The Exact Moment Jay Cutler Was Injured and Other Points of View

Bears

“The Oakland Raiders’ defense doesn’t distinguish itself in many statistical categories. It’s ranked 24th overall, 25th against the run and 20th against the pass.

“But the Raiders are tied for sixth in the NFL with 28 sacks and feature one of the faster defenses in the league.”

  • Bears runningback Matt Forte had an interesting take on what needs to be done against the Raiders, who will undoubtedly be expecting a heavy dose of the running game. Via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:

“‘It always has been on my shoulders,’ said Forte, who rushed for more than 100 yards in four of five games before his recent slump. ‘I don’t think it’s anything new. I just want to continue to be successful and get some more passes out of the backfield. Then they can’t stack the box and we can get the ball out in space.'”

“The protagonist in the book is a legendary sportswriter who uncovered that his home town team’s coach has orchestrated a massive cheating plan to get his team to win the Super Bowl. Well, can he divulge it? Will it fly? Is his evidence right? Will he be sued for libel? And he agonizes over it.

I’m thinking of written a book, too. Its about a legendary writer who blogs in his underwear from his mom’s basement investigates a huge cheerleading scandal. Really, really huge. Like Kelley Brook huge. He’s very dedicated that way.

Right now, Graham ranks fourth in fan voting for the Pro Bowl, causing him to wonder what happened to the Chicago machine.

“They always talk about Chicago is one of the biggest markets but we can’t tell. They ain’t voting for me,” he said. “I have to give them something to vote for. If I go out and make a lot of plays, more people will vote.”

I’m ashamed to say that until I read this quote I had not voted. I did with a ballot at nfl.com. Other notable Bears to con side include Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers, Jay Cutler, and Matt Forte. I also voted for a few more who were, let’s just day, questionable choices for people voting without a Bear bias.

“It was a hot topic around the league Friday although the Bears didn’t want to share any strong opinions, less than two weeks after Suh ripped the helmet off quarterback Jay Cutler and avoided discipline.”

“When the play was described to Smith, he shrugged.

“‘Oh really,’ he said. ‘Oh man, I’m sure the league will have something to say about that.’

“A reporter then piped up that’s not always the case with Suh.

“‘Next question,’ Smith responded.”

“If Tice has any regrets about his assistant coach experience, it was his being denied the chance to interview for the Titans offensive coordinator position in the offseason.

“‘You’re always disappointed when you don’t have a chance to better yourself, professionally, and that’s what the interview process is all about,’ he said. “I wanted to do that interview.'”

And I continue to believe that the right thing to do for the Bears would have been to allow it.

  • With the Bears Jay Cutler injured, special teams will have to continue to be strong for the Bears. On that note, every Bear fan can give thanks on this day for arrogance and overconfidence. Again, via Biggs.
  • I’m not always Roy Williams‘ biggest fan. But he certainly is quick with a quote. McClure gets him here on new Bears quarterback Josh McCown, who played with Williams on the Lions:

“Shoot, the most athletic white boy I’ve ever seen in my life.

  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune writes a nice article on the things every back up quarterback thrown into the starting role needs to know:

“‘That’s a subtlety a good head coach will manage well,’ [Jim McMahon backup Steve] Fuller recalled over the phone. ‘They didn’t drastically alter the whole system to make me feel like, ‘Oh, God, they’re frightened I’m in there.’ You strike a balance between putting in wrinkles versus completely scaring the crap out of the guy by putting in stuff completely different that would be panicking.'”

“We didn’t blitz much last week, and that could help. There are little things we will have to improve, and we will. The pass rush, it just hasn’t been consistent. You just keep working at it”

I thought the Bears did blitz a lot last week. The problem is that the ball was coming out so fast there was no chance to get to Philip Rivers. If they’re planning on blitzing even more this could be an interesting game.

“Jay Cutler has taken some criticism for not playing through injuries in the past, which is why he should consider wearing a protective walking boot on his thumb.”

Apparently they don’t think much of the Bears chances with Hanie at quarterback:

Elsewhere

“Our current national delusion is the belief that a quarterback whose team scores 17 points (7 as the result of defensive or special teams play) against a New York opponent, but who leads a grinding fourth-quarter game-winning drive, has done something truly exceptional. So there’s a (yawn) quarterback controversy brewing in Philadelphia, the City of Backup Quarterback-ly Love. If Michael Vick (ribs) is healthy, he will start over Vince Young, though locals are clamoring for Young, whose three early-game interceptions were apparently not signs of ineptitude but his flair for the dramatic. Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson’s self-promoting behavior has become so erratic and counterproductive that he is one step from renaming the rest of his season the Torpedo of Touchdowns Tour.”

