Mike Tice Invents a New Word and Other Points of View


  • Let’s start with video of the Halas Hall draft press conference yesterday from the Bears website:

  • Bears west coast area scout Marty Barrett talk s about second round selection of Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea:

  • GM Jerry Angelo talks Paea as well:

“The Bears were so enamored with Paea that if Gabe Carimi had been off the board when their turn came up in the first round, Paea might have been their highest draft choice perhaps through a trade-down. Bears player personnel director Tim Ruskell said there was a draft room consensus on how well Paea fit what the Bears needed.”

When the Bears traded up I really wondered if they had actually wanted Marvin Austin and the Giants stole him out from under them. But Pompei’s comment jibs with that of his Tribune colleague Brad Biggs, who actually wrote yesterday morning that the Bears were prepare to take Paea had Carmi not been there at #29. The Bears were lucky he was still there for them in the second round.

“And he is exceptionally strong. At the combine, he bench-pressed 225 pounds 49 times, the most by any player in a dozen years.”

I’ve got a little problem with judging strength by the bench press. He looks to me in the video below like he’s got short arms. That let’s you bench press a lot more weight than a guy who is stronger but has longer arms. I’m not saying he isn’t strong but I’m not buying the bench press as an indicator.

Having said that, here’s what Angelo had to say on the topic (via the Chicago Tribune):

“It does transcend, a lot of times it doesn’t, but in his case it does and not because we picked him with our pick. We call it functional strength, not weight room strength. In his case, he has been blessed.”

“Oregon State coach Mike Riley coached with Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli at USC and gave Paea the highest possible recommendation, resulting in the Bears sending a fourth-round pick to the Washington Redskins for the right to move up nine spots to select the Tongan strongman 53rd overall. It took a similar vote of confidence from longtime NFL defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, now coordinating Cal’s defense, to convince secondary coach John Hoke and Angelo that [safety Chris] Conte‘s rare skill set made him the best bet in the third round.

“Conte was scheduled to play in the East-West Shrine game, but pulled out because he thought he had a chance to play in the Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl invitation fell through, and Conte subsequently did not play in an all star game.

“Angelo indicated that might have worked to the Bears’ favor, because his athleticism on display in an all star game might have heated up Conte’s draft stock.”

“When you watch him on tape because he did play two years of corner they did play him outside in man-to-man coverage, they use him inside on the slot, so he has a lot of versatility and that is really what you look for in the safety position.”

I’ve been arguing that the Bears need a third corner to cover receivers in the slot man-to-man since the New England game. Looks like the coaches might be looking to Conte to fill that role when they’re in the nickel. Should be interesting.

  • Conte talks about the difficulty of playing safety Vs. cornerback:

“For me it was actually pretty easy. Playing safety I always felt I was much more natural at. Coming in I had a great coach, coach Clancy Pendergast, who came from the NFL. He just really helped with my transition. He came in on the first day, he was like, ‘You’re playing safety from now on’ and really took me under his wing and really just showed me what it took to be a great football player and possibly an NFL-type player.”

I love this quote. I really think the key to the position is good instincts and if the position feels “natural”, then I think that’s a good sign.

  • Ballard discusses about Conte in this video from ChicagoBears.com:

“I think he’s an outside player, and we=92ll make sure the day he walks into the building the spot we put him at is the spot he’s going to play for the next 10 years.”

Former first round pick Chris Williams has been moved around quite a bit and I think its hurt his development.

“‘He’s one of the most unbelievably competitive people I’ve ever met,’ [Wisconsin center Peter] Konz said, recalling the endless debates they had just to see who could make better arguments. ‘It doesn’t matter what it is. Whatever it takes, however long it takes, he’s going to get the job done.'”

“‘There is a lot of familiarity,’ Tice said. We’re going to have to convert that family over to Bearism and knock off that Cheesehead stuff.'”

One Final Thought

Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Sun-Times indicates that turn about might be fair play when it comes to the Bears botched trade with Baltimore:

    “Maybe the final word on the subject should come from Newsome himself, by way of Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who unearthed an old quote from eight years ago when Baltimore failed to trade up with Minnesota in a similar situation.

    “The deal was not consummated,’ [Raven’s GM Ozzie] Newsome said at the time. A deal is not a deal until I talk to [league executive] Joel Bussert, and I never talked to Joel Bussert.’

    “Angelo couldn’t have said it any better himself.”

    But the Chicago Tribune‘s David Haugh isn’t buying that:

    “If the Bears were willing to give up that player before the so-called glitch, they should be after — especially since they got Carimi. The Ravens negotiated the trade successfully so the Bears should honor it in good faith.”

    I’ve given up believing that the Bears are likely to take the moral high road on issues like this.  But for the record, I think they should have dome the right thing and compensated Baltimore.

    Bears First Round Attitude Reflects Shift of Influence Within Organization and Other Points of View

    There’s so much Bears news today that I won’t be saying much about the rest of the draft. But over the weekend as I catch up you can bet the James Carpenter, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder will be addressed. I also foudn the pick of Nick Fairley to be intereesting. He didn’t look happy.

