Mike Singletary is a Parent Who Knows How to Do It and Other Points of View


  • Chicago Tribune columnist Dan Pompei conducted a wide ranging interview with Bears president Ted Phillips.  Phillips told him that the team expects to be able to spend money on free agents when the labor stoppage ends.  We’ll see if that’s still the case if game (and substantial revenue) are lost.
  • Phillips also described what I would consider to be a reasonable attitude toward the new rule changes with respect to kickoff returns:

“There are some aspects to the proposal, including the elimination of the two-man wedge and having all the players except the kicker no more than 5 yards behind the ball, that would be more acceptable than moving the kickoff to the 35.”

Bottom line, the Bears don’t mind making kickoff returns safer.  But they see no reason to cut down on the number of them.  I’ve got a feeling that the Bears won’t be alone in that attitude.

Phillips admitted members of the organization “really haven’t talked to him.”

“Maybe some of the coaches did,” Phillips said. “Now, with the work stoppage, we can’t talk to him. But when the time comes, we’ll sit down with him and see how things are going.”

With months of offseason ahead with no contact, let’s hope that someone did talk to him.

Asked if the Bears would consider trading [quarterback Jay] Cutler, Phillips said, “I mean, no one is untradeable. But we couldn’t be happier with Jay as our QB. He’s our guy. Our organization has never wavered in saying, ‘Jay’s our quarterback, and we’re excited to have him.’”

The last time someone told Cutler that he wasn’t untradeable, he was headed out of town.  Let’s hope he reacts better in his current environment.

  • And Charles Barley is showing up Dez Clark on the golf course:


“I think we’ve got good people that are going to help them [in] their fundamentals and get them from a technique standpoint. But I’ve got to feel good that they’ve got the leadership qualities and can mesh with some of my thoughts on the quarterback position. My one-on-one time with them, and just being around them is as important to me as what they can do from a pro day or workouts.”

“Good athletes at quarterback don’t always become franchise quarterbacks. For us, we’re looking and hoping to find a franchise quarterback. For us, that’s what we’re looking to find. So my time with him is as important or more important than what we see on tape.”

Always assuming that Frazier actually means what he says, I would agree with Seifert in that I think these comments might be significant in terms of the Vikings attitude towards Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.  In fact, I’d take it further and say that even in the seemingly unlikely event that Newton were to fall to them, they very well might not take him.

  • Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com makes a good point I hadn’t thought of.  H addresses the problems that coaches like Frazier have when it comes to dealing with players who get themselves in trouble during the lockout.  The Vikings have had two incidences, one involving the arrest of cornerback Chris Cook and the other with running back Adrian Peterson comparing the NFL to “modern-day slavery”:

“’Adrian is a great kid, as you guys know,’ Frazier told reporters Sunday while arriving at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans for league meetings.  ‘This is a time where not being able to communicate with the players — it’s hard to form an opinion. . . .  So, you kind of reserve judgment on everything that you see right now . . . all the information that you’re getting is through the media.’”

“Future draft picks, beyond 2011, also can be traded.  But an ominous caveat comes from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

“Per Mort, the league has advised teams that any trades of draft picks beyond 2011 will occur ‘at [their] own risk.’

“In other words, there may not be a draft in 2012.”

“Our Rams sources believe it certainly wouldn’t hurt to at least look into adding veteran WRs Plaxico Burress, who has been in prison the last couple of years, and Randy Moss, who played under new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in New England. ‘But there are obvious issues with both of them,’ said one team insider. ‘Unlike Michael Vick, who was 28 (nearly 29) when he got out of prison, Burress will be 34 years old (in August). Moss is a bit more intriguing, but it really does seem like he’s no longer a difference maker. He didn’t do anything with the Titans.'”

“Another factor that has made evaluations difficult is the prevalence of spread offenses in college. With the spread, teams typically don’t see as many one-on-one matchups or throwing downfield.

“Said [Bengals defensive backs coach Kevin] Coyle about the evaluation process: ‘The first thing is, can he stay with the receivers and be physical? Does he have the change of direction and able to stay tight on routes? Can they come out of their breaks and explode? You really have to search as you study the tapes. You might go through a game and see only three or four plays.'”

  • The Baltimore Ravens are on the clock at ESPN:

“The guys in the locker room call me the cheapest guy around,” Pitts said with a laugh, “but you have to be wise with your money. You can live a great life and still be careful and still be smart.

