- Jeff Dickerson at ESPNChicago.com 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.”
- ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert disagrees saying that he thinks Carimi’s a left tackle and makes some interesting comments along the way:
“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.
- Pompei got another interesting fan question I hadn’t thought of:
“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.”
- Brian Urlacher thinks the Bears are the best team in the conference. I’d be disappointd if he didn’t.
- Pompei also had this comment for the National Football Post in his Sunday Blitz feature:
“[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 CBSSports.com 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+
“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.”
- Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com is starting to wonder if Donovan McNabb‘s career is over.
“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.”
- If you’re looking for more reasons why a team might be hesitant to sign McNabb, this might give you another clue. Via Florio:
“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.)”
- John Mullin at CSNChicago.com is also on board with it:
“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.
- Former NFL safety Matt Bowen at the National Football Post makes the case for “simplified” schemes in the NFL:
“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.”
- Aaron Wilson also at the National Football Post had this interesting comment:
“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.
- The SportsPickle has learned that a major media event is about to take place:
“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…