    • The Bears first round pick of offensive tackle Gabe Carimi seems to be a popular one. The reaction of Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times was typical:

    “It was obvious the Bears offensive line was missing a quality left tackle last season. It also lacked the one intangible that can allow a unit to overcome such a handicap.”

    “By landing Carimi with the 29th overall pick, he injected attitude into a toothless unit that not only allowed a league-high 56 sacks but failed to consistently open holes in the running game. “

    Maybe. Carimi is commonly perceived as a right tackle or guard (see comments below). But I’ll say this: he’s got as good a chance of being a solid left tackle as J’Marcus Webb.

    • Larry Mayer at chicagobears.com got GM Jerry Angelo for this interview after the pick:

    Bears midwest scout Jeff Shiver talks about Carimi:

    Here’s are the highights from the Bears press conference:

    • Todd McShay‘s opinion at ESPN on Carimi is consistent with my own:


    • I don’t know how much there is to this statement from Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune:

    “It’s possible Carimi dropped a bit because he rubbed some NFL talent evaluators the wrong way in interviews. Some said he came across as overconfident. But a heavy dose of confidence may be welcome in the Bears’ offensive line room.”

    If that’s true they’re fools. But since they aren’t fools (generally), I’m guessing it had more to do with the fact that not enough of them thought he was going to be a left tackle and that’s where you generally want your first round talent to play.

    “We wouldn’t move a guy [as a rookie]. We never try to move a guy from guard to tackle, unless we have to. When you look at our history a little bit, we’ve had to make some tough moves, asking a guy like Chris Williams to play tackle and guard, but that’s not the plan. Once we lock a player into a position we would like to keep him there and that’s what we will do.”

    • Smith on whether Carimi will play left tackle:

    “It is tough to find a left tackle, but he has of course started. So again, it is easy for me to say that we are going to put him at the left tackle position, but he has done more and when you have the type of ability that he has, he does give you more options. But looking at our offensive line, J’Marcus Webb can play a couple different positions, so I can’t wait to get that group together and they will tell us exactly where they need to play.”

    “One of the pre-Combine knocks on Carimi is that he may not be athletic enough to play left tackle in the NFL. But at the Combine, Carimi did a very solid 29 reps on the bench press, a 31 1/2 inch vertical leap, and his best 40-time was a 5.18. Only six offensive tackles had a faster time than him, including Nate Solder, who ran a Combine-best 4.96.

    Still, this is clear: Carimi isn’t the athlete that Webb is.

    • Jensen quotes Angelo on a botched trade with Baltimore that really seemed to throw the end of the draft a little bit of a loop:

    “‘We dropped the ball, I dropped the ball,’ Angelo said. ‘What has been done can’t be undone.

    “‘[Baltimore] did everything according to the rules.”

    Biggs notes that in the end no harm was done and both teams took the players they wanted. But had the trade happened that also would have been the case so one wonders if Baltimore won’t ask the Bears to give the 127th pick they offered to move up anyway. Biggs also invokes the “checkbox” errors in 2002 and the error contacting James Starks only to not draft him in last year as examples of how the Bears have made a bit more of a habit of botching things on draft day than usual.

    “We are not looking for a rookie to come in and set the tempo in that room, Olin [Kreutz] sets the tempo in that room and our vets, and I think he can learn from them but we would like for tough guys to come in and add something to the room. We only ask rookies to come add to the room, they are not going to be in a leadership role right away.”

    One Final Thought

    The Bears did something that they rarely do in the first round last night – they fell in love with one player.  To the point where they actually tried to trade up instead of trading down as they usually do.  Here’s Angelo, again, via the Chicago Tribune:

    “We got a good handful of offers, mostly with trades of people wanting to come up to our spot. We entertained those. We had a couple of linemen that we thought were going to be on the board to maybe give us the flexibility to do that. But once they started to come off as quickly as they did, we just felt like we were going to stay where we were put and hopefully get the player that we got. We did try to move up in the draft and get a deal done with a team in front of us. We weren’t able to get that done. So we sat and we got the player we wanted.”

    Biggs also noted the unusual move:

    “The Bears wanted Gabe Carimi so badly they set out to do something general manager Jerry Angelo hadn’t done in nine drafts with the club.

    “They tried to trade up in the first round. Fearing the Chiefs were targeting Carimi at No. 27, the Bears worked to swing a deal with the Ravens to move up three spots to 26.”

    One wonders what is behind the change in philosophy. It could be new player personnel boss Tim Ruskell. But my guess is that it was offensive line coach Mike Tice whose presence was being being felt.

    It isn’t that the Bears picked Carimi that’s unusual. He was probably the guy they would have taken in any number of scenarios. Its the way they did it that might represent a major shift of influence within the organization that may have begun last season when Tice reportedly convinced offensive coordinator Mike Martz to run the ball more.

