- Dave Toub is still in the mix for the Miami Dolphins job. We’d all hate to see him leave. But I have to say that, based upon what I’ve seen on the field from patch work personnel, I think Toub would make a great head coach. I’m rooting for him.
According to Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune, Toub may leave anyway. A 15 day exclusive negotiating rights period for the Bears ends Monday and Toub becomes a free agent. Hopefully he’s happy here and accepts a reasonable offer from the Bears.
- Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times tries to build a case for Tim Ruskell as the new Bears general manager. I was thoroughly unimpressed.
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune makes a good point as he answers your questions:
“As someone who respects your NFL insights, I read your column on Jerry Angelo‘s departure with great interest and surprise. It seems that the 2011 Bears had a very thin roster due in large part to the high number of recent draft picks that never became solid NFL players, and I had assumed that Angelo was the person who should bear most of the responsibility for the poor draft performance. Or is player development the bigger issue? Am I missing something? John Bradford, Arlington Heights
“If you want to blame someone for draft picks that missed, ultimately you have to blame Angelo. The buck stops with the general manager. But it’s not as simple as saying one person is responsible for all the evils of the roster. Every selection of his was made by consensus decision. And, as you point out, there is a player development issue at work. An organization’s ability to identify, select and develop players is only as strong as its weakest link. And the weakest link isn’t always in one place. You have to look at every player who didn’t work out individually to figure out why.”
I have said that I believe that Lovie Smith is a good head coach. But I have to wonder if he isn’t the weakest link in terms of personnel. Can the Bears live with that? It will be interesting to see how the new general manager handles the situation.
In [Earl] Bennett’s absence, [Dane] Sanzenbacher, the undrafted free agent from Ohio State, stepped up. Nineteen of his 25 receptions came in the first seven games when, for a while, he was the team’s leading wide receiver. It’s not a condemnation of Sanzenbacher to say something is wrong with that. An undrafted college free agent should not step in and lead a team in receiving unless something is wrong with the receivers in place.
Biggs thinks wide receiver is the team’s number one need. If its not, its close. The Bears have so many holes that the new GM should have no problem taking the best player available regardless of position.
- Biggs also reviews the defensive line. He notes that Stephen Paea started slow but came on towards the end of the year. I had my doubts about Paea but it looks like he might develop into something, yet. He also points out that Matt Toeaina moved ahead of Anthony Adams into the starting line up. Adams may have seen his last days as a Bear. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed with either one of these guys this year and no one would be surprised to see the Bears draft (yet another) defensive tackle. Toeaina needs to pick it up next year to make the roster.
- Former NFL coach John Madden on Chicago Tribune Live talks about Mike Tice‘s promotion to offensive coordinator:
- Former Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman has more doubt about Tice:
“I really like Mike Tice a lot. I have enormous respect for him as an offensive line coach and then his years there (as head coach) in Minnesota,” Aikman said. “I’ve just not seen offensive linemen come in and be coordinators and be very effective. We’ll see how it works out, but this is a passing league. Mike Tice wants to run the ball.
“Can you win? Yeah, you can win. But if I were a quarterback, I’d want to be playing for somebody who understands the passing game about as well as anyone else around the league.”
I heard local radio analysts moan about Mike Martz and offensive balance all year (despite the fact that they were balanced between the run and the pass most of the time). But I’ll say this. The NFL is a passing league and you better be able to do it and you better be able to be aggressive about it. Mike Martz was a guy who could do that. Can Mike Tice? Like Aikman, I have my doubts.
- The mock drafts season has begun. Andrew Perloff at Sports Illustrated has the Bears taking Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd.
- Justin Rogers at MLive.com writes about how teams took advantage of Ndamukong Suh‘s aggressivenessto run right at him. Suh, like the rest of the Lions team, has to learn to play with discipline if he wants to take the next step.
- Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press makes this point about the Lions:
“Including Saturday night, when New Orleans amassed an NFL playoff-record 626 yards of offense and never punted once, the Lions went a combined 0-6 against conference teams that made the playoffs.”
- ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert notes the salary cap problems the Detroit Lions are headed for, with particular focus on one very immediate one:
No matter which way they turn, the Lions will be on the hook for a ceiling-crushing commitment to Johnson. Unless he makes a cash concession to lessen the cap hit, the Lions are in a really, really tough spot.
Johnson may have a cap number of $22 million dollars next year.
- Pompei on the Packers’ defense:
The reality of the Packers defense is somewhere between two numbers.
The first number is 32 — where the Packers ranked in yards allowed during the regular season.
The second number is 1 — where the Packers ranked in takeaways.
This is where I believe Lovie Smith and the Bears defensive coaching staff excel. Somehow, year after year, Smith seems to be able to get his players to strike a balance between the aggressiveness needed to generate turnovers and the risk associated with it. The get turnovers (when they’re playing well) but still manage to be consistent as a unit by giving up the big play. Smith seems to have a gift of instilling just the right kind of attitude of controlled aggression in defensive players. If only he could get the offensive players to execute with that kind of consistency and balance.
- Rafael Vila at the Cowboys Nation blog always does a good job of analyzing the draft, particularly as it affects Dallas. This entryabout how teams determine whether they will move up or stay put was interesting.
- Vila also notes the first thing that came to mind for many of us after watching the Atlanta Falcons rapidly exit the playoffs with obvious weaknesses at the line of scrimmage:
“The Falcons took a big step forward last year, but were throttled by the champion Packers in the divisional round. Atlanta’s brass convinced themselves they were only a player short and went all-in for receiver Julio Jones. They flipped last year’s 1st, 2nd and 4th rounders for the Alabama flyer. Jones had a solid season, but yesterday, his offensive line and his team’s secondary looked anemic. Might those marquee picks have been better spent filling in the remaining holes on the team?
“The Falcons will hear that question a lot, because they also owe this year’s 1st and 4th round picks to the Browns to complete the Jones deal.”
- This one got by me completely but Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com notes that the hiring of Josh McDaniels to help the Patriots during their playoff run signals the existence of a loop hole in the NFL rules that needs to be closed:
“If player rosters become frozen in place when a team’s season ends, coaches who finish the season with one team shouldn’t be permitted to join a team that is still alive in the playoffs.
“Regardless of whether former Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ presence on the Patriots’ staff will make a difference for a team that has lost two straight home postseason games without him, the ability of a coach from a non-playoff team to climb aboard the bandwagon of a playoff squad seems unfair.”
One Final Thought
Dez Clark and Alex Brown interview former Bears and current Lions safety Chris Harris. Harris thinks he was released from the Bears because he was “too outspoken” about a number of things while with the Bears.
The role that Lovie Smith’s ego may have played in this aside, what Harris apparently doesn’t understand is that lack of discipline off the field leads to lack of discipline on it. In retrospect, he’s probably a better fit with the Lions.