“The Rex Ryan Experience has always had a risky side. If promises aren’t delivered, words become hollow and credibility suffers. It doesn’t seem to be an act for the long term. When Ryan is gone, sports journalists may miss him most. Dullness is an enemy, particularly on deadline. Fans around New York would miss him, too — if not at first, eventually. But they would never see another like him. You can’t re-create a football coach with his bluster, joy and joshing.”

“Dear Steve Weatherford,
“It has come to my attention that you sometimes punt the football straight into the arms of the league’s most dangerous return men, forcing me to constrict and temporarily hinder blood flow to the brain. This week, you will be facing Darren Sproles, who has five total return touchdowns in his career. Please be advised that if he scores a touchdown as a direct result of one of your punts, I will shut down, then leap through the esophagus to strangle you, leaving you breathless and unemployed faster than you can say ‘Matt Dodge.’
“Sincerely,
Tom Coughlin’s Pulmonary Artery.”

  • The Sports Pickle gives us visual evidence that Ndamukong Suh might be a dirty player:

One Final Thought

Shortly after I putting up my own post connecting the behavior of the Lions as a team with that of head coach Jim Schwartz, this article from Jason Cole at Yahoo! Sports came to my attention:

“This all comes back to Schwartz. He has done much to turn the Lions around, starting with the excitement of a 5-0 start. However, in the moments after Detroit’s first loss on Oct. 16 against San Francisco at home, Schwartz also lost his cool. After a bad exchange with counterpart Jim Harbaugh, Schwartz lost control and chased Harbaugh down the field.

“In some respects, it was comical. At the same time, it probably warranted a fine. Now, weeks later, the Lions are playing like a team that doesn’t know how to handle tough situations. What a shocker. Players take their cues from the people in charge.”

The whole article is worth a read.

The “Lions organization” has released a statement condemning Suh’s actions. But as Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com points out no one really knows who that means. Specifically, its notable that two days after the incident other than a weak “I haven’t seen the replay but we can’t afford the penalty” we’ve heard nothing from Schwartz, whose constant and vehement defense of Suh over the course of the season in the face of such dirty play enabled the behavior to the point that Thursday’s incident was inevitable. If Schwartz doesn’t come out and strongly put his foot down on Suh this time, the statement from the “organization” will be virtually meaningless.

Game Comments: Panthers @Bears 10/2/11

Defense

  1. For some reason I don’t understand the Bears were giving Steve Smith no apparent extra attention.  Its fairly obvious that Cam Newton depends heavily on him.  I had flash backs to Wes Welker last year.
  2. The Bears were playing a lot of straight up zone.  The times they blitzed they frequently got burned by a screen play.  They did blitz much more often and more effectively in the second half.
  3. The Panthers called plenty of misdirection and cutbacks against the aggressive Bears defense.  The Bears weren’t in their gaps, especially in the first half.
  4. Bears really tackled poorly.  I got very tired of watching DeAngelo Williams run though them.
  5. Cam Newton looks a whole lot more accurate than we were led to believe he was coming out of college.  He’s going to be a good one.
  6. Its near the end of the first quarter and Brandon Meriweather gets caught out of position covering over the top and allows Smith a completion on the 1 yard line setting up a touchdown.  This is why the Patriots didn’t want him.  Inexcusable.
  7. Not a lot of pressure on Newton from the defensive line.  The Bears were really trying to rush with discipline and keep Newton in the pocket.  As a result Newton frequently had a long time to throw the ball.  What was tough was that the Bears just couldn’t get him down.  He’d just step through the tackle and get out of the pocket anyway.  He’s like Dante Culpepper was only better at it.
  8. Poor clock management at the end of the half by the Panthers.  You don’t want to leave that last time out in your pocket.
  9. Jeremy Shockey has got to shut up and play.

Offense

  1. The Bears came out running and the Panthers insisted on meeting it with seven in the box.  Its was a contest of wills until just before the end of the half when the Panthers wisely finally started sneaking a guy up.  They wanted Jay Cutler to have to throw – as well they should.  One big mistake they made is that they didn’t do more.  There’s no reason whatsoever to respect the Bears passing game at all.
  2. They didn’t throw much in the first half but I don’t have words to express the utter disgust I feel for the pass protection by the offensive line.  There’s no excuse for the poor protection against a four man rush.  Pulling Frank Omiyale from right tackle and replacing him with Lance Lewis helped.  Martz quickly started leaving more people in to block as he did against the Packers.
  3. The run blocking was pretty good but a lot of the offense was Matt Forte making yards on his own.  He continues to look extremely good.
  4. Like Cutler, I’m a little tired of seeing this team have to call time out because the plays aren’t getting in fast enough.