    It’s something to keep an eye on.

    Correct Bears Pick Is Also the Most Likely and Other Points of View


    “Oddly, [GM Jerry] Angelo was a better at drafting defensive players before [head coach Lovie] Smith arrived despite the seeming advantage the two should share by working off a different blueprint than other teams.”

    Insert your thoughts about Smith’s influence in the draft room here.

    “One league source with a stellar track record for predicting the Bears’ drafts said the defensive coaching staff will be pressuring Angelo and [player personnel boss Tim] Ruskell to take a cornerback.”

    Too many people are ignoring this need. The Bears need a third corner and they could very well take one early if the right guy is there.

    “This huge blocker will be a good fit on Mike Tice’s line. The Bears will be fortunate if he falls to them.”

    Pompei’s probably right in that they will take him if he’s there. But I’m not sure he’s a good fit on a team that really needs a left tackle.

    • The rest of the Tribune’s contributors make their picks. A wide variety of choices which seems to be typical of the unpredictable nature of this draft, especially when considering such a late pick. Most of the picks reflect one of the six scenarios which Pompei describes here.
    • Mike Mayock at NFL.com has the Bears taking WR Jonathan Baldwin in the draft:

    “The Bears want offensive or defensive line help, but at this point in the draft, those spots have been hit hard. If a trade down isn’t an option, they try to give Jay Cutler another target in the passing game. Baldwin is a talented wideout.”

    Baldwin’s going to be a good player but I’m not sure he fits offensive coordinatorMike Matz‘s offense. And he’s a reach at that point. I’m not seing it.

    “High character guy who fixes huge problem for Bears at guard. Age (26) not an issue.”

    See One Final Thought below.

    Meanwhile, Dickerson’s colleague Michael C. Wright has them jumping for joy at the chance of getting OT Anthony Castonzo.

    “This could happen. Graded by some as a second-rounder.”

    Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press disagrees (along with most of the rest of the world). He says that he woud be consider Costanzo a steal at 13. I don’t know about that but needless to say it would be the crime of the century at #29.

    • No one should be surprised by the news but Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune got a statement from an unidentified team executive that says that the Bears have made it known that they are willing to trade down. The executive represents a team picking higher than #42.  I doubt anyone volunteers information like this without an ulterior motive.
    • Michael C. Wright and Tom Waddle at ESPNChicago.com talk Bears draft needs and how they match up with who might be available to them:

    “When the flurry of activity at Halas Hall ended, the Bears didn’t assign themselves a letter grade, but they did say they believed the draft would produce six starters for them. It was a lofty prediction, exceeding the usual goal [of four] Angelo has.”

    “Unfortunately, the team can’t claim six starters from this group. Right now, it can’t claim four starters from an original group of 12. That’s not meeting the mark for Angelo.”

    Biggs is judging this class according to what Angelo said and I think that’s more than fair. But I’m more inclined to judge it based upon my own expectations. I see four picks in the first three rounds. I expect a minimum of four starters from a draft which has that figuring some hits late and some misses early. I see three starters: Matt Forte, Earl Bennett and Chris Williams. I see two more solid contributors: Zack Bowman, Kellen Davis. All of the players from the 5th round up are still on the team. Its very debatable but I don’t think it was a bad draft.

    • John Mullin at CSNChicago.com says that Green Bay defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins is expected to be targeted by the Bears in free agency.
    • ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert had this interesting exchange regarding Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in a chat Tuesday afternoon. I think Seifert’s got the right on this one.  Your opinion may vary but remember the first half f the NFC Championship game (pre-injury) before answering to quickly.
    • New Hall of Famer Richard Dent apparently forgot to pay his taxes. A lot.

    One Final Thought

    John Mullin at CSNChicago.com comes through with the pick which I personally think would be both the right one and the one which is most likely: Watkins.

    “If Derek Sherrod somehow is there, the Bears will happily take him and start Mike Tice working J’Marcus Webb and Sherrod at left tackle as soon as lockout terms permit. But tackles go fast and the Bears will be satisfied with Watkins even at age 27 because he will be a day-one starter at guard and could be a factor at tackle even at 6-3.”

    Mullin’s mock draft looks very realistic to me and, though he makes Watkins sound like a consolation prize, I think its the right pick.  Watkins is likely going to be the best overall blocker available (even if Sherrod is there).

    True it leaves the Bears trying to fill a hole at left tackle with the younger guys they’ve got and/or a free agent.  But the’d be far from the only team in the NFL trying to make do at the position, which traditionally offers only limited options every year.  Sometimes you do what you have to to get the best five guys on the field.

    Lovie Smith the Victim of High Expectations and Other Points of View


    • There was plenty of lockout news that I won’t be talking about at the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.
    • J’Marcus Webb and Anthony Adams are your Piccolo Award winners. This is notable because Adams is not curently a Bear and because both players apparently treated the situation with such honor and respect.
    • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Webb:

    “I wish (playing left tackle) was possible. They are real secretive. They haven’t necessarily talked to me about it. I would love to be in any position ready to do the job.