“I tell guys, ‘Why do you need that $250,000 car? A Mercedes is a great car, and it’s $85,000. You can afford that on your salary, and what’s that ($250,000) car going to do for you?’ “

[Insert your comment about the NFL labor stoppage here].

One Final Thought

Mike Singletary talks: Bob Sansevere at the St. Paul Pioneer Press listens:

“I think my kids have seen the eyes. They know the look: ‘OK, Daddy is serious.'”

I can only imagine.

Conflicting Comments Make Bears Draft Philosophy Puzzling

As I’ve said, the Dan Pompei interview with Bears president Ted Phillips is providing a lot of food for thought.  Here’s an answer that caught my eye:

“How do you feel about the criticism [general manager Jerry Angelo] sometimes gets?

“Personnel is not an exact science. It takes a little luck. He’d be the first one to tell you we need to do a better job in the early rounds (of the draft), and we do. The flip of that is he’s done a really nice job of finding key players in later rounds and through trades and free agency.”

Sounds reasonable and its more or less true.  But consider this comment made by Angelo to Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times at the Combine last month.  Hayes asked if there were going to be any changes to the draft philosophy this year:

“”It’s not nuclear Neil. It’s the same. We’ll do some things a little bit differently, we had a change, we looked at the bottom part of the draft and how we wanted to evaluate it differently this year so we made some changes that way… But nothing.”

Phillips says (and I agree) that the Bears success in the draft has been in the later rounds.  So Angelo has apparently decided that’s the part of the draft process that needs to be changed.

Am I missing something here?

Sometimes Its the Smallest Comments That Are the Most Meaningful

We spend a lot of time reading between the lines in newspaper reports when writing for this blog.  That’s especially true during the offseason when news gets a bit more scarce.  So not surprisingly, Dan Pompei‘s interview with Bears President Ted Phillips for the Chicago Tribune provided us with plenty of fodder to go under the microscope.

Sometimes what appear to be little throw in comments tend to get lost in interviews like Pompei’s.  For this post I’d like to highlight one at the end of this answer:

“Was there any thought to extending general manager Jerry Angelo‘s contract?

“He is signed through 2013, which puts him on the same time frame as [head coach] Lovie [Smith]. With three years to go, that’s premature. But he feels total support from the organization, as he should. I’ve been happy with the job he’s done, and I love how he and Lovie get along.”

I like Angelo and as GM’s go the Bears could certainly do worse.  But, as anyone who reads this blog knows, that doesn’t mean I’m always his biggest backer.  That’s why this comment gave me some pleasure.

If there is one critical thing Angelo has going for him its his ability to work effectively with everyone up and down the organization.  Its far from the only necessary thing but it is the first necessary thing if you are going to get things done.  Angelo is a consensus builder and “getting along” with Smith – and everyone else – in an environment where opinions are like [rear end]-holes can’t be easy.

I like the fact that Phillips thought it necessary to bring this up out of nowhere at the end this question.  It shows that its on his mind and, because Pompei didn’t specifically ask him about it, it makes it less likely that its just a politically correct answer given for public consumption without the ring of truth.

I won’t say that it means the organization is healthy.  But it is a good sign that if its not the potential to be so is still there.  Without a good relationship with Lovie Smith, Angelo’s job is hopeless.

Draft Strategy Around the League and Other Points of View


  • Pat Kirwan at NFL.com doesn’t think the Bears are going to be filling their needs along the line of scrimmage in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.  He has them picking Texas cornerback Aaron Williams in the first round and Boise State wide receiver Titus Young in the second round.
  • Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune writes a profile of Matthew Smith, who is Bears head coach Lovie Smith‘s son and his agent:

“It’s valid if you disagree with a particular play call, but to say my dad is dumb because he doesn’t do what you do in a situation, that’s what gets my blood boiling.  Nobody gets to my dad’s position being dumb. My dad is very, very smart.”

  • The Tribune‘s Brad Biggs makes the point that the Bears, who have excellent special teams, will be hurt by the new kickoff rules which are being proposed by the Competition Committee.
  • The Bears are lucky in some respects.  Bart Hubbuch at the New York Post thinks its a good year to need a corner in the draft.
  • Bear fans who are still hurting from the Chris Williams fiasco won’t be too happy to hear that Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi has knee problems.  Many mock drafts have the Bears taking Carmi in the first round.  Via Dan Pompei writing for The National Football Post.