Miscellaneous

  1. Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick did a reasonably good job.  Billick pointed out a few things I missed.
  2. Give credit to FOX for being sure to catch Jay Cutler congratulating D.J. Moore after his touchdown.
  3. Outstanding special teams play by the Bears.  In contrast the Panther’s special teams are pretty awful.  The Devin Hester touchdown was on a line drive punt.  The blocked field goal by the Bears was well done but as Billick pointed out, it was a poor kick.  I’m not sure what that last kickoff by the Panthers was supposed to be.  If it was supposed to fool me because most sane people expected an an onside kick, it did.
  4. The Bears got a key turnover and left at least one or two on the field.  Cutler threw a bad interception (see below).
  5. There were plenty of disturbingly open Panthers receivers who didn’t make catches.  That won’t happen every week.  The Bears continue to fail to fight for balls and allow opposing defenses to knock balls away and/or drop passes when they’re hit.  You aren’t going to be wide open all the time.  The drop by Dane Sanzenbacher on a key third down took place at a poor time.
  6. Greg Olsen obviously needed to settle down.  Two penalties on opening drive.  The Panthers constantly shot themselves in the foot with lots and lots of penalties beside that.  The Bears weren’t clean but they weren’t hurt as bad as the Panthers who had play after play eliminated by it.  I’d like to point out that Brandon Meriweather was dancing on the edge of the rules for a lot of this game.  He had at least one helmet to helmet hit on Steve Smith that really needs to be called.
  7. Lots of pink out there for breast cancer awareness.
  8. Certainly the story of this game was the Bears commitment to the run.  But I’m concerned.  Its obvious now that the book on Jay Cutler is to hit him and he folds.  I understand that the protection isn’t good but he’s has got to stand in against the rush.  He sees blitz and no matter how much protection he’s got, he panics.  He’s constantly throwing off of his back foot.  He short armed the interception and it flew high.  Someone has to do something about this or its gong to be a miserable year passing no matter what the line does.  They aren’t going to win many games like this.

Duerson’s Brain a Cautionary Tale for Critics of New Rules and Other Points of View

Bears

“‘I am very comfortable with these three quarterbacks,’ Martz said when asked if the need for a veteran backup still exists. ‘Nathan will compete with Caleb for the backup position. I would expect that Caleb will end up being the guy, but Nathan is good enough to be that player.'”

I’m guessing that the fourth quarterback on the roster, Matt Gutierrez, must be feeling good about being all but eliminated from consideration in May.

Pompei also had this for those who say Enderle was a reach in the fifth round:

“Critics wondered why the Bears chose Enderle so high when they had other needs. Enderle represented good value in the fifth round. I had a fourth-round grade on Enderle based on opinions from three front-office men from other teams I spoke with prior to the draft.”

“Enderle doesn’t have a cannon like Cutler. That’s OK. The three things Martz prioritizes in a quarterback are accuracy, intelligence and toughness.”

Martz goes on to say that he doesn’t have to make mechanical changes with Enderle, and he played in a “very sophisticated offense” that asked him to do a lot of the things he will be asked to do with the Bears.

I’ll accept that Enderle might be competition for Hanie but the odds are very low that he’ll do so effectively if the lockout doesn’t end reasonably soon.  Despite what Martz says, from what I can tell, Enderle has a lot of work to do shortening that occasionally long wind up of his.

“Nate Enderle took a boatload of sacks at Idaho, so he’ll fit right into Mike Martz’s system.”

“Free safety Chris Conte (California) was quietly viewed by some as the best developmental prospect of this year’s weak safety class. Speaking of developmental prospects, Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle, at 6-4, 240 pounds, has the build and arm strength well worthy of his fifth-round selection.”

“Now, more than ever, I believe the Detroit Lions, not Chicago, is the team to challenge Green Bay in the NFC North. With Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh paired at defensive tackle, the Lions’ D-line becomes an extraordinary pass defense, while the addition of Titus Young gives the club an explosive wide receiver opposite Calvin Johnson. Yeah, I know, the Lions still need cornerbacks, but quarterbacks won’t have much time to exploit whoever is there. I’m already making Detroit this year’s sleeper, and there’s plenty of room on the bandwagon. This is a vastly improved team that won its last four starts — including one over Green Bay — and just beefed up an already impressive defensive line.”

