“‘[Bates] has a really good feel of what I like to do and what I don’t like to do,’ Cutler said after the Bears’ second organized-team-activity workout. ‘There are plays out there today that I told him, ‘I don’t like them. Let’s think about getting rid of them.’ He’s fine with that.'”
So correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t you supposed to talk to the offensive coordinator about getting rid of plays? This brings to mind the situation that the Bears were in last year where players talked after the game about offensive line coach Mike Tice diagraming new plays on the sidelines. It appears that there’s no one person in charge of the Bears offense. Instead, one gets the impression that Tice will be sharing the duty with Bates just as former offensive coordinator Mike Martz shared it with him.
“Another likely carry-over for Tice is his ambitious use of tight ends. In Minnesota, he used multiple-tight-end formations 43 percent of the time. One of his favorite personnel groupings included one back, two wide receivers and two tight ends.
“Tice didn’t have Pro Bowl talent at the position, but a tight end led his offense in receptions twice and finished third twice. The player who led the Vikings in receptions twice was Jermaine Wiggins, a journeyman who never came close to having the kind of numbers he had under Tice in four previous NFL seasons.”
Sounds like good news for Kellen Davis.
There’s also this great article by Pompei which breaks down the problem of Matt Forte‘s contract dispute. It seems clear to me that this dispute isn’t going to be solved easily. Basically, Forte’s going rate is about 8.5 million dollars per year on average for a long-term contract. The Bears are paying him $7.7 million this year with the franchise tag and about $17 million over two years if they do it again. The Bears do take care of their players but the never overpay. And there really isn’t much incentive financially for the Bears to come to terms.
Pompei at, this time writing for The National Football Post, explores the characteristics that make Packer’s general manager Ted Thompson such an exemplary draft guru. Thompson bucked his usual trend of trading down in the draft by frequently trading up this year:
“Trading up felt good this year, but there were some unusual circumstances that led to Thompson changing it up this year. First, the Packers had 12 picks, including four compensatory picks. That was a big wad of cash in Thompson’s pocket. Given where the Packers are as a team, they didn’t need 12 players. They needed impact players.”
Its worth noting the the Packers weren’t the only ones known for trading down that did the opposite this year. The New England Patriots did the same. This is likely in part because it was a poor draft. Teams who do a good job of evaluating talent usually have multiple players that they feel comfortable with when their time comes. But this year’s draft was generally considered to be poor with little depth. So those same teams found themselves trading up to get one of the few guys they thought were good value.
Pompei also noted the Bills acquisition of QB Vince Young:
“One of the reasons the Bills were sold on Vince Young is they took the unusual step of putting him on the board for a couple of hours when he visited their facility. It is common for teams to talk schemes with rookies, but less common for them to do it with veterans. Given Young’s history, it was a smart move by Chan Gailey. And Young’s knowledge was sufficient enough for the Bills to take a chance on him.”
You want to know if Vince Young has grown up enough to be an NFL QB? Make him the punter’s personal protector and see what he says then.
This quote from Peyton Manning is for all of those people who don’t think offseason workouts are important. Via the Chicago Tribune:
”I’ve always believed you develop your timing for the passing game in the offseason. You can’t just show up in September and expect to be on the same page. Offseason workouts, it’s a great time to make an impression on the coaches. Coaches are always evaluating.“
“[Charger’s GM A.J.] Smith notes that [Drew] Brees has become better at compensating for his lack of height as he has become more experienced. ‘With Sean Payton in New Orleans, Brees gets himself back [in the pocket] to get that vision,’ Smith said. ‘The arm is better now, the release better. You can do that as a pro. Drew figured out his deficiencies and improved.’
“They envision him as what [GM Phil] Emery called a ‘move tight end,’ a player who can line up in multiple positions, competently block defensive ends and stretch the field for the Bears’ offense.
“‘What that does to a defense is it forces them to stay in more of their base [defense] instead of bringing in a nickel or sub-package personnel and match up with a straight-seam tight end,’ Emery said. ‘We really believe that Evan provides that for us.’”