  • Sad news as doctors have discovered that NFL Films president Steve Sabol has a tumor on the left side of his brain.
  • ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert answers your questions.  Here’s a really good one:

“Andy of Chicago writes: Much has been made about the Packers’ roster depth. Along with the 53 they had at the end of the season, they could return as many as 15 players from IR and perhaps Johnny Jolly from suspension. Throw in another 8 or 9 draft picks, and those first-year gems that Ted Thompson seems to find outside of the draft before the season (Sam Shields, Frank Zombo, Ryan Grant, etc.) and that’s a lot of bodies in camp. Figuring they’ll probably lose 7 or so players to free agency, do you think Thompson might change his strategy and package picks in the draft to prioritize quality over quantity, i.e., move up on the board?”


“If the Packers think (Texas A&M linebacker Von) Miller is as good as media analysts suggest, would it be worth them to trade multiple picks to get into the top 5 and draft him? The idea would be that any players the Packers take on the second and third days of the draft are going to have a hard time making their roster.

“It makes some sense, but I it would require a significant departure from the way Thompson has built the team in the first place. I think the chances of him staying course — adding more and more talent on annual basis — are much higher than a one-time philosophical shift.”

“I think that guy is going to be a great player.

“You can’t win without one, and trust me, when I lost them, I got fired.”

“I can teach a guy to get up under center.  But I can’t teach a guy to throw. He has a tremendous arm, and I think he’s going to be really effective no matter what he was doing in college.”

“The concept of trading for next year’s picks value wise is pretty good.  Generally speaking, if you can bump up a round, that’s pretty good value.”

“General manager Martin Mayhew has long championed taking the best player — within reason. For instance, the Lions won’t take a quarterback in the first round.

“But if that yields an offensive lineman as most mock drafts suggest, the Lions could be left with the same gaping holes at linebacker and defensive back they finished with last season.”

“A number of coaches throughout the NFL have been turned off by the overall way Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert has handled himself this post-season. They did not like the fact he didn’t workout at the NFL Combine and cited his overall demeanor and body language as turnoffs. The more info I gather on Gabbert the less I feel like he’s being endorsed as a high first round pick. He could end up being the one quarterback to slide a lot further than many think come April.”

  • Well, the Packers didn’t lose defensive coordinator Dom Capers as I’d hoped they would after he did such an excellent job in 2010.  But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a significant shake up in the Green Bay staff.  Pro Football Weekly‘s Dan Arkush reports:

“But team insiders believe [new wide receivers coach Edgar] Bennett, in particular, will have a very tough act to follow in Jimmy Robinson, who left for a position on Jason Garrett‘s staff in Dallas. Robinson, who commanded great respect as a former NFL receiver, is widely considered to be the best WR coach in the business. While Bennett could not be more eager to prove himself in his new role, the consensus seems to be that he definitely will have his work cut out for him.”

  • Can’t imagine Staley doing this.  And I don’t want to:

One Final Thought

Fred Mitchell and David Kaplan at the Tribune quote Bears linebacker Lance Briggs on the departure of defensive tackle Tommie Harris:

“We know the business and we know that one day we all won’t be together.  It was tough to see Alex (Brown) go last year, and now it is tough to see that Tommie is not going to be there in the locker room and sharing laughs. I have been in Chicago ever since Tommie was drafted, and we developed a relationship on and off the field. That’s how football players grow, being able to trust that man next to you to do his job.”

Actions Speak Louder Than Cam Newton’s Words

We all know that you really can’t completely trust what anyone says about players entering the NFL Draft at this point.   Too many personnel men lie in order to skew the process in their favor.

Having said that, this draft rumor courtesy of Wes Bunting at The National Football Post has the ring of truth:

“The more scouts dig, the more I am finding they are turned off on Auburn QB Cam Newton. Citing that he’s a me first guy and has some real character flaws behind the scenes. One scout said he handles himself flawlessly in front of the camera, but when they are off he’s not the same guy.”

If Newton is taken in the top five to ten picks, I have to believe its because some owner stepped into the process to force it.  As implied in the quote above, many NFL players are very good con men.  They grow up smiling and charming people who recognize their talent and therefore believe what they say because they want to believe it.  This means almost everyone right up to and including owners of NFL teams.

