Time Is a Quarterback’s Best Friend. And Other Points of View.


  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune interviews new Bears cornerback Alan Ball. Ball is a big defensive back at 6-2, 197 lb. You can’t have too many of them. Bears general manager Ryan Pace would seem to agree.
  • Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times goes down the Bears defensive depth chart. A couple thing become clear in this exercise. Defensive line is still by far the biggest need with Ego Ferguson backing up all three positions. The cornerback position is interesting with Demontre Hurts, Ball, Tim Jennings and Kyle Fuller lining up to compete for two spots. The guess here is that Fuller is established at one outside spot and that one of the other three ends up playing nickel.
  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com is down right enthusiastic about the signing of linebacker Mason Foster.
  • The 49ers are continuing to stick with Blaine Gabbert (left) as their backup quarterback. Similar to Bears backup Jimmy Clausen (right), Gabbert got thrown into the fire immediately his first season and performed poorly. Also like Clausen, he never got another chance to prove himself.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 6.25.40 AM

    There was a time when quarterbacks sat for years developing behind an established starter. Former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren once famously said that quarterbacks didn’t really pick up the offense until the THIRD YEAR. High round picks don’t get that kind of time anymore. But you have to wonder if both Gabbert and Clausen aren’t benefiting from their roles as backups in the same way that those quarterbacks of long ago did. If so, we may not have seen the last of either of them as starters.

  • Say what you want about former Bears head coach Marc Trestman, he apparently knew many of his players better then some would think. From John Mullin at csnchicago.com:

    “A footnote to the 2014 ‘leadership’ season: Trestman, who began naming weekly last season rather than the traditional team-vote method, appears to have had some sense of what he did and didn’t have as far as locker room leaders. Through 15 games, [Jared] Allen and [Jeremiah] Ratliff were captains six times each, Jay Cutler three times.

    Brandon Marshall was a captain just twice, the second and last time being the Miami game, after which Marshall erupted with a postgame rant at teammates.”


  • Conor Orr at nfl.com passes on that Mike McCarthy wants to put Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers in the pistol more often next year. The formation has most of the advantages of being in the shotgun but puts the runningback behind you, allowing for runs and making play action effective. I don’t see much of a downside.
  • Orr assesses the effectiveness of the NFL general managers in the draft by looking at the percentage of their picks that make the all-rookie team.

    “Jags GM Dave Caldwell is only two years in, but there’s no doubt he’ll need to hit on one this year. Three years without an All-Rookie selection is unheard of for gainfully employed GMs.”

    Carolina’s Dave Gettleman ranks at the top of the list. Bears general manager Ryan Pace isn’t ranked as he hasn’t made a pick yet.

  • Chris Wessling, also at nfl.com, comments on the staff’s division power rankings. The NFC North ranked third amongst the eight divisions:

    “Even with the acknowledgment that the Lions and Vikings are potential wild-card teams, the NFC North’s third-place ranking reflects respect for the Packers as the primary threat to the Seahawks’ NFC hegemony. Nobody knows what to think of Chicago, mirroring the Bears’ puzzlement at quarterback.”

  • Texans owner Bob McNair defended their signing of nose tackle Vince Wilfork by saying that players are more likely to lose speed than strength with age. Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com calls the notion “a bit simplistic”. I call it dead wrong.
  • Former Bears head coach Lovie Smith is returning to his familiar ways, limiting himself to free agents he either knows (Henry Melton, Chris Conte) or that people he knows know (Bruce Carter and Sterling Moore). That’s a similar strategy to the one he employed as head coach of the Bears when hiring assistants and, like the players he’s signing now, that meant he was drawing them from a very limited pool. There’s always going to be a cap on how much success coaches like Smith have. From the Tampa Tribune.
  • Still wondering why teams don’t spend high round picks on running backs anymore? The Broncos selected Ronnie Hillman in the third round of 2012, took Montee Ball in the second round and signed C.J. Anderson as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Guess which one is going into OTAs as the starter? Via Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com.

One Final Thought

A reminder to everyone not to forget to register to get tickets for you and a guest to the NFL Draft in Chicago at NFL.com/DraftTown. As long as I get the second ticket.

