What It All Comes Down to on Defense and Other Points of View


  • Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune puts his finger on one of the major problems Friday night that got little attention. Jay Cutler had a poor game accuracy wise. That should, I hope, be an anomaly.
  • Biggs brings up the other point, which I think is much more of an issue and which is weighing heavily on my mind.:

“But the pass rush as a whole has left plenty of room for improvement, especially when you consider the Bears will face Aaron Rodgers in Week 2 at Lambeau Field. They’ve got to dial up the pressure.”

The entire defense is predicated upon the fact that the front four must get pressure on the quarterback. Eli Manning was an extremely comfortable man Friday.

It’s not that the other, more heavily criticized units looked good. But the game of football is still played at the line of scrimmage and ninety perent of the time when the Lovie Smith‘s defense isn’t performing well, its because of lack of pressure. I’m really surprised that this hasn’t been brought up more since the game ended. I can almost guarantee that Smith will tomorrow.

  • Steve Ronsenbloom at the Chicago Tribune pinpoints another issue I think we’ll hear about as well:

“Quick, someone tell the Bears it’s OK to practice tackling in games.”

  • I think we’d better get used to this. From Joe Cowley at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Receiver Alshon Jeffery had become a very reliable target throughout training camp and the first two preseason games, but he had an awful-looking drop in the first quarter that would’ve put the Bears at the Giants’ 3-yard line.

Jeffery redeemed himself with a catch of a tipped ball that he turned into a first down, but it was his only reception.”

1) Jeffrey was pretty much know for his dropss in college. He might not kick the habit easily. 2) It worth noting that the ball was tipped because, like much of the game, he was covered like a blanket.

Room for two? Former Mayor Richard M. Daley suggests the NFL should put a second franchise in Chicago, something that seems a little farfetched when Los Angeles remains without a club. Of course, the Cardinals used to call Chicago home.

I think its more likely than getting a Super Bowl. And that’s not very likely.

  • Oh, yeah. And Daley also wants a new stadium. From The Huffington Post.
  • Cowley on rookie defensive end Shea McClellin:

“And as far as dropping McClellin back into a zone coverage in certain situations? Not happening.”

“We run our package with him,’’ Marinelli added. “Where the league is in terms of mobility of quarterback, the speed, and or guys that can step up and avoid, you need speed coming at the quarterback. You are looking for athletic guys. Henry Melton is athletic, Julius [Peppers], Izzy [Israel Idonije], this guy is athletic, so you are looking for athletic guys that can play in space, and he can do that. Once you start moving a guy around a lot it diminishes your skills.’’

Anyone who watched these preseason games can see that the Bears are already dropping McClellin into coverage. But whatever.

“With Chris Williams looking decent the other night at right tackle, and J’Marcus Webb struggling, why isn’t anyone talking about Gabe Carimi at left tackle?  He dominated at the position for his entire college career, yet they wrote him off over there after two practices, I’ve never understood why. Brad, Chicago

“The Bears drafted Carimi to be a right tackle.  They believe he is better suited to play right tackle than left. Even though he played left tackle at Wisconsin, Carimi was not asked to do much traditional pass protecting there because the Badgers didn’t rely on a lot of dropbacks. They were a running team.  And run blocking is what he does best. A lot of people doubt that Carimi has the foot quickness to be an outstanding left tackle in the NFL.  There is much less doubt that he can be an outstanding right tackle.”

“Yeah, I think I will,” Williams said.

Then he’s the only one.

“All offseason, both Brian Urlacher and the Bears organization assured us his knee would be fine by training camp.  Given the class with which Urlacher has handled the business side of football, I hate to even ask, but since I’m also very cynical when it comes to pro athletes, here goes:  Do you think he’s really hurt, or is there nothing wrong that can’t be healed by a visit from Dr. Contract Extension? Mark E., Arlington, Va.

“I think anyone who knows Urlacher will tell you he does not operate that way.  It’s hard for a player to achieve greatness if money is his primary motivation.  He has to play because he loves the game.  Urlacher does. He is a warrior and a professional. I think his knee is really hurt.”

  • However, I’m happy to say that I can follow it with this one:

“With the change in offensive play-calling, do you expect the Bears to take fewer early-game timeouts to avoid play-clock penalties? Ken L., Brownsville, Minn.

“Yes I do. One of [former offensive coordinator] Mike Martz’s strengths — and one of his weaknesses — is he was intent on getting the perfect call on every play.  He was very deliberate in his play calls, and he wanted to consider all of the circumstances before pulling the trigger.  This sometimes led to big plays.  And this sometimes led to delay-of-game penalties.”

“The best offensive coordinators are innovators and are more of the intellectual type.  Mike Tice seems more like a tough guy and perhaps better suited to the offensive line.  If the offense isn’t deceptive enough, defenses will know what’s coming and stop it.  Do you think Tice’s offense will be deceptive and tricky enough to be successful?  How important do you think deception is? Jim P., Chicago

“I think you are stereotyping Tice and coaches in general.  He is a tough guy.  That doesn’t mean he also isn’t “more of the intellectual type.”  Tice has a few tricks in his bag. But the most important thing for the Bears’ offense is execution, not deception. The best teams in the league aren’t playing shell games with opponents; they are out-hitting and out-blocking them. If players don’t play with good technique and fundamentals and beat the players on the other side of the line, no amount of deception in the NFL could help them.  Deception only is valuable when all the basics are covered.”

I would say that the best teams in the NFL are doing both.

  • I thought this comment via Biggs from defensive tackle Nate Collins before Friday’s game was interesting. Collins spent some time on the Giants 2010 practice squad.

“‘It will be good to go against some of those guys I used to always go against in practice and you’re kind of like the dummy,’ Collins said. ‘It’ll be good to go in there and get a chance to really play and compete and see what I can do.'”

  • I thought the third preseason game was more worthwhile than the first two. But I had a hard time getting as excited as this guy was:


“Lost in all the opponent stomps, roadside
arrests, practice sucker punches and handshake fracases is the fact that
the Lions are mighty fine football team that keeps getting better.

“General manager Martin Mayhew has surrounded Stafford, the No. 1 pick of the 2009 draft, with seven
skill-position players who were either first- or second-round draft picks.”

“Schwartz publicly has downplayed reducing penalties but privately has made it a mission.
Players say he has railed about penalties in meetings. During offseason practices, when a player did
something that would have been called a penalty in a game, he stopped practice and made the team run.
At the start of training camp he showed players a chart comparing the Lions’ penalties to the penalties of
teams that advanced past the first round of the playoffs, which the Lions failed to do.

