Some Combine Thoughts and Other Points of View


  • I considered this comment from Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times to be interesting news:

    “The Bears have plenty of defensive holes, but that doesn’t mean Pace and Co. are being narrow-minded.

    “Some offensive lineman at the combine said they were told that the Bears are looking for interior line help.”

    This makes me wonder if many fans are going to get their way and see Kyle Long moved to tackle. They also need a plan for the future at center.

  • And this report from John Mullin at was interesting as well:

    “As part of their evaluation process for [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler, the Bears are going beyond the usual video reviews and expected to be reaching out for thoughts from some of the very offensive coaches who lost jobs in part due to Cutler. That group includes coordinators Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice and Aaron Kromer, plus former quarterbacks coaches Matt Cavanaugh and Pep Hamilton, now Andrew Luck’s offensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts, sources confirmed.”

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall during these conversations. I’d hope that at least a few of these guys would be willing to characterize Cutler as the hopeless loser that he is. But my guess is that most of them will be kinder than they should be. Mullin certainly seems to think that the comments will be more centered around how to get the best out of Cutler but he’s working under the assumption that Cutler will be around next year. I’m not.


  • I thought this article from Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times was going to be another one of those Jameis Winston Vs. Marcus Mariota columns. It wasn’t. In particular, this point about college quarterbacks who play in spread offenses was interesting:

    “It’s worth noting that two head coaches with stellar reputations for developing quarterbacks had polar opposite views on that subject.

    “‘I think it’s great training,’ the Packers’ [head coach Mike] McCarthy said. ‘There was a time when people felt that shotgun and all this wide-open offense in college would hinder a quarterback playing in the NFL because you had to teach them to get under center. The reality of it is pressure, third-down, key-situational football is the biggest challenge for a young quarterback. And I think these college programs have done an outstanding job of playing wide-open, asking the quarterbacks to do more and I think they’re much better prepared today than when I first got into the league.

    “Arians had a different viewpoint: ‘So many times, you’re evaluating a quarterback who has never called a play in the huddle, never used a snap count,’ [Cardinals head coach Bruce] Arians said. ‘They hold up a card on the sideline, he kicks his foot and throws the ball.

    “‘That ain’t playing quarterback. There’s no leadership involved there. There might be leadership on the bench, but when you get them and they have to use verbiage and they have to spit the verbiage out and change the snap count, they are light years behind.'”

    I find myself siding with McCarthy here. The things that Arians is emphasizing are things that can be taught to a conscientious student that works hard. I don’t think what McCarthy is talking about can.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune documents the many changes to the Packers this off-season. He quotes head coach Mike McCarthy on the matter.

    “When we had the opportunity to win the Super Bowl, I didn’t feel like, ‘Hey, let’s not change anything and keep going.’ I have seen it happen in the past. I have been part of that situation. I think you have to take each and every year and start over.”

    There is a large part of me that wonders if this wasn’t part of the problem for the Bears last year. Offensively I, at least, would have liked to have seen some different people on the line. You have to wonder if the lack of change on that side of the ball didn’t contribute at least a little to the stagnation that we saw there.

  • Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty doesn’t quite get it as he talks about being a college spread quarterback transitioning into a pocket passing league. Via John Mullin at

    “‘I am a pocket passer. I want to extend plays, extend plays within the pocket,’ Petty said. ‘That might be a little bit different than most spread quarterbacks who want to run it out of the pocket. For me, I feel like my game can translate easier in that and the fact that I want to play within the pocket and I want to extend plays within the pocket and beat you doing that.'”

    If desire to work out of the pocket was all that counted, there’d be all kinds of first and second day draft picks at the position. It isn’t about desire to extend plays by escaping the pocket. Lots of guys can do that. It’s about movement within the pocket to find throwing lanes while you are surrounded by men who are about 6’6″. It’s about being able to do that and that’s something that no one will know if you can do until you do it. It doesn’t help that most spread quarterbacks aren’t asked to do the other thing that’s absolutely essential – throw with anticipation.

