Tim Ruskell and the Lure of the “Undersized, Try-Hard Players” and Other Points of View

I will be on vacation until Feb. 28, meaning I’ll once again be out of the country for a major NFL offseason event.  At least its only the Combine and not the Draft like last year.  In any case posts will be sporadic (if not non-existent) during this time.


The extension of Tice in particular is significant because if he’d been truly unhappy with the Bears for blocking him from interviewing for the Titan’s then vacant offensive coordinator position, he probably wouldn’t have signed a new contract.

I’m wondering if the lockout language was the standard or if it is significantly different in these extensions.  Its been reported that the other Bears coaches will take a 25% cut in salary during a lockout  with a team option to dismiss after a 60-day notice.

  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has a wild theory on why the Bears refused to allow the titans to talk to Tice:

“If Mike Martz still thinks the Bears can run his offense with a 4-1 pass-run ratio and in fact he insists on calling it that way, then the Bears might all of a sudden need Tice as their own offensive coordinator after, say, Game 3, if not before.”

“Ruskell, now the Chicago Bears’ Director of Player Personnel, tends to prefer seniors with 40-plus starts from major colleges. He also looks for undersized, try-hard players, as he believes they are bargains in the skill set vs. draft pick equation. Problem was, Ruskell had almost no feel for the concept of athletic upside, and he whiffed a lot, both in the draft and in free agency, when he tried to pinpoint those athletes who would develop into stars based on pure physical potential.”

“Take enough of those low-ceiling ‘tweeners and put them in the wrong places, and that’s how you’ll go from Team President to watching college tape for a living.”

The fairness of this evaluation aside, if Farrrar thinks Ruskell will be taking undersized tweeners with Mike Tice anywhere near the draft room, I think he’s got another thing coming.  Tice is probably going to be looking for the biggest guys he can find.  Thanks to Chris at the Chicago Bears Fan Forum for pointing me to this article.

  • Former Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner on the The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 (via Jeff Dickerson at ESPNChicago.com) talks about the value of having a clear number one receiver, something the Bears don’t have.  Turner oversaw Reggie Wayne as the Colts wide receivers coach this season.

“I don’t think [you can win at a high level without a receiver like Wayne].  It would be really, really difficult. You have to have that guy you know you can go to, a guy that’s going to be there every game for you, making big plays. You have to have that. If you have that, it takes so much pressure off the other guys and enables you to run the ball.

“If you have a guy like that, it alters your defensive gameplan a little bit.”

Ben Ijalana, OT, Villanova

“While the questions after a playoff loss centered around the toughness of the quarterback, many Bears fans forgot that Jay Cutler was hit as much or more than any other QB in the league all season. Even on many of his good plays, he was dodging rushers. The Bears did some decent work on their line in last year’s draft with a late steal but should attack it early in 2011. Ijalana offers versatilty and the ability to step in early. Solid fit.”

Ijalana would be the fifth offensive tackle off the board.  Guard/Center Mike Pouncey would already be gone but its worth noting that guard Danny Watkins would still be there according to this scenario.

  • Captain Morgan is stealing votes from Rahm Emanuel now:


“Vick, who was named The Associated Press 2010 Comeback Player of the Year in the NFL, was confronted by radio host/standup comic Richard Hunter at an event in Dallas before Super Bowl XLV.

“Hunter says he adopted one of Vick’s former dogs. He told Game On! Wednesday that and other families who adopted Vick’s dogs have been “flooding” the producers of Winfrey’s show with calls and emails asking the “voices of the victims’ families” be heard on the episode.”

“One thing we never were able to see in 2010 was a fully operational Cowboys offense. By the time Dez Bryant was able to participate in the offense, Tony Romo was lost for the season. In 2011, with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Tony Romo all available for 16 games (health pending) the results have a real chance to be something special. Austin demands a double-team, but with Bryant on the other side, there are some real classic conflicts that defenses will have to face.”

