A Scary Choice and Other Points of View


  • According to Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune cornerback Tim Jennings had minor arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He’s expected to be fine for the beginning of the Bears offseason workout program April 6. But then there’s this:

    “Jennings posted a tweet Thursday night asking his followers to pray for him. On Friday, he posted a picture of himself and alluded to the surgery. Those posts have since been deleted. The person with knowledge of the surgery would not confirm which knee required it.”

    If its a minor, routine procedure that won’t cause him to miss any time and, presumably, won’t affect his play much if at all, why all the secrecy?

  • I don’t know if this was assigned to Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times or if it was his own idea. But it has to be the worst example of lazy journalism I’ve ever seen.
  • John Mullin at csnchicago.com thinks its likely that the Bears will be selecting a pass rusher in the first round this year based upon the history of both head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He also points out that this would fit former Bears great Richard Dent‘s “Rule of three” for building a defense. It certainly makes sense that the Bears would be looking for an impact player in this area (along with virtually everyone else).
  • Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times undertakes the down right depressing task of rating the Bears team needs. Perhaps not surprising, they’re all on defense. But let’s not sleep on offensive line, either. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock doesn’t like Marcus Mariota in that spot (via Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times) but if the Bears like him, I can’t see how they take a pass on him.

    The good news is that with so many needs it won’t be hard to take the best impact player available at almost any position. Really, only running back is out of the question entirely with wide receiver and tight end being unlikely.

    The bad news is how perishingly little whatever pick they make is going to help. There’s lots of aging talent with little in the way of youth to provide hope for the future. Perhaps this is the dark before the dawn. But if it is, that sun may take a long while to break through.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

    “If the Bears are switching to a 3-4 defense, which position is the most vital in the first round? Nose tackle, pass-rushing outside linebacker or safety? — @Aronw1A”

    “1. Dominant defensive end.”

    “2. Impact outside linebacker.”

    “3. Run-stopping nose tackle.”

    “4. Strong-side inside linebacker.”

    “5. Situational pass rushing defensive end.”

    I was very surprised at this ranking. I had always heard that nose tackle was the highest priority simply because good ones are so tough to find. And, of course, everyone emphasizes pass rush which comes largely from the outside linebacker in a 3-4. These are, indeed, the needs emphasized by Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune in this article.

    My guess is that Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had a big influence on the current thinking and that this list would have been different this time last year.

  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune suggests that the Bears overpay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb in free agency. I disagree. 1) The Bears are rebuilding and probably shouldn’t be signing anyone in free agency. 2) The Bears will never maximize the talent of a smaller speed receiver like Cobb with Jay Cutler at quarterback. He’s shown very well in the past that he can’t or won’t throw to such receivers.

    As Rosenbloom, himself, puts it:

    “The Bears don’t have [Packers quarterback Aaron] Rodgers, just to clarify. In fact, they have the anti-Rodgers, but at least with a guy like Cobb, Cutler’s killer interceptions would be deeper.”

  • Whatever else you say about former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher – and I’ve said a lot of unkind things – he had Cutler nailed dead to rights almost from the moment they met. That hasn’t changed. Via Brian Sandalow at the Chicago Sun-Times:

    “During an appearance Tuesday at Waukegan’s Robert Abbott Middle School, Urlacher was asked about the Bears’ regression and whether he was disappointed in the offense’s production. His answer —and his omission of a certain lightning rod of a Bear — was telling.

    “‘I don’t know disappointed; it just took a step back, I think, is the word,’ Urlacher said. ‘Great talent on offense at every position. Offensive line, receiver, running back, tight end, all great players. Just didn’t get the production that I guess the fans thought they should’ve gotten.’

    “Um, Brian. Forgetting somebody? You know, the guy behind center?

    “‘Great talent everywhere on their offense,’ Urlacher said.”

  • Finley describes the advantage to running the 3-4 defense (according to Fox):

    “Against spread offenses and empty backfields, Fox can drop eight players — including both outside linebackers — in a 3-4.”

    “The switch won’t be so dramatic in nickel and dime formations, when the Bears — who played less of the true cover-2 under Mel Tucker — likely will still deploy four down linemen. Besides, Fox said, the spacing for 4-3 and 3-4 sets are similar.”

    I might add that if you rush four (which you often will), then the offense won’t know where the fourth guy will come from.

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com on Pace:

    “One thing he’s perfected in his first month on the job as the Bears general manager is the ability to look you in the eye and make you feel like he gets your job and that you matter and then to respectfully answer your question without telling you a thing.

    “It’s an NFL executive deal. It can drive you nuts, but the good ones all have it.”

    I’ve got news for you Hub. It’s not restricted to NFL executives.

One Final Thought

The two best quarterbacks in this year’s draft really make me nervous. Really nervous. Mariota’s flaws are well-documented and, because they are on field issues, we’ve all seen them and can evaluate them ourselves. But Jameis Winston is different. We’ve heard about the off-field issues and everyone likes to think that with all of the trouble that they’ve caused, he’s put them behind him. But apparently that’s not the case and you need only look at his last college game to understand that. Via Biggs:

“One NFC college scouting director pointed to the video of Winston walking into the Rose Bowl in January when he mimicked smoking a joint and passing it.

“‘That’s the one position where you can’t live with immaturity,’ the scouting director said. ‘Is the talent level so different between [Mariota and Winston] that you want to draft Jameis and have the immaturity issues he’s going to bring? You’re talking about the face of your franchise.'”

The lasting image I have of Winston during that game was the argument he had with head coach Jimbo Fisher in the fourth quarter. Winston completely lost his cool and you could read Fisher’s lips as he threatened to bench him. To say that Winston didn’t handle the situation well would be a serious understatement.

This guy has trouble written all over him.

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