  • Unlike people who have a life, I spend over 20 hours watching combine coverage on the NFL Network.  I don’t hold much with giving a prospect a lot more consideration because of a good combine performance.  But it is a good chance to learn something about the prospects by listening to what analyst Mike Mayock has to say about them. Here are a few observations:
  1. In my opinion there are four impact players at the top of this draft:  Leonard Williams, Winston, Dante Fowler, and Danny Shelton.  Of the four, only Shelton is likely to be there for the Bears.  He’s got a lot of phone booth quicks for his size and its obvious that he might even provide some pass rush.  If you are going to run a base 3-4 of the type that the Patriots run, requiring a big, 2-gapping nose guard, he’s your guy.
  2. Williams reminds me of a shorter version of Julius Peppers.  I consider that to be high praise.  If you listen to his peers, its well deserved.  When the defensive line prospects lined up for a picture, the photographer asked, “Whose going number 1?” in the same joking way that he might ask you or I to “say ‘cheese’”.  All of them pointed to Williams and said, “Leonard”.  That’s an endorsement you can take to the bank.
  3. The two most impressive quarterbacks whose name wasn’t Winston or Mariota were Bryan Bennett and Petty.  You could hear the ball whistle as it left Bennett’s hand and he really appears to be able to spin it.  Petty is what Mayock correctly called a “natural thrower”.  Both look to me like the kinds of guys who have the talent to develop into a starter if they have the right heads for the job.
  4. I was led to believe that one of Winston’s major problems was that his release was too long.  If it was, he solved it.  His release was quicker than Mariota’s.
  5. The tight ends are really supposed to be bad this year and never was that more evident than when you watched them go through the gauntlet drill.  The wide receivers run through this drill at speed and are often fluid, natural pass catchers.  Th tight ends ran through it at half speed and were dropping balls all over.  It was painful.
  6. Several mock drafts now have the Bears taking linebacker Vic Beasley.  Man, I hope not.  My impression of Beasley as I watched him play for Clemson was that he lacked instincts.  I’d hate to see him be taken by the Bears because of a good combine showing.
  7. I was a little insulted as Daniel Jeremiah posted his “franchise fits” for each defensive position group on Sunday.  The Bears should have been on every single list.

One Final Thought

Hub Arkush at opines this little piece of inconsistency:

Justin Houston, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Jason Pierre-Paul, Stephen Gostkowski and Charles Clay will be staying in Kansas City, Denver, Dallas, New York, New England and Miami, respectively, as the only players to receive franchise or transition tags this season.

“The biggest impact of those decisions is almost every team is now considering offers for Ndamukong Suh and Devin McCourty, and it would be a real shame if the Bears weren’t in on both.”

Why inconsistent? Here’s what Hub said about the Bears just 2 weeks ago before the announcement that they were going base 3-4 defense. Hub’s point was that the Bears need to rebuild, going younger and relying primarily upon the draft to improve:

“Forget free agency. If they’re staying in a 4-3 long term, they should re-sign Stephen Paea. That’s about it.”

He’s also repeatedly argued that the Bears should keep Cutler essentially because a weak free agent market means Cutler gives them the best chance to win. Since when is that a priority in a rebuilding year? Don’t you start searching now for a replacement rather than wasting a year with a guy you know can’t do the job? Even in a weak market you might catch lightening in a bottle with a guy like Matt Moore. Since when has Brian Hoyer had the chance to play with anything close to the offensive talent the Bears have? In fairness to Hub, other media members have made this argument with similar degrees of inconsistency.

Hub had it right the first time. It’s time to rebuild through the draft and let other teams throw around the stupid money. Given that teams like the Jaguars and the Raiders literally have to spend money to meet the minimum cap requirements, the price for players like Suh and McCourty could be especially insane this year. There will be plenty of players left over to fill gaps in the team after the initial wave of free agency is over.

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