The Underrated Matt Forte and Other Points of View

  • The writers at the Chicago Tribune are interviewing the former college coaches of the various Bears draft picks. I particularly liked this one from Dan Wiederer with Minnesota defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel on safety Brock Vereen. It went beyond the usual “He’s really, really tough and really really competitive” level.

“Q: What are the areas for improvement that need targeting?

“JS: I think he can become a better blitzer. I think that’s one thing that he’s got to be able to do with some of the things that the Bears are going to ask him to do. He’s had some issues there, false-stepping and things like that, getting off the line on his blitzes and stuff. As a safety, for him, he became really effective. He had a good year at safety (in 2013) until we had to move him. He tackled. He’s surprisingly good in the box. You roll him down in the box and he’s better than average at that. … But I’d say the biggest things with Brock is that he can continue to develop his ball skills. I think there are times out there when he fights a higher, deeper ball. That’s something he’ll need to continue to improve on. He does track balls pretty well. He does break on balls pretty well. And he’s a really disciplined player. So the one thing about him is if he gets beat on a play, he’s going to be there. You’re just going to have to beat him on that play. That’s the biggest thing. That was a very big relief as a coach. And he helped our other players with that.”

  • Ditto on Rich Campbell‘s interview on quarterback David Fales with San Jose State offensive coordinator Jimmie Dougherty:

“Q: And the completion percentage?

JD: ‘I think being football smart and reading coverages and knowing where to go with the ball is the first part of it. Then, from a physical standpoint, he’s got it. He’s always on balance. His feet are always in the proper place, and his eyes are always in the right place. When you’ve got those two things, you’ve got a really good chance of being accurate with the ball, along with knowing where to go with the ball on each snap.

“‘So he’s a guy that sees down the field. He can feel the rush, slide around the pocket. A lot of guys can throw balls and be accurate if it’s an odd-man situation or a pro day or whatever it is, but he translates exactly what he is in those situations onto real-life game situations—guys rushing after him, having to slide around and keep his balance and move around in the pocket. He’s a good enough athlete to get that done, too, and continue to keep his eyes down the field and make accurate throws.’”

One thing Dougherty repeatedly came back to was Fales mobility in the pocket. That’s one of the things that sets great quarterbacks like Tom Brady apart. Not that I would expect him to be Brady. But I consider this to be a good sign.

“Who on the roster should be worried about their job based on the draft? — @gcflatt from Twitter

“The NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business. With the exception of a few elite players with major contracts, every player is being pushed on the roster for a job. The Bears certainly added needed depth on the interior of the defensive line and that should push a veteran like Israel Idonije. The selection of offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr. in the seventh round probably pushes James Brown and Eben Britton. No question cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Isaiah Frey will be challenged more with the addition of first-round pick Kyle Fuller. Running back Michael Ford has a challenge from fourth-round pick Ka’Deem Carey. The challenges are across the board.

I’ve heard some rumbling amongst the fans who think that Idonije’s job might be in jeopardy. His age (33) works agains thin but the Bears brought Idonije back because of his versatility. He can play both tackle and end and he fits what the Bears are trying to accomplish on defense. I wouldn’t count him out.

“Soon after the Jets made their final draft selection Saturday, Coach Rex Ryan spoke for every coach or general manager or scouting director in the league.

“‘Did we get everybody we wanted?’ he said. ‘As far as you guys know, we did.'”

One Final Thought

Running back Matt Forte might be the most under-appreciated player in Bears history.

Bears Roster Moves Likely Still Aren’t Over

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“Out of the eight draft picks and nine undrafted rookie free agents, the Bears came away with only one safety. Are they set at safety? — @rodegu from Twitter

“The Bears feel better about their collection of players at safety than their fans do, but let’s wait and see how this plays out. There are three ways in which more players could become available. First, we’re already seeing teams make cuts, shedding veterans that became expendable following the draft. Second, we’ll see more cuts in June with some possibly being for cap reasons and others because veterans have been pushed aside by younger players. Third, there will be an even larger group of players hitting the street in August and the first few days of September when roster cuts happen. Don’t overlook the fact the Bears will be looking at every name that comes across the waiver wire. I would pay particular attention to safeties, tight ends and maybe even a veteran running back or veteran quarterback.”

Two points in support of Biggs, here:

  1. Yes, Chris Conte had a bad, bad year last year. But let’s not forget that he did very well at safety the year before. The Bears haven’t given up on him and neither should the fans.
  2. I heard relentless criticism of the Bears for not taking a safety right up until the Brock Vereen pick. Most asked, “if the draft was going according to plan, why didn’t the Bears sign a safety in free agency?” The answer, as Biggs points out, is that free agency isn’t over yet. Many of those teams that reached for safeties in the draft will be releasing veterans soon. In addition, there may also have already been some out there that the Bears like but they wanted to see who fell to them on the draft first before signing them. Bottom line the Bears aren’t finished over hauling their roster yet.