- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reviews the playing time of all of the NFL players. Here are some of relevant points he extracts:
1) Five of Dave Toub’s eight top special teams tacklers are free agents. It could be another tough coaching job ahead.
2) “Roy Williams led all wide receivers with 600 snaps, though he fell short of a predicted 70 to 80 catches. He tied Johnny Knox for the team-lead with 37 receptions.”
3) “[Chauncy] Davis played more than any of the other third ends last season with 104 snaps.”
Honestly, I’d almost forgotten Davis was on the team. He was that unremarkable despite playing opposite Julius Peppers. The Bears need a third defensive end badly.
4) “[Lance] Briggs was on the field for all 1,081 defensive snaps and Urlacher missed only 14.
“The question isn’t so much about age. It’s rather: How long can they continue to perform at an elite level?”
- On a related note, ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper thinks the Bears need to draft Brian Urlacher’s replacement. Its hard to argue that the Bears don’t lack depth at linebacker anyway.
“He’s become such an icon at middle linebacker that people forget Urlacher played a sort of hybrid safety in Rocky Long‘s system at New Mexico, and that he actually got his initial reps at outside linebacker. Suffice to say, the move to the middle worked out. Urlacher is still playing at a high level but will be 34 this spring, and Chicago would be wise to add some depth at linebacker in the upcoming draft. I think they can wait a few rounds, however; I’d like to see them find a wideout (preferably with some size), another solid offensive lineman and a corner first.”
- Kiper also answers your questions:
“Is Michael Floyd‘s draft stock tumbling due to his lack of participation at the senior bowl? What does he need to do at the combine to solidify himself as a mid-first round type guy?
“Mel Kiper (1:17 PM):
“No, I don’t think that’s something that will make him plummet. I think he’s the kind of guy that had a good year, a productive year. He caught some passes. You want to see him show some more aggressiveness. You want him to be the guy that wants to take over the game. He’s in the top 25 on the Big Board. He’s a mid to later first round pick.”
I think Kiper hit this one right on the nose. Really great NFL receivers have a look in their eye and often seem to make tough catches by sheer will. Floyd could be elite but there were times when you wondered if he had the “want to” necessary to make it big.
- Kiper also brings up this intriguing possibility:
“Darth Ditka (Sunny Florida)
“Should the Bears trade up for Kendall Wright or stay put at #19?
“Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
“You look at their needs and it’s WR, OT, CB, things like that. They could look at Wright, who could be there when they pick at 19. If not, Mike Adams at OT.”
Here’s what Kiper has to say about Adams, an offensive tackle from Ohio State who is number 20 on his Big Board.
“Makes his mark as a pass-rusher, with good feet, length and quickness to wall off defenders. Awareness could be improved, and he’s dealt with plenty of injuries. But stock is on the way up.”
It would be really nice to get a good left tackle with that first round pick.
- Dan Pompei at The National Football Post tells us the things he didn’t used to know:
“An under the radar player who is expected to be a very hot free agent is 49ers receiver Josh Morgan. Teams are buzzing about the possibility of acquiring Morgan, who is considered a very good talent who should be available at a lesser price than the receivers on the top rung. The 49ers have been enthralled with Morgan for four years, but he never really had a breakout because of health issues and offensive ineptitude in previous seasons. A broken leg limited him to five games in 2011. But front office men see Morgan as someone with decent size, speed, toughness and playmaking ability.”
The Bears could consider Morgan. But his height is 6’ even. It isn’t everything but I really think they acquire someone bigger.
- Khaled Elsayed at Pro Football Focus talks NFC North. He highlights the improvement of Henry Melton and the drop off of Isreal Idonije.
- D.J. Moore and Tim Jennings were among the best tackling corners in the league according to Sam Monson at Pro Football Focus.
- Bears trainer Tim Bream is leaving the team to go to Penn State.
- From my favorite feature, Pro Football Weekly’s Audibles. These are anonymous comments from coaches, scouts and front office people around the league:
“(Bears offensive coordinator) Mike Tice is an excellent coach. The Bears will be a lot better on offense next year. He played a long time in the league. He understands the big picture. He is a very underrated coach.”
Ron Turner was a good coach, too. But, like Turner, Tice isn’t a guy who is going to use X’s and O’s to overcome deficiencies in the roster. He’s not going to be able to get many good match ups from a group that lacks talent. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.