This almost certainly is a pick for Mike Tice. Many Bear fans have bemoaned the loss of former TE Greg Olsen but have failed to realize that Olsen was a glorified WR. Mike Tice would have never started a TE who couldn’t block any more than former OC Mike Martz would have.
“Say an offensive tackle was trying to reach to my outside,” Emery said. “He instantly has a feel for feeling that block, getting his body in the right leverage position and working off that block to the ball; taking as natural and as quick a path from blocker to ball as possible. Some people possess that at a high level. Some don’t. They get stuck on blocks.”
“If there is one area that stand out for me as an evaluator and our coaches and our scouts, we all came away from looking at him as having high-level football instincts,” Emery said. “This is a very natural football player. He plays with very low pad level. He finds the ball quickly through blocks, which is a skill in itself, he reads pressure well. He can feel where the ball is going. He has very natural ability to find the right path to the ball.”
Lovie Smithdebunks the idea that McClellin will play linebacker but does note that they feel he can “drop into coverage”. Perhaps we’ll see more zone blitz this year. Smith also mentions that weight is “overrated” when it comes to players like McClellin in schemes like the one the Bears run.
“Downside: Late-round picks face an uphill battle, and the Bears have a host of veterans in the mix here. Still, this could be a blessing for Frey as they need to develop young players at the position. He needs to transition to playing zone defense as he played almost exclusively man in college.”
The guess here is that one reason the Bears liked Hardin was his ability to play man coverage and match up with tight ends and slot receivers when necessary. Similarly, Frey maight have to learn to play zone but he’s already got man coverage skills, something whcih the indications are the Bears may covet more now than they did in the past.
Lovie Smith has played a lot more man coverage over the last year or two than he did before that. Its possible that he was on board with these picks. On the other hand, as Pompei notes, Phil Emery’s picks this year seem to be more scheme independent. So if there’s a new head coach next year, he will find at least some personnel who aren’t strictly cover two zone-type players.
“Having lived and worked in Chicago the last 11 years, I know one thing: the media can be very tough.
What makes it hard for Phil Emery in conducting his first draft is that the local media didn’t trust previous GM Jerry Angelo and because of that there is a carryover effect to Emery. They want to believe but aren’t sure if they can.”
“The Bears announced Sunday that they agreed to terms with offensive tackle A.J. Greene of Auburn. Greene turned down an invitation to the NFL scouting combine in February and last month he showed up for his school’s pro day merely as an observer. Greene said he was preparing for a career in the music industry despite teammates and coaches urging him to give the NFL a try.
“‘Some people have criticized me for this, but most of those guys — all they understand is football,’ Greene told the Montgomery Advertiser at the pro day. ‘They can’t grasp the idea of not wanting a life in the NFL. A lot of kids grow up thinking the NFL is the ultimate dream. I just want to make music. I’m not going to pretend I want to play football when I really don’t.’
“‘Devin’s role has not changed,’ Emery said. ‘We see him as a guy that is going to help our receiving corps in a big way. I know that Coach Tice has done a lot of planning. We want to make sure that we have a special plan for Devin, we have the Devin Package, a package of plays as a receiver. You never know where he is going to line up and I don’t want to get too far ahead of that in terms of telling other people what we’re going to do with him.’”
Sounds exciting. But I’ll be happy if they just line him up in the slot where he belongs every once in a while.
“Wide Receivers (11): Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Alshon Jeffery, Devin Thomas, Eric Weems, Johnny Knox, Dane Sanzenbacher, Terriun Crump, Brittan Golden, Chris Summers”
The Bears will keep five or six wider receivers. Marshall, Hester, Bennett and Jeffery are locks and Weems probably is, too. That leaves Thomas, Knox, and Sanzenbacher competing for the last slot. That’s if they keep six.
This will be a position to keep an eye on in camp.
Potash also goes through the defensive linemen. Right now they have 3 reliable DTs in Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, and Matt Toeaina. They’re fools if they go into the season without at least one more. The same goes for the linebacker position where they have no reliable personnel outside of starters Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Nick Roach.
