The Problems with Signing a Josh Sitton. And Other Points of View.

•  Kicker Robbie Gould, who was released last week by the Bears in favor of former Broncos/Saints//[name your team here] kicker Conner Barth is a great guy.  If you don’t believe it, just ask him.

Gould, who never met a camera he didn’t like or a reporter he didn’t think he could feed a comment to, couldn’t wait to run to the media last week, less than 24 hours after being let go, to tell everyone how much he loves the team that rejected him.

I’m sure many fans, perhaps the majority of fans, couldn’t wait to eat this stuff up.  But personally I find the whole thing to be hypocritical and just a little insulting to my intelligence.  I’d much rather see a player handle situations like this with quiet dignity where they eventually show the fans what they think at the appropriate time rather than going so far out of their way to shovel them crap as quickly as possible.

• I find it to be really interesting that (apparently) Cody Whitehair will be starting at center on Sunday.

Ted Larsen was listed at number one on the depth chart and that makes some sense to me.  Larsen has been snapping the ball more than any other center over the last month and, frankly, Whitehair looked pretty shaky in his only playing time at center in the second preseason game.  There is also the fact that Hronis Grasu is still waiting in the wings and he, also, is slated as a center.  By moving Whitehair there, Grasu will effectively become a third round pick who because a back up center – a high price to pay for such a position.

Having said that, it’s not that I disagree in that Whitehair might be the future.  You do want him to develop and getting playing time is the best way to do that.  But I thought under the circumstances that they might want to start Larsen for a week or two while Whitehair got his feet under him with some time in practice with new Bears coach, seven-time all pro center, Kevin Mawae.

The Bears think that center might be Whitehair’s best position in part because he’s athletic and can get to the second level to block in the run game.  But you wonder how much that’s going to help him with the massive Vince Wilfork on his nose as he’s snapping the ball all game against the Texans.

Apparently they’ve decided to throw him into the pool and tell him to sink or swim.  It might be the most interesting subplot in Sunday’s game.

• Speaking of new players along the offensive line, I was very surprised when the Bears got as aggressive as they did in their efforts to sign guard Josh Sitton.

There are a few reasons for that.

First, though the Bears said they gave Sitton a physical and it was all good, rumor has it that it’s not all good.

“We went through all that yesterday and it was a thorough process,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “Obviously we wouldn’t have signed him if there were major concerns. So we felt OK about it.”

Sitton has a bad back and, physical or not, the fact is that he’s been frequently held out of practice to rest it.  Sitton lost weight in the offseason at least partially to help avoid further problems.  The bet here is that it was a desperate attempt that had only a limited effect.  In the end, actions speak louder than words and history tells us that it’s gong to be an issue.

Compounding this problem is the second issue.  The Bears gave a good sized three year deal to a 30 year old lineman.  Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes an NFC pro personnel man on this issue:

“It’s probably a good move based on their lack of depth. But he’s 30 and you hate to invest big money into aging players a la Jared Allen.”

And there they are.  The magic words.  “Jared” “Allen”.  I love Allen and I liked the signing at the time.  But there’s no getting around the fact that the Bears misjudged the situation when they let Julius Peppers go to sign him.

The last issue may or may not be significant with the Bears.  Stilton wasn’t afraid to criticize coaches in Green Bay and it caused some friction with head coach Mike McCarthy, one of the best in the game.

For instance, after McCarthy thought Sitton criticized the offensive play calling, he had this to say:

“Well, first of all, Josh Sitton needs to play guard, and that’s where he’ll play this week, he’ll play left guard.”

“[H]ow you go into games with a direction and which direction the game takes you, it happens usually every time you line up and play the game of football. So it’s my job to call the plays, and it’s the players’ job to run the plays.”

Translation:  “Shut up and do your job and I’ll do mine.”

Personally, I can’t see why a young, rebuilding team would be signing 30 year old veteran free agents anyway.  I thought the Bears were in the process of drafting and developing, not adding a few pieces to put them over the top.

It’s one thing to sign young guys like Danny Trevathon  and Jerrell Freeman.  Those are younger players who will be as much a part of the future as Eddie Goldman will.  But Sitton is different.  Pro Bowler or not, he’s occupying a spot that where the Bers need to be developing the future, not playing to win now.

Bottom line, no one knows Sitton better than the Packers, a good organization that isn’t in the habit of making mistakes.  And the Packers let him go.  If the Bears get three years out of Sitton, making him a part of a team that will, the Bears hope, be pretty good by then, I’d say they will be darned lucky.

• Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times can’t get over the performance of the offense in the third preseason game against the Chiefs:

“I can’t shake the memory of the offense’s ineptness against the Chiefs. Every instinct and 30 years of covering the league tell me to ignore the preseason, but I saw huge issues in that game. If new Bear Josh Sitton can play two offensive line spots at once, maybe [Jay] Cutler has a chance of duplicating last season, his best as a Bear. Sitton is big, but he’s not that big.”

I can only say that I agree.  My problem with the Bears performance was that the issues weren’t all on one or two spots.  They were everywhere, which to me often means that the problem is with the coaching rather than with the players, themselves.

As Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune suggests, the offense may gel over time.  But I’m not holding my breath.  My gut feeling is that the Bears are going to miss Adam Gase more than they could have imagined as they exchange him for Dowell Loggains, who has yet to show that he’s even competent.  We’ll wait and see.

• On the other hand, I have great news for Bears fans hoping for a victory over the Texans.  Every single Chicago Tribune expert picked the Texans.

So basically the Bears are a lock to win.

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