- Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune reports that Bears head coach John Fox will appoint five permanent captains rather than switching every week the way that former head coach Marc Trestman did. There will still be one appointed by Fox every week based upon performance. That sounds like a good idea to me. Those five players (well, four minus quarterback Jay Cutler) will have a better chance of providing real leadership for the team if they’re captains all season.
- Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Bears will change their approach to weight-lifting and offseason conditioning. Former general manager Phil Emery was a former strength and conditioning coach who believed in a weight lifting regime that made athletes “more explosive”. This led many fans (including myself) to speculate that there might be more injuries. Fox seems to confirm this as he says that he particularly thinks that the new program will help wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who Fox says seemed “a little nicked” last year with injuries. Jeffery is thought to have struggled with hamstring problems last year.
- I also thought that what Fox said about cornerback Charles Tillman was interesting. Via Jahns:
“Fox believes Jennings can play inside at nickel back or outside at cornerback, but said it’s obvious that Jennings is coming off a disappointing season.
“‘I think Tim will tell you the same thing,’ Fox said. ‘Our biggest thing is to get him to perform better than he did a year ago.'”
Those don’t sound like the kind of comments that you make about someone you don’t plan to have around next year.
- Fox is going to start Shea McClellin out at inside linebacker (via Johns). Campbell and Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune seemed surprised to learn that McClellin won’t be tried on the outside first. I think many Bear fans would agree but I don’t. There’s a logjam at the position the way it is and I think I’ve seen enough of McClellin’s pass rush skills – in both a three and a two point stance – to think that probably isn’t the natural position for him that many thought it was for him coming out of the draft. Having said that, Fox did say that he’ll be tried at both spots eventually.
- Campbell quotes Bears head coach John Fox on the recent signings of several veterans to one-year deals:
“These guys who maybe didn’t get the huge contracts in free agency, my experience is they have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. They’ve got something to prove, and I’ve had a lot of pretty good one-year deals that have had great success.”
He’s got a point. Bears fans may remember that Matt Slauson started life as a Bear on such a deal.
- Well, you can scratch Randy Gregory off the Bears draft list. From ESPN.com.
- Conor Orr on the various proposals to, as NFL Competition Committee co-chairman Rich McKay put it, “make [the extra point] a football play”. They were discussed by the owners for nearly an hour Wednesday, which means that they’re serious about changing it. McKay said that there will be a potential vote on something in May.
“All the proposals on the table were interesting, but personally, the idea of eliminating the kick altogether is the best option. Imagine the level of strategy needed to consistently score from a difficult distance. Coaches would need to formulate their rosters a bit differently based on the need for more bulk in the trenches or come up with a way of increasing the success rate of passes from that distance (sorry, Seattle).”
I would agree.
- Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune on the rule changes at the NFL owners meetings:
“No team submitted a formal proposal to change the Calvin Johnson rule. Because nobody understands it.”
One Final Thought
Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times on Jay Cutler‘s contract status:
“The Bears did not try to rework Jay Cutler’s contract, the team said Wednesday, two hours after John Fox hinted that they did just that.
“‘I’m not going to get into everything,’ coach John Fox said Wednesday at the NFL annual meeting. ‘Other than, there was ongoing contract talks and it had time limits. That’s all I’ll say.'”
Ian Rapoport at nfl.com says that that after a meeting with Cutler, without his agent, the Bears left convinced Cutler was their starter.
The bet here is that they offered Cutler the opportunity to get traded out of Chicago but only if he could do something about the contract. He probably said, “No” and at that point, he was a Bear this year. That’s not exactly a “try to rework” the contract, which certainly would cause problems absent his agent, so much as it is getting a feel for what he’d be willing to do if he wants a fresh start somewhere else.