  • I’m not surprised that former Ohio State quarterback and compulsive gambler Art Schlichter is in trouble again.  But this story from Mike Wagner at the Columbus Dispatch shocks even me.  What a nightmare.
  • Hmmmm…   I’m a big fan of ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser.  I’d like to think that there’s more to this than meets the eye.  From John Feinstein:

“Tony Kornheiser has specifically asked me not to bring up Dan Snyder on his show. I feel queasy about this but Tony’s my friend and it is his show. It isn’t as if there aren’t plenty of other forums for me to talk about Snyder and Snyder is one of those guys Tony simply isn’t going to go after—not because he’s paid by him but because he likes him.”

Kornheiser has a responsibility to report the news no matter how he feels about the people involved but he’s under no obligation to discuss other people’s opinions beyond that.  But having said that, it would be much more like Kornheiser to let Feinstein say his piece and then defend Snyder.

  • Kiper and Todd McShay, also at ESPN, talk about the draft’s wide receiver class.  I love the fact that Kiper digs into the Division III ranks to find some kid fro Mount Union:

Here’s a video of the play in action:

One Final Thought

Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer quotes new Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on why he likes to spend the game calling plays from the sideline rather than from in the booth:

“I like to be down there when things aren’t going where they should.  It’s important for me to calm everyone down or stick my foot up where it should be. A big part of the job is controlling the emotions. Everyone can call plays but a lot of coaching has to go with controlling guys and make sure guys aren’t too up or down.”

Would an Assistant Coaches Union Have Helped Tice? And Other Points of View


  • Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune reports that top receiver prospect A.J. Green was in town.  Unfortunately it was for an NFL Films feature and not to visit the Bears.  They could only wish they had a pick high enough to justify such a visit.
  • Michael C. Wright at ESPNChicago.com asks a sharp question.  Would a union have helped offensive line coach Mike Tice to be allowed to interview in Tennessee for their offensive coordinator position?  The Titans were denied permission to contact Tice by the Bears.  The NFL assistant coaches are meeting at the NFL Scouting Combine to consider unionizing.

I think the answer here is likely “No.  Tice was under contract and had the Titans been allowed to contact him, it would have been because head coach Lovie Smith simply thought it was the right thing to do.  But in the business landscape, a contract is a contract whether you are part of a union or not.  Indeed, once you get union representation, you take the “human” factor out of the equation and everything becomes all business.  The position on these issues like this is likely to harden and no one will ever get permission.

But get this.  Minnesota Vikings coaches get ninety days of full pay after a lockout begins, followed by a 75 percent salary reduction for 90 days and then dismissal.  September is 6 months from March, folks.

That means that the Bears can (and I think likely will) keep keep their most valuable coaches employed during what would have been the season, probably because they wouldn’t want to lose them.  But the Vikings apparently aren’t going to do that.  If other teams have handled it in a similar fashion, there could be a free-for-all tussle amongst teams to sign assistants once a lockout ends.


  • The Vikings may have a savior that will get them a stadium to keep them in Minnesota.  Let’s hope.
  • Jeremy Fowler at the Pioneer Press reports that Vikings players are planning to workout together in the hopes of learning their new offense despite being locked out of the facilities at Winter Park.
  • Tom Kowalski at milve.com says that once the NFL filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the players, pretty much all hope for a clean, quick resolution to the labor problem was lost.  He says that the StarCaps case proved that once you put it all into the hands of the lawyers, nothing quick or clean will come of anything:

“Three years and tens of millions in legal fees for a few celebrity diet pills. What do you think the price is for the fate of 2,500 football players and the long-term fate of the NFL?”

I would say that Kowalski’s got a point but that the complaint wasn’t when it started.  It started when lawyer DeMaurice Smith was elected NFLPA president.  The players have been angling to get the NFL into court ever since.

  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has written an op-ed column on the CBA talks which has appeared in various newspapers around the country.  Adam Schefter reacts in a way which I agree with.  I wouldn’t pay much attention to the rest.  The owners aren’t going to open up their books, nor should they:

  • Carolina owner Jerry Richardson has been accused of being “condescending” in meetings with players.  I’ve read some of the comments and it sounds to me like “direct” might have been a better term.  Richardson is a former NFL halfback and I think that the players at the bargaining table shouldn’t heave been surprised at some blunt comments from him.  He’s basically not just an owner.  He’s a peer.  Cowboys owner Jerry Jones apparently agrees (via Darin Gantt and Joe Person at the Charlotte Observer):

“Jerry’s greatest strength is communication  The more that is at stake, the more direct and clear he is with his words. When he speaks with people he cares about deeply – players, business partners, his fellow owners – he is always particularly straightforward and to the point. That is how he shows his respect for the situation and the individuals involved.