Winning and Losing on Your Own Terms


Jeff Legwold at espn.com thinks the transition from former Broncos and current Bears head coach John Fox will be made easier for new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak (above) by the retention of six of Fox’s assistant coaches – five on offense:

“‘I’m the one who has to adjust and find out how I’m going to mesh everything together,’’ Kubiak said. ‘That’s what we’ve been doing and I told Peyton that from the start. We are going to run his offense and do what he does best, but it’s going to be the Broncos’ (offense). We’re going to mesh things together. Obviously I love to run the ball and I love the play-(action) pass. I love to do those things so there is going to be a commitment there but there is 17 years of investment in what he’s done better than anybody and we’re not going to run away from that.’’”

I can’t help but be reminded that former Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker (below) said similar things about the Bears defense as it transitioned from Lovie Smith to former Bears head coach Marc Trestman. It was a problem in Tucker’s case as he kept the old defensive scheme in deference to veterans like former Bears linebacker Lance Briggs who ultimately let him down. He ended up losing his job without ever really having a chance to make it his own.


Kubiak may not be going so far as to make the entire offensive scheme something he’d never run otherwise. But you have to wonder if trying to compromise in deference to Manning, who didn’t exactly finish the year as the great quarterback he usually is, won’t turn out similar to the way that Tucker’s defense did.

I think the worst think about losing a job might be if you had to look back with regret because you never got a chance to do it your own way. Here’s hoping Kubiak never has to do that.

Chip Kelly: Beauty or Beast?

One of the most interesting off season stories has been head coach Chip Kelly‘s of the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly (below) has made a flurry of moves including trading star runningback LeSean McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alanso and quarterback Nick Foles for the oft injured Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.


Many have questioned Kelly’s moves with some justification. But Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll says that Eagles fans should place their trust in Kelly. Via csnphilly.com:

“‘I think the people in Philadelphia should be very excited about the changes that are coming,’ Carroll said this week at the owners meetings. ‘Maybe they can’t see it — the vision is not clear to them. Chip knows what he’s doing. It’s going to be interesting to see.'”

“‘His record and his history has proven that he knows what he’s doing and that he has his act together,'”

Kelly’s style is an interesting contrast to what the Bears are apparently doing in their transformation to the 3-4. The Bears are looking for players with good traits. To some extent, that search will be nonspecific. If you are a difference maker, they’ll adjust the scheme to use you.

Kelly is building his team more in the way that former Bears head coach Lovie Smith built his defense. Smith was a cover two discipline and looked for players with specific traits to play his scheme. Kelly is acting similarly, looking for players to fit his offense. McCoy, for instance, is a Pro Bowl runningback. But he danced around too much behind the line of scrimmage rather than hitting the hole hard and quickly the way that Kelly wanted him to. So he was traded and replaced by runningbacks DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews.

I’m going to be fascinated to see how things work out in Philedelphia. It’s obvious that Kelly knows what he wants and I admire the guts that he’s shown in going out to get it. He going to be the next Bill Belichick. Whether it’s Belichick with the Patriots or Belichick with the Browns has yet to be determined.

Ineptitude, Thy Name Is “Dolphins”


Want to know what a dysfunctional franchise looks like? Ordinarily I’d point to the Browns but sometimes I think the way the Dolphins are structured at the top with competition and rivalries amongst coaches and front office personnel make for a better example. In this case, Adam Beasley at the Miami Herald reports that there is a “spirited debate” about where to play linebacker Koa Misi. Head coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle want him at middle linebacker. So what’s the problem? The “personnel department” has apprently made it known that they think Misi should play outside and that Kelvin Sheppard should be tried in the middle.

In most organizations, the coaches make this determination and that’s the end of it. But in the corporate environment that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has allowed to develop in the organization, Philbin is seen as being in a weak postion and, therefore, front office personnel apparently feel free to insert themselves into the process.

Occasionally I’ll point out that the Bears are lucky to have the McCaskeys as owners of the Bears. Consider the Dolphins as yet anouther reason why. This is no way to run a franchise.