But if you are any kind of decent NFL personnel man, you have to be an exception to the rule.  And among other things you are looking to see it Newton’s record matches his words.  He was arrested for allegedly stealing a laptop computer from a student at the University of Florida. He also reportedly later left in part because of three instances of academic cheating.  Afterwards his father, Cecil Newton, admitted soliciting money  in return for his son playing for a major-college team before settling on Auburn.  The Newtons deny that Cam knew of his father’s actions but no one seriously believes that.

Anyone can have a youthful indiscretion before learning a lesson and cleaning up his act.  But you have to acknowledge the mistakes before you can be forgiven.  If actions speak louder than words (and they certainly should here), Cam Newton could mean serious trouble to any NFL team that takes him.

I’m not saying any of this should keep Newton from being drafted in the first round.  But if I’ve got a top pick I’m not risking it on a guy with so many questions surrounding his character.  There’s little doubt that Newton has tremendous upside but everyone – fans and front office – knows that potential gets you fired in the NFL.

Bears Need at Wide Receiver Revisted

Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press says that the Lions are looking at wide receivers.  Why, with a Calvin Johnson on the field, are the Lions doing that?  I think those who don’t see this as a need for the Bears should think carefully about the following quote from Lions general manager Martin Mayhew:

“Offensively, it’s a game of matchups.  If our third receiver can be better than their third corner, if we have somebody who can stretch the field that can allow Calvin (Johnson) to catch some balls in a deeper area of the field than what he normally would catch them in … . He can make a big play if a guy can take the top off the defense and get safeties out of there and that kind of thing.”

The Bears game against New England, where they got absolutely slaughtered in what amounted to one half of football, taught me many things.  But the biggest was the truth of Mayhews’ statement.  The Bears didn’t have a third corner to match up with Wes Welker in the slot and he almost dsingle handedly beat them.

This means two thing.  The most obvious is that the Bears have a need at corner.  The less obvious in that they have a need at wide receiver.  even the Lions, who have other needs along with maybe the best wide receiver in the league, think they need to look closely at wide receiver.

The Bears are average at wide receiver.  There’s just no getting around it.  Devin Hester is forever raw, Johnny Knox disappeared in big games where defensive backs got physical with him, and Earl Bennett is good for what he is, a big underneath possession guy.

The game is, indeed, one of matchups.  I look at the Bears’ opponents and I don’t think their wide receivers matchup well with them one-on-one up and down the depth chart.  And when you have a team that can dictate those matchups it becomes, ultimately, what the game is about.  The Packers and the Patriots are that kind of team and the Lions are trying to become that kind of team.  Without better wide receivers I’m not sure the Bears are ever going to be.

Could Washington Be a Chicago Trade Partner?

Matt Williamson at Scouts Inc. thinks it might be smart for the Washington Redskins to trade back in the draft from thier position at number 10.

They need a quarterback and, given that Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are likely to be gone, he thinks they might have their eyes on Jake Locker.  Locker’s characteristics do seem to be a good fit for head coach Mike Shanahan and its not impossible that they would prefer him anyway.

The knock on Locker is his accuracy.  His best career completion percentage was 58% and statistically quarterbacks with percentages less than 60 often don’t do well in the NFL.  But Shanahan is a quarterback guru and I’d say if Locker can be successful in the NFL, he’d have as good a chance in Washington as anywhere.

I would agree with Williamson but it would be more Washington’s style to move up from the second round to the bottom of the first round closer to where most think Locker will go.  And most Bear fans know that they might find a very willing trade partner in Chicago.  Depending upon what’s available at 29, trading back is definitely Jerry Angelo‘s MO.

Mel Kiper: Biggest Quarterback Draft Busts

Mel Kiper reviews his biggest quarterback draft busts since 1978 when he started evaluating.

There were no Bears on this list but you could certainly make an argument.  Former Bears pick Cade McNown‘s not there but the guess here is that’s because he wasn’t picked in the top 10.  Rick Mirer should have counted twice since both the Seahawks and the Bears wasted first round picks on him.

Jay Cutler Is a Twinkie and Other Points of View


“Something positive

“DT Tommie Harris looked creaky at times and was asked to handle only about 15 snaps a game. Given his hefty contract, it’s no surprise that the Bears released him after the season. But Harris can still play. He can still get uncommonly deep penetration with his initial quick step off the ball. As long as he’s not asked to move laterally, he can produce. Any 4-3 team needing a situational interior pass-rusher should take note.”

