- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune gives his thoughts in retrospect on the demise of former general manager Jerry Angelo:
“[Tribune columnist David] Haugh argued that Angelo was done in by the lousy performance of backup quarterback Caleb Hanie, who was 0-4 in Cutler’s absence before he was relieved by Josh McCown. He submits that someone had to pay for the failures of Hanie when the Bears stumbled to an 8-8 finish and Angelo was chosen to be that guy over Lovie Smith. It’s a compelling argument.
I believe Angelo’s demise was draft-related. Team president Ted Phillips said, when he announced the move, that there was a talent deficiency on the roster and the gap needed to be closed with division rivals Green Bay and Detroit.”
“That being said, Angelo’s fingerprints are all over this roster and many of the moves he made are still helping the team and will for seasons to come.”
This is all true but it neglects what I think was another major reason – perhaps the major reason – for Angelo’s departure. He was probably the worst general manager in the NFL when it came to administration. It all culminated in the personal embarrassment suffered by ownership over the failed trade with Baltimore in the 2011 NFL draft where Angelo stupidly told two people to do the same job and neither did it thinking the other one did.
There’s a reason why Bears president Philips is now unofficially taking on more of an hands on administrative role with the club. Bears ownership doesn’t want any more personal calls from fellow owners like the Raven’s Steve Biscotti asking them what they think they’re doing.
- I was personally glad to read from Biggs that former center Olin Kreutz was at the last game. I always wondered if Kreutz might not make a good coach and I’m glad to see there isn’t an apparent rift with the organization that might prevent him from coming.
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune notes in his film review that both Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett blocked well down field. Every good fundamental football team I’ve ever seen had this underrated characteristic.
“Cutler and Brandon Marshall completely outdueled Matthew Stafford and [Lions wide receiver Calvin] Johnson. Marshall finished with six receptions for 81 yards and a 7-yard touchdown reception to cap the game’s opening drive. Cutler completed 16 of 31 passes for 150 yards and was sacked five times but did not turn the ball over.”
You could argue that the difference in this game was Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. He shadowed Johnson all over the field. On the other hand the Lions already poor secondary was depleted and they had no one to cover Marshall.
- In a similar vein, I thought Haugh highlighted a good point I hadn’t really picked up:
“Not only did the Bears have cornerback Charles Tillman shadow Johnson with Pro Bowl persistence, but Smith tweaked his nickel personnel by adding a package in which Kelvin Hayden replaced D.J. Moore.
The rationale: In certain offensive formations, the Lions lined up Johnson in the slot — a mismatch for Moore. Instead of having Moore play cornerback, where his smallish size invited mismatch opportunities, the Bears used the 6-foot, 195-pound Hayden on the perimeter against the Lions’ smaller receivers.
“‘The different packages made (Stafford) kind of confused, kind of rattled,’ cornerback Tim Jennings said. “We wanted to mix it up.'”
- Pompei answers your questions:
“Why couldn’t the Bears get some type of return of a low draft pick for Chris Williams considering the shortage of quality linemen to even be backups? If he was not valuable enough to bring a draft choice then there may be others out there who may be an option for the Bears? It needs to be one way or the other. — Ross Scanio, Wheaton
“It’s hard to find a trade partner for a backup offensive lineman who is under contract only through the end of the year. If Williams had another year on his deal, my bet is the Bears would have been able to trade him for a late round draft pick. There clearly was interest in him, judging by the fact that he visited multiple teams and signed with the Rams for more than the NFL minimum. If the Bears thought there was an offensive tackle available better than Williams or Jonathan Scott, who is the player who replaced Williams, they would have signed him.
“Dan, I recall reading that if the Bears let Chris Williams walk after the end of the season they would be rewarded a compensatory selection. Is that correct? Is it worth losing a draft pick by releasing Williams now? — Tim L, San Antonio, Texas
“It is possible that if the Bears retained Williams until the end of the season and then he signed with another team, the Bears would have been awarded a compensatory selection in the 2014 draft, not the 2013 draft. Compensatory selections are determined by a complicated formula that encompasses not only the player or players lost, but also the players the team signs who were unrestricted free agents. Best case scenario is the Bears would have received a 2014 sixth round pick for Williams. More likely is it would have been a seventh rounder, but they might not have been awarded anything if they sign some premium free agents. Given the chance for a compensatory pick and the fact that Williams can play four positions on the line, I thought it would have made more sense to release another player.”
- Another popular question for Pompei:
“Has the ghost of Frank Omiyale somehow seeped into Gabe Carimi‘s body? This is two weeks in a row with multiple penalties and sub-par play. If it happens again against Carolina, he has to be replaced by Jonathan Scott, right? — Bob Van Horne, Waco, Texas
Carimi is not going to be replaced anytime soon. Nor should he be. Remember, he was a first-round draft pick that this coaching staff has invested in. He’s going to be on a much longer leash than, say, Chris Spencer was. He also is one of the most talented linemen on the team. But he is basically still a rookie. We should expect some inconsistencies while he learns and grows. He has shown some good things too. Carimi does have to pick it up though.”
