More Details on Garrett Wolfe Arrest

More disappointing details on the arrest of Garrett Wolfe are coming to light via Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times.  Apparently the trouble started over the charge for three bottles of champagne at the club.  The total bill came to almost $1600.

My initial thought on this was that there would be two sides to this story.  That might be true but:

“Wolfe, who officers said smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, threatened to sue the officers and at one point said: ‘Let’s compare bank accounts,’ according to the report.”

Ouch.  On the scale of douche bag things to say, “Let’s compare bank accounts” comes out just below “Do you know who I am?”  This isn’t going to garner much sympathy for Wolfe.

Bears May Be Done Adding Linemen

Once again, from Dan Pompei at the National Football Post.:

“The Bears could be done adding starting caliber players to their offensive line. There still is a chance they could sign a free agent guard, but there also is a chance they will stick with the status quo. Roberto Garza is expected to start on the right side, and the team wants to give Chris Williams another chance as the left guard. They also have several developmental linemen they would like to see play, including Levi Horn, Herman Johnson, Lance Louis and Edwin Williams.”

He’s making some Bear fans very unhappy with this one (not to mention Scouts Inc.‘s Matt Williamson).

I think a lot depends upon what the Bears do at center.  It certainly sounds like they are going to be content to re-sign Olin Kreutz.  But Kreutz’s play is deteriorating with age, perhaps more in his case than most because he relies more on his agility than his power.

If the Bears decide they need more youth in the middle they may sign another guard and move Garza to center.  Otherwise the status quo it is.

Ryan Mallett: Are the Patriots Right, Again?

Dan Pompei at the National Football Post addresses this interesting issue:

“There are two Ryan Malletts floating around out there. The first is the one most people think he is. The second is the one the Patriots think he is.”

“Some scouts will tell you it will be a strong armed passer who can’t move. A player whose lack of athleticism is underscored by poor footwork. A cocky guy who likes to party and has a history of immaturity.”

The problem with the NFL draft is always separating fact from fiction.  I think a lot of personnel men listen to each other talk and every time a story gets repeated it grows on their minds and suddenly mole hills become mountains.

One of the above concerns is an absolute fact in my mind.  Mallett is a statue in the pocket.  I don’t mean he can’t run.  I mean he can’t move at all.  Tom Brady has what many players call “phone booth quicks”.  He can move just a little to the side at the last minute and cause rushing linemen to charge by him with barely a touch.  Jay Cutler has them too and its one of the things that makes you think that if he ever realizes his potential, he’ll tear up the league.

Mallett doesn’t have that and it definitely is a cause for concern.  But its not a huge gamble to believe a guy with such a big arm could, with a good line and time to develop, demonstrate enough mobility to get by.

It’s really the second factor, the intangibles, that apparently caused Mallett to fall to the third round.  Here’s what the Patriots think:

“Mallett’s character actually enhanced his stock with the Patriots. They don’t think drugs or other substances are an issue. All that is on his record is one arrest for public intoxication outside a nightclub near the Arkansas campus.”

It’s that last sentence that says it all in my eyes.

Ryan Mallett has been made out to be a Cam Newton-type problem.  But here’s the difference.  Mallett has one black mark on his record and its one that a lot of college students could claim.  Newton?  Stealing notebook computers, cheating on exams, being thrown out of Florida and, unless you are an incredibly naive Tiger fan drinking the burnt orange and navy Koolaid, taking money to play at Auburn.  These are verifiable facts that no amount of smiling and talking nice can make go away.

As former Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel wrote a couple months ago for NFP:  “The bottom line is the only things that you can really believe is what you know to be true.”  For the record, based upon what we actually know about Mallett, the Patriots have once again used common sense to get right what other teams continue get wrong.

More Preparation Time Gives Some Teams Big Lockout Advantage But Not Bears

Dan Pompei had this comment in last week’s Sunday Blitz at the National Football Post that stuck in my mind:

“Some people around the league are anticipating some interesting game planning and scheming early in the season, more so than normally is the case. Why? Coaches have more time on their hands this offseason than usual without players to coach. Bill Belichick, for instance, tells me he has been spending some of his extra time studying opponents.”

I bring it up because Bears head coach Lovie Smith confirms that the Bears coaches are also spending the extra time studying film in this video from

This all strikes me as significant.

The lockout is going to give certain teams more of an advatange than others.  For instance, everyone agrees that this time off is killing teams with new coaches who are bringing in new systems.  This may be another case of that.

Its great that Lovie Smith is spending time looking at film.  But they don’t exactly play fancy, “make a lot of adjustments and do something clever” defense in Chicago.  As former NFL safety Matt Bowen put it very well, again for NFP:

“Teach landmarks, run-pass keys and specific techniques that apply to the front seven and the secondary. The rest? Just play football. The exact theory behind the Tampa 2 scheme under Tony Dungy and what we see today in Chicago with Lovie Smith.”

