- Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune quotes Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, who wants his contract renegotiated:
“On the business side, if the organization and management says that they’re not willing to talk about my deal or willing to deal with my deal now or during the season or during the end of the season or next year, then I know that my days here are numbered.’’
I’m sure that I’m like everyone else when I ask exactly what he means by “my days here are numbered”. My gut feeling is that Briggs estimates his value to be considerably higher than the Bears (and many of their fans) do. As Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com points out, Briggs would likely be forced to return a portion of his signing bonus is he did held out, meaning he’d be losing money he’s likely already spent. Right or wrong, I’m pretty sure the Bears will let him do so and pay him nothing if that’s what he and his many dependents prefer.
- Almost all of the injured players returned to practice for game week including Briggs whose “knee injury” probably had more to do with his contract situation (via McClure). Bears fans will be sure to embrace him if he comes in out of football shape and gets a real injury after taking the entire preseason off.
Of concern was the fact that runningback Marion Barber didn’t return meaning his calf injury might be more serious than the team (publicly) thought. As expected, Corey Wooton also wasn’t ready to practice yet.
- How much immediate help new Bears safety Brandon Meriweather will provide is an open question. He’ll need to learn how the Bears play defense. The Chicago Sun-Times quotes Chris Harris:
‘‘As a safety you have to learn everything that’s going on. A corner doesn’t have to learn the entire defense. As a safety, you need to know what this linebacker’s doing because of run gaps. You need to know what this linebacker’s doing because of pass coverage or what this corner’s doing or what the other safety’s doing.”
But I doubt Meriweather will have much trouble. Via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:
“We do things differently, we call things differently,’ [head coach Lovie] Smith said. ‘But once you kind of get by some of the different terminology, most coverages are pretty much the same. Most defenses are pretty much gap control. When the ball’s in the air, you go get it. When a guy’s running with the ball, you go tackle him. There will be some challenges, but when you have a veteran like that they normally pick it up pretty quick.’”
- You have to wonder how much the signing of Meriweather has to do with the paucity of turnovers the Bears have generated in the preseason. Meriweather is a risk taker who can give up big plays but he’ll also make big plays.
- Much to my surprise, the Bears chose to waive cornerback Joshua Moore rather than one of the many undrafted free agents they left on the roster (again, from McClure). Moore, who was essentially redshirted in 2010, isn’t particularly big at 5’11” but the Bears knew that when they drafted him. Apparently he didn’t show enough in terms of making plays in camp.
- Pro Football Focus asks four NFC North questions of four analysts. I don’t have a last name for “Ben” but I like his thinking in this excerpt.
“Who is the one player from this division you see having a breakout year?”
“Ben: With Pisa Tinoisamoa gone from the Bears the door is open for Nick Roach to really make an impression this season. Roach has impressed in limited action at both MLB and SLB in the last two seasons and with a full time starting spot now apparently his, even as a two-down linebacker, this is the year that the Bears re-discover a strong linebacking trio. Brian Iwuh could get a chance to make a similar impression if Lance Briggs’ injury and contract issues continue to be an concern through the season.”
- Scouts Inc. previews every NFC team. Here’s what they had to say about the defense of the Bears first opponent, the Atlanta Falcons:
“Atlanta’s conservative 4-3 scheme is especially vanilla in the secondary. Without an elite cover group, it plays assignment-oriented football. That shifts pressure onto the front four to generate a rush, but the Falcons had only 31 sacks last season, 13 coming from DE John Abraham.
“The goal of the D-line is to eat up blockers while the back seven fly to the ball. But the Falcons gave up 4.6 YPC last year, so a healthy Curtis Lofton must be a game changer at LB.”
Schematically this sounds like an ideal defense for the Martz offense to attack, especially in the first game when a confusing mix of blitzes might be disastrous for an inexperienced offensive line.
- The penalty from the StarCaps case has finally come down. Kevin Williams and Will Smith are paying big time for the delay. each is suspended two games but they are being fined four game checks. According to Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com had they taken the penalty in 2008, they would have each paid roughly one-fourth of what they are paying now given their current salaries. Add in the legal fees and your talking big money.
The only winner in the deal was Pat Williams who, as we all know, was simply delaying the penalty until his career was over so he wouldn’t have to pay.
- William C. Rhoden at The New York Times writes about the “Dream Team” Philadelphia Eagles. Vince Young stupidly put a target on their backs when he used the term to characterize the team which will always be over rated as long as he and the inconsistent Michael Vick are playing quarterback.
This team has set itself and its fans up for some serious disappointment.
- The Associated Press has an interesting explanation for the woes that the Colts are facing before the season even has started:
“Fans in every NFL city think the Super Bowl host jinx is just a myth until it lands on their town. But there’s a variety of reasons why no team that has provided the stadium for the big game has ever played in it. And at the rate they’re piling up reasons, the Colts — host of February’s title game — might be the first knocked out of the running even before the regular season kicks off.”
- Rafael Vela at the Cowboys Nation blog takes an interesting look at a couple of the blitzes that the Cowboys will see tomorrow night against the Jets.
- Omar Kelly at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel points out the dangers of carrying two quarterbacks. This is becoming a more common practice throughout the league but it could be a particular problem for the Dolphins. Why? Because they’ve gone from the starter to the third QB in a game twice in the last two years. Not a good trend…
One Final Thought
Bengals runningback Cedric Benson is happy to be out of jail. Via Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer:
“I didn’t want to spend my bye week sitting in jail and wanted to get it behind me and focus on football,” Benson said. “I’m not fit for jail. No one is. When you experience that you realize how much you don’t want to experience it again. It was a nice little wake up call so to speak and it was nice to taste that and hopefully never have to do it again.”
“hopefully”? “have to do it”? Like its not avoidable and there might be another time when you have to do it?
I’ve got the under on whatever the length of time it will take Benson to stupidly get in trouble again.