Elsewhere

  • Rob Rang at CBSSports.com gives his thoughts on the draft:

“No. 1 pick Nick Fairley gives the Lions a potential tandem at defensive tackle, with Ndamokung Suh, that is the best not only in the NFC North, but in the NFL. Suh is the Lions’ best defensive player but Detroit strengthened that area in a way that also projects to aid the secondary with improved pass rush.”

Did anyone else notice how angry Fairley looked when they finally called his name?  He wasn’t happy lasting to 13 after being projected so much higher in January.  I would expect he’ll start trying to make the rest of the NFL pay for their doubt.  (Picture from US Presswire)

Fairley

  • Tom Kowalski at mlive.com contrasts current GM Martin Mayhew‘s draft room with former GM Matt Millen‘s.  He repeats this storry about the 2006 draft when the Lions were on the clock debating about whether to take guard Max Jean-Gilles.  Kowalski doesn’t mention it explicitly but the first problem was that they hadn’t worked this out in advance rather than debating it for five minutes while actually on the clock.  Here’s the second problem:

“The Lions spent so much time talking about Jean-Gilles that, when they decided not to draft him, they didn’t have another option ready to go. As they wondered what to do, a voice in the back of the room (the identity of which I haven’t confirmed yet) said ‘Take Brian Calhoun.’ So they did.

“In his two-year career in Detroit, Calhoun had 54 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards and never scored a touchdown.”

“Look, Mayhew isn’t going to be perfect and he’s going to whiff on some draft picks (cough, Derrick Williams, cough). But one of the tricks to a successful draft is limiting your mistakes by being thoroughly prepared. It’s one thing to miss, it’s another thing to not know what the hell you’re swinging at.”

“Don’t tell me the lockout didn’t have an impact on this year’s draft because it did. I’ve never seen so many reaches, starting with Aldon Smith with the seventh pick of the first round, continuing with quarterbacks Jake Locker and Christian Ponder and moving through the bottom of the round, then on into the next two days. There were stretches everywhere, and I have to believe it was because clubs drafted for need. Usually, you hear “the-best-player-available” explanation for choices, but not this year. The past three days clubs gambled everywhere to fill needs they would have already solved through free agency or trades.”

“The Seattle Seahawks allowed opponents to score 33 or more points in nine of their past 12 starts, including the playoffs, and ranked 25th in points allowed. So what do they do? Draft offense with three of their first four choices. Someone please explain.”

Not only did they take offense, they didn’t even take good offense, reaching for guard James Carpenter in the first round:

“OT James Carpenter to Seattle: Most people had him rated somewhere in the middle of the second round, yet the Seahawks took him with the 25th selection … with Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod still on the board. The Seahawks envision Carpenter as their next right tackle and say they love his versatility and nastiness. OK, I’ll buy that — just not at the 25th spot.”

How much of a reach was the selection of Carpenter?  Even Alabama coach Nick Saban couldn’t believe it:

Finally, we have this from coach Pete Caroll:

“’We are happy with Charlie and hoping he is going to continue to flourish and blossom. I’m not feeling like we missed out on a quarterback opportunity’ — Seattle coach Pete Caroll on Charlie Whitehurst and the Seahawks’ failure to draft a quarterback.

Bottom line Caroll is starting to remind me why he didn’t make it with the Jets all those years ago.  With him at the helm the Seahawks may have been as good last season as they’re going to be for a few years.

“I’ll tell you what I find intriguing about quarterback Blaine Gabbert: When the Washington Redskins had a chance to choose him they didn’t. Instead, coach Mike Shanahan traded out. Shanahan knows how to develop quarterbacks, and he needs a good young one in Washington. But instead of taking Gabbert after he unexpectedly lasted until the 10th pick, Shananan passed. Then he just avoided the position altogether, refusing to use any of his draft picks on a quarterback. Keep that in mind as Gabbert’s career unfolds”

The guess here is that Washington didn’t “avoid the position altogether” on purpose.  They probably traded back thinking they could pick up Christian Ponder.  The Vikings were rumored to like Jake Locker and the Redskins probably thought they’d pass on Ponder.  They didn’t.

“When one team held an audition for him, no receivers from Auburn showed up. You got to be kidding me. You’re Cam Newton, and you can’t get anyone from your offense to come to your workout?”

I’ve heard people say that Newton’s character concerns don’t necessarily translate to the field.  I think this translates.