“Jeff Fisher‘s dream job was with the Bears. It’s where he played. It’s a serious football town. They play his brand of football — a tough, physical style. He would have been a great hire (in Chicago).”
I would have loved to have Fisher here. But you couldn’t justifiably fire Smith. The current problem with the team isn’t due to his coaching. I think Fisher would have wanted too much control over personnel as well.
- I spent a good part of my morning catching up on the Audibles. So there are a lot of them in the post. And another one:
“When I look at the way Leslie Frazier is running the Vikings, I think of Tony Dungy. I would think Tony might have had something to do with the hires they just made (at defensive coordinator). The problem with that (Tampa-2) defense — if you don’t have six or seven Pro Bowlers on the field, it is not going to work. … When you don’t disguise your coverages, it’s like taking candy from a baby.”
We’re pretty fortunate in Chicago in that Lovie Smith came to this conclusion at least two years ago. The Bears have done much more in the way of disguising coverages ever since. Frazier is eventually going to have to make this adjustment.
“Jim Mora (Sr.) had it right. Michael Vick is a coach killer. The Eagles made a mistake signing him long-term. I can tell you right now — he was a machine the first half of 2010, and then he … started turning the ball over. You cannot win a Super Bowl with a guy that is that inconsistent. They said he was hurt. I’m not sure they didn’t bench him after he started 3-8 going back to last year (counting Vick’s two season-ending losses a year ago). If I’m Andy Reid, I’m looking hard at Matt Flynn right now.”
“The most underrated cog in Green Bay is (QB coach) Tom Clements. He is the one who has worked with (Aaron) Rodgers and (Matt) Flynn the most closely. The head coach calls the plays. Sure, Joe Philbin was a part of it, but I will be interested to see how much he can get done on his own (in Miami). (GM) Jeff Ireland has been involved with the hiring of two coaches — Tony Sparano and Philbin. Neither would have been on my short list, but we’ll see how it works this time around. They have two years to get it done, and then it’s clean-out time.”
I also have my doubts about the Philbin hire. Philbin’s really an offensive line coach. Its clear to me that Mike McCarthy is the guy running that offense and he’s the guy coaching the quarterbacks. What you are actually doing is hiring someone who you hope has learned something from him. But if you think you are getting a guy who was heavily involved in the way the offense runs, I think you may be fooling yourself.
- And here’s yet another good Audible:
“Come the beginning of April, every wart on every draft prospect is going to get bigger and bigger. There will be a group of guys that find flaws on every player and will focus on them and concentrate on them instead of the positive traits. They will be talking about how Andrew Luck does not have John Elway‘s arm. It was like Cam Newton last year. Everyone was ripping the kid until the final three days before the draft when it became clear that (Panthers GM) Marty (Hurney) really was going to take him. “
- President Richard Nixon pushed hard to have the NFL blackout rules lifted in 1972 according to taped conversations:
“The folks should be able to see the god—- games on television,” he said. “Playoff games. Playoffs — all playoff games should be available.”
A year later, Congress passed a law to make sure they were.
- Steve Breaston, who played under former Bears wide receivers coach Todd Haley in Arizona and Kansas City thinks Haley, the new Steeler’s offensive coordinator is “not always a butt hole”. Via Florio.
- One word: “genius”.
- Eli Manning wants to quit and go play kick ball with the other kids.
- The NFC and AFC Seasons in review are now available on DVD from the NFL. Here are the sales pitches for the NFC South. From The Sports Pickle:
One Final Thought
And one more Audible from Pro Football Weekly:
“Jim Irsay is taking on the persona of Jerry Jones. He wants to be the acting GM. He’s doing interviews. He wants to be the face of the franchise. That’s a big part of the reason (Bill) Polian is gone. It’s the Jim Irsay show now.”
There are a lot of days that I’m thankful that the McCaskey’s own the Bears. I read things like this and today becomes one of them. The family takes a lot of heat. But generally speaking they stay out of the way and let people do their jobs.
People love to give the McCaskey’s trouble because they see them as distant. I personally don’t believe that and I’ve implied that I think they were more involved in the Jerry Angelo firing than anyone is letting on. But setting that aside, the alternative to “distant” is Jim Irsay. Think about it.