- Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher once again fails to convince me that his contentious exit from the Bears had to do with anything other than his own pride. Via Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune
- Jared Allen thinks quarterback Jay Cutler takes too much “crap”. I agree. I think he should go somewhere else so he doesn’t have to take it anymore (but see the “Final Thought” below). From Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times.
- John Mullin at csnchicago.com runs through the lessons that he thinks the Bears need to learn from the Super Bowl. His major take home point was that they need a nose tackle. But I, personally, think that Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com nailed it on the head with this quote from Tom Brady:
“It’s been a long journey. It’s just a great win. We left it all on the field. The key was mental toughness.”
It certainly was. 10 points down with 10 minutes to go the Patriots dug deep to score two touchdowns to win. The Bears, on the other hand, were called the biggest group of front-runners in football by one opposing assistant coach last year.
The Bears may need a nose tackle. But more than anything they need more mentally tough players at almost every position, starting with the quarterback.
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune considers the question of whether wide receiver Brandon Marshall should be brought back.
“The Bears have a similarly big-bodied wide receiver in Alshon Jeffery and the second-round pick from 2012 will enter the final year of his rookie contract eligible for a new deal. Jeffery, 24, had 85 receptions for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. What the roster lacks is speed at the position and maybe [GM Ryan] Pace, [head coach John] Fox and [offensive coordinator Adam] Gase will look to mix up the depth chart with some quick and shifty receivers like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, who Tom Brady used to lead the Patriots over the Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
“The ideal might be to pair a big wide receiver with a faster and quicker receiver like Randall Cobb, Antonio Brown or Emmanuel Sanders, who Fox and Gase used this past season with the Broncos in tandem with Demaryius Thomas, a larger 6-foot-3 target. Sanders is fast and possesses great change of direction, something you can’t say about any Bears receivers.”
If you sign any of those guys you are going to need a quarterback who can and will throw to them and hit them in stride. Cutler’s limitations make those kinds of signings risky propositions. Regardless, assuming he’s recovered from his injuries of 2014 the offense won’t be better without an All-Pro receiver like Marshall.
- Odds makers are having fun setting up prop bets surrounding this year’s new head coaches. I find Fox’s placement on some of these lists to be curious. I would say that Fox’s chances of getting fired first are well behind Oakland’s Jack Del Rio and Buffalos Rex Ryan. I would also say that the odds that Fox will get in trouble first for an inappropriate comment are also well behind Del Rio’s and I would also place him below the Jet’s Todd Bowles and Atlanta’s Dan Quinn if for no other reason than they are virtual unknowns in terms of how they will handle the pressure. From David Just at the Chicago Sun-Times.
- If you ever wanted to know what is running through the mind of a really well-coached player, Super Bowl hero Malcom Butler gives you a clue by describing what he was looking at before he made his huge, game winning goal line interception. Via Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com:
“[Receiver Ricardo Lockette] kept his head still and just looked over there, so that gave me a clue, and the stacked receivers. I just knew they were going to throw. My instincts, I just went with it, just went with my mind and made the play.”
Butler is an undrafted rookie.
One Final Thought
Kevin Fishbain at chicagofootball.com goes over a quarterback free agent class that isn’t quite as bad as I thought. Some of these guys like Brian Hoyer and Matt Moore might do significantly better than in previous stops in a run-oriented offense that has the offensive weapons that the Bears do.
Having said that, the Super Bowl taught me something. By no means would I ever call Russell Wilson a great quarterback but he still managed to get the Seahawks to a Super Bowl. Wilson has considerably more mental toughness than Cutler, which will always severely limit Cutler’s ability to take a team far into the playoffs. But I’m starting to come around on the idea that keeping him around and brining in one or more of these free agents to compete with him might not be a bad idea. This might allow you to start your championship quarterback search and still keep Cutler around as insurance in the (probably likely) event that you don’t find him. Financially, the worst case scenario is that you end up with Cutler as a very expensive back up but recent history shows that he’d likely still have to play at some point in that role. Drafting a quarterback to develop might complete the picture.