On the other hand, as Pompei points out, this could be huge for teams like the Patriots and, I’m sorry to say it, the Packers.  Dom Capers looks to me like he could do good things with this time off.

Its possible that Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz might be able to sit down and think of some more interesting things to do against upcoming opponents.  But that doesn’t help the Bears without an offense that can execute to make those ideas a reality.

All and all I think the Bears strength as a team is in thier fundamentals on defense.  And you can’t work on those without players no matter how much opponents film you study.

Vote Packers for Hard Knocks

Yes, we’re all getting desperate for offseason entertainment. is running a poll within each division to find out who the fans want to see on HBO’s Hard Knocks.  Today is the NFC North’s turn.

Now it may seem to most of you that the right thing to do is to vote for the Bears.  Don’t.  Vote for the Packers.  Because this looks to me like a great way to cause a huge training camp distraction, which is probably the reason why several teams have already turned down the opportunity.  There would be nothing worse for a young team that to have players who are already on top of the world get their egos stroked by putting them on television for a summer.  You could almost guarantee a let down to start the season.

Not that the poll actually counts for anything.  And not that the Packers would be stupid enough to let HBO do it.  But I’m willing to fool myself into taking anything seriously if it means fewer stories about lawyers and lockouts at this point.

Bears Defense Needs to Attend Workouts – For the Good of the Offense

Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times recently interviewed Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and asked him about the workouts they were planning.  To the surprise of many, only the offensive players were planning to workout together:

“Cutler said the workouts would be for offensive players only.

“’I mean, those defenders have been in the system for eight years, nine years,’ Cutler said. ‘What are they gonna do?

“’What am I going to tell Lach?’ Cutler said, referring to linebacker Brian Urlacher. ‘‘Your drop is a little short. Sorry, buddy.’ Offensively, we have a lot of room to improve.’”

The offense actually started last Wednesday without the defense and Cutler’s reasons for not pushing them to be there above are true enough.  But what the veteran defensive players either don’t understand or, worse, don’t seem to care about, is that even though they personally don’t need the workouts, the team needs them to be there.

I love Brian Urlacher but like many if not most great athletes he’s a little emotionally stunted.  Sometimes you can tell that there’s a lack of maturity there that makes him self-centered, not on the field, but in other little ways off it.  This is one example of it and I’m sure many of his teammates are no better.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune sits down with the paper’s NFL expert, former safety Matt Bowen where Bowen elaborates on this issue:

“It’s easy to go out there and run routes with your teammates when you’re not held accountable by working against a defensive back and having a coach look over your shoulder. It’s just not the same.”

“Working against a defense [is what’s missing from the workouts]. Running routes is just like doing warmups before a game when you come out of the locker room. There are some benefits to that. You can work on your timing. Let’s say the depth of the route is 10 yards, you can really fine-tune that. Work on getting your head back. Jay (Cutler) can work on getting to that fifth step, planting the foot and throwing the ball. But without the competition aspect, without having the DB drive underneath that route and make a play on it, without having that DB working against receivers so they can create separation and get down the field, it’s not football.”

Bottom line your offense can’t get better without a defense there to play against.

Admittedly you might question just how much of a “competition aspect” there would be without coaches present and without the risk of even accidental contact.  And I understand that the offseason is a precious time for these guys and I’m sure the defensive players are enjoying the time off.

But the Packers, the Lions and the Vikings are getting better and the Bears aren’t going to keep up by sitting stagnant and saying, “We’re veterans.  We don’t need to work.”  Urlacher needs to get the defense out on the field to workout with the offense.

Carimi: Guard, Tackle, Left or Right? And Other Points of View.


  • Jeff Dickerson at reports that “Jay Cutler led workout with offensive players”.  I think he means “Greg Olsen got the players together for a workout and Cutler was there throwing passes.”
  • Why do I say that?  Well this typical answer to a fan’s question from Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune has a lot to do with it:

“Interesting comment in a recent mailbag about a possible leadership void on the team.  Jay Cutler just doesn’t strike me as a leader, and a successful quarterback has to be one. Look at Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, even Jim McMahon when he played. Am I way off base here? Rick, Spanaway, Wash.

“The best way to be a leader is to throw touchdown passes. If Cutler does that, nothing else really matters. But he certainly can be a better leader in other ways. Remember, one of the reasons he was available in a trade is he wasn’t everything that Manning and Brady are in terms of intangibles. The Bears’ hope is that he matures into a leader. We’re waiting.”

  • Pompei also weighs in on the debate about where newly drafted offensive tackle Gabe Carimi should play:

“Dan, I have read numerous times since the draft that Gabe Carimi will play right tackle with J’Marcus Webb the left side. I must be confused as Carimi played left at Wisconsin and faced three first-round draft pick defensive ends from the Big Ten this year and played four years at the position…  I say let Carimi play himself out of the position at least. Could you explain it to me please? I am baffled by this nonsense. Trainedape, Kenosha, Wis.