  • CBS Sports’ Rob Rang has updated his Big Board.  Some names of note for Bear fans:

16. Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida: Size, strength and the athleticism to block at the next level, Pouncey’s ability to stand out against SEC competition makes him an easy first-round pick.

20. Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California: In terms of pure talent, Smith is this year’s best tackle — but his experience lies on the right side, his future lies on the left and scouts have questioned his maturity. He’ll impress when he works out at USC’s pro day March 30.

21. Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: A road grader with enough size, reach for pass protection, Carimi would be best off moving to right tackle.

22. Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois: Overshadowed a bit by ex-teammates Mikel Leshoure and Martez Wilson at Illinois, Liuget will wind up the earliest-drafted and best NFL player of the trio.

23. Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor: Don’t let his marginal tests at the combine or the fact that he’s 26 distract from the fact that Watkins is the toughest, nastiest interior lineman in this class. He might not make the first round, but he’ll one day be viewed as a steal.

24. Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State: I’m admittedly higher on Sherrod than most, but see him as an ideal swing tackle capable of stepping in immediately and well worth a first-round pick.

25. Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor: A top-20 talent athletically, but will have to answer questions about his suspension and transfer from Penn State to get drafted there.

Mikel Leshoure was 35.

  • The Bears are on the clock with the ESPN crew:


“Myth Buster

Jared Allen is a dominant pass rusher

“In 2010 at least, this wasn’t true. Allen was not much of a factor early in the season–– even though he faced frequent one-on-one blocking. He came to life down the stretch … once he faced inferior competition. This isn’t to say Allen is not an elite defensive end. But his struggles last season only give more ammunition to detractors who point out that a majority of his sacks in ’09 came against the feeble Packers and Bears offensive lines.”

“Myth Buster

Jahvid Best is a superstar in the making

“The ’10 first-round rookie running back has superstar features (speed, lateral agility, terrific acceleration and soft hands). But he had a tendency to abandon his blocking last season, which led to too many potential three-and four-yard gains ending in gains of zero or lost yardage. Experience and playing behind a more consistent offensive line should help.”

  • Williamson also does another entry in his weekly “Pressure Point” series which looks at a player who must improve in 2011.  This week its Marshawn Lynch and Williamson doesn’t pull any punches:

“Lynch is more effective as an every-down runner and, at his best, he can wear down a defense. But he just doesn’t do a good enough job of creating on his own when the blocking is sub-par. He becomes a lateral runner instead of a bulldozer. He too often gets what is blocked and nothing more.”

“With all the team needs Seattle has, I would not use a lot of resources on the running back position right now…  But if Lynch doesn’t step up his game in 2011, I would look for a back one year from now.”

  • According to the New York PostJenn Sterger is suing her former manager to get back materials related to the Brett Favre sexting scandal.  He may intend to use those items in a tell-all book.  I had a feeling that Sterger would have dropped this without a fuss if it weren’t for bad advice she was getting from the start of it.  I’d say this supports the idea.
  • NBC 2 Fort Myers in Florida reports that Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Mario Henderson was arrested on a weapons charge Thursday morning (via BenMaller.com).  At 6’7″, 300 lb Henderson is so large that he couldn’t fit into the back of the police car.  He was offered the option of lying down in the back or walking four blocks to the station.  He decided to lie down.
  • Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to start staying awake in that tanning bed.  Via Deadspin:

Sun burn

One Final Thought

Jay Cutler‘s true, soft nature revealed:

However, lets not make the mistake of believing this means he’s not tough.

Mikel Leshoure in the First Round? I Doubt It But…

Brad Biggs, writing for The National Football Post, quotes Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure:

“I think in the NFL now days you need a tandem.  One power back taking 20, 30 carries a game, that adds up over the years. Usually, people are going with two backs. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team with a star back now was to scoop me up.”

Bears running backs coach Tim Spencer spent quite a bit of time talking to Leshoure before his pro day at Illinois and you have to wonder if they aren’t thinking about Chester Taylor‘s role in the offense as they evaluate him.  Not many teams need running backs this year and if Jerry Angelo really believes Leshoure is far and away the best player available when the Bears pick, its not beyond the realm of possibility that he’d take him.

Most people think the team should draft along the line of scrimmage.  Though I personally have an open mind, I think taking Leshoure in the first round would be a wonderful way to piss off most of Chicago Bear fandom.