- Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times thinks a Bears victory against the Vikings can carry over into next season. I’ll buy it.
- Although many will wonder what the Bears have to play for, ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert points out that Vikings defensive end Jared Allen definitely will be motivated. He will be shooting for the sack record Sunday. With the Bear line in another dome, it’s possible he’ll do it.
- Potash describes Lovie Smith‘s reaction to the question of what younger players stepped up for the Bears this season with this telling quote:
‘‘’Which of our younger players? Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers,’ Smith said. ‘You’re talking about those .?.?. players? Or younger players?’’’
- Despite Smiht’s hesitation, John Millin at CSNChicago.com points out that the Bears do have some youth at some key positions. I’d say its not great youth but I’ll acknowledge that they do have some to build on. On a related note, I’ll also do something I rarely do recently and compliment GM Jerry Angelo by saying that I didn’t think last years’ draft was a bad one.
- On the other hand, I’m having a hard time disagreeing with Pat Boyle at CSNChicago.com:
“Angelo has had plenty of time and some success over the past decade plus with the Bears. Unfortunately, much like his roster, Angelo has too many holes in his game and he hasn’t been the difference making leader this franchise desperately needs.”
- Here’s a grim statistic via Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune:
“The defensive line needs a growth spurt. The Bears head to Minnesota with 31 sacks and stand 27th in the league in sacks per pass play. They’ve had one or zero sacks in eight games.
“Peppers and tackle Henry Melton (seven) have more than half of the team’s sacks, magnifying the need for more production from others.”
- The Bears are projected to have about $20 million dollars in cap space in 2012. Almost $8 million of that will go to Matt Forte if the franchise him. I’m still wondering why they sat on most of the cap space they had available in 2011. It appears that much of it is going to go to waste.
- Mullin also thinks the Bears will take care of Lance Briggs.
- McClure writes about the Bears struggles at cornerback. Everyone who reads this blog knows that I pushed hard for cornerback help last off season and will do so again this year. But I’m also starting to wonder how safe the job of defensive backs coach Jon Hoke is. They didn’t cover themselves in glory and one could argue that they should have done better in single coverage than they did, even given the miss match in talent.
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions. Though I agree with Pompei, I like the way this fan thinks outside the box:
“Am I the only person who thinks Craig Steltz plus 20 pounds could be a decent, if not very good, strong side LB? He can hit and play the run, but his coverage skills seem weak. With NFL training programs the weight gain is feasible but what about the position shift? — Dan; Jackson Hole, Wyo.
“As a strong side linebacker, Steltz always would be undersized. Even if you put 20 pounds on him — which you can’t assume you could do — he might struggle to keep it on. And it might slow him down to the point where he is no longer effective. Steltz is 6-1. That’s shorter than you’d like a strong side linebacker to be. I think he’s doing just fine at safety.”
- As everyone jumps on the Josh McCown band wagon, I find myself agreeing with Pompei’s assessment:
“I like what I saw of McCown on Sunday, but I haven’t seen enough of him. I’ve seen enough to think I’d like to see him in camp next year competing with another player for the No. 2 spot. Remember, everyone evaluated Caleb Hanie off his one performance in the NFC championship game and thought he could be a fine No. 2. One game doesn’t tell you anything. Sometimes an entire camp and preseason doesn’t tell you enough. Usually, you don’t find out everything you need to know about a quarterback until he gets an extended playing opportunity in games that count.”
- Which is why I mildly disagree with him here:
“We understand the Bears want to win the game. No one is suggesting they shouldn’t.
“But they should try to win with [Nathan] Enderle playing at least a good portion of the game.”
Pompei makes some good points and I wouldn’t object strongly to seeing Enderle get some time late in the game depending on the situation. But Enderle has plenty of time to develop. Remember, he didn’t have an off season to work with Mike Martz. Martz would probably like to have one with him before he threw him out there. And, bottom line, we know Enderle’s going to be on the roster next year. We don’t know about McCown. Both need to be evaluated but the need for McCown is more immediate.
- McClure also talks to safety Brandon Merriweather. They’re paying him $3.25 million to sit on the bench. I don’t know what he did to get into Smith’s dog house but it must have been epic.
- Roy Williams assesses his own performance this year. Via Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune:
“’I feel like I made plays when the opportunity came,’ Williams, 30, said Wednesday at Halas Hall. ‘Of course, everybody is going to bring up the negative, which is fine. But for the most part I think I made enough plays. I would be happy to re-sign, but if not, you know I will continue on elsewhere.’”
With the possible exception of Mike Martz, Williams is everyone’s favorite whipping boy. But I’m going to stick my neck out and say I agree with him. Williams habit of dropping the first or second ball thrown to him every day is intensely irritating. But he also made some good catches this year. All you have to do is think back to the way that the Packers dominated Johnny Knox at the line of scrimmage last year to appreciate that Williams can at least use his size to help the Bears.
- Some may remember that this was one of the first things Martz said when he was hired. Via Pompei:
“After watching the success of New England’s Wes Welker, can the Bears useDevin Hester in a similar role?– Harry Tram, Chicago
“Yes they can, and they probably should. But Welker is a much better receiver than Hester and can catch a greater variety of passes. Hester has better speed. The two have similar short area quickness and elusiveness. Both cause matchup problems for defenses. And both are outstanding after the catch.”
- I guess there had to be a winner of the Waddle and Sylvy Christmas parody contest:
- Bears defensive lineman Matt Toeaina was mic’d up for the Bears Packers-game:
- Jay Cutler comments on ESPN Radio 1000 on whether Mike Martz should be retained, Via Seifert:
“‘I don’t want to learn a new offensive system, I know that,’ Cutler said. ‘I think we have a good thing going here. …
“‘We’re building something here,’ he added. ‘If you look at the offenses around the league that are really good — Green Bay, the Patriots, the Saints — there is consistency there. They’ve been in the same system. They’ve had the same offensive coordinator. They’ve had the same receivers, tight ends, guys around them that have grown up in the system.