Pompei answers your questions:
“The Bears have five games indoors this year, with three of the last four games on the road in domes (Vikings, Lions, and Cardinals). What is the Bears’ record indoors under Lovie Smith? Brian Helser, Thornville, Ohio”
“The Bears are 12-11 in domes since Smith became head coach in 2004.”
When you look back at last season you find that the Bears offensive line was particularly miserable in domes where you can’t hear the snap count. That’s because those are the situations when you find out how much talent you really have.
All three of those dome teams above are in the NFC and two are in the Bears division. Assuming nothing else significant gets done about the offensive line, if the Bears aren’t 9-3 going into the last four games, they’ll have an up hill battle making the playoffs.
“In many draft rooms, there wasn’t the same kind of enthusiasm over who was chose as there normally is. ‘There were a lot of reaches on the first two days,’ one personnel director said. ‘A lot of teams were not feeling comfortable with their picks, based on my conversations with other personnel people. It wasn’t’ a great year. There are a lot of guys with holes.’”
Holy smokes! Via Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com.
The NFL is considering eliminating the Pro Bowl. They’ll still be voting and calling players Pro Bowlers. But because no one will be backing out of the game, there will be a lot fewer of them than in the past. The NFLPA can’t be happy.
“In the same SiriusXM Radio interview in which Jenkins said teams who passed on him are ‘gonna pay,’ Jenkins addressed the immediate comparisons that were made between him and the last troubled defensive back drafted by Jeff Fisher, Adam “Pacman” Jones.
“Asked by Adam Schein if Fisher possibly was interested in Jenkins because of similarities to Pacman, Jenkins scoffed.
“‘I mean, no, because I never shot up a strip club or nothing like that,’ Jenkins said.
“What is most interesting about the Packers’ draft is they chose four defensive players who some perceive as better fits for a four-man front than a three-man front. Could the Packers be considering a defensive conversion? Or at least a shift to more 4-3?”
“Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is known as a 3-4 guru, but he did preside over a four-man front with the Jaguars.”
“‘I had no discipline. I had all the talent in the world,’ he said. ‘You know, great body, great genes. But I had no work ethic and I had no discipline. The better you get, the harder you have to work. The better I got, the lazier I got.'”
“Leaving USC after an All-American junior season, the Chargers made Seau the No. 5 pick in the 1990 draft.
“But Seau did not feel immediately embraced by his teammates. He experienced an attitude shift in the seventh game of his rookie season when he successfully called a defensive huddle. His team was not victorious on that day, but, in a way, Seau was.
“’My dad called me and said, ‘Oh, sorry you didn’t win,’ Seau recalled years later in an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I said, ‘Don’t worry, I won. They huddled for me.’ That is what I would call a turning point in my career.’”
Filtering through the media reports and videos associated with the draft, the frequency with which Bears GM Phil Emery refers to his background as Navy’s strength and conditioning coach interests me. For instance, this clip from an Emery press conference where he mentions getting inside information on TE Evan Rodriguez from his contacts with the Tennessee and Temple strength and conditioning coaches (at 2:55 and at 3:19, respectively) is a good example of what I’m talking about:
But perhaps even more interesting are subtle comments from evaluators outside the Bears organization on the players Emery selected. For instance there’s this almost off-hand reference from Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune in relation to new Bears DE Shea McClellin:
“An AFC college scouting director said when the other pass rushers stripped down to their skivvies at the Senior Bowl weigh in, it was clear McClellin did not have the same kind of body.”
And McClellin wasn’t the only one whose body got some attention. Pompei relates this factoid when writing about new Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery:
“He played at 232 pounds for South Carolina. He got down to 216 at the NFL scouting combine, but looked soft according to scouts.”
The same view point undoubtedly affected Emery’s impression of McClellin. In a sport where college safeties can become NFL linebackers, its doubtful that Emery looked at McClellin and just saw a guy who “did not have the same kind of body”. The guess here is that he saw a guy who could look like Brian Urlacher a year down the road. If you are a Bears fan, that could only mean good things both now and in the future as we watch how Emery runs the organization.