“With so many pressing needs on the roster, they still want to fix RB? And they get Murray who is best known for his ability to catch the ball (he had 71 receptions in 2010). This redundancy with Felix’s new-found catching ability is quite a statement.”

“True, Elmore has posted videos of him both jumping out of a pool and into a truck on YouTube. But it’s also worth noting that Elmore actually had more production last season than his more-famous teammate, defensive end/linebacker Brooks Reed.”

Wonder how he would have done without Reed on the other side garnering the attention.

  • Sturm also had this to say about the fact that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called Larry Lacewell, Butch Davis and Barry Switzer for advice on various picks:

“Previous draft disappointments haunt the Cowboys. And when Jerry tells us that he is not listening to his scouts, but more about how he listens to his old buddies about picks, then we should assume that the draft process has not changed very much. I needed Jerry to tell me that Tom Ciskowski and his staff have targeted this player and we trust them. Instead, he tells me that Switzer signed off on the Cowboys taking an Oklahoma RB.”

Amen.  At least when Jerry Angelo stands in front of the media, he can tell you how much his coaches and area scouts whose business it is to watch these prospects for months and years like the picks and why.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  No matter what else you think of them, thank heavens the Bears have ownership that doesn’t interfere with the day-to-day running of the personnel department.  Generally speaking it is a route to disaster long term for any franchise.

“Detroit Lions — Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh give the Lions two young, strong players who can help carry Matthew Stafford off the field when he’s injured”

One Final Thought

Finally Judge welcomes Patrick Peterson to the NFL with this sarcastic response to a quote from him:

“‘Everybody loves the game of football. I can’t see the world without it. How do you think the world would be without it?’ — Arizona CB Patrick Peterson. I dunno, Patrick, but why don’t you ask the people who survived the 57-day strike in 1982. Better yet, ask someone in Libya.”

I’ll tell you exactly how they the world will be.  Full of people surprising themselves by finding better things to do on Sunday.  NFL beware.

The Bears and the NFL Top 100. And Other Points of View

Bears

  • Well, the Bears drew an interesting schedule.  As everyone now knows they will be traveling to London to play Tampa Bay.  I addition to that, they drew a Christmas night assignment at Green Bay.
  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune says that the Bears won’t be playing in London if there’s no labor deal by Aug. 1.
  • ESPN’s  NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert wonders if the NFL didn’t purposely schedule the Bears to have more than the usual number of early home games because the turf would be better that time of year.
  • For those who despise night games as much as I do the Bears currently have four on the schedule.
  • Charles Tillman and his wife went on Oprah to meet the mother who donated her son’s heart so that Tillman’s daughter could live.  Via Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Matt Williamson at ESPN’s Scouts Inc, ranked the NFC North offensive lines.  The Bears were dead last.

“In 2010, the Bears’ run blocking was terrible. But the pass protection was horrendous. In fact, it was probably the worst in the NFL, as evidenced by the league-leading 56 sacks Chicago allowed. Even though the coaching staff did a great job masking these insufficiencies, there will be changes. It is amazing that the Bears got as far as they did in the postseason with that group of linemen.”

“Fixing the Bears’ offensive line will be a two-part process. They’ll need to bring in better players, but more important, they’ll also have to coax improved play from a group that our resident scout sees little promise in.”

We all have to hope that there’s more promise that Williamson thinks in the Bears young offensive linemen or 2011 could be a long year.

  • The Bears website did this nice little feature on Director of Player Personnel Tim Ruskell:

“We brought in Chester to be a complement to Matt [Forte], which he was… I know the numbers weren’t there, but Matt’s numbers were up. You’re just looking for the running back position’s numbers to go up, which they did.”

Whatever.

“If Brandt is right, and neither [Anthony] Castonzo or [Gabe] Carimi can protect Jay Cutler‘s blind side, it may behoove the Bears to take an interior lineman or the best defensive player available.”

“Texas gave the Bears Nathan Vasher, and [Aaron] Williams is a 6-foot cornerback in the tradition of Charles Tillman. Because of the value of the position and the need to get a Tillman replacement in the pipeline, this pick solidifies a spot that has bedeviled the defense since Vasher’s precipitous decline from his one-time Pro Bowl level.”

  • Nolan Nawrocki at Pro Football Weekly reviews the character issues (good and bad) surrounding some of the to talent in the draft.  Amongst the players connected at some point to the Bears are Marvin Austin, Rodney Hudson, and Ryan Kerrigan.
  • Jensen picks Derek Sherrod for the Bears in a mock draft for NFL.com.

