The Real Fight and Other Points of View


  • It was a surprise to me when Mike Florio at included Lovie Smith in the “Possibly Fired” coaches category. Florio says he wouldn’t be but, to say the least, I’d be shocked.
  • Dan Pompei at The National Football Post writes about a deep 2012 inside linebacker class.  The Bears have to be at least considering doing something here.  Their linebacker depth is putrid and, though he’s still playing at a high level, Brian Urlacher isn’t getting any younger.  These guys don’t always gradually decline.  They often crash and the Bears should be prepared.
  • I’m guessing that Tim Jennings earned an offseason offer from the Bears. From the Tribune:

“Q: How important was it for you personally, going into a free agency?.
“It was definitely positive. Every guy stepped up in the last game like that. For me to come up there and make a few plays with the guys, it’s a plus for me. I enjoyed it.”

I’d say that the failure of Zack Bowman to show what he needed to against the Packers didn’t hurt Jennings’ status, either. Bowman is almost certainly gone they’ll want Jennings as insurance against the success of whatever option they take to replace him.


The Lions are trying to extend the contract of Cliff Avril. The team may regret waiting until late in the season to try to lock up the defensive end, who has 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. His value has skyrocketed through the course of the season. At 25, Avril is just starting to come into his own. ‘He is an elite, playmaking pass rusher who is going to get better,’ Avril’s agent Brian Mackler told me. One way or another, the Lions are not likely to let Avril hit the open market. The franchise tag for defensive ends this year is expected to be in the vicinity of $10.5 million, and that remains a viable option if the two sides can’t come to an agreement on a long term deal.

I don’t doubt that Avril has benefited from the attention Ndamukong Suh gets.  But if he can benefit in the same way from playing with Peppers, I’m all for it.

“Managing the blitz: Entering Sunday’s game, no NFL quarterback had been blitzed on a lower percentage of his dropbacks (23.7) than the Lions’ Matthew Stafford. That makes sense, considering the number of skilled Lions pass-catchers who are left in favorable coverage against a blitz. But the Saints love to blitz under defensive coordinator Greg Williams, making for an interesting fulcrum point in this matchup. It’s worth noting that Sunday, the Packers blitzed Stafford 34.4 percent of the time and dramatically limited his production on those plays. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Stafford completed nine of his 21 passes against the blitz for 154 yards and an interception Sunday. Against the Packers’ standard pass rush, Stafford completed 27 of 38 passes for 366 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.”

“The first [Bears touchdown Sunday] was a blown coverage on the 22-yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams in the second quarter. Vikings safeties Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond failed to pick up Williams, who ran uncovered into the end zone. The safeties were left looking at one another.

“‘I saw it three plays before that, they blew the coverage,’ Williams said. ‘We ran the same set and they did it again.'”

  • The Chicago press aren’t the only ones who have begun the process of trying to figure out how to fix an organization. The Minnesota presses also now getting into full gear. Tom Pelissaro at starts by speculating about the overhaul of the coaching staff.

“The wild card is Mike Singletary, a longtime friend of [Leslie] Frazier‘s who was viewed as a coordinator candidate when he joined the team as assistant head coach/linebackers coach in January, less than a month after the San Francisco 49ers fired him as head coach.

“Concerns about Singletary’s strategic acumen followed him to Minnesota, and his approach to preparation has raised red flags. According to two sources, Singletary has left assistant Jeff Imamura in charge of some position meetings, skipped all of the Vikings’ meetings the night before last month’s game at Detroit to attend a wedding and has occupied himself much of the season with side projects instead of the next opponent.

“That all makes it far more likely Frazier will try to engineer a soft exit for Singletary than promote him into a coordinator position for which many experienced candidates could be available. But their close personal relationship complicates the issue.”

Pelissaro also has thoughts about what should happen at the top:

“Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman has been the Wilfs’ guide on football matters for years, so giving him final say over (and accountability for) the roster wouldn’t be a total shock.”

But I tend to agree with Tom Powers at the Pioneer Press:

“The team needs one voice – and not the voice of Rick Spielman, who suffered season-long laryngitis, refusing to comment on the mess he helped to create.”

  • Jared Allen on what he would have done if he’d broken the NFL sack record Sunday. Via Seifert:

“‘I probably would have thrown my helmet into the crowd,’ Allen said, ‘jumped up, ran up, kissed my wife and my baby in the suite, walked into the locker room and quit. No, I might have done some turf angels. Probably would have cried. [The Chicago Bears] probably would have gotten a first down — a 15-yard penalty on me. I probably would have taken my shoulder pads off. So probably a good thing I didn’t get it, right?'”

I’ve said this before and I’ll no doubt say it again. Allen is impossible not to like.

“Jackson’s solution for all the problems: More Hue Jackson.

“‘I’m going take a stronger hand in this whole team, this whole organization,’ Jackson said. ‘There ain’t no way that I’m going to feel like I feel today a year from now, I promise you that. There’s no question. Defensively, offensively and special teams. I aint feeling like this no more. This is a joke. . . . Yeah, I’m going to take a hand in everything that goes on here.'”

  • I’m not the biggest fan but even I was surprised at this Audible from Pro Football Weekly. I wonder what’s behind it:

“Cincinnati has a quarterback. They have a great receiver. The defense is playing their (butts) off. The one piece they have to think about replacing is Cedric Benson.”

“Most Times Sacked in a Season: 76 — David Carr, Texans, 2002

“No attempted murder charges were ever brought against Carr’s offensive line. A true black mark on the criminal justice system.”

One Final Thought

Pompei attributes the Bears victory Sunday to a large extent to finally getting some luck that had been missing the previous five games. He’s right but I’d attribute it more to a few other things. Over the previous five games:

Turnovers: 14
Penalties: 31
Broken coverages and other assorted bone headed mental errors: No stat available. Fortunately.

Every game has an opponent. But these are the real enemy.

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