- The Bears have re-signed cornerback Al Louis-Jean to a two year contract according to Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune. Louis-Jean will be one of the more interesting players to keep an eye on. He’s got all the tools and got plenty of playing time last year. This coming year will be when we should all be looking for him to take the next big step.
- Another interesting thing to keep an eye on is whether Bears head coach John Fox will let Brandon Marshall do another season of Inside the NFL. It certainly sounds like Marshall is going to ask him. Via Ed Sherman at the Chicago Tribune.Like most of you, I’d just as soon see Bears players live and breath football with minimal distractions during the season. “Got Tuesday off? Go in and sleep at the facility anyway and tell your wife you’ll have sex with her in February.” That isn’t realistic, of course, and I honestly don’t know what kind of effect this has on Marshall’s play on Sundays.
I will say this. When you are “the first in this space to do something like this” it probably means that other players thought there was something wrong with doing it. We’ll have to wait and see what Fox thinks.
- John Mullin at csnchicago.com does a nice job of exploring the draft history of the Bears major front office and coaching personnel. Suffice it to say that Bears general manager Ryan Pace, Fox, and Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio all have a history of drafting defense, the consensus need for the Bears at virtually every position. Fox also has offensive tendencies:
“Where Fox’s predispositions become even more interesting is the commitment to running the football. The Panthers selected running backs in either round 1 or 2 in four of the eight drafts from 2002-2009, including No. 1’s in 2006 (DeAngelo Williams) and 2008 (Jonathan Stewart).”
I don’t see the Bears drafting a running back that high. But an offensive lineman isn’t out of the realm of possibility if the right guy falls.
- This has to be one of the most ridiculous Brad Biggs questions I’ve ever read in the Chicago Tribune:
“With the Titans’ interest in Jay Cutler could there be a possible trade for the Titans’ No. 2 overall pick and take Jameis Winston? — @johnRstruck
“…But I don’t think there is any scenario in which the Titans (or any other team) offer anything close to the No. 2 overall pick for Cutler. What would be the upside in dealing the second overall pick for a quarterback that will turn 32 this spring and has one career playoff victory? The problem with most imaginary trades that pop up in the mailbox is they rarely consider whether the deal is a value for both sides.”
What the hell is wrong with you people?
- Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com disagrees with my assessment of the quarterback position:
“I was asked earlier today, which current NFL veteran the Bears should pluck in free agency to challenge Cutler?
“The answer is none. The last thing the Bears need or want is Cutler on the bench as a $17 million backup. That scenario could create locker-room, huddle and sideline issues even Henry Kissinger wouldn’t want to tackle.”
Since when is Cuter that popular in the huddle? And what has he ever done to earn that team’s respect? I don’t accept this argument.
Arkush has a thing for Cutler that I don’t understand. He raved about the fact that they started Jimmy Clausen in week 16 against the Lions despite the fact that Cutler was an absolute mess against the Saints the week before. I don’t know what it is he’s seeing but the Bears have to do whatever they can to find Cutler’s replacement as soon as possible. That includes exploring a free agent market where at least you don’t know the guy isn’t the answer.
Arkush suggests that the Bears sign Jake Locker or Matt Moore and admits that Locker could possibly be an answer after 2015.
- Arkush is asked about wide receiver Brandon Marshall‘s future with the team. My initial thought is that the Bears would b crazy to let him go – he’s their best receiver. Once again, Arkush disagrees:
“If Pace and Fox are able to get an actual retelling of what a disaster that locker room and huddle were last year, and how much of it was because of Marshall, I can’t see how they could bring him back.”
This time Arkush’s response gives me pause. I’ve seen very little with my own eye that indicates that Marshall shouldn’t be brought back and he certainly did play hard, even when hurt last year. But there’s a lot that can’t be seen by guys like me who aren’t on the spot every day. If Arkush has inside information about how disruptive Marshall was “in the huddle”, then maybe its worth bowing to his superior knowledge.
There might be a better chance that Marshall will be let go than I initially thought.
- Arkush also writes a fun article guessing which players will benefit from a potential switch to the 3-4. Some of the names were surprising. Here’s a good example:
“At 6-foot-4, 256 pounds and quick as a hiccup, David Bass was born to be an outside rush linebacker with serious double-digit sack potential.”
“Bass is an athlete and a playmaker who needs to play in space but has had a hand stuck on the ground his first two years in the league.”
- You’ll find another interesting remark from Arkush in the offensive line positional review from csnchicago.com at about the 2:40 mark. Arkush thinks that the way to fix the offensive line is to move Kyle Long to left tackle, Jermon Bushrod to right tackle and to go out and find a right guard:
There’s something to be said for this though I still like the philosophy of being strong up the middle to keep a clean pocket for the quarterback to step up into.