His message was clear: The Lions need to cut down on penalties if they want to go further in 2012.”

One Final Thought

Glad to see that Pompei’s Sunday Blitz column at The National Football Post is back. This comment fascinates me:

“No surprise to see Shawne Merriman out of football. He was a player who needed to believe he was invincible in order to be his best, and he probably no longer could believe it. In a 2006 interview in the film room at Merriman’s home in San Diego, this is what he told me. “I take pride in trying to be the best, in being dominant, and my work ethic. I talk a lot of stuff to my teammates and coaches that I almost have to take the extra step to live up to it. You can’t go around this league talking and not go out and do it… I can’t envision somebody beating me one on one. I have so much pride that I can’t. It’s going to happen. Everybody in the league has been beaten, no matter who you are, whether it’s in a race, or somebody is a step quicker than you, or stronger than you. But in my head I can’t envision losing a battle. I take that very seriously. I don’t plan on it happening.”


Taking the Crap Out and Other Points of View


  • Joe Cowley at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes wide receiver Brandon Marshall as he describes how Jay Cutler has improved as a quarterback since the days they were together with the Broncos:

‘‘Now, Jay knows how to manipulate defenses with snap count, body language and hand signals, so it’s exciting to see him work.’’

  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune gives his opinion on the competition at left tackle:

“The Bears preach patience with [J'Marcus] Webb. But I wonder if someone so consumed with being popular — the self-appointed head of “JWebb Nation,'' also posted a video of him ordering fast food — understands all it takes to become proven in the NFL. Those concerns made it all the more curious when Lovie Smith made it clear that Webb had won the job before the first exhibition game. Why not let a real competition play out?

“While Webb's ceiling might be higher than [Chris] Williams', it means nothing to a Bears team built to win now if the 24-year-old cannot figure out how to reach it sooner than later. I would lean toward starting Williams, a serious veteran whose best might not approach Webb's but whose worst should kill fewer drives too.”

Haugh has a point. Even worse, I would suggest that Webb, in his third year, has no future with the team at all if he hasn't lost most of his incosistency by now. The fact that he quickly managed to jump offsides in the first preseason game after, I'm sure, being beaten to death with criticism from Tice over such things all offseason, makes me very much wonder if there's any chance he has.

Jeff Otah and Chad Clifton probably aren't healthy enough. Marcus McNeill retired. Kareem McKenzie is out there, but is he really better than what the Bears have?”

  • On a related note, I want to thank Pompei for suggesting something I’ve been say ing for a long time. The fact that Mike Martz is gone is not necessarily going to mean the offensive line (or by extension the offense) is going to be better:

“'You have to protect your offensive line,' Bears coach Lovie Smith said. 'To me, very few tackles can handle a good defensive end one on one. So you have to protect them, there is no way around it. Especially on the road, in a dome, you have to give your linemen help. Giving them help can be running the football too. We have a plan.'

“'What few people remember is the Bears had a plan last year too. Despite Mike Martz's reputation, he gave the offensive line help in many circumstances.

“Despite that, the line was not good enough last year.”

“Special teams coordinator Dave Toub said in some cases on kickoffs, [Eric] Weems' straight-forward return style will benefit the Bears more than Hester's elusiveness.

“'With what we do, we do a lot of doubles teams, and we want to run right at the double team.'''

  • There is one thing that seems to be evident from the preseason games we've seen. From Pompei:

“Players [Cutler] is throwing to are capable of getting yards after the catch. Only five teams in the NFL had fewer yards after the catch last year than the Bears, according to STATS. That should not be the case this year.”

“The Redskins didn't have success covering Rodriguez with a linebacker (he beat Bryan Kehl for a 14-yard gain) or a safety (Jordan Bernstine struggled to stay with him on a 19-yard reception).”

  • Before you get too excited about the performance of the defensive linelast Saturday, the Redskins offensive line was missing three starters. From Mark Maske at the Washington Post.
  • Yeah, this sounds more like it. From The Onion.
  • And so does this via SportsViews:


“From his first pass attempt at Soldier Field, Griffin had the look of an overwhelmed newcomer. Throughout a shaky 26-play performance, Griffin held the ball too long, absorbed unnecessary hits and failed in his first responsibility: Ball security.”

On one of the first plays from scrimmage he dropped back and his first read wasn’t there. No one was near him but he immediately started running. You’re going to get that for a while with this guy.

“Paul said he was encouraged by the in-game adjustments he was able to make. On the missed pass from Griffin, Paul said he was running full-speed and wasn’t able to turn all the way around to snag the pass that was slightly behind him. Later in the game, however, he was running the same route when Cousins threw to him, and his timing was better so he was able to turn fully and make the catch and then pick up yards after the catch.”

  • The Seattle Seahawks have apparently come to grips with what everyone in the NFC North already knewTarvaris Jackson can’t play quarterback. Jackson says he’s willing to take a pay cut to facilitate a trade but I’m not sure there’s anything else out there for him. Certainly nothing that’s going to improve his situation much over what it already is in Seattle.
  • Via Josh Alper at profootballtalk.com we have this quote that might as well also be about Brian Urlacher (assuming he makes it back for Week 1 of the season at all):

“Said Saints coach Joe Vitt of CB Patrick Robinson’s play in his return from a shoulder injury, 'Listen, I don’t care who you are or how many years you’ve played in the league, playing this game isn’t like riding a bike. You learn to ride a bike when you’re three years old. You can ride one when you’re 80 if you can get on it. You have to be fine-tuned to play this game at a high level. It’s a game of angles and timing. You have to be in sync. Patrick was a little rusty early in the game last night missing some tackles, but that’s why we play these games and that’s why we practice every day.'”

  • Think the Bears are the only ones with trouble at offensive tackle? Think again. From Zach Schonbrun at The New York Times:

“[Jets right tack Wayne] Hunter seemed like a pinwheel in the wind when he was matched against the Giants’ pressure.”

One Final Thought

Ugh. From The Sports Pickle:


Tim Tebow’s Favorite Target and Other Points of View


  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Shea McClellin is getting first team reps with the nickel defense. The nickel defense is on the field almost half the time. Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune goes on to point out that putitng McClellin at end in passing situations allows them to put Israel Idonije at tackle.
  • Potash thinks they should hold Brian Urlacher out until the Lions game in October.
  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune and I see eye to eye:

“Brian Urlacher’s injury gets all the attention, but [defensive tackle Stephen] Paea and his injury expose two problems: The depth at defensive tackle is questionable, and more importantly, the talent at that spot has not proven to be game-changing consistently.”