“He is one of the most effective leaders I have ever known because he is one of the best communicators I have ever been associated with.”

  • Mel Kiper and Todd McShay break down the running backs in the NFL Draft:

One Final Thought

Bob Sturm at the Dallas Morning News on receiver Roy Williams and the danger of high expectations:

    “You always wonder how you would feel about a player if he was not tied to his contract. Expectation levels shot up for Tony Romo and Miles Austin when they went from being one of the cheapest contributors in the league to one of the most expensive on the roster. Perhaps one of the worst moves Jerry Jones has ever made was his decision to not only trade premium draft picks to the Lions, but then to sign Roy Williams to a 6-year, $54 million deal before he ever stepped on the field for the Cowboys.

    Bears Hold Tice Back from Advancement

    Both Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune and Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times report that the Bears have officially denied the Titans permission to talk to Mike Tice about their offensive coordinator position.  Biggs points out the major difficulty:

    “But it becomes a delicate situation when teams prevent assistants from exploring a chance for advancement. No one wants to work in an environment where they feel like opportunities for personal growth are not respected.”

    I understand the situation.  Unlike players, teams make a commitment to their assistant coaches by giving them guaranteed contracts.  They expect to get a return on that commitment.  Bob LeGere at the Daily Herald gives other good reasons to deny the Titans permission to interview Tice here.

    Having said that, I find this decision to be disappointing.  When Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy held quarterbacks coach Tom Clements back from interviewing for the Bear offensive coordinator position last offseason, I naively thought the Bears were better than that.  Apparently not.

    No Surprise Here: NFL Files Charge Against NFLPA

    According to the Associated Press the NFL filed an unfair labor practice charge against its players’ union with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday.  The NFL’s filing with the NLRB says that the union wants to “run out the clock” and, essentially, avoid reaching a new CBA so it can decertify and file an antitrust lawsuit.

    Not surprisingly union spokesman George Atallah says the NFL’s “claim has absolutely no merit.”  But the guess here is that it does.

    This meeting was obviously prompted by the “bargaining session” which took place last week.  It was generally assumed that the NFL walked out of the session because of misunderstandings about a document which the union produced which suggested a straight 50-50 split of revenue.

    I don’t think there was a misunderstanding.  The key piece of information from this session comes from Chris Mortenson and Adam Scefter at ESPN:

    “According to sources familiar with the talks, last week’s negotiations between the NFLPA and the NFL broke off when the union characterized its documents as an “illustration” that NFL officials believed represented a proposal for revenue sharing between owners and players.”

    “When the NFLPA characterized documents labeled “NFLPA Proposal” as something other than a collective bargaining proposal, the NFL ended the session, a source familiar with the talks said.”

    In other words, the NFLPA once again failed to come up with a proposal to counter what the owners have put onto the table (i.e as I said yesterday, they aren’t negotiating).

    The union wants the status quo and they are either unwilling or unable to move off of that position.  The guess here is that its a little bit of both.  Union president DeMaurice Smith is inexperienced and appears to be paralyzed, unable to pick a direction to move in beyond re-stating the tired old points that he was trying to make this time last year.  In the end, he’s a lawyer and its obvious that he feels much more comforatble fighting this battle in court.  That is unfortunate for all of us.

    This process needs to move and its now obvious that the owners want it to do so.  It is not as obvious that the players can or will.

    Bears Top NFC Special Teams Unit and Other Points of View


    • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune passes along  the fact that the Bears ended the season tied for the top spot in the NFC in special teams in the ratings system popularized by Dallas Morning News writer Rick Gosselin.

    The Bears were only fourth overall in large part because they ranked last in gross punting at 40.1 yards.  Punter Brad Maynard has not been offered a contract and there is speculation that the Bears may be moving on without him.


    One Final Thought

    For those who think the Bears should try to acquire Albert Haynesworth we have this.  According to the Associated Press a waitress claims that the Washington Redskins defensive lineman sexually abused her at a restaurant.