“‘If you want to be an elite offense in this league, that’s what you have to do. You can’t keep shipping guys in and out. You can’t keep doing different offensive coordinators left and right. It’s hard on quarterbacks and it’s hard on everyone to learn that kind of stuff.'”
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune breaks down the Bears loss to the Packers:
“Those at Halas Hall who find the offense a convenient dumping ground when things go south will have a hard time pinning this on a unit that dominated time of possession to keep the defense fresh.”
“Those at Halas Hall? Who are these “those at Halas Hall” that are undermining Martz? I think we know the answer.
Jerry Angelo is nothing short of a frustrated coach wanna be. I’m tired of hearing about this apparent in fighting between him and Smith over Martz. I’m going to tell you right now, and I think a lot of fans would agree, if it came to a choice between Smith and Angelo right now, Angelo would be the one to go.
For the good of the organization, Angelo needs to get his nose out of the coaches room and into the film room. As Smith’s frustrated responses to reporter’s questions about Martz this week indicate, this kind of stuff only creates bad feeling and works to destroy the coherence of an organization.
- Pompei answers a fan who doesn’t seem to pleased with the coaching staff:
“Lately it seems all we can hope for is a close first half of the game before the opponent opens up and ultimately beats us in the second half. I realize our offense is a mess, but it sure seems the opponents make half time adjustments and we are challenged in that task. Over the years, I have noticed that half time adjustments aren’t Lovie’s strength. Am I way off base here? — Pat Cassidy
“I understand where you are coming from, but I actually think the Bears have gotten a lot better with in-game adjustments over the last couple of years. I think what you are seeing now in the third and fourth quarters is the Bears are just wearing down because they don’t have as many good players as the opponent. The Bears are losing games in part because they lost the war of attrition. On offense alone, they are without their quarterback, their best offensive player (Forte), the offensive lineman who was their best blocker as per Mike Tice (Gabe Carimi), another starting offensive lineman (Chris Williams), and their best wide receiver (Johnny Knox). The lack of depth has really shown up on special teams as well.”
I’ll buy this but it doesn’t explain the collapse of the defense in the second half of recent games. They’ve been reasonably healthy and the time of possession hasn’t been unbalanced. And its not like the opposing offenses have been extraordinarily healthy.
Something is off with the Bears defense. If it isn’t in game adjustments then we are left to occlude that they are losing mental intensity. We haven’t had to say it often over the last decade but they need to toughen up.
- Maybe someone can explain to me how the Detroit Lions, one of the youngest teams in football, could be projected to be $5 million over the cap next year?
- Bob LeGere at the Daily Herald thinks the Saints lack class.
- From Texts from Last Night:
“(715): i was drinking at the bar last night with a guy with no bottom teeth, wearing zubas and a polka dotted hat. if that isn’t the definition of wisconsin, i dont know what is.”
- Rafael Vila at the Cowboys Nation blog on America’s team:
“There is at least one organization which advises new hires that, ‘the minute you start thinking like a fan, you’re on your way to becoming one again.’ What does it say for us that the biggest ‘fan’ in the building this year was the owner?”
- Charlie Casserly found out what the NFLPA has proposed to congress on HGH testing. Via Mike Florio at profootballtlak.com:
“First, under the NFLPA’s proposal there would be no in-season testing. Second, only 10 percent of players would be tested in offseason. Third, players could decline to be tested.
“Again, players could decline to be tested.
“One more time, players could decline to be tested.
“Fourth, players would receive 24 hours notice before testing. Fifth, three positive tests would be required before discipline would be imposed.”
Let’s face it. Most of the league is on HGH and the NFLPA knows it. How DeMaurice Smith could have agreed in principal to testing is beyond me. Ultimately its about player health but the current players aren’t going to thank him. It’s going to ruin a lot of them.
One Final Thought
It was in 2001 after a particularly tough loss to the Bears when I found this cry from a Viking fan on the Internet. Long time readers of my blog posts at various sites over the years know that I have made a tradition of reposting it during Viking week.
My admiration for this anonymous fan is almost as strong as my sympathy for anyone who is stuck rooting for what is traditionally one the most gutless teams in the NFL. We all understand this pain but I think that, more than any other organization, the Vikings have probably made the least out of the most talent over the last twenty years. But I will never be able to express that sentiment with the eloquence of this poet. Enjoy.
I’ve had it! I can’t take this shit no more! I’m done! THIS TEAM IS A GODDAMN EMBARASSMENT AND I HAVE HAD IT! I BURNED MY VIKINGS FLAG YESTERDAY, CHUCK FOREMAN GAVE IT TO ME WHEN I WAS A KID! I BURNED THE FUCKING THING AND MY WIFE FREAKED OUT SO I ENDED UP FORKING THE FIERY RAG AND THROWING’ER IN THE WEBER GRILL. GODDAMN RACCOONS! AND GODDAMN THE HEARTLESS VIKINGS AND ALL THEIR GODDAMN EXCUSES! I WANT MY DEVOTION BACK! AND ALL THOSE GODDAMN GAMES, AND ALL THOSE GODDAMN HEARTBREAKS!.
I QUIT. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!.
ARE WE CURSED? ARE WE CURSED?!!
As a bonus addition, I’ve added the radio call of the last Hail Mary pass in the Vikings’ (gutless and predictable) loss to the 3-12 Arizona Cardinals in the final game of 2003. The loss (and the play) knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs. Just listening will immediately warm any Bear fan’s heart.