I had high hopes for Paea this year. He might still come through but this is the kind of early setback that tends to have ramifications that last into the season.

“But it’s practice. You got to do it,” he told Fox. “I think just the shock of being out there so long and doing so many movements like that was too much for my knee.”

The longer practices are a result of the collective bargaining agreement limiting the number of days a team can practice and how much contact there can be. So if Urlacher is correct its ironic that he has his own union to blame for worsening the injury.

Chris [Williams] is a very smart guy,” Tice said. “He figures it out very fast. The one thing he doesn't do is make mental mistakes.”

This is, of course, the issue. The Bears really want Webb to win the job but they aren't going to put up with the mental errors this year. What's particularly frustrating is that Webb's mistakes should be easily corrected. But for whatever reason he just can't seem to be able to concentrate. One more offsides penalty in a preseason game might be the end of Webb as the left tackle. And, based upon this quote via Jensen, I think Webb knows it:

“'I feel like I am doing what Coach is asking me to do,' Williams said. 'Trying not to make any mistakes. I'll let the rest sort itself out.'”

Biggs sums up the situation very well as amply later in the week:

“[J'Marcus] Webb vs. Williams: Maybe this would be more accurately described J'Marcus Webb vs. himself.”

  • Of course Rosenblom wants to know whose head should be put on a platter for allowing the left tackle situation to develop as it has. The real question is where were you going to find a left tackle? There weren't any real freeagents worthy of the posiiton and the only prospect vailable to the Bears in the draft was Riley Reiff, a player who many doubted fit the position. So if you are looking for someone to blame you are going to have to take a good look at the previous regime in the front office.
  • Vaughn McClure’s impresson of defensive end Corey Wootton’s play last Thursday matched my own.

“Third-year defensive end Corey Wootton got a chance Thursday to measure how far he has come. Wootton, who started the exhibition game against the Broncos as Peppers rested, matched up against Ryan Clady, one of the top tackles in the league.

“Wootton was far from perfect, but he held his own on a few plays.”

‘‘'We’re going to keep things pretty basic,' said Cutler, who didn’t play in the preseason opener against the Denver Broncos last week. 'What we unroll against the Redskins isn’t the final product.'

“'We want to get in and out of the huddle. We want to execute plays. But it’s not going to be the end of the world if we’re not clicking on all cylinders.'”

  • Steeler's offensive coordinator Todd Haley talks about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But he might as well be descibing the situaiton with Cutler. From Sam Farmer at the Los Angeles Times:

“'You rely on that in emergency situations,' Haley said. 'When you make a bad call, or there's a breakdown up front or with the back, or something doesn't go the way it's supposed to, you have a guy that can get you out of trouble better than anybody else.

“'You don't just drop him back and say, 'Hey, work the field.' If you do that, you're going to be watching him dive and keep plays alive all the time. But those are also situations where he's put in harm's way.'”

What Haley's is saying is that he wants Roethlisberger to drop back and get rid of the ball. that doesn't appear to be an option with Cutler, who simply cannot throw with anticipation which is the reason he didn't get along in former offensive coordinator Mike Martz's offense. It will be interesting to see if Roethlisberger can make the adjustment.

  • Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune explains how the Bears are likely to use wide receiver Earl Bennett.

This anonymous quote from Pro Football Weekly's Audibles section caught my attention:

“Everyone knows how good (Bill) Belichick is. John Harbaugh has come into Baltimore as a special-teams coach and done an outstanding job. We saw (Bears special-teams coach) Dave Toub get head-coaching consideration in Jacksonville last year. His special-teams units are one of the best in the league year after year. He’s a former strength coach like (Bears GM) Phil Emery. The Bears went into their pipeline to find the new GM. I’m not so sure the next head coach is not on staff already. You've got two coordinators (Mike Tice, Rod Marinelli) who have done it, but the one who hasn’t, I think, may be the most ready.”

There are a couple things that interest me here. 1) This personnel man assumes that Lovie Smith will be fired at the end of the year (meaning they aren't headed for very good things). 2) He's targeted Dave Toub to replace him. Toub is certainly deserving of a head coaching shot and would be a facinating candidate. But picking someone from the staff may not be enough of a change to satisfy most fans.


  • Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune profiles former Illinois kicker Derek Dimke , who is in Detriot's training camp:

“Dimke initially kept calling [current starter Jason] Hanson, who is 20 years his senior, “sir.” Hanson eventually told him to knock it off.”

“After a crunching collision between multiple Raiders and Kolb behind the line of scrimmage early in the second quarter, defensive lineman Tommy Kelly said as he made it to the sideline, 'That boy’s scared,' according to the Raiders TV broadcast being streamed through NFL.com’s Preseason Live package.”

  • Pompei thinks it might be interesting to keep an eye on former Bears safety Brandon Meriweather tonight:

“'I know in Chicago it was mainly two, three deep (coverage),' [Redskins coach Mike] Shanahan said. 'He is more of a safety like he was in New England, a box guy who plays a lot of different coverages. I’m not sure he’s a very good straight two deep or three deep player. But our scheme kind of fits what he does. And I like the time we’re getting him. Whatever happened in Chicago, he has to come in here and fit in. I’m hoping he keeps playing at this level.'”

Translation: “The Bears misused him.” I'm not sure I buy that, though. Meriweather's problems with Lovie Smith really had more to do with discipline on the field, I think.

  • Here's another thought provoking Audible:

“New England, I think, is going to dry up. The quarterback (Tom Brady) is on his way down and I don’t think he’s surrounded by the same amount of talent he was earlier in his career. The other one to me that is on the downswing is New Orleans. We’ll see if (Drew) Brees is worth everything they put into him. There are a lot of good teams out there. It was a different game last year with the lockout ­— and it favored teams like the Patriots and Saints.”

“It’s easier to know who to block when you are facing a four-man front, and that ultimately translates to better quarterback play. As an offensive guy — I can tell you — the 3-4 (front) is more difficult to play against. I think you see a lot more quarterbacks with the deer-in-headlights look when they’re dealing with ‘30’ fronts. It’s more difficult to decipher. Why do you think (Peyton) Manning has the hardest time with the Chargers? It helps if your secondary can be great window dressers, showing three deep and playing two, but there is no disguise as effective as surprising quarterbacks with the rush. … The trend moved toward the 3-4 a few years ago. Now it’s trending back toward the ‘40’ (front).”