    Upon tweeting the news, former Bear and current Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels speaks for all of us: “Man does it ever end.”.

    NFL Labor Talks Not Business as Usual and Other Points of View


    • John Glennon at The Tennessean updates the status of the Titan’s quest to fill out their coaching staff.  There’s been no comment from the Titans regarding the reports that they are interested in Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice. as an offensive coordinator.  It could be much ado about nothing.
    • The message is right but unfortunately the Packers aren’t the only thing that sucks in this video:

    I will concede, however, that it’s better than I could do.


    • Sports business analyst Rick Harrow tells ESPN that the labor negotiations are business as usual.  At the same time he contradicts himself by saying that NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith is inexperienced and doesn’t realize that its not a war with the owners.  That’s not business as usual.  That’s real trouble.

    “According to sources familiar with the talks, last week’s negotiations between the NFLPA and the NFL broke off when the union characterized its documents as an “illustration” that NFL officials believed represented a proposal for revenue sharing between owners and players.”

    “When the NFLPA characterized documents labeled “NFLPA Proposal” as something other than a collective bargaining proposal, the NFL ended the session, a source familiar with the talks said.”

    Translation:  Misunderstandings aside, the NFL ultimately walked out of the talks because the union isn’t negotiating.  The owners were looking for a proposal from the union in response to their own.  They didn’t get it.

    • The Hall of Fame selection process is under scrutiny in the media, presumably in part because there’s not much else to talk about.  Toni Monkovic at the New York Times summarizes the arguments.
    • Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com provides a particularly interesting and thorough at the process.  He has suggestions for improving it.
    • Florio also points out the irony in the league assuming responsibility for the Super Bowl seating mess when it is, in fact, most closely related to the mistakes on the part of the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones.  Jones is believed to be a strong voice in league meetings against more extensive revenue sharing:

    “’Right now, we are subsidizing this market,’ Jones said in August 2009 regarding the Vikings and the place they currently call home.  ‘It’s unthinkable to think that you’ve got the market you got here — 3 ½ million people — and have teams like Kansas City and Green Bay subsidizing the market.  That will stop. . . .  That’s going to stop.  That’s on its way out.’

    “So Jones doesn’t want his team to subsidize other teams by sharing revenues, but other teams will potentially be subsidizing the Cowboys by sharing in the expenses arising from his ultimately failed effort to cram 103,986-plus bodies into his new stadium for Super Bowl XLV.”

    • Brad Biggs, also writing for NFP, points out that the Williams Wall is crumbling, at least temporarily.  Both defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams have undergone offseason surgery.  They are also each facing possible four game suspensions and they are finally being forced to stand up and take personal responsibility for taking an illegal substance in the StarCaps fiasco.
    • Judd Zulgad at the Minneapolis Star Tribune interviews Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.  Shiancoe has looked closely at the Atlanta Falcon’s offense and likes what he sees.  Atlanta was the home of new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and they used the tight end a a primary target.  The bad news for Shiancoe?  He’s not Tony Gonzales.

    One Final Thought

    Zulgad says Shiancoe isn’t talking about a new contract as he enters the final season of the $18.2 million deal he signed as a free agent in 2007:

    “The thing is that you don’t ever want to be that complainer.  You don’t want to bring any [problems] upon your team in any way, shape, form or fashion. It’s part of your job to know a when and where, a time and a place for certain things. That wasn’t a time or place to ever complain. That’s nothing you’ll ever see me do. I’ll never complain.”

    Offseason Brings Plenty of Off Field Player Troubles, Even More to Follow and Other Point of View


    “Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway recently said it’s not a sure thing that QB Kyle Orton will be traded, but a PFW insider said it would be very tough to bring the veteran back. While QB Tim Tebow may not give the team the best chance to win, he does have the backing of the fans in Denver. Elway has talked about reconnecting with the fans and could lose some credibility by sticking with Orton. A daily team observer said he gets the feeling that fans would rather win three or four games with Tebow than six or seven with Orton.”