Elsewhere

  • Regulars here know that I’m purposely avoiding most of the details of the labor negotiations that aren’t directly football related.  In fact, I’m not even reading the articles.  However for those who care, profootballtalk.com seems to be all over it.  Mike Florio is a lawyer so there’s even a slight chance that you can believe some of it.
  • Jeff Fisher says he wants to coach again in 2012.  Florio continues to express his skepticism about Fisher’s history with the Titans.
  • Tom Pelissero at 1500ESPN.com doesn’t think the Vikings should be looking defensive end in the first round.  He points to fourth rounders Ray Edwards, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen as examples of good defensive linemen who can be found late.  Yes, but how good would they be without Jared Allen?  I think last season answered that question as Allen had a down year and so did everyone else.  True Allen, was a fourth rounder, too.  But the Vikings had to go outside the organization to get him and I don’t like the odds of finding another one of him.
  • Evan Silva at profootballtalk.com might as well just say out right that there’s no way Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb gets traded.
  • Michael David Smith also at profootballtlk.com, indicates that, to no one’s surprise, the Patriots are willing to trade draft picks.  Historically they’re pretty good at it:

“One of [Bill] Belichick’s favorite draft-day tactics is to trade a pick this year for a higher pick next year. This year the Patriots own the first pick of the second round (and thus the second day), and it’s quite likely that some team will call Belichick before the second round starts to offer the Patriots a first-round pick in 2012 for the right to choose first in the second round of 2011. So the Patriots won’t just use all those picks to bolster their 2011 roster; they also may look to build a stockpile of 2012 picks.”

  • One season into his NFL career and Jimmy Clausen may already be done in Carolina.  Former NFL safety Matt Bowen relates his experience at a similar point in his career for the National Football Post.  If I’m Clausen and the Panthers draft a quarterback in the first round, I’m ignoring all other factors and doing my best to get onto a team with a history of developing quarterbacks.
  • And finally, the last of the series, the Carolina Panthers are on the clock at ESPN:

One Final Thought

Pete Prisco at CBSSports.com rates the top 100 NFL players.  There were only two Bears, only one of whom was drafted by the organization and he was not drafted by GM Jerry Angelo.

Illinois Governor Has Not Paid Off on Bet and Other Points of View

Bears

“It obviously depends on how far they trade down and how motivated their trading partner is to move up. But in speculating about what type of compensation the Bears would get in exchange for the 29th pick, we can look back at what occurred in last year’s draft when two picks in the same vicinity were dealt. The Ravens traded the 25th pick to the Broncos in exchange for selections in the second (43rd overall), third (70) and fourth (114) rounds. The Vikings traded the 30th pick along with a fourth-rounder (128) to the Lions in exchange for choices in the second (34), fourth (100) and seventh (214) rounds.”

UCLA safety Rahim Moore is getting a lot of attention from a number of NFC teams. I’m hearing both the Cowboys and Bears have a lot of interest in the center field standout and he could be an option for both in round two.

Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue DE— I’ve seen him taken by the Bears in at least one mock draft

Christian Ponder, Florida State QB – my gut feeling is that someone is going to trade up to take Ponder.  The Bears are a possible trading partner but will also benefit if someone in front of them trades down, leaving another good non-quarterback to fall.

Mike Pouncey, Florida C/G – there’s almost no way Pouncey falls to the Bears as he continues to rise up boards.

N.F.L. Draft: Torrey Smith, 5th-Ranked Receiver – NYTimes.com

Matt Waldman, writing for the New York Times, is reviewing the top five players by position.  It highly iunlikely the Bears will go wide receiver in the first round but the second is not out of the question.  Here is the profile for Torrey Smith, his fifth ranked receiver.

  • Greg Gabriel at the National Football Post breaks down Iowa quarterback Ricki Stanzi.  The Bears will probably draft a developmental quarterback and if Stanzi falls far enough, he’s a distinct possibility.

Elsewhere

“It’s a different way of thinking about line play.  How much has Dallas embraced it?   If you match this philosophy up with players visiting Valley Ranch this past week, it seems the Cowboys are rather warm to the approach.”

I also have agreed with this assessment.

  • Because of the success of Ndamukong Suh and to a lesser extent Gerald McCoy from last year’s draft, many assume defensive line is a good direction to go in at the top of the draft.  Not necessarily so says Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“Of the [last] 15 defensive linemen who have gone in the top six overall, only five have made at least one Pro Bowl. Of the seven defensive ends, the last four are disappointments headlined by Vernon Gholston, who can be called a bust after three underwhelming seasons with the Jets.”