“The White Fan Favorite

“This guy is usually a combination between The Late-Round Project and The Undrafted Superstar. Except he’s white. And he probably already has sold 5,000 jerseys. But it’s not so much a racial thing, it’s just that … I don’t know … a lot of fans identify with him somehow.

“It could be because chances are he’ll be just like them in a few weeks in that he also won’t be employed as an NFL football player.”

One Final Thought

TIm Tebow appears to developing chemistry with his favorite target in Jets camp. From The Onion:

“'As we get into camp, more and more often Tim has been throwing to the ground,' center Nick Mangold said. 'During plays, he just has this instinct for finding the ground every time. It’s becoming apparent to everyone on the team that the ground is Tim’s go-to target.'”


The Bears Could Afford to Be a Little Less Bland in the Preseason and Other Points of View


  • Here’s a good point made by cornerback Charles Tillman here. Via the Chicago Tribune:


“On what he will take away from playing a couple of series in this game
“‘My wind, tackling. Tackling is always a big deal the first game. Guys are sometimes overrunning the ball because it’s live [for the first time]. That’s the thing you want to work on right now, live tackling, because we’re missing a lot of tackles.’”


Tackling tends to be an overlooked skill for most of us.Until it all turns bad during the season and its to late to do anything about it. I can't recall a single media reference to how well the Bears tackled Thurday night, which is a good indicator of how they did. Now is the time to practice the fundamentals and get them down.


  • Good point here by Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune as well:


Nickel of time: D.J. Moore seemed rather bold the other day when he said no one could challenge him for his spot at nickel back. Moore went out and backed up his words immediately Thursday night.”


Moore tipped the ball that was intercepted by Major Wright Thursday night.



2. Why are NFL teams so afraid to show 'too much too soon'? How good is a game plan, a scheme or a play if the element of surprise is so critical to its success? Is it that hard to devise enough plays and wrinkles that opponents won't know what to expect?”


I know they want to keep things conservative in terms of play calling. But come on. How can you evaluate players if you don't let them play?


You don't have to call a bunch of fancy blitzes but would a few deep passes and some press coverage have really hurt all that much?



“McClellin will fit in well because he gives the defense something it didn't have. He will get steamrolled at times like he did Thursday, but he will put a lot of offensive players on the ground and disrupt a lot of plays.”


The offensive linemen that McClellin saw in the first half did, indeed, steam roll him any time there was a run to his side. For those looking for more encouraging signs, however, McClellin showed promise as a pass rusher and to my eye he played the run much better in the second half.



“‘He’s a left end, not a right end,’ the scout said of McClellin. ‘To me, he is really truly a better fit as a 3-4 sam (strong-side) linebacker. You’re never going to see him be special off the edge. He’ll be a pain in your ass and he’s strong but that’s my opinion.’

“Too many people have wondered about the possibility McClellin could one day move to middle linebacker, so I bounced that scenario off the scout. He scoffed at the notion, pointing out the athleticism of Brian Urlacher far exceeds McClellin.

“‘If you’re talking inside, I could see him as a two-down inside linebacker in a 3-4,’ the scout said. ‘But in a 4-3 defense? No, that is not the answer for this kid. The Bears will play him at end and he’s going to be a high-motor player for them.’”


  • The scout also commented on other aspects of the game. Here is a cross-section:


Alshon Jeffery is not agile enough to beat press coverage at the line of scrimmage and ‘needs to develop into one of those Keyshawn Johnson-type guys that is physical.’”

“The fourth quarterback (Matt Blanchard) didn’t look too bad until he started looking at receivers instead of reading coverage.”

“The tight end (Kellen Davis) is just Average Joe and the guys behind him are really Average Joes.”



‘‘’Matt has that knack,’ said Mike DiMatteo, his coach at Lake Zurich from 2003-05, ‘it’s something you can’t put your finger on. But he’s one of those guys with that knack [for winning]. He’s absolutely fearless. He’s not afraid of a challenge. And he’s a tough kid. It’s pretty ­impressive.’’’

‘‘’To walk into a stadium [Thursday night] that was holding more people than he’s ­probably ever been in front of in his life,’’ [Bears general manager Phil] Emery said, ‘to throw that long ball and be accurate in the short area and to carry himself with poise under duress in a very charged environment says everything about him.’’’



“The Bears re-signed Tim Jennings this offseason before going to the free-agent well to add competition for him at left corner. Early signals from training camp indicate that Jennings still has a fairly secure lead in the position battle, though. Former Colt and Falcon Kelvin Hayden, the top competitor for Jennings' job, has not stood out as much as Jennings in practice, we hear, and Hayden is the third corner on the depth chart at this point.”


  • A few other observations of my own that havne’t been emphasized elsewhere and weren’t worth a separate post.


  1. Other than Israel Idonije, the defensive linemen were thoroughly handled by the Bronco’s starting offensive line in the absence of Julius Peppers. I thought things got better once the backups got in.
  2. Gabe Carimi looked a step slow. It could just have been rust but it did make me wonder if his knee is still bothering him.
  3. The Bears receivers struggled to get separation from press coverage but I thought Josh McCown looked sharp most of the time. His balls were on time and exactly where they needed to be. I agree with the scout quoted above on Blanchard.
  4. It's just a preseason game but if I’m a Bronco fan, I’m mildly perturbed by all of those penalties. They’ll need to clean that up.




  • Darin Gantt at profootballtalk.com highlights the problems Cardinals’ quarterback Kevin Kolb is having. I’m going to be interested in seeing how things go with Seattle quarterback Matt Flynn, another highly touted backup who headed for better things with another team. At least Flynn got some good coaching in Green Bay before he left.
  • Chris Mortenson at ESPN reports that Cedric Benson is close to signing with Green Bay.


There’s no mystery as to why Benson has had a tough time finding a team. He runs really hard but he not only isn’t a good receiver out of the backfield, he doesn’t even try. And he’s not a good blocker.


No one asked him to do any of that when he was at Texas. Now that he’s with the big boys he can’t find anyone who isn’t asking him to do it.


Frankly, as desperate as they are for help at running back, I’m surprised Green Bay is interested. My first thought was that this rumor was actually planted by the agent just to generate some interest.