    “I played four years in college and I feel natural there. It’s the premier position. That’s where players get paid. It’s a big challenge. That’s what I am all about.”

    • Michael C. Wright at ESPNChicago.com reviews the cornerback position in the draft. He acknowledges that the Bears will probably address the position though they already have a “wealth of talent” there.  Needless to say he likes D.J. Moore as the nickel back better than I do.
    • Wright makes some good points in this video:

    “A lot has been made of Mike Tice’s desire to draft Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi, but he is projected to be picked higher than 29. Is there a chance the Bears will make a short jump up into the early- to mid-20s to get a player like Carimi? Darryl, Winnipeg, Manitoba”

    “I would be very surprised if this happened, for two reasons. The first reason is the Bears don’t have extra picks to trade in order to move up. The second reason is Carimi is not perceived as a slam-dunk difference-maker. If he falls to 29, he’d be a fine pick. And there is a chance that will happen. But I don’t think he is the kind of player that teams are targeting in a trade-up. There is enough depth at the offensive line position that a trade-up for a player like Carimi probably would not be very smart.”

    I might add that Carimi is generally projected to be a right tackle. Arguably the Bears already have three of those.

    “Interestingly, Austin says he has no regrets. You have to wonder how teams interviewing him accept that answer knowing that by stepping out of bounds he took himself out of the game.”

    • This unsigned article at the Chicago Sun-Times (Neil Hayes?) speculates upon players at the Bears might take if they fall even though they aren’t at positions of highest need. I’m absolutely in favor of the Bears taking the best available at any position but quarterback and tight end.


    • Mel Kiper at ESPN plays “skeptic or believer” as he goes over draft rumors.

    Mark Ingram and Mikel Leshoure will be picked in the first round.”

    “Alabama’s Mark Ingram won’t get past Tampa Bay at 20 because of his strength, balance and rare vision. Illinois’ Mikel Leshoure, who is ahead of Ingram on some boards due to injury concerns regarding the former Heisman Trophy winner, will not get past New Orleans, New England or even Green Bay at 32 as 2010 breakout rookie James Starks and veteran Ryan Grant have both lost significant time to injuries in recent years.”

    Max Kielbasa
    “Pittsburgh Steelers, 1943

    “Max Kielbasa played two seasons at halfback for the Steelers. It can be presumed he then went on to open a sausage shop and/or star in adult films in Poland.”

    One Final Thought

    Pompei also gave this thoughtful answer to a fan question:

    Love Smith is one of the most successful Bears coaches in the history of the franchise. All of his players love him and play hard for him, and he has engaged in no controversial activity during his tenure. So, why do so many in the media call for his ousting? Is it because he doesn’t make for good copy? Mike Anderson, Evanston

    “Interesting question. Lovie probably isn’t helped by the fact that his public persona is perceived as bland, and he isn’t very open in news conferences. But the reason he isn’t embraced more by the media and public probably goes well beyond that. My theory is the media and public probably would want any coached fired after seven years, assuming the coach isn’t winning Super Bowls regularly. It has less to do with Lovie than it does us. It’s just the fickle nature of the business and how demanding we have become of our teams. If a team isn’t collecting Lombardi Trophies, it is perceived to be failing. People forget this now, but back in the late 80s and early 90s, there were a lot of critics calling for Mike Ditka‘s head. Twenty years later, you would think he should be put up for canonization.”

    Moving Chris Williams to Center a Risky Business

    Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times says that there have been discussions at Halas Hall about moving offensive tackle/guard Chris Williams to center. Its an interesting idea but I really question whether it will work.

    As we consider this possibility, its worth noting the comments that Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano made about moving guards to the center position last month:

    “It legitimately is the hardest position up front to play. People are going to tell you left tackle because of who they are going against, but if you draft the right left tackle, which we’ve been fortunate to do, that really isn’t the case.  If you’re trying to put a squad peg into a round hole then that makes left tackle a hard position. Not many of us try to do that.

    “With center, everyone has this guard and can make him a center, or you can take this undersized (guy) and make him a center. That really isn’t the case. It doesn’t work in a lot of situations.

    “You have to have some kind of center background in their history, in their past, for that to work well.”

    “From a mental standpoint it’s challenging. Practice is one thing. In the game it’s a completely different, much like the quarterback. When it starts to hit the fan out there at that position things speed up and you need it to slow down.”

    I’m not saying that the Bears shouldn’t try Williams at center. But I’m very wary of the idea.

    Williams didn’t make the transition to guard very well and the move to center would be tougher. He really needs to be settled into a position and allowed to develop.  This kind of change would set his timetable back even further.  Williams may never reach his potential as the Bears shuffle him from position to position.

    Its a big risk.