    • Barry Rozner at the Daily Herald thinks that there will be no games lost in 2011 due to a work stoppage.  I hope he is right.  I fear that he is wrong.  To every argument I can only say one thing:  “Remember 1994 when we lost and entire World Series”.
    • Daren Gannt at the Charlotte Observer highlights the decision of former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac to leave for a defensive backs position in Green Bay for less money.  Trgovac seems happy but I wonder how pleased he’ll be when someone tries to interview him for a defensive coordinator position elsewhere only to have Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy block the move.
    • Agent Drew Rosenhaus is doing what he can to keep Plaxico Burress in the back of the NFL’s mind.  Burress is serving out a two year sentence for accidentally shooting himself in the leg with unlicensed handgun while at a night club in November of 2008.  He is expected to be released June 6.

    The Bears need a go to wide receiver and Burress would be an ideal candidate to fill the position.  But he hasn’t played in two years and he would have to come at the right price.

    “Don’t be surprised if Matt Flynn follows the path of Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks, Mark Brunell and Kurt Warner and leaves Green Bay to become a starting quarterback elsewhere. Teams in need of a quarterback are taking a good look at Flynn, who performed exceptionally well against the Patriots in New England in December.”

    “It seems there rarely are enough good cornerbacks to keep pace with all the good receivers. But the coming draft offers a deep group of cover men. April will provide the opportunity for teams to stock up and build depth at the position. As many as 19 corners could carry grades that would justify them being picked in the first four rounds.”

    This fact has probably not been lost on the Bears.  Playing a base cover-2, they have not traditionally invested a lot in the position.  But they could arguably could use a good cover corner now as they mix in more single coverage against select NFL teams.

    “On the same day Green Bay was dispatching the Steelers for the NFL title, the Bangor Daily News reported, a man was arrested on suspicion of breaking into an auto-parts store in Ellsworth, Maine.

    “And in Iowa City, Iowa, The Des Moines Register reported, a man injured his back when an argument turned violent during a Super Bowl party.

    “Their names: Vince Lombardi and Aaron Rogers.”

    One Final Thought

    Looks like there are plenty of players stirring up the usual amount of trouble as the offseason begins.  Here are some samples:

    A work stoppage with no offseason workouts and some very bored players should bring some interesting things to the news this year.  Can’t wait.

    Bears in a Bind if Titans Try to Take Mike Tice

    Both Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times and Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune are reporting that the Tennessee Titans might have an interest in hiring Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice as their offensive coordinator.

    Some interesting aspects to this:

    1)  New head coach Mike Munchak was the offensive line coach there and he would certainly see Tice’s value to the team as a replacement for himself.  However Tice’s value as a coordinator is debatable.

    Though he is definitely a leader of men and he would make a fine head coach, there’s been very little evidence that he would make a good X’s and O’s man.  He seemed to recognize the value of the tight ends that he had in Minnesota and he knew how to use them.  But I’m guessing that he had very little to do with designing any kind of a complex passing game involving multiple route combinations beyond creating some individual mismatches.

    2)  Lovie Smith and the Bears must give the Titans permission to contact Tice about the job.  Ordinarily this is a no brainer.  Smith has always been supportive of assistants who were seeking to advance and it would take an extraordinary circumstance, indeed, to prevent him from doing that.  This might be that circumstance.

    The Bears offensive line is a work in progress.  Tice has been crucial to the training of young players such as J’Marcus Webb and Lance Louis.  To lose him now would be a blow to thier development.  In addition, the Bears are likely to add at least two more linemen to the mix over the next few months, at least one of whom may be a draft pick.  Those linemen will need to be indoctrinated in the Bears offensive system.

    But I don’t think that these factors would ultimately cause Smith to hold Tice back if it weren’t for one more major difficulty, as Biggs describes it:

    “In mid-February, it would be difficult for the Bears to find a replacement for Tice, who Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo have called one of the league’s best line coaches. Most of the coach shuffling is complete so the pool of candidates isn’t deep.”

    This may be part of the reason why the New York Jets denied the Titans permission to talk to offensive line coach/assistant head coach Bill Callahan.  Tice is not an assistant head coach.

    3)  The fact that the Titans are looking to raid the Bears coaching staff rather than one of the Super Bowl staffs is as much of an indictment of Angelo as it is a compliment to Tice.