“We hear it’s still unclear how a fullback will be used in the Patriots’ offense, but it did seem to be one of the team’s focal points this offseason after adding Spencer Larsen and Tony Fiammetta. The Pats placed Fiammetta on the exempt-left squad list, leaving Larsen as the one to make the team as a No. 1 fullback. Josh McDaniels had Heath Evans as a fullback in New England during his first stint as the team’s offensive coordinator, and Larsen was with him in Denver. The Pats have used extra linemen and versatile players in the past as lead blockers, but getting more efficiency from that spot with a prototypical fullback like Larsen is still an option — late last season New England brought FB Lousaka Polite aboard.”



“Johnson and his wife went to a restaurant for dinner. They returned home and she found a receipt for a box of condoms, [Davie Police Department Capt. Dale] Engle said.

An argument ensued, Engle said.

“’It gets pretty heated,’ Engle said. ‘By the time they get home here in Davie it's pretty heated. She alleges he leaned over and head butted her. He says she leaned towards him and that they butted heads. Needless to say she has a good laceration on her forehead.’”



One Final Thought

The toughest teachers I’ve ever had were the ones I learned the most from and often (though not always) were the ones I ended up liking the best. So I thought this quote from former Bear defensive end Alex Brown was of interest. Via Biggs:

“[Former defensive coordinator Greg] Blache let you know what your job was and when you didn’t do your job, he let you know. I am saying it in the nicest way possible, OK? He said it in a pretty mean way. As a grown man, you didn’t think you’d be talked to like that, you know? He was different and I wouldn’t change it for anything because it made me tougher as a person. As a player, it gave me that thick skin that I needed to play in the NFL. I enjoyed it. I loved him. I really, really appreciate him. It was great.”


The Bears Offensive Line Will Be Fine. Until You Really Need Them.

Philosopher Georg Hegel is commonly quoted as saying, “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”  If ever there was a perfect example, its the 2012 Chicago Bears.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune addresses the fact that offensive coordinator Mike Tice left tackle J’Marcus Webb out on the field into the fourth quarter Thursday night:

“You didn’t need telepathy to read the mind of offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who has been among Webb’s biggest supporters. It was a clear message that was delivered to Webb: You have not been good enough.”

Biggs is undoubtedly right.  There isn’t a single doubt in my mind that Tice left Webb out there not so much to embarrass him but because he genuinely felt he needed the work.  But its also not beyond him to send messages to players through action.  Biggs relates a story from when Tice was with the Vikings.

“In 2005, he pulled a fan off the sideline at Vikings training camp and had him fill in at guard during a non-contact drill without helmets. He was sending a message to his players.”

Biggs continues:

“Tice said earlier this week from training camp at Olivet Nazarene in Bourbonnais that no one had claimed the left tackle job and run away with it. Webb has it virtually by default, even though it looked like it was designed that way ever since the Bears chose to draft a speed rusher and big wide receiver in the first two rounds last April instead of seeking a tackle.”

I mildly disagree.  The Bears didn’t choose a big wide receiver or a speed rusher over a tackle because there were no starting left tackles available when they made those picks (arguably).  However, the best guard to come out in the draft in the last ten years was there for the taking.  And that brings us to Chris Spencer.  Who also didn’t play well and, according to the Tribune’s Dan Pompei, could easily lose some snaps to Chilo Rachal or even Edwin Williams, who has done nothing but impress every time he’s had an opportunity to play.

And then there’s right tackle Gabe Carimi who also didn’t play well to my eye Thursday.  Carimi looked a step slow against Elvis Dumerville and made me wonder if his knee is still bothering him.

However, getting back to Webb, Biggs puts the situation in perspective:

“There are no other options. If the Bears thought [swing tackle Chris] Williams was a solution, they never would have pulled him off the left side. Undrafted free agent James Brown is intriguing but not as a left tackle in 2012. Starters don’t suddenly appear on the waiver wire in late August. Webb is the guy, and the Bears knew that almost certainly would be the case back in the spring.”

So despite the “message” being sent by Tice, the question isn’t, “Is Webb good enough to keep his job?”  There’s no one else to take it.  The real question is, “Will Webb be good enough to do a decent job during the season?”  The same question could be extended to the entire offensive line.  And the answer is, “Sometimes.”

Most people don’t remember that the Bears had a pretty rough start to the preseason last year, first performing poorly against Buffalo before being humiliated by the New York Giants.  As they will this year, they recovered to be decent – most of the time.

But “most of the time” isn’t when you really find out what an offensive unit is made of.  Last year, the Bears line had their embarrassing performances at more exceptional times.  Like when they found themselves in a dome where they couldn’t hear the snap count or when the other team knew they had to pass.  It’s at these times that you find out how much talent you really have on the offensive line.  And history tells us the Bears don’t have much.

Unfortunately its also these times that define a team and a season.  First and ten at your own twenty with two minutes left and you are 6 points behind.  Its a passing situation and you can’t leave potential receivers in to help block a four man rush at that point.

The Bears have two dome teams in their division that they absolutely must beat on the road.  Everyone remember what happened in Minnesota last year when Webb became an orange traffic cone and the Bears had to triple team Jared Allen to stop him?  Remember what happened to the line in Detroit?  That’s what we’re headed for this again this year.

If there’s any single reason to believe, as I do, that the Bears will finish third behind Detroit and Green Bay this year, all you need to do is look at the offensive line.  Because history tells us that they’ll be just good enough to let you down when you need them.

Preseason Games Are about “Toughness of Mind” and Other Points of View


  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli on the value of tonight’s preseason opener:

“’I love practice, but you look at this to get all the things you’re teaching and to see if the habits are starting to become developed,’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. ‘You find out about conditioning and you find out the toughness of mind. Some of these guys can crack and some won’t crack; they’ll just keep playing. Sometimes you look for that — that toughness of mind.’”

“Keep an eye on the tight end in [offensive coordinator] Mike Tice‘s offense. The Bears have shown a lot of Ace personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, one back) in camp and that leads to options in the passing game. With the tight ends involved, you can create some matchups in the middle of the field, use boot action and target soft spots in zone coverage.”

This is true but only if you show that you can run the ball with the double tight end.  If not, they’ll treat the smaller tight end like a wide receiver and play nickel.  Unless the tight end is very good, he’ll lose that match up.  It might not be evident tonight as teams put individual players in difficult positions just to see what they can do.  But eventually its going to be a factor.

‘‘’I thought one guy would separate himself and jump out there, but that didn’t really happen,’ Tice said after Monday’s practice.”