“Complicating matters this year is the fact that without a CBA agreement teams won’t be allowed to sign undrafted free agents right away.”

“I’ve been told that means if a team needs to fill a position – like fullback, safety or nose tackle with a youngster to develop – they will have to draft him in the later rounds, using one of their sixth or seventh-round picks.

“I’ve been warned this could alter the approach of the late round selection, preventing teams from drafting the best available player (no matter what’s already on their roster) because they are addressing needs in this new, unchartered era of the NFL.”

“A mini-trend this year, according to several front office men, is that teams are not giving prospects a particular grade just because those players are ‘supposed to’ have that grade, as per the rest of the league. It seems that teams are more inclined to go out on a limb with players, even if their thinking is unconventional. The result could be more surprise picks, especially towards the end of the first round.”

  • Matthew Cammarata at the Detroit Free Press thinks the three most likely picks for the Lions at 13 will be cornerback Prince Amukamara and offensive tackles Anthony Castonzo and Tyron Smith.  As I said yesterday, there’s a wide disparity of opinion on whether the Lions actually need a tackle of not and one of the more interesting questions in this draft will be what the Lions will do if Amukamara isn’t there.

You can count Tim Twentyman at the Detroit News as one who thinks offensive tackle in the first round probably shouldn’t be an option:

“By most accounts, this year’s crop of tackles is deep with first-round talent but short on a sure thing.

“Read most of the scouting reports on these tackles and you’ll see the words ‘potential”’ and ‘project.”’ There aren’t any guys that knock my socks off.”

“Some fans don’t want to hear it, but left tackle Jeff Backus is coming off two of the best seasons in his career. Coach Jim Schwartz called last season’s performance Pro-Bowl worthy.”

“Southern Cal OT Tyron Smith is getting a lot of interest from the Cowboys at nine, but I am also hearing they like Missouri DE Aldon Smith a lot and would love to pair him opposite DeMarcus Ware off the edge.

If Smith is there for the Cowboys I’ve got a feeling he is a virtual lock here.  They needs a tackle as Marc Colombo is on his last legs and Smith is the consensus as the best tackle in the draft.

“I know they’ve had a lot of talk about the quarterback situation here in Miami, we’ve had a lot of talk about it in Charlotte too.  It’s all going to boil down to quarterbacks. in this league, the running game is predicated on whether you have a quarterback or not. If you don’t have a quarterback, teams will stack the box and they force you to do what you do best. …

“It’s basically going to boil down to who has the better quarterback, or who’s making the conscious effort to go out and find a quarterback or mold a quarterback they already have into a championship caliber quarterback.”


One Final Thought

Apparently Illinois governor Pat Quinn is on the border of welshing on his bet with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. From Jim Singl at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Brad Biggs at the National Football Post:

“So, that means Quinn has yet to show up decked out in his best green and gold gear at a Wisconsin food pantry. What gives? Is he weaseling out, Singl asked?

“’No, no, no, absolutely not,’ Quinn’s spokesman Grant Klinzman said. ‘He fully intends to live up to the terms of the bet.’

“That’s nice. Was Quinn planning on settling up anytime soon or does the NFL lockout have him really down in the dumps?

“’He’s a very, very busy guy,’ Klinzman said. ‘I think you guys have been pretty busy, as well.’”

 

Five Apps Every Sports Fan Needs and Other Points of View

Bears

“Asked if [Jay] Cutler would still be a Bronco if he were in charge at the time, Elway said, ‘There’s a good possibility, yeah.

“’I would say that. But I don’t know. I wasn’t in the middle of that. I didn’t know Jay real well.

“’But I would have done everything I can, especially when you have a talent like you have in Jay. Those guys don’t come around very often.’”

  • ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert answers your questions: including this one about whether the Bears need for a receiver:

“melliott74 writes: I remember a few years ago the Steelers were looking for a bigger receiver, and they drafted a ‘steal’ in the 2nd round named Limas Sweed. You’re welcome to take him.

“Kevin Seifert: Well, to be fair, Sweed’s career has been derailed for reasons other than being a big receiver who didn’t play that way. Most notably, he ruptured an Achilles tendon last spring.

But I understand what you’re saying. As they prepare for the draft and free agency, I don’t think the Bears should over-prioritize height for receivers. All I’m saying is that coach Lovie Smith is right to note that he doesn’t have a big receiving threat.

Tight end Greg Olsen could fill that role sometimes, but it’s not the same as having a speed-based threat who can ‘go up and get it.'”

