Do Bears Players Too Often Fail in Position Changes? And Other Points of View.


  • Gabe Carimi and Chil Rachal are out, Jonathan Scott and Chris Spencer are in. I expect this won’t be the last we see of Carimi as I’m reasonably sure he’s being limited by a bad knee, whether the team wants to adimit it or not. When given the chance by Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times to blame his recovery from the dislocated knee last year Carimi didn’t say “No”.

As an aside, I can’t imagine how annoying it is to Carimi that the Tribune keeps using this picture of him for their articles.

  • Good question from fan, good answer from Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune. You decide the right of it:

“During Monday’s game, Jon Gruden mentioned how many of the Bears’ O-linemen were playing unfamiliar positions: J’Marcus Webb entered the league as a RT, Chilo Rachal only played on the right side prior to this season, Roberto Garza spent most of his career at RG, and Gabe Carimi played his entire college career at LT. But that doesn’t begin to cover the position changes forced on players by this coaching staff. Lance Louis, the only O-lineman currently playing his natural position, lost a year of development last season playing RT. Chris Spencer, who started for several years at center and was signed the day Olin Kreutz left, has only played guard for the Bears. Danieal Manning, now playing very well for Houston, was switched from safety to corner to safety to nickleback and finally back to safety before being let go as a free agent because he hadn’t developed the way the coaches thought he should. And these guys are still at it: no one outside Halas Hall believes Shea McClellan‘s best position is as a 4-3 DE, while Evan Rodriguez was touted on draft day as a pass-catching TE and is now a FB. Is it fair to say they have flat-out failed when it comes to changing players’ positions? Are the players starting to lose faith that the coaches can put them in a position to be successful? — Mark Early, Arlington, Va.

“I think you have to look at each case individually Mark. If a guard can’t switch from the left side to the right, how good is he? If you think Gabe Carimi has struggled at right tackle, you don’t want to see how he would be blocking on the left side. Roberto Garza has played no worse at center than he did at guard. Lance Louis played right tackle out of necessity last year. I think both rookies, McClellan and Rodriguez, have looked pretty promising at their positions. The one guy who was really hurt by position switching, in my opinion, was Danieal Manning.”

The only comment I really have is that Danieal Manning was hurt the most by his inability to play the position the Bears really needed him at: free safety. The rest of the excuses might have some validity but that’s the bottom line.

  • Kelvin Hayden brings a bit of a different attitude to the nickel back position as he discusses the pass that 49er wide receiver Kyle Williams burned him on. His comments to Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times invite comparisons to what former starter D.J. Moore might have said:

“‘It was just a play where one bad step will cost you, and it cost me,’ Hayden said. ‘It was just one bad play. Hopefully, I learn from it. I think I have.’

Hayden said he played well otherwise, but that was of little consolation.”

“Bears trainers were reportedly worried about the significant concussion suffered by Jay Cutler during Chicago’s loss to the Texans [two weeks ago], expressing fears that the traumatic brain injury might prevent the petulant quarterback from ever sulking again.”


  • Runningback Adrian Peterson on his recovery from surgery after he tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. He appears to be better now than he was before the injury. Via Pompei:

“‘It really made me look at things differently,’ he said. ‘It really made me scratch harder, dig even deeper when I was working out and training to get back. This injury is like a blessing in disguise. It helped me push through (to) another level.’

“Peterson said he is like one of the Dragon Ball Z warriors who transforms to a ‘Super Saiyan’ when he needs to channel something extra.

“‘Some of them just fight regular, but then they come up against competition and go Super Saiyan,’ he said. ‘That’s what it is. I had to go Super Saiyan to get back.'”

  • Dan Wiederer and Chris Miller at the Minneapolis Star Tribune report that Percy Harvin missed practice. His presence or absence Sunday might make a crucial difference in the game.
  • Barry Wilner at the Associated Press breaks down the game. Bottom line for the Vikings: Run the ball, don’t turn it over (which they have a history of doing) and get pressure with the front four. We’ll see if they can execute it.


  • Lions coach Jim Schwartz on invalidating an automatic review by throwing his own challenge flag, thus incurring an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Via Chris McCoskey at The Detroit News:

“‘I know the rule,’ Schwartz said. ‘You can’t challenge a turnover or a scoring play and I overreacted. He was obviously down on the field. I had the flag out of my pocket before he even scored the touchdown.

“‘I cost us a touchdown.'”

Kudos to Schwartz for taking responsibility. But it doesn’t change the fact that by losing his head, he cost his team not only because he gave the Texans a touchdown but because, as their leader, the team’s lack of discipline reflects directly on his own.

The personality of every team reflects the personality of it head coach.

  • Much as I like Rex Ryan I have to wonder about the way that team is playing right now. Like the Lions and the Eagles, it looks to me like there is a lot of wasted talent on the field and Ryan is being asked if he thinks he’ll be back next year with some justification. From Gary Myers at The New York Daily News:

“‘I do,’ he said when he was asked if he thought he would be back. ‘And I think our team will play a heck of a lot better and I don’t believe anybody will ask that question by the time the year is over. That is my personal opinion.’

“It’s a good thing Ryan has built up plenty of goodwill with Woody Johnson, because this performance against the hated Patriots was bad enough to get most coaches fired. The Jets showed no sense of urgency in what was a desperate attempt to make themselves relevant in December.”

“Mathematically, they are alive. Emotionally, there might not be much left of this team. But still no ‘Rex must go’ chants, which was the only good news of the night for Ryan.”

  • Give Carl some credit for this lock. But maybe not for his opinions on concussions:

One Final Thought

Dan McNeil at the Chicago Tribune and I see eye to eye on the importance of this game Sunday:

“The reality is Sunday’s date with the surprising 6-4 Vikings could wind up defining the season and, potentially, coach Lovie Smith’s long-term future with the Bears.”

I won’t say that they gave up but the team looked about as glad to get off the field in San Fransisco as I was to turn the TV off. They were broken.

Since that’s the case, this question to Pompei is probably on a lot of fans minds:

“If the Bears don’t end up making the playoffs this year, do you see Lovie Smith‘s job being in jeopardy? — Daniel Gutstein, Lincolnwood

“For the Bears not to make the playoffs, they probably would have to lose four of their remaining six games. They might have to lose five of six. That would be a significant collapse. And, assuming there weren’t extenuating circumstances that led to the collapse, I think that kind of late-season failure could put Smith’s job in jeopardy.”

Here’s the remaining schedule and how I see it playing out:

  • Vikings at Bears – win
  • Seahawks at Bears – loss
  • Bears at Vikings – loss
  • Green Bay at Bears – loss
  • Bears at Arizona – win
  • Bears at Lions – loss

This would put the Bears at 9-7 with a reasonable shot at the playoffs. Green Bay is the better team and the Bears aren’t going to beat anyone with that offensive line in those domes in Detroit and Minnesota. The Arizona game on the road is a close call but, in this case, its the Bears who are the better team.

How close are the other games? I honestly think it comes down more to where they are played rather than who the Bears are playing. The season is going to turn on this week’s game and the Seattle game afterwards. The Bears are better than the Vikings at home and need to take care of business. Seattle is probably the better team but, again, the Bears play better at home and the Seahawks aren’t as good on the road. Both are very close calls.

Bottomline, I think Smith’s chances are reasonably good to keep his job. But I’ve certainly been wrong before and its going to be a close thing unless they turn out to be better than I think they are.

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