This was never a legitimate competition anyway.  I’m guessing Chris Williams lost this job the minute Webb showed up to camp in shape.  Biggs at the Chicago Tribune appears to agree:

“Tice and [head coach Lovie] Smith both professed faith in Webb during the offseason. Webb is more of a prototypical left tackle but he was far too inconsistent in 2011 to enter camp as the unquestioned starter. Williams’ presence, in the final year of his contract, should push him.

“If the Bears didn’t pull Webb from the position last season, why are they going to replace him now?”

Williams had only one practice with the starters at left tackle before the decision was made.  Tice has way too much pride in his pet project to give up so easily.  Webb is going to be in there until he loses his mind one too many times and Cutler gets hurt again.

“Clearly, Tice was sending a message to Webb. It looked like he sent one to Williams, too, when Williams was removed from the order he had been working in practice after an exchange with Tice. Tice declined to comment after practice.”

“At least one NFL team is curious if the Bears will part ways with Williams before the season begins based on an inquiry from a personnel man.”

“The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Louis, who played basketball in high school and lined up at tight end in college, is accustomed to walking on his toes. But to master the craft successfully, he knows he has to get used to playing with his feet on the ground.

“To compensate, Louis has made a conscious effort to modify his everyday steps during training camp at Olivet Nazarene University.

“’I try to walk more flat-footed now,’ he said. ‘Offensive linemen play with flat feet, so I have to work on it really hard.’”

  • Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times gets Bears backup quarterback Jason Campbell to open up about the Raiders trade for Carson Palmer last season after his collar bone injury:

“‘It was hard to swallow,’ Campbell said. ‘After the whole trade, [Raiders head coach Hu Jackson] told me, ‘I just want to win, and I want to win now.’

“I was like, ‘Dang. In this game, there’s really no patience.’”

“Tice has removed all seven-step drops from the passing game. Everything the Bears do now will be on three-and five-step timing. That means Cutler will have to improve his diagnostic skills, in the pocket and especially at the line of scrimmage. An underrated athlete blessed with arguably the league’s strongest arm, Cutler, though no dummy, has never had to rely heavily on his mental aptitude. Martz’s system may have been complex, but because it was so rigid and rule-oriented, Cutler didn’t always have to be much of a decision maker. (He didn’t even have the power to change protections, let alone call an audible.) Martz was more concerned about Cutler’s mechanics (which have improved but can still be too inconsistent from play to play).

“Tice will undoubtedly ask his quarterback to be more a thinker and less of a reactor, though he won’t try to make Cutler become Peyton Manning. To highlight Cutler’s strengths, Tice will incorporate more moving pockets (bootlegs, rollouts, etc.) into the passing game.”

“Marshall isn’t the only risky new receiver. There are many who believe the rookie possession target Alshon Jeffery will be too lazy and moody to live up to his second-round billing. If he is, the Bears could be in a bit of trouble because the reliable veteran Earl Bennett is not as effective outside as he is in the slot and the intriguing second-year man Dane Sanzenbacher lacks the size to play on the perimeter, at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.”

“‘He’s a great back,’ [Michael] Bush said.

“Added [Matt] Forte, ‘He’s very easy to get along with.

“‘At the end of the day, we’re kind of the same. We never get too high or way too low. In the end, it’s going to work out pretty good for everyone.’”

“I was excited we got Michael Bush this year. He is a physical runner and has a burst outside too. Do you envision plays where both Matt Forte and Bush are in the backfield at same time? Justin C., Woodsboro, Md.

“It may be something that Mike Tice tinkers with from time to time as a changeup, but I would not foresee a steady diet of it. If you are trying to run the ball with both Forte and Bush in the backfield, you can get a better blocker on the field than either Forte or Bush, whoever is not carrying the ball. If you are trying to throw the ball with Forte and Bush in the backfield, you can get a better route runner on the field than one of those players. Although it often seems like an enticing idea, there are reasons you don’t see too many teams using two halfbacks together. It just doesn’t work very well. The new trend is for teams to use multiple tight ends together. That does work very well, and I would expect for the Bears to go that route quite a bit.”

  • McClure quotes running backs coach Tim Spencer after a fumble by Forte in practice:

“‘He kind of got a little thumb injury, and I’m not trying to make any excuses for him, but it did kind of hit him on his thumb,’ Spencer said.”

May be something to keep an eye on.

“Harvey Unga said after Friday’s practice he is trying to get accustomed to playing the H-back role and performing some of the duties of a tight end. The Bears selected Unga in the supplemental draft to play running back.”

Dom DeCicco got his share of reps in the middle during the offseason as Urlacher rested, but such hasn’t been the case for DeCicco during camp.”

  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has an interesting thought about how to handle the apparent problems Brian Urlacher is still having with his knee:

“So, back to the top: It only matters if Urlacher misses a real game, but the question will be whether he can make a second game. That seems to be the subtext here: The Bears have a lot of time to let Urlacher rest before the season opener, which remains a month away, but what about the second game?


“And it’s not just any second game, either. It’s a second game just four days later and it’s in Green Bay.


“If Smith’s suspicious and unsatisfying answers indicate Urlacher’s questionable readiness to play a full season, then the Bears ought to act like the Packers game is his season opener. “


“Tell Urlacher to skip the opener against the Indianapolis roadkill and get ready for the more important game four days later in Green Bay.”

  • Marinelli says Shea McClellin is pressing. From Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune:

“Marinelli says he is trying to unclog McClellin’s mind so he doesn’t think too much.

“’It’s the words I choose,’ Marinelli said. ‘I keep talking about, ‘Make sure you’re getting off the ball, I’ll clean you up.’ So as long as he keeps coming off the ball then we can clean this up. He’s kind of thinking, ‘Am I going to get punched this way.’ We have to create on the go.’”

“McClellin had been struggling in one-on-one pass rush drills but in live drills with the reserves at the end, he blew past starting left tackle J’Marcus Webb.”

Sounds like a routine play that most of the league could make to me.

“Paea making a move?

“Second-year defensive tackle Stephen Paea continues to make progress, according to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

‘‘’He’s coming,’ Marinelli said. ‘I’m very pleased with all of his work — at the nose, the [three-technique] and the nickel. He shows tremendous skill. Great pad level. He’s healthy. When he’s out there, you can feel him.’”

Paea probably is the defensive tackle to keep an eye on this year.  Much has been made about the progress of Henry Melton but I’ve seen nothing from him that makes me think we didn’t think we saw him top off last year.  Something tells me if anyone is going to step up this year, its going to be Paea.