    The Bears offensive line was roundly criticized and was generally believed to be one  of the worst in the league.  Its obvious that the Titans believe that Tice worked miracles with a talent depleted line and this offer is a general acknowledgement of this fact.  Teams know that if Tice had any players to work with, the Bears offensive line would have been one of the best units, if not the best unit, in the NFL.  Tice should be proud.  Angelo should be ashamed.

    Perhaps the Bears can offer Tice an assistant head coaching position and a bump in pay for him to stay.  But if not, I think Smith knows what the right thing to do is.  Generally speaking, you want the people around you to be happy.  Good people do what they can to make that happen.  If nothing else, on a professional level you want to make it so that other coaches and players around the league want to work for you.  Long-term, that’s how you become the best.

    Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy was roundly criticized by this blogger when he held quarterbacks coach Tom Clements back from interviewing for the Bear offensive coordinator position.  I would hate to see the Bears sink so low.

    Mock Drafts: February 12, 2011

    Yeah, I couldn’t think of a better title than that.  Sue me.

    With the NFL Combine and the draft approaching, I thought it might be interesting to see who the experts around the country see the Bears taking with the 31st pick.  I’ll update this list a few times as the offseason progresses along with a comment at the end.

    Mel Kiper, ESPN:  Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

    “Chicago needs help at corner and Williams is a safe pick. A solid character guy with exceptional ball skills, he has good speed, awareness and above-average size for the position, at a hair under 6-1 and 192 pounds. A guy who excels at the takeaway, he’ll be able to deliver INTs for a coach who craves turnovers. He is also a very good special teams player.”

    Todd McShay, ESPN:  Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

    “If Liuget falls to this spot, the Bears will get a steal. He’s a top-20 pick in our rankings thanks to his strength, quickness, balance and motor. Chicago has bigger needs at offensive tackle and wide receiver, but Liuget is a better value than any player available at those positions.”

    Don Banks, SI.com:  Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

    “The Bears have decent options when their turn comes around. They can get help for the offensive line that caused them so many headaches, particularly early in the season, or address their needs at either defensive tackle, receiver or cornerback. Sherrod is the highest-rated remaining tackle, but Texas cornerback Aaron Williams and LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis would also make sense.”

    Wes Bunting, The National Football Post:  Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

    Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly:  Liuget

    Rob Rang and Chad Reuter, CBSSports.com:  Carimi

    Peter Schrager, FOXSports.com:  Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

    “The Bears’ offensive line was disastrous in the 2010 preseason and worse than ever in a Week 4 loss to the Giants at New York, where Jay Cutler was sacked nine times in the first half. But slowly but surely, the unit came along. The running game excelled, Cutler had more time in the pocket and the offense clicked. That said, there’s still room for both depth and improvement across the line. At 6-9, 320 pounds, Solder is a mountain of a man. He is a terrific pass protector and could line up opposite Chris Williams as the other tackle but could also contribute right away at guard if needed. He had a strong showing in Mobile and solidified himself as a first-round pick. The Bears would be delighted to see him — pegged by some as a top-10 possibility — slip to them at 30.”

    I, along with many Bear fans, I’m sure, am happy to see so many of these drafts have the Bears taking an offensive lineman.  But knowing how these things typically work and knowing that general manager Jerry Angelo likes to take the best player available, I’m thinking McShay, Kiper and Nawrocki may have the right of it.

    I will add one more thing.  If the Bears are smart, they won’t automatically take the fifth or sixth best offensive tackle available if the best guard on the board is still there.  The position is typically under valued and I think a guy like Danny Watkins out of Baylor might make more of an impact.  With the team probably thinking about the future there, guard Mike Pouncey, who is also projected as a center, might make some sense as well.

    Ron Rivera Welcomed as a Bear, Will Always be a Bear and Other Points of View


    • Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Bears won’t use the franchise tag.  Not a big surprise, first because Angelo is known not to like ot use it and second because none of the Bears free agents warrants it.
    • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune ends his positional analysis with special teams.  He points out that.  the unit’s top six tacklers all will be unrestricted free agentsCorey GrahamGarrett WolfeBrian IwuhRashied DavisRod Wilson, and Josh Bullocks.
    • Biggs’ bottom line:  “The faces change but the helmet doesn’t and the Bears remain among the best in the NFL on special teams.” When is someone going to wake up and offer special teams coach Dave Toub a head coaching position?
    • Dan Pompei, also at the Tribune, answers your questions.  He continues the wide receiver talk:

    “Do you think we will make a play for free agents Sidney Rice or Vincent Jackson? Also, will the newly signed CFL WR Andy Fantuz make the team and make an impact? — Mike Ockhurtz, Frederick, Md.