    Labor Problems Decreasing Interest in the Draft? And Other Points of View


    • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune passes on comments Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall made last week in which he calls Bears quarterback Jay Cutler a “clown”. I don’t know what’s at the root of it but I’ve never seen a player so disliked by his peers.
    • Cutler and Kristin Cavallari are engaged according to Perez Hilton.  So at least someone seems to love him.
    • Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Sun-Times notes that, like special teams coordinator Dave Toub, offensive coordinator Mike Martz turned down an offer for a contract extention that didn’t include a significant raise. He makes this point about Martz’s philosophical change mid-season after he let the offensive statistics fall for the good of the team. The Bears started running the ball more behind a subpar offensive line:

    “So the maverick coordinator reeled in his flamboyant tendencies and ran the most balanced offense in the league in terms of run and pass plays, keying a five-game winning streak as part of a 7-2 close to the season.

    “Apparently subjugation of ego is appreciated during the season, but not rewarded after it.”

    • Biggs says that Bears kicker Robbie Gould has an escalator in his contract for touchbacks on kickoffs. The league moved the kickoff line 5 yards closer to the goal line in an off season rule change meaning Gould likely will have more touchbacks than in the past.
    • Mulligan and I see eye-to-eye on the Bears draft history:

    “The Bears, however, aren’t a draft-driven team. Roughly half their starters were selected by other teams. The Bears have garnered their success by making a big trade for quarterback Jay Cutler one year and adding defensive end Julius Peppers in a free-agent deal the next. They still have enough talent to win consistently, but their inability to develop younger players soon — and perhaps for a long time — will be a major problem, especially with the Packers in the NFC North.”

    By the way, when Mulligan says “roughly half their starters” that includes the starters at the three most important positions on the field – pass rushing defensive end, left tackle and quarterback.

    • John Mullin at CSNChicago.com makes a good argument against the Bears trading out of the first round.
    • Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times talks about the Bears need at defensive tackle. He quotes director of player personnel Tim Ruskell on the Bears draft philosophy, similar to what they were looking for when Ruskell was with GM Jerry Angelo in Tampa Bay:

    “’We were looking at players that weren’t the rest of the league’s No. 1 choice. Rod was always a guy that kind of favored the undersized guy inside — he didn’t have to be 6-4 — whereas some teams say, ‘I need a giant in there.’ So we had a little bit of an advantage.’

    “Angelo hasn’t always taken advantage of that advantage. From Jarron Gilbert to Marcus Harrison, Dusty Dvoracek and Michael Haynes, the Bears have struggled in recent years to find productive players at the position.”

    “In view of the fact that Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins is already 26, do you think the Bears would consider drafting him? I can’t believe they would use a first-round pick on someone who is five years older than most of the other prospects.

    “Mark S.
    “Palatine, Illinois

    “I’m not sure what the Bears think of Baylor’s Danny Watkins as a player. But when Jerry Angelo was asked about Watkins last week, it didn’t seem like the Bears general manager had a problem with the lineman’s age. Said Angelo: “Players play into their 30s at that position, you could even say into their mid-30s and still play good football. We’ve had a few here and have a few here. I don’t think it’s a red flag. We use the terms red flag and yellow flag. Obviously, red flags are a real concern. A yellow flag, you’d be cautious, but it wouldn’t stop you from taking a guy.” Watkins, by the way, didn’t play football until enrolling in junior college. He played hockey and rugby while growing up in Canada.”


    “It will be interesting to see if teams continue to look at the Draft as a long-term proposition without free agency preceding it. There will be teams where long-term planning is pushed aside to address short-term needs without having had the opportunity to address them in free agency.”

    “All I know is that in the last four years there were 17 chosen in the first round, with four sticking as full-time starters. That would be Chris Long of St. Louis, Washington’s Brian Orakpo, Denver’s Robert Ayers and Anthony Spencer of Dallas, though Spencer and Orakpo are outside linebackers in 3-4 defenses.”

    • Wes Bunting at the National Football Post writes about five late risers in the NFL draft. Here is one name he mentions which I have heard connectd to the Bears:

    “WR Randall Cobb: Kentucky

    Possesses the ability to consistently separate vs. a two-way go from the slot, is a natural plucker of the football and will create after the catch. Could mature into one of the league’s better slot men and now looks like a solid second-round pick.”

    • Todd McShay at ESPN talks about some pre-draft rumors. As usual there’s lots of talk about quarterbacks flying off the board:

    “Smart coaches have a plan, and all the early PR on [Cowboys head coach Jason] Garrett praises his leadership and organizational skills. Does he also have a quarterback, his quarterback, picked out? I wonder because Andy Dalton‘s name lies quietly among all the offensive tackles, cornerbacks and defensive ends on Dallas’ visit list. The Cowboys have worked out Dalton and like him.

    “If Dalton slides to pick 40, I would not be shocked if the Cowboys draft opened like this:

    “1. Patrick Peterson, 2. Andy Dalton
    “1. Tyron Smith, 2. Andy Dalton”

    “When I didn’t get called that first day, honestly, I was angry,” Avril said. “I walked into the house, my mom was trying to talk to me, trying to calm me down, and that’s the first time I actually got an attitude with my mom and was like, ‘I don’t want to talk to anybody.’ That’s the first time ever and she knew it had to be something serious.”