- Barry Rozner at the Chicago Daily Herald nails the question of whether Jay Cutler should be a Bear next year:
“Conventional wisdom, however, suggests the Bears will keep Cutler for at least one more season for several reasons, not the least of which is that they won’t find a better option to play the position in 2015.”
“Cutler’s base salary for 2014 and 2015 became guaranteed last March, to the tune of $38 million. That money is already spent. Gone. Written off, much like the 2014 campaign when the Bears lost to Miami and fell to 3-4.
“Cutler gets another $10 million guaranteed on March 12 and the final $6 million would be locked in around the same time next year.”
“Or — if math isn’t your thing — $48 million for two years sounds so much better than $38 million for one.
“Go ahead, you might as well laugh if the alternative is weeping.
“While you’re pondering the genius of Phil Emery for handing that deal to Cutler, and George McCaskey and Ted Phillips for approving it, what do you really gain by spending that next $10 million?]
“Yeah, see? This is where the trouble begins.”
The answer is nothing. Nothing more than a wasted year spent with Cutler rather than in finding his replacement. Could they find anyone better? Probably not. But you don’t know that. Not if you don’t try.
- How bad are the Bears prospects? Former NFL scout Matt Williamson, now at ESPN, rates each team in terns of the amount of talent aged 25 and under. The Bears rank 31st out of 32 teams, behind only the Redskins. Williamson highlights this pair as one of the Bears best 5:
“Will Sutton, DT (23): Sutton is an undersized 3-technique defensive tackle who relies on leverage and quickness and can be mauled by bigger offensive linemen and double-teams. He was just OK as a rookie.
“Ego Ferguson, DT (23): Ferguson played many fewer snaps than Sutton and is more of a nose-tackle type than a penetrator. Ferguson also has been underwhelming overall. It is a bad sign for the Bears that these two defensive tackles rank among the team’s best young prospects.”
When asked about this article on the Football Today podcast, Williamson emphasized how shacked he was that the Bears were so depleted of good, young NFL talent.
- Todd McShay‘s got a mock draft out and I think he’s making some sense this year. He has the Bears drafting Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton:
“Analysis: It’s unclear what scheme new head coach John Fox and new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio plan to run in Chicago — my guess is they’ll use something of a hybrid front — but if they plan to play any 3-4, they’ll need some capable bodies. Lamarr Houston and Will Sutton are best at penetrating and disrupting, and their strongest point-of-attack D-lineman, Stephen Paea, is a free agent. Shelton would provide a versatile, big body along the interior, as he commands double-teams against the run and can push the pocket as a pass-rusher. [Oregon defensive end] Arik Armstead is another option here, and the Bears also need help at safety and linebacker. But what will they do at the QB position?”
Nose tackle makes a lot of sense for any team that is planning to play any 3-4, even in a hybrid scheme. Arguably Ferguson could provide some help here but the Bears would be wise to plan on drafting one anyway. You can’t have too many. The Bears also have a need at offensive tackle that is under rated nationally. Iowa’s Brandon Scherff is a possibility.
Any way they go the Bears are going to get a good player here.
McShay has Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota going #6 to the Jets but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he dropped further than that. Mariota hasn’t shown he can throw with anticipation from the pocket and, while that doesn’t mean he can’t do it, like Johnny Manziel last year, teams are going to be wary about drafting him too high.
- Mike Imrem at the Chicago Daily Herald grasps at straws in an effort to make Bears fans feel better.
- Plans for the NFL draft in April are beginning to take shape. For once the city is scheduling something that I don’t mind seeing life downtown disrupted for. Via Jared S. Hopkins at the Chicago Tribune
One Final Thought
Csnchicago.com reviews the Bears linebacker position from 2014.
Many people will say that safety was the Bears worst defensive position last year but I would argue that the linebackers might have that distinction. They were absolutely wretched. The biggest problem is that they played with no instincts whatsoever. Though coaching might bear some responsibility for this my tendency is to believe that it was largely the fault of former general manager Phil Emery, who I think had a tendency to draft athletes rather than players.
It’s going to be interesting to see where new GM Pace goes in his first NFL draft. Unfortunately there aren’t many pure linebackers in the top 50 players though some of the “defensive ends” might be better as outside linebackers in a 3-4. Don’t rule out the linebacker position if there’s anybody at all available that deserves the spot. The linebackers are the beating heart of your defense, especially in the 3-4, and the Bears certainly lacked both talent and heart last year.