  • Former defensive end Alex Brown will retire as a Bear.  Via Biggs.
  • This is the kind of thing that could spell trouble for D.J Moore.  From McClure:

“Veteran Kelvin Hayden, who entered camp healthy and competing with Tim Jennings at left cornerback, slid over to nickel back for the first time during practice Thursday at Olivet Nazarene University.”

Moore doesn’t seem worried:

“Ain’t no challenge to me at the nickel position,” Moore said. “Shoot, if this is not my position, it don’t really make sense.”

Now those are the words of a man who may be headed for a fall if I ever heard them.  By all accounts Hayden has been playing well and he may be the third best corner in camp.  Ahead of Moore.

  • I thought this excerpt from a Biggs article was interesting:

“The Bears are working on Hester improving catching short punts that sometimes take long rolls and back the offense up.

“‘Teams were trying to kick the rugby kick short and have it hit the ground where there was a chance it would hit us or roll,’ [special teams coordinator Dave] Toub said. ‘We want him to go up and fair catch those balls. Fair catch it. We’ll get out of your way, but catch it.'”

“‘I think it’d be nice if all the players could go up under one [lawsuit] and represent all the players,’ Dent said recently. ‘Obviously, everybody wants to make some money off that, just like everybody wants to make money off our Super Bowl team.

“‘Everybody wants their little piece of the pie. But I just haven’t figured out what.’”


“Yes, the Packer defense took a step back. After ranking fifth (in yards allowed) en route to a Super Bowl title in 2010, it ranked 32nd in 2011. Opponents averaged a league-high 299.8 yards per game throwing against Dom Capers’s unit. This data is a bit misleading, though, as the potency of Green Bay’s offense led to a lot of garbage time or shootout games. Yes, Green Bay’s defense must bounce back this season, but it doesn’t have as far to bounce as you’d think. If it did, the Packers would not have gone 15-1(!).”

“How is James Starks looking in Packers camp so far? @splurge76, from Twitter

“He didn’t do much when I saw him, but I know Packers coaches have not been doing handstands about his performance. I asked Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Clements about Starks, and this is what he said. ‘Early on he was a little tentative. He’s getting better. He is the kind of guy who needs reps. The more times he has to carry the ball the better he gets. He has a lot of ability. He runs hard.’  The running game is an issue in Green Bay.”

  • Center Jeff Saturday said the Packers’ offense is completely different from the offense he was a key part of in Indianapolis.  Via Pompei:

“The offense we had there is dead,” he said. “I don’t think anybody runs it. So there isn’t a ton of carryover. But I like this offense.”

  • The eldest son of Eagles head coach Andy Reid has been found dead at the Eagles training camp facility.  Via Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com.
  • Pompei points out that former Bear Caleb Hanie’s back up job in Denver is by no means secure:

“Hanie is competing for a job with the Broncos.  He opened up camp as the clear No. 2 quarterback, but all three Broncos backups have been alternating as the No. 2 in recent practices.  Some believe second-round rookie Brock Osweiler has emerged as the favorite to be Manning’s primary backup.

“‘It’s kind of like we have a 2A, 2B, and 2C right now,’ Broncos coach John Fox said. ‘Caleb has probably had the most experience of the three, but Adam Weber with us all last year. Brock got in early, and got a lot of good reps during OTAs.’”

When you are being mentioned in the same breath with “Adam Weber”, that can’t be good.

One Final Thought

I’m really fascinated by the fact that the writers at the Sun-Times seem to be absolutely convinced that Shea McClellin is going to be a linebacker.  For instance, we have this from Potash in a story about Brian Urlacher’s knee injury:

“Rookie defensive end Shea McClellin fits the Urlacher mold better than anybody on the team. He’ll probably find his way there by mistake, just as Urlacher did.”

I tend to believe the team when they say that McClellin is a defensive end.  but I’m going to be really interested to see if these writers turn out to be right.

What Staley Should Have Been and Other Points of View


  • Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune asked 5 personnel men to evaluate the NFC North by position.  The Packers were voted to have the best head coach in Mike McCarthy.  But the scouts had some interesting things to say about Bears head coach Lovie Smith:

“Every ballot was the same except one, in which a personnel assistant ranked the Bears first, ahead of the Packers.

“His justification?

“’Lovie Smith has had to deal with quarterback issues, job speculation and inconsistencies that Mike McCarthy has not,’ he said.

“Another front office man voted the Bears staff second but said, ‘Lovie does a nice job. He is steady and that is a team that is well coached, well prepared and ready to play.’”

  • Michael Bush on his new role with the Bears.  Via Pompei and Brad Biggs:

“Asked if he dislikes that role, he said, ‘No one likes to be a battering ram. It just happens that way.’”

  • Also via Pompei and Biggs, Dave Toub is confident that D.J. Moore can take the departed Corey Graham’s place as gunner on the punt team:

“’We are going to hope to depend on him,’ Toub said.”

  • It’s early but this nugget from same article could be significant:

“Tight end Kyle Adams had a place on first-team kickoff return, a good sign for second-year player from Purdue.”

  • Starting cornerback Tim Jennings has a fight on his hands for his starting cornerback position. From Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“[Kelvin Hayden] was the one DB that stepped up (Sunday), locking down Brandon Marshall so tightly on one rep that Jay Cutler didn’t even throw the football. When Marshall’s turn came around, he yelled for Hayden to get back out there and cover him, even though it wasn’t Hayden’s turn. Unfortunately, the horn ended the drill before Round 2 could take place.”

On the other hand we have this from Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune after Tuesday’s practice:

“’Each day we see a few guys who step up and make a few more plays,’ Lovie Smith said. ‘Like what Tim Jennings was able to do today (and) Charles Tillman. Both of our corners were able to get a pick. There are good football players on the other side, so it’s a challenge for them every day.’’”

So sounds like some good things are happening there.

  • McClure highlights a trend that I also noticed this year in the draft as he talks to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli about new safety Brandon Hardin:

“Hardin already has quite an adjustment to conquer. He played cornerback in high school and in college at Oregon State. The guy in front of him, [Chris] Conte, made the same transition last season and drew rave reviews.

“Marinelli explained the philosophy behind drafting corners to play safety.

“’It’s athleticism,’ he said. ‘People are spreading the field on you more, opening the field up. That day of the guy wearing the big neck roll and coming down tackling is not there. You need athleticism.’”