    “After months of preparing for the birth of the new Mannings, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning announced Tuesday he will carefully assess his newborn twins in the coming weeks before he names one of his offspring as the starting child.”

    One Final Thought

    Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com says that he hasn’t seen the usual spike in traffic at his site because interest in the NFL draft is down:

    “Though traffic is still solid, that [usual] bump hasn’t been seen. And it meshes with the sense we’ve obtained from others in the business that people simply aren’t as interested in a draft that occurs under a cloud of uncertainty as to whether there will even be a season.”

    I have also noted this lack of interest locally in Chicago but have chalked it up to the fact that the Bears are picking so late in the first round.  Nevertheless, people in bars and on mailing lists that I can usually count on for good NFL talk have been unusually silent this year.  I couldn’t even get enough people together to run a decent mock draft.

    I have to wonder if Florio doesn’t have a point.  The NFL labor problems may already hurting the sport.

    Saying It All About the Draft and Other Points of View


    BEARS: There are several good offensive tackles in this draft, and the Bears should be able to get one with the 29th pick. USC’s Tyron Smith will be long gone, but Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod or Colorado‘s Nate Solder might be on the board. The Bears also could use a defensive tackle — maybe Baylor’s Phil Taylor or North Carolina‘s Marvin Austin — to fill the Tommie Harris void.

    I’m astounded at the number of people who seem to think Phil Taylor is a viable fit for the Bear defense. He’s a nose tackle and though I’ve heard he can play the three-technique, I just don’t see it. Could be wrong.

    • Here are the five names Rob Rang at CBSSports.com has on the Bears draft board:

    –CB Brandon Harris, Miami (Fla.)
    –CB-FS Aaron Williams, Texas
    –OT Nate Solder, Colorado
    –OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
    –OL Danny Watkins, Baylor


    There’s a team in the draft that has a deal on the table — I’m guessing New England (surprise!) — with a team trying to come back into the first round. The deal will net the team dealing the first-rounder the following: a second-round pick in 2011 and a first-round pick in 2012. The deal, I hear, is contingent on the player the trade-up team wants still being there. Could it be Tennessee trading into the bottom of the first round, at 28, to get Jake Locker or Andy Dalton? Stay tuned.

    • Farmer continues with the Vikings needs:

    VIKINGS: They need a quarterback and likely have to trade up from No. 12 if they want Auburn’s Cam Newton or Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert. However, there’s a good chance Washington’s Jake Locker, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett will be around. Locker is enticing at that spot. Cornerback is a glaring area of need, too, as is defensive tackle, where the Williams Wall once stood.

    I think the chances are better than “good” that those quarterbacks will be around when the Vikings pick. Locker would be a reach – which is not to say the Vikings still wouldn’t do it. But I would hardly call him “enticing” that early.

    • Speaking of Locker, Greg Gabriel at the National Football Post breaks him down and he’s not pulling any punches:

    “At the Senior Bowl practices, it was more of the same. He flashed but overall he was indecisive with his reads. He just didn’t trust what he was seeing and would be late getting the ball out of his hand. This caused accuracy problems and also gave defenders time to make plays. Overall, Locker is going to need a lot of time and good coaching. Because of his football character, I would never want to bet against him but he is a long ways away from being a starting NFL quarterback. He will do whatever it takes to improve, but I’m not sure his lack of natural instincts will ever be able to be overcome. Needless to say I would never draft him in the first round. Because of his intangibles I might want to take a chance in the third if I really had a need at the position.”

    • Bill Parcells tells ESPN a little bit about the week of preparation leading to the draft as he previews his draft special tomorrow night:

    • ESPN also does one of its “Sports Science” features on Florida’s Mike Pouncey:

    “And this is supposed to surprise me how?”

    Marshall was stabbed by his wife Friday.

    One Final Thought

    Also from King:

    “Finally, this Tweet from our friend Greg Cosell of NFL Films, after examining all the quarterbacks in the draft: ‘Very anxious to see where QBs go. A bad draft but many teams need one. Could be lot of reaches. Not a top 20 QB in draft. It’s about hope.’ That just about says it all.

    Brandon Marshall Stabbed By Wife and Other Points of View


    “A Jay Cutler image makeover by the guys at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Next time you see Cutler on the sideline during a playoff game, he will be wearing a tailored suit and holding a martini shaker.”

    “Chicago Bears: Pick 29

    “The Bears love to look offensive and defensive line in round one and if one of the top offensive tackles in the class falls to them here at 29 I definitely think they would pull the trigger. However, if not, I have a hard time seeing Chicago going D-line late in round one, especially if forced into pulling the trigger on a character concern guy like Marvin Austin. Cornerback and wideout are both possibilities at 29 as well, but if there isn’t an OL on the board, I could definitely see the Bears dealing back into round two.”