“I understand your confusion. When the Bears project Carimi to play right tackle and Webb to play left, they are looking at athletic and physical traits of both players. The left tackle usually is required to be a little lighter on his feet and have better hand quickness and length. The right tackle usually is a more powerful player who can get leverage and engulf smaller defenders. Carimi has more right tackle traits and Webb has more left tackle traits. That doesn’t mean Webb can play the left tackle position better than Carimi, or vice versa. It just means that Webb at left and Carimi at right probably is going to be the starting point. And even though Carimi was a left tackle in college, every NFL team I have spoken with thought he would be best as a right tackle in the pros.”

“For a number of reasons, Carimi’s short- and long-term destinations fall somewhere short of certain. The Bears’ offensive line remains an unfinished puzzle, and in the immediate aftermath of the draft, coach Lovie Smith wouldn’t even commit to whether Carimi will play tackle or guard. Offensive line coach Mike Tice acknowledged it is more likely that Carimi ends up playing tackle — ‘I think he’s an outside player, personally,” Tice said — but made clear that the full picture won’t be visible for a while. ‘”

It is entirely possible that the Bears plan to try Carmi at left tackle but they don’t want to say so.  If you say “left tackle” the agent’s eyes light up with dollar signs.  If you say, “guard”, he’ll scoff but at least you’re starting the negotiation at the bottom.  Having said that, I could be way off base.  Most of these draft picks are more or less slotted and there might not be that much money at stake.

“I was wondering if the Bears coaches are seeking out you and other Bears beat writers more to use you to give messages to the players. Since the coaches can not communicate with the players or their agents, might it be possible that they use the media to pass along information to their players?… Thanks. Jayson Becker, Minneapolis

“Speaking for myself and the other media members who I am in contact with, I have not found that coaches are trying to use the media to send messages to players. Even during the lockout, there are other, more sensible ways for coaches to send messages to players without having to go through the media. And I’m sure they have sent messages through backdoor channels.”

“[Bears offensive coordinator]  Mike Martz usually evaluates quarterbacks a little differently than a lot of other people. And his track record suggests he knows what he’s doing. The player he really liked in the first tier of QBs this year was Andy Dalton. Martz measures quarterbacks mostly based on accuracy, intelligence and toughness, and he tells me he thought the new Bengals signal caller had all three in spades. He was very impressed with the new Bengal’s grasp of the game. In the second tier of quarterbacks, Martz liked the player he’s going to be coaching, Nathan Enderle.”

  • Pete Prisco at reviews the 2008 draft from a 2011 perspective. His evaluation of the Bears looks to be more or less on target.

“The Bears had 12 picks, but little to show for it. First-round pick Chris Williams was tabbed to be a tackle, but he struggled there and has been moved inside to guard. That’s not a good thing. Second-round running back Matt Forte is a starter who had a good rookie season, struggled in 2009 and bounced back to play well in 2010. He’s a good pick. None of the other 10 picks started for the Bears in their title-game loss to the Packers. Receiver Earl Bennett (third round) and tight end Kellen Davis (fifth) and corner Zack Bowman (fifth) did play. Two others from this draft, defensive tackle Marcus Harrison and safety Craig Steltz, were on the roster but did not play. They had too many picks not to land more than one quality starter.

“Grade now: C-
“Grade then: B+

“Questionable Fit:
“Stephen Paea, Chicago Bears: Like the three teams listed above, the Chicago Bears entered the 2011 draft with considerable needs along their defensive front, especially inside at defensive tackle. The Bears elected to release former first round pick Tommie Harris and may need to fill a hole at nose guard should scheduled free agent Anthony Adams play elsewhere next season. Like Adams, Paea is shorter than most teams want at defensive tackle and relies on a combination of explosive strength and leverage to control his opponent. Should the Bears plug Paea in at nose as a replacement for Adams, I don’t know that the former Beaver will prove as successful as Adams has been in Chicago. Simply put, Paea is not a particularly instinctive defender. He’ll blow up his share of plays due to his incredible strength (Combine record 49 reps of 225 pounds), but he won’t make many plays outside of the guard-center-guard box. Even worse, Paea is not ideally suited to take over for Harris. Besides the lack of instincts, Paea isn’t particularly quick, making him a tough projection as a three-technique who is expected to penetrate and create havoc in the backfield. I like Paea’s upside, his value in the mid second round and the fact that he’ll be reasonably protected by Julius Peppers on the outside. However, Paea is not the dominant force his reputation has led some to believe.”