“If anyone unexpected stood out in pass-rush drills, it was defensive end Corey Wootton, whose standing on the team is jeopardized by McClellin’s arrival and two previous years of minimal production. Wootton looked quick and confident on the edge.”

That’s fine but I think we’d all like to see it the games at some point.

“’The speed of the game tells me I’m in the NFL,’ Jeffery said. ‘It’s a lot more faster.’”

Its training camp and the preseason.  Jeffery ain’t seen nothin’, yet.

“He’s difficult to cover in one-one-one situations because he’s so active with his hands, and he still can run past cornerbacks to get deep.”

On the other hand we had this:

“Fellow rookie Alshon Jeffery looked OK but was absolutely stymied at the line of scrimmage by cornerback Kelvin Hayden on one play. Hayden is big, physical and understands the elements of the Cover-2 scheme.”

Like most rookie wide receivers, Jeffery obviously has a long way to go.  But the’s big and he should eventually do better against veterans like Hayden.  Teams that have played aggressive man coverage on the Bears have given them a very hard time. Hopefully the acquisitions of Marshall and Jeffery are the first step towards changing that.

“As for the overall line, I think it can be efficient enough. It’s not going to be a great offensive line, but the days of great offensive lines may be over. If you look around the league, there are not many impressive offensive lines. Most of them have question marks like the Bears do. It is a reality of the NFL in this day and age.”

Outside the division the Bears play five of the eight worst returning offenses, including the bottom three: Colts (30), Rams (31) and Jaguars (32) — all in the first five games. The defense has a chance to establish itself early and hit that top-10 standing that has been so crucial in Smith’s tenure.”


“Later, during the 11-on-11 team period, Tebow received a few more jeers. On one play when he held onto the ball for too long, a couple fans called for him to ‘Throw it, Tebow!’ Later, on a shaky incompletion, they called out, ‘Tebow, come on!’ and ‘That’s a Tebow ball!’”

Rex Ryan knows that when you are a defensive coach and you are inside the 5 or 10, you don’t account for the quarterback. When Tim Tebow is on the field, now you have to account for the quarterback. It’s much more difficult to get away running cover zero (man) and pinching the ends. With Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Michael Vick or Robert Griffin, you have to account for the quarterback ­— so it takes one less player away from stopping the run. The other thing Tebow brings — as a defensive coordinator, even if it’s only five or seven plays, every team will now have to spend X amount of time preparing for a package with Tebow. If you don’t, he can make you pay. And even if you do, he might still catch you off guard. He can be a weapon.”

“Watching Danieal Manning in Houston (last year), he has great instincts. He’s a smart player. He just kept moving positions in Chicago. It was a question of development — not instincts. He is very talented.”

 “The Lions announced that Schwartz had signed a “multiyear” extension June 29. Schwartz has been steadfast in his refusal to speak about his contract status and remained tight-lipped in his first public comments about his contract.

“Early in his 35-minute news conference, Schwartz and reporters engaged in verbal jousting.

“Reporter: ‘Why won’t you reveal the length of it?’
“Schwartz: ‘It’s my choice.’
“Reporter: ‘But why?’
“Schwartz: ‘It’s personal to me. Do you make your contract terms public?’
“Reporter: ‘I don’t have a contract.’
“Schwartz: ‘You choose to reveal that.’
“Reporter: ‘I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.’
“Schwartz: ‘I don’t play that game.’”

Here’s a prediction:  Detroit will be shocked when [insert name of latest troubled Lion player here] is in hot water with the league for being uncooperative with the press.

  • Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com notes a reported incident in which Schwartz laid into receiver Ryan Broyles for getting in line for a drill without buckling his chin strap:

“Schwartz, who said last year that he didn’t appreciate it when he heard an obscenity when attempting to shake the hand of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, brushed off his own obscenities toward Broyles.

“‘I barked at a lot of people,’ Schwartz said.”

  • Speaking of bad head coaches, Andy Benoit at The New York Times pulls no punches on Andy Reid as he previews the 2012 Eagles:

“The real reason the Eagles underachieved was they never figured out how to properly piece their tremendous individual parts into a fine-turned machine. It had nothing to do with “attitude” or “focus” or “desire.” It had everything to do with strategy and execution. The offense relied too much on big plays and did not always feature enough of LeSean McCoy, even though he had become arguably the best all-around running back in the N.F.C. The defense was stale and ill-conceived, featuring the now infamous wide-nine front looks that worked perfectly to highlight Philly’s weaknesses at linebacker. The star-studded secondary was incongruent, thanks to youth at safety and miscast players at cornerback (Nnamdi Asomugha in the slot!?). These are the things that lead to losing five games just on blown fourth-quarter leads alone.”

“If all this sounds like a description of bad coaching, well…it is.”

  • ESPN’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert says that the Packers are emphasizing tackling in their camp.  They should.  From what I say it was 85% of their problem on defense last year.  If they can just reduce their missed tackles they’ll be consideerably better.
  • Forty-niners owner Jed York gets it. From Sam Farmer at the Los Angeles Times:

“What are some of the high-tech features [of the planned stadium]?

“Some stadiums focus all their money on the scoreboards. That’s a hardware solution. You can only show certain things on a scoreboard. There’s only one screen, or two, three or four. If you have a tablet or some kind of smartphone device, it will be, what do you want to learn? You might like the offensive-line battle. And it’s hard for you to see that, and that’s not something that’s going to be on the scoreboard. But you might want to watch Justin Smith maul an offensive guard and figure out, what’s he doing? So to have a Justin Smith-cam that you’re going to be able to watch on your tablet, those types of things are going to allow you to connect to the game in ways that you want to connect to the game.

“A lot of people would rather watch games on TV than pay to see them live. And what about the fans who have fantasy teams and want to watch all the Sunday games?

“One idea is to put the Red Zone Channel on the scoreboard for the early games and let people in the stadium. One of the things we’ve talked about is opening concessions before the game at reduced prices. When you look at the food and beverage consumed on a Sunday at a football game, 50% is consumed in the parking lot before people actually come in. So why not open that up and have sort of a tailgate atmosphere inside the stadium and watch games?”

One Final Thought

The Onion thinks Matt Forte’s long-term contract with the Bears will be “career-ending”:

“’It’s such a shame to see such a promising young talent fall victim to a multi-year deal with the Bears,’ said ESPN’s John Clayton, adding that he had to look away when Forte announced the painful signing. ‘We’ve unfortunately seen this fate befall so many players through the years and while some of them try to recover, after a few years spent battling with a Bears contract, nobody is ever the same.’”