly the same thing but I tend to think in terms of who the Bears could least afford to lose when asked this question.  Hester wouldn’t be at the top of the list.  I think I’d at least put Peppers, Jay Cutler and probably Brian Urlacher ahead of him.

  • The Bears are talking big about taking this game seriously and I’m sure they’ll try to.  But actions speak louder than words and the fact that Olin Kreutz got a veterans day off indicates that – to an extent – they aren’t treating the practices as seriously as they otherwise would (Via Vaughn McClure at the Tribune).  This seems to be consistent with this statement from Smith is Dan Pompei’s column at the Tribune:

“Most of you reported that we pulled our guys (in the finale in 2005). Even for this game, if there’s someone that’s a little banged up, we’re not going to put him at risk then.”

  • Speaking of Pompei’s column, he gives a well-reasoned opinion of what the Bears will actually do against the Packers Sunday.

In his last eight games, Cutler has a 96.9 quarterback rating on third down. His 54.7 percent conversion rate is the highest in the NFL during that span.

The defense is ranked second in forcing three and outs, are third best at stopping the run and are second in opponent passer rating.

The Bears had a lot of trouble with third down last year and early this year.

The Bears have forced 33 turnovers this season while the Packers have turned it over just 18 times. “Zero giveaways will be an important statistic this week,” McCarthy said


  • Sam Farmer at the LA Times (via the Chicago Tribune) highlights the fact that if Seattle beats the Rams Sunday night they will be the first ever team with a losing record to make the NFL playoffs.
  • Barak Obama‘s statement commending the Philadelphia Eagles for giving him a second chance is causing an over blown storm of controversy.

I’m not in the habit of making political or social commentary.  But I’m going to make an exception here.

Obama’s statement doesn’t bother me.  The fact that people don’t like it doesn’t bother me.  What bothered me about this article is that of all the organizations to go to for comment the writer went to PETA.

PETA is not just an organization of animal lovers.  They are fringe extremists who, though welcome to their opinion, should not be sought for comment in an informed publication of any kind.  To do so only furthers their agenda and gives them an air of legitimacy that they in  no way deserve.

  • Michael Salfino at the The Wall Street Journal points out via that Michael Vick is 36% worse in cold weather, something Bear fans already know from his visits here.  This may be one of many reasons why head coach Andy Reid hesitated at first to make Vick the starter earlier in the season.  The Eagles won’t do it but they should reconsider their starting options if their road to the Super Bowl goes through Green Bay of Chicago.
  • Dominic Raiola may find himself in some hot water for this graphic suggestion ( via
  • Cedric Benson further devalues the Ed Block Courage Award.  Via
  • Green Bay offensive line coach James Campen on how to avoid a letdown similar to the one the Packers had against the Bears in their first game where they had 18 penalties.  Via Gary D’Amato at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“You have to maintain good and the only way to do that is to strive to be great.”

  • Manish Mehta at the New York Daily News quoted this interesting statistic when talking about the difference between a Jet loss this Sunday, leaving the 10-6 and a Jet win:

When you look at recent Super Bowl history, 11 is the magic number. In the past 10 Super Bowls, 18 of the 20 teams had at least 11 regular-season wins.

  • According to the AP the Bears’ win over the Jets led the way to the highest preliminary television rating for the single-game window in the 13 seasons of the current AFC package with CBS.  Its nice to see CBS get a return on the Bears after televising the miserable contest against the Patriots where they had to switch away to a more competitive game in most markets.
  • Leave it to the Daily News to generate this headline:  “Rex Ryan is yet to put his foot down on issue of Mark Sanchez starting Sunday against the Bills”
  • Donovan McNabb continues to want to have his cake and eat it, too, according to the AP:

“Donovan McNabb sees ‘nothing wrong’ with an inflammatory statement in which his agent attacked Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

“Yet McNabb also tried to distance himself from that statement Tuesday in his weekly radio appearance on ESPN980. McNabb said he wasn’t aware that his agent was planning to release the statement before it came out last week.

“‘He put his thoughts into the whole deal, not Donovan’s thoughts,’ McNabb said.”

“No, I want to say, ‘F- you.’ And I mean that in the most professional way.”

  • If the Packers qualify for the playoffs they will be bucking a serious trend to make the Super Bowl.  According to Mike Vandermause at the Green Bay Press Gazette no NFC 6 seed has ever made it.
  • Via the AP we have Fox analyst Tucker Carlson who said Vick “should have been executed” for his role in a dogfighting ring.  Execution?  I mean really…

Can we do it on television?

One Final Thought

Thanks to George Vecsey at The New York Times for highlighting this spoof that could in actuality be of any of 95% of all NFL coaches.

How Will the Packers Play It Against the Bears Offense? Probably Loose.

Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times addresses the similarity between the Jets defense and the Packers defense:

“The New York Jets did Sunday what every other Bears opponent would not: They attacked the speedy receivers at the line of scrimmage, and they dared quarterback Jay Cutler to beat single coverage by arguably the league’s best group of cornerbacks, headlined by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.”

Its all about the pass rush.  But unlike the Bears who built their defense around getting pressure from the front four, the Jets defense starts with the corners.  They allow them to bring extra pressure from all directions on the quarterback.

“According to an NFC personnel director, there isn’t another team in the conference that plays defense like the Jets. But the Green Bay Packers, the Bears’ opponent Sunday in the regular-season finale, are one team capable of playing that brand, and they’ve done so more in recent games.”

Jensen mentions that the Packers played a lot of cover two against the Bears the first time around.  But the Bears aren’t’ the same team offensively that they were then.  For one thing a lot will depend upon their ability to stop the Bears running game in it, something they are going to find a lot more difficult now than they did then.

And the Packers do always like to be aggressive and they may need to be this game.  The offensive line is better, at least in the second half of games, and Green Bay is going to have a tougher time getting pressure on Cutler if they aren’t a bit more aggressive, than they were the first time around, I think.

The guess here is that Green Bay will still try to sit back in the zone again and wait for Cutler to get impatient or react badly to pressure and make a mistake.  But I think they know that they’re going to have to be more flexible than usual and ready to change depending upon how things are working.  They know the Bears a lot better than the Jets did.  They know their weaknesses and they’ll exploit them.  For instance, I think we can count on occasionally seeing them mix it up, coming out of the defense to bring that corner that Cutler has a bad habit of not seeing coming off the edge.

In any case how watching to see what they do and how successful they will be is just one more thing that makes this a fascinating matchup.