“Though we’re not yet ready to drop a shovel of dirt on McNabb’s 12-year NFL career, it’s a possibility that we no longer would regard as shocking. McNabb will demand being installed as the Day One starter, and he’ll want the kind of financial package that inherently will demonstrate that the Eagles were wrong to trade him and that the Redskins were wrong to dismiss him. At this point, we can’t think of a team that will do it — and we can’t envision McNabb accepting any lesser terms in order to continue playing.”

“According to the Sports Junkies [at 106.7 the Fan], citing multiple unnamed sources, coach Mike Shanahan asked McNabb to wear a wristband after he struggled to remember plays. McNabb declined, explaining that it would make him look stupid. (More accurately, McNabb said, ‘It’s bad for my image.’)”

  • Summary: Aaron Rogers tells ESPN 540 this story about a “brawl” that took place during a TV timeout before the Super Bowl coin toss:

“Well, over to the left, about 10 cameramen have been trying to get in place to get the best shot, and two of them are fighting. They’re yelling at each other in different languages, flipping each other off. The one guy is flipping him off, and the other guy below him is just taking all these pictures of it….

“So they’re screaming at each other. The up guy is flipping him off and the down guy is taking all these pictures of him. So then the [low] guy stands up and he starts taking pictures of him. So they’re both screaming at each other taking pictures of each other for a good minute and a half.”

“Rational minds may disagree, but we’d rather give up a third or fourth-round pick for Orton than whatever Kevin Kolb is going to cost in draft picks and money. (Kolb is obviously out of play for Minnesota, but our opinion holds true for any team.)”

“The quarterback situation has made Minnesota an easy pick for last place in the NFC North. With Orton, should that come to pass, the Vikings suddenly become far more formidable simply because of the projected reduction in stupid quarterback tricks.”

Mullin’s got a point.  I keep hearing over and over and over ad nauseum about the Lions but with any kind of a decent veteran QB the Vikings are going to be very underrated.  Only the apparent loss of Pat Williams-type defensive tackle in the middle makes me hesitate.  The NFC North is going to be very, very good next year.

“I saw it during my own career, and [Eagles defensive coordnator Juan] Castillo has a point when he says (via the Philadelphia Inquirer): ‘To play fast, you can’t be thinking.’

“Teach landmarks, run-pass keys and specific techniques that apply to the front seven and the secondary. The rest? Just play football. The exact theory behind the Tampa 2 scheme under Tony Dungy and what we see today in Chicago with Lovie Smith.”

“I took a survey of front office men last week to ask if they liked having the draft before free agency, and the overwhelming response was they did.  Only one man said it didn’t matter to him because it didn’t change his team’s philosophy of drafting the best available player.

“But six others said they like it this way, even though there is little hope of it remaining like this.”

“Only five out of the league’s 32 play-callers called plays from the coaches’ booth last season, according to research from the Baltimore Ravens’ public relations department.”

I still can’t imagine it isn’t easier to think in the booth.

“BREAKING: Rex Ryan About to Say Something – SportsPickle News”

[Our] source cites the fact that Ryan has contracted his cartoonishly large stomach and filled his lungs with enough breath to conceivably pass through his vocal chords, an evolutionary process generally befitting a human being who is about to form sounds, as evidence that Rex Ryan is about to say something.”

All of New York waits with baited breath…

Also from the Sports Pickle we get excerpts from some of the more famous commencement adddresses by sports figures.  Here’s a sample:

One Final Thought

This song isn’t half bad.  But perhaps I’m a tad biased…

Free Agency Could Be Complicated Whenever They Get Around to It.

Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune reminds us of this rule.  It could be a quite a restriction on the Bears in free agency depending upon what they want to do.

“Another complicating factor is the Final Eight rules. If 2010 rules are in place, the Bears and the other top seven teams in the league last season would be limited to signing one unrestricted free agent for each one they lose, and they couldn’t pay the player a lot more than what the departing player receives.”

Pompei reviews the positions on the field and what the Bears may choose to do at each of them.  One of them is defensive tackle:

“The drafting of Stephen Paea alleviates the need here and also could result in Anthony Adams leaving as a free agent.

“The Bears still appear interested in bringing back Adams, but probably will not pay more than they think he’s worth.   If they need to replace Adams, raiding the Packers for free agent Cullen Jenkins is an enticing option.”

I hate to see Adams go.  He seems to be one of those guys who quietly gets the job done. And Cullen Jenkins is going to be a popular guy once this gets rolling.  I’m thinking the Bears won’t overpay him, either.

But I think linebacker will be the position to watch:

Lance Briggs in the only one the Bears have who is sure to be back, so the team will be looking for one or two free agents. One of them could be the starter on the strong side. Keeping Nick Roach and letting him compete for the job makes sense.

“Other players who could work for the Bears include Ben Leber, Leroy Hill and Thomas Davis.”

Roach is good enough and he can play special teams.  But something tells me we’re going to see someone new on the strong side.

Let’s all just hope it gets started sometime before September.