    “Offensive line coach Mike Tice would have pulled calf muscles in both legs jumping for joy if Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi were still on the board here. The word on Carimi is he’d have been able to start early at tackle for the line-starved Bears. Sherrod — more of a technician than a brawler — isn’t really Tice’s type, but he is the best available lineman, and the Bears simply have to address this position of major need.”

    I’m not so sure his comment is on point as Carimi is really a right tackle.  The Bears already have guys who can fill that role, I think.

    On the Clock: Bears. Watch more top selected videos about: Chicago Bears, Sports Studio


    • Miami Dolphin’s wide reciever Brandon Marshall is in trouble again.  This time he “fell on a broken vase” instead of a McDonald’s wrapper.  Via several contributors at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

    • Mel Kiper at ESPN thinks those good offensive tackles in the draft are still overrated.

    • The Bears have a very definite need at a three technique defensive tackle and Steve Muench at ESPN sees some good ones beyond the first round.
    • Pompei, this time writing for the National Football Post had this truth to say about Auburn quarterback Cam Newton:

    “If there are questions about Newton from a character perspective, they have arisen from the way Newton has handled things, and from his actions prior to landing at Auburn.”

    “It’s now starting to look like the second tier of quarterbacks – Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton and maybe Ryan Mallett – could start flying off the board as early as the tenth pick, with the Redskins (they allegedly have a thing for Locker), Dolphins and Jaguars being candidates to start the ball rolling.”

    I say go get ‘em, baby.  Make those linemen drop.

    “If I were the agent of Andy Dalton, I would have advised him to confound evaluators by shaving his ginger hair before showing up at the combine. Or better yet, I would have given him a Tom Brady wig. He might have been the first pick in the draft.”

    One Final Thought

    The Sports Pickle talks about sporty license plate slogans.  Here’s one that touches close to my heart:

    Great Pick Up Lines in Sports. And Other Points of View.


    • Bears site has this rather nice summary video of what GM Jerry Angelo and Director of Player Personnel Tim Ruskell had to say at the Bears pre-draft press conference:

    “‘And that is important,’  Ruskell said, ‘because when you start thinking about the possibility of trading down, you want to at least have half as many guys that you would like as the number of picks that you would go down. That’s kind of a rule of thumb. That’s not in stone, but Jerry and I have talked about that.”’

    Angelo has never forgotten Parcells’ draft advice – Inside the Bears

    “[BillParcells made the statement a long time ago when I was with New York,” Angelo said during a pre-draft press conference at Halas Hall on Thursday. “He said, ‘You know what I like about this draft, Jerry? Every guy that we drafted, we like. You guys like him and we like him.'”

    “That kind of stuck with me. That’s very important because for the player to be successful, he’s got to have a feel-good from everybody. It can’t just be from the scouts or one coach or the averages are working against you.”

    One thing that is very evident about Angelo is that he has stuck with this philosophy from the moment he hired Lovie Smith.  Angelo is a consensus builder and this quote explains the root origin of that attitude.

    • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Angelo after he was asked about Derek Sherrod and Marvin Austin, the two players who have probably been connected to the Bears the most often in mock drafts.  Angelo certainly didn’t sound like he had ruled Austin out due to character concerns:

    “I always say this: ‘We just don’t want any surprises on draft day when we bring a player in here.’ We’re not looking for halo players. We’re in a business to win football games. But we have to know what’s underneath the hood. That’s the challenge of scouting. The easy part is evaluating the tape. The hard part is knowing how the player is wired. He’s a great player, but there were concerns. We’re satisfied we know them.”

    “With so many quarterbacks moving up, players at other positions — maybe even coveted offensive linemen — could drop to the Bears.

    “Angelo said Thursday he expects up to seven offensive linemen to be chosen in the first round. They likely are USC tackle Tyron Smith, Colorado tackle Nate Solder, Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo, Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey, Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod and Baylor guard Danny Watkins.”

    “Front-office men are calling this one of the worst safety classes ever.”

    With Danieal Manning on the free agent market, the Bears might be looking for one anyway.  Thank heavens it isn’t imperative that it be a free safety.  They’re even tougher to find.

    • Both Jeff Dickerson and Wright at ESPNChciago.com have the Bears taking Baylor guard Danny Watkins with their pick.  I’ve personally been riding high on Watkins and I’m seeing his name associated with the Bears more and more recently in mock drafts.  As far as I can tell his only real downside is his age, which is 26.

    One of the reasons I like Watkins for the Bears is that he fits the Bears need for bigger players on the offensive line, something that John Mullin at CSNChicago.com highlights here.

    • I’m not really writing much about the lockout except things that directly affect what happens on the field (once they get there).  But I can’t help saying that unless Robbie Gould is prepared to tells us that there’s been compromise and they’re getting ready to play football, I don’t want to hear any more about him or his finger pointing.