Its worth adding that I don’t think Carimi’s knee is completely heeled. His problems aren’t of a recent nature. He hasn’t looked right all year. Basically, I think he’s being left alone at right tackle in part because the team knows they are developing him to be a healthy, experienced lineman with experience next year.
- Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has a plan for Sunday:
- The NFL QBs are going at it on Facebook again. This time its Cutler and Stafford. From ProFootballMock.com
- Pompei on what’s been the problem with [Carolina quarterback Cam] Newton this season:
“One pro scouting director said from a coverage perspective, opponents have focused on taking away receiver Steve Smith, who has yet to score a touchdown. They are pressing Smith at the line, rolling coverage toward him and forcing Newton to go through his progressions.
“This is a defensive advantage in two ways. Other than tight end Greg Olsen, the Panthers don’t have any receiving options about whom defenses are very concerned. And Newton has not developed the patience and vision to find alternative targets consistently when Smith is covered.”
“Defensive fronts have adjusted to Newton’s sometimes spectacular running ability too.
“Scouts say defensive coordinators are having linemen two-gapping more and they are not trying to get upfield as much. They also are sometimes assigning a linebacker to “spy” Newton.
“Defensive coordinators aren’t trying to force him into making a mistake as much as they are encouraging him to run into the teeth of a disciplined, well populated and prepared front.”
Just one quick note on this. There’s been a lot of talk about who Cam Newton should be compared to lately because former NFL quarterback Warren Moon thinks Newton is too often being compared to black quarterbacks. Too bad because I’m going to do it anyway.
Last year when the Bears played the Panthers it wasn’t Newton’s mobility and athleticism that surprised me. It was his size and strength. Defensive linemen were hitting him in the pocket and literally bouncing off. The last guy I got to see play on a regular basis who could do that was Dante Culpepper. He was built like a linebacker and extremely tough to bring down. Here’s hoping the Bears do a better job on Newton this time around.
- Bears head coach Lovie Smith implies that cornerback Tim Jennings will have the primary coverage duties against Steve Smith. From Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times
“Last year in the Bears’ wild 34-29 victory, that plan included having Jennings, while often not in strictly man-to-man coverage, lining up frequently over Smith. While not exactly divulging what he and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli have in the works for Sunday, Smith did say, ‘It should be a lot of fun watching them.'”
“‘We kind of mix up a whole lot of coverages,’ Jennings said. ‘It’s not so matching one-on-ones or anything like that. It’s we want to give him different looks.
“’You’ve got to be able to compete with him, just kind of slow him down at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the timing between him and the quarterback.'”
Its fairly obvious to me, especially in light of the comments from Pompei’s article above this one, that the Bears are going to concentrate hard on Smith this time around. As well they should. This is what I said last year immediately after the game and I still think I was right:
“For some reason I don’t understand the Bears were giving Steve Smith no apparent extra attention. Its fairly obvious that Cam Newton depends heavily on him. I had flash backs to Wes Welker last year.”
I’d better not have that “Welker feeling” again or its going to have been a long afternoon for the Bears.
In any case it will, indeed, be a lot of fun to watch.
- Carolina receiver Steve Smith on tight end Greg Olsen’s son having a congenital heart disease. From Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune:
“‘It’s such a tough deal, but I also believe God doesn’t give anybody more than they can handle,’ Smith said. ‘What makes a person isn’t necessarily what he’s made of or what he goes through. It’s also the people around him.
“‘As teammates, what we try to do is help him in whatever shape or form. I can’t imagine going through some of the things that he’s going through and then going through them alone.'”
- The Dolphins and the Jets renew their annual soap opera this week. Benjamin Hoffman at The New York Times puts it in perspective:
“The Dolphins and the Jets have engaged in one of those adorable rivalries where they fight like school children, unaware that their squabbles are seen as largely irrelevant by others around them.”
- The Redskins Chris Cooley thinks he’s a rock star with all these contract demands. Via Darin Gantt at profootballtalk.com
- Hey, some new products have made it just in time for Christmas. From ProFootballMock.com.
- Sneaky. Also from ProFootballMock.com.
- Think Baltimore’s Ray Lewis being out for the season is bad? You’ve no idea how bad. From The Onion.
One Final Thought
Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune writes about the sense of humor of offensive coordinator Mike Tice. But the quote that stands out is the one about this week’s game:
“‘We need to be 6-1. Have you looked at our schedule coming up? We need to be 6-1 and we need to take care of our business.’