    “I don’t believe the Bears will go for a free-agent wide receiver with a big price tag. They have other positions that are more pressing. I am very intrigued by Fantuz, but it’s difficult to say how much of an impact he will have until we see him padded up and competing with NFL players. He looked great in Canada, but that’s a different game, and he was playing against inferior competition.

    “What’s with Devin Aromashodu? Why didn’t the coaching staff let him play almost all year? Is he going to come back? — Mario, Eagle Pass, Texas

    “I think Aromashodu is done with the Bears. He and offensive coordinator Mike Martz clearly were not on the same page. Aromashodu is a gifted player who never has been able to consistently realize his abilities, going back to his college days. His substandard blocking attempts did not endear him to the coaching staff.”

    Yes, I had a feeling that this was the case.  It wasn’t just the blocking.  I don’t think Aromashodu liked contact much and Martz obviously felt he would be a liability when asked to go over the middle, something he was bound to be required to do.

    “Any rumors how the Bears will respond to Caleb Hanie‘s RFA status? I imagine his agent’s phone has started ringing already. I don’t envision him being a career backup. — Mike, Forney, Texas

    “I would expect the Bears to protect themselves with Hanie, assuming they can’t sign him to a contract prior to the start of free agency. But I don’t think they need to be concerned about another team offering him starter’s money. While Hanie has obvious potential, I don’t think he’s had enough opportunity to create that kind of market for himself.”

    I expect that Pompei is completely right here but Hanie is never going to be a Martz favorite.  Its obvious that he prefers a quarterback who will stand in the pocket, make a quick read and throw.  That’s apparently not Hanie’s forte (though in fairness he hasn’t really had a chance to show that).

    “Loads of history. Great players. Great coaches. Fantastic fans. But they have no Super Bowl victories since 1985. That hurts. Even so, this is a storied franchise that will always seem to be near the top of these rankings. Their pre-Super history is loaded with successes.”


    There are smart people still not convinced that Brett Favre, 41, will remain retired and that he could surface next season not with the Vikings but perhaps the Carolina Panthers. Favre’s ego might force him back after his ill-fated finish last season.”

    “We’ll just stay true to our mantra on offense and defense and special teams, and that’s less volume, more creativity.”

    • Mel Kiper at ESPN talks draft.  ESPN seems to have picked up on Cam Newton their “story” for the draft, thus setting some team up for major disappointment.  Accuracy is still the name of the game and I just don’t see it.  The Jake Locker comments are interesting, though.

    “To me, there are two issues with this kid. Issue number one is he came out of a shotgun [formation], and if you watch the tape it’s basically a very simple offense. One read and either the ball was out or he was out. Can he adapt to, can he process and assimilate a very structured and complex pro offense against a complex pro defense? And secondly, and most importantly, when you get to a certain skill level in the NFL, which this kid certainly has, at the quarterback position what kind of kid is he? Is he going to be the first guy in the building? Is he a gym rat? Is he football smart? Is he a leader of men? All of those things to me are way more important than any workout in shorts.”

    One Final Thought

    Tom Sorenson at the Charlotte Observer relates this story about how Walter Payton greeted former Bear and current Carolina head coach Ron Rivera:

    “‘I’m Walter Payton. Welcome to the Bears,’ he said.

    “Payton, 5-10, offered his hand and Rivera took it. Payton began to squeeze. Rivera, who towers above Payton in the picture, squeezed back.

    “‘He wants to see your knees buckle,’ says Rivera. ‘I knew that.’

    “They stood there, squeezing. Rivera’s knee didn’t buckle.

    “They continued to squeeze. Rivera’s knee continued not to buckle.

    “Payton was relentless but Rivera was a linebacker. You think a linebacker’s knee is going to give first?

    “Well, yes. The pressure was such that Rivera’s knee buckled.

    “This meant he officially was a Bear. Like Payton, he would play for no other NFL team.”