    “However, with half the league in a 3-4 defense and the other half in a 4-3, teams are looking for different types of ends to play in their schemes. The 3-4 teams want a tall, long-armed athlete who is stout enough to hold the line of scrimmage at the off-tackle run lane. The 4-3 teams are looking for more speed to get up field and will sacrifice some size for quickness.”

    “[It was a] typical Mayhew answer that tells us the Lions have some concerns about Bowers but haven’t ruled him out as a possible draft pick. I wouldn’t expect him to say anything less, although it is interesting he has acknowledged that a medical issue exists. Bowers and his agent have insisted the knee is fully healed.“

    • I found Mayhew’s comments via Chris McCosky at The Detroit News to be consistent with what teams are saying about cornerback Jimmy Smith:

    “‘There is a threshold you can fall beyond where we would not consider a player,’ Mayhew said. ‘A failed drug test is a cause for concern, but it doesn’t knock you out of the running to be drafted.’

    “Mayhew reiterated he has done exhaustive research into Smith and his character issues and he’s come away impressed.

    “‘I had a great talk with Jimmy and I felt much better about him,’ Mayhew said. ‘I spoke with his position coach, Ashley Ambrose who is now coaching at Cal, and Ashley had nothing but great things to say about him. I definitely feel better about Jimmy now than before I met him.”

    First of all, it wasn’t “a failed drug test”.  It was four.

    Second, the line on him is that his trouble is that he’s a follower.  I haven’t a single doubt that this is a nice kid who means well when he says that he’s going to leave his bad influences behind after he’s drafted.  But is he really going to turn his back upon the first old friend to call him in his new home for help and friendship?  From what I’ve heard, I really doubt that he’s the type to do it.

    I wouldn’t touch him anywhere higher than the end of the first round and then only if I really needed a defensive back.

    “You don’t know what your needs are going to be. You might think you have a need at the end of April or you may think you have a strong position at the end of April, but you don’t know where that’s going to be come Aug. 1, as we found out this season.”

    • In the spirit of the season, the boys over at The Sports Pickle have gotten athletes to talk about their favorite Easter candy.  Here’s a sample:

    One Final Thought

    How do athletes pick up the opposite sex in bars?  Now we know:

    Mike Singletary Will Be a Better Head Coach Next Time Around. And Other Points of View.


    “Among the 12 playoff teams from the 2010 season, the Bears are seventh with 24 drafted players on their roster, four behind the league-leading Packers and Ravens.:

    “And while defensive tackle Tommie Harris is the Bears’ only first-round pick to make a Pro Bowl roster since 2002, the club has distinguished itself by scoring in later rounds with stars such as Devin Hester (second round), Lance Briggs (third) and Johnny Knox (fifth).”

    “By contrast, the Detroit Lions have no draft picks from 2002 to 2005 on the current roster. Busts during that stretch include quarterback Joey Harrington (third overall, 2002), receiver Charles Rogers (second, 2003), receiver Mike Williams (seventh, 2004) and receiver Mike Williams (10th, 2005).”

    “It’s an annual affair as teams work to spread as much misinformation as possible in an effort to mask their true intentions.”

    Biggs goes on into a detailed discussion centering on the possibility that the Bears might trade down.

    “Here’s where the switch from Greg Gabriel as college scouting director to Tim Ruskell as director of all player personnel [becomes a factor]. Gabriel clearly liked the small-college Texas kids (more than just Texas ones, actually) and it remains to be seen how Ruskell leans on the projects from smaller programs.”

    “Williams was moved to left guard out of necessity, not because anyone thought he was a better guard than tackle. [Offensive line coach Mike] Tice and Lovie Smith thought Williams was the best candidate to play the position. In a perfect world though, I think the team would like to give Williams another shot at tackle, probably right tackle, where he has played his best football. Which position he will play depends on other players the Bears acquire.”


    One Final Thought

    Pompei answers your questions:

    “Do you think Mike Singletary has gotten a bad rap as a coach who isn’t a good X and O guy?”

    “-David, Bratislava, Slovakia

    “I don’t think it’s fair to judge Singletary as a head coach after a little more than two years with the 49ers. I don’t think anyone could be considered a ‘good X and O guy’ working with the quarterbacks that Singletary had to work with. I’m not sure Singletary was ready to become a head coach when he became one. But knowing him the way I do, I’m sure he has learned from the experience. And if he gets another chance, I’m sure he’ll keep his pants on this time.”

    I could not agree more.  Like most NFL fans I loved Singletary’s famous 49ers rant shortly after he took over as head coach.  He also reportedly dropped his pants to make a point during a half-time speech.  But I also was disturbed by this press conference because I knew how wearing a display of that kind of emotion can be week-after-week on the average human object.  Eventually your people tune it out.  I think that’s what happened with the 49ers players.

    People love to criticize Lovie Smith for not showing more emotion.  But, as Pompei said, next time Singletary will probably take a lesson from guys like him and keep his pants on.