- Pro Football Focus rates the tackling done by the safeties in the NFL. It’s a wash for the Bears. Brandon Merriweather was near the bottom. Craig Steltz was near the top.
- Pro Football Focus also gives their all-NFC North team. Guess how many offensive players the Bears had.
- Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times thinks the Bears should trade Lance Briggs for Osi Umenyiora. Usually I wouldn’t even bother to comment these fantasy trades like this but this one may have merit. Both men are headed for contract problems in the offseason.
- Johnny Knox remembers the hit that nearly bent him in half like it was yesterday:
“Asked if he thought he would be able to play in the 2012 season, Knox tweeted, ‘Im focusing on getting 100% first!’”
I don’t think anyone would blame Knox for a second if he never played again. That was just about the scariest hit I’ve ever seen a football field.
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune highlights Charles Tillman’s accomplishemnts. I’m not exactly sure what Tillman meant by this comment but I’m sure everyone can read between the lines:
“‘I was one of Jerry’s kids,’ he said. ‘Not to be funny but I was one of the guys Jerry [Angelo] drafted so from that standpoint I got a contract through him. He was good on his words with myself. What George McCaskey or Ted Phillips do upstairs, that’s what they get paid to do.’”
- Those who plan on purchasing jersey’s before April should beware. Via Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com:
“In April 2012, Nike takes over the apparel contract from Reebok. And on the day that the switch was announced in October 2010, Nike Brand president Charlie Denson told Darren Rovell of CNBC that significant adjustments are coming.
“‘We plan on changing the NFL jersey dramatically just like we’ve done with the college programs, using new thinking and the greatest technology available,’ Denson said. ‘The NFL program hasn’t had the same type of advancement in recent years.’”
“In past years, a player-initiated number change would have been met with a requirement that the player refund Reebok for the existing inventory of jerseys with the number he wants to abandon. With the new Nike jerseys coming soon, there’s a chance that it will be open season for the shifting of numbers.”
- Mike Vandermause at the Green Bay Press-Gazette says that the Packers have cancelled their fan fest again this year. It was cancelled last year due to the lockout.
“The event sold out quickly the first two years, but in 2009 and 2010 it didn’t sell out. That is one of the factors the Packers are evaluating.”
Packer fans are at least as fanatical as Bear fans and you can’t keep Bear fans away from the annual convention here. I’m having a hard time believing the Packers couldn’t sell this event out if they really were trying.
- The Dolphins face an uncomfortable choice. They have a nose tackle for their 3-4 defense, which is extremely difficult to find. But they need a quarterback. According to Omar Kelly at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, they may not be able to afford both.
- The union and the NFL are expected to finally agree to begin HGH testing. We’ll see if the union succeeded in pulling the teeth from the policy. Via Judy Batista at The New York Times.
- I’m having a hard time understanding how Bill Parcells doesn’t make the Hall of Fame.
- Pompei writes about the success of Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker:
“Time has taught him that on Super Bowl Sunday, he best keep his eyes on Giants safeties Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle pre-snap.
“’The safeties never lie in coverage,’ Welker said.”
- Pompei thinks this might be Bill Belichick’s best ever coaching job.
- Via Gregg Rosenthal at profootballtalk.com. Here’s the comment:
“I wish I could take all you guys to Indy with us,” Brady told his fans. “We’re going down there, and we’re going down there for one reason. We’re going to give it our best and hopefully we have a lot more people at our party next weekend.”
Here’s the headline at ESPNNewYork.com:
“Brady planning victory party.”
- The Onion has outlined what the Pats and Giants have to do so that fans don’t feel vaguely disappointed by this uninspiring Super Bowl game. Here’s a sample:
“Giants: ‘No pressure, but if you lose, Albert Haynesworth gets a Super Bowl ring.’”
“Patriots: ‘Convince Tom Brady that his life will somehow get even better if he wins.’”
One Final Thought
Unlike most Bear fans I know, I’m not entirely happy with what I’m hearing out of Halas Hall with the hiring of new general manager Phil Emery. The following quote from Bears president Ted Philips is an example. Via Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times:
‘‘’The reality is just as with Jerry [Angelo] and Lovie [Smith],’ Phillips said. ‘When I hired Jerry, I said this; when I hired Phil, I said this: ‘I expect not to ever have to pick up your contract and read the language between you and Lovie.’ The idea is you work together to find the best team for the Bears.’’’
This attitude of cooperation was confirmed and well described in an article by Pompei:
“Emery’s predecessor, Jerry Angelo, used to refer to the general manager-head coach relationship as a ‘marriage.’ Emery did nothing to make it appear as if he and Smith are merely living together.”
“Emery even wants Smith to have a loud voice in the draft room. When asked about how he intends to make player evaluation decisions, Emery talked about the value of listening and opening your mind to what others are seeing. But he also said at a point toward the end of the process, it will be he and Smith who will develop the plan as far as who the Bears will draft or attempt to sign.”
This sounds good on the surface. You make decisions by consensus. But what do you do when that isn’t working?
Here’s what former Bears college scouting director Greg Gabriel had to say about the hiring. Gabriel would have had a chance to closely observe how Smith and Angelo worked together while he was with the Bears. Via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:
“’Phil is going to have his own thoughts,’ Gabriel said. ‘He is not going to get railroaded into doing something he doesn’t think is the right decision. Not a doubt in my mind. He’s very, very strong-minded.’”
This certainly implies Smith had undue influence over personnel decisions. But that’s just one man’s opinion. Let see what Falcons president Rich McKay had to say. Both Angelo and Emery worked for him at different times. From Jensen:
“‘I think it’s a really good situation for [Emery]. And the most important thing is, he’s really comfortable with all those people.’
“But McKay quickly offered a warning.
“‘That doesn’t mean he’ll just agree,’ McKay said. ‘He will not be a man who just says yes. He’ll be one to challenge people to make the right decisions.’”
Again, we have the indirect implication that Angelo may have “just agreed” too often. Its obvious that these men who are in a position to have some idea of what’s been going on detect some bitterness about the compromises Angelo made with Lovie Smith.
Given this situation I can’t help but agree with this comment from Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune:
“Emery talked around who has the final call on drafting and signing that talent before finally saying it’ll come down to him and Smith. Funny, but that sounds like a GM’s call.”
I think Phil Emery probably can evaluate talent. However, the problems will arise when he and Lovie Smith disagree on a prospect. If you are still leading by consensus (and it certainly sounds like that continues to be the case) then many of Jerry Angelo’s problems may well continue.
What I wanted to hear from Emery was, “I’m in charge. I’m going to consult with the head coach but I’m going to pick my own guys in the end.” Instead I literally heard, “Lovie and I will make the final decisions together.”
Your organization is only as good as its weakest link. When it comes to player evaluation, I think Smith is probably that link. Based upon the quotes above, I don’t think I’m alone.
As it stands, it sounds like Smith is going to have to be convinced that the proper picks are the proper picks before they are made. We’ll see if Emery can do that. Otherwise, all I see is more of the same.