Elsewhere

“Scouts say as many as nine outside linebackers are getting no worse than third-round grades from most teams, which is astounding.”

“I would say that one thing you definitely miss is that team camaraderie.  There’s a few guys that come out here daily, so we get a little bit of it. But it’s not the same as a traditional offseason, where it’s 50 guys out there and you’re all working towards one purpose. For the most part, though, we’ve been pushing each other very well.”

“The Jerry 2.0 years started with seemingly effectiveness, as he has retained many of the player templates installed in the [Bill] Parcells years.  Every player from Dallas ’08 draft remains in the league and the one player Dallas cut, 6th rounder Erik Walden, just earned a Super Bowl ring with the Packers.

“That said, the high-round gambling which dogged Jerry 1.0 [between Jimmy Johnson and Parcells] appears to be creeping back into the Cowboys drafts.  Martellus Bennett is a physically imposing, but equally immature tight end, a fact the ’08 Hard Knocks made plain.  Bennett continues to progress slowly, but thus far represents a poor return for a 2nd round pick.”

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock at ESPN:

  • Of interest to Bears fans is this entry in the Whispers feature at Pro Football Weekly:

“Not many people expect the Patriots to keep both their first-round picks (Nos. 17 and 28). The Pats also start the second round with the 33rd overall selection. The 28th appears to be the one for sale, and a report surfaced from the owners meeting in New Orleans that the Chargers could be a suitor. The Patriots have more holes to fill than you would think for a team coming off a 14-2 record, with a young defense and an aging offensive line. However, that shouldn’t end the Draft Day tradition of Bill Belichick making a deal and trading an early pick for a future pick.”

The Bears have the 29th pick, the one immediately after the relevant Patriots spot.

One Final Thought

This time of year the news in the press (and subsequently much of what you find referenced in this blog) is dominated by what people say about the draft.  So these statements by Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel in the National Football Post have particular relevance, especially to the teams fans:

“I used to tell people in the last few weeks leading up to the draft that the first thing I have to do when the draft is over is go to confession and beg for forgiveness for all the lies I told the previous two months.”

“While I was with the Bears, I would change things every year so the media could not be certain as to why we were doing things. One year I may bring in for visits many of the players we were interested in and the next year not bring in any and then the next year only guys we may want as potential free agents. Of course then there were some years when you would bring in the big “smoke screen” candidate only to let other clubs “think” we were interested in that player. I felt you could never have a pattern on how you did business; you have to change from year to year especially when dealing with the draft. If I was ever asked about a certain player’s injury, I would always say that it was a concern even if it wasn’t. If that answer would throw off what a few clubs thought we may want to do then it was the right answer.

“The bottom line is the only things that you can really believe is what you know to be true.”

NFL Sends Inconsistent Signals with Recent Rule Change and Other Points of View

Bears

“One thing Phillips said on the issue [of the grass playing surface at Soldier Field], however, sounds like an utter crock: ‘The players know how to play on it, and frankly, it’s been part of our home-field advantage.’ The Bears players rip it as much or more than opponents do. They don’t like it and don’t sound confident on that kitty-litter. And I wouldn’t be talking home-field advantage if I just lost the NFC Championship Game at home.”

  • Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times points out the the NFL chose what head coach Lovie Smith considered to be the worst possible option for the kickoff rules:

“’The part that we’re not OK with is moving the ball up to the 35-yard line,’ Smith said. ‘The rest of it, we could live with.’

“Much to Smith’s chagrin, the NFL voted to move the kickoff yard line from the 30 to the 35 and opted to keep two-man wedges and touchbacks at the 20-yard line.”

“Other owners and their representatives crowed about McCaskey’s speech, which is what you do when you want to keep the sucker at the poker table — praise his play. But if McCaskey wasn’t so worried about his speech, then maybe he would’ve shown some clout to round up enough votes to block the new kickoff rule.

But no. The Bears were unable to prevent the NFL from minimizing the league’s most dangerous return game. The Steelers, meanwhile, with one of the hardest-hitting defense, made sure that proposals regarding hits on defenseless players didn’t pass. Some teams have clout, apparently. Some teams have Fredo McCaskey.”

  • Jensen also writes of Bears president Phillips’ confidence that the team is in good shape headed into a lockout:

“I think it’s huge,” Phillips said when asked about his team’s continuity, “and with the labor uncertainty we have now, that’s why we’ve preached, internally, to cover all bases and be ready because you never know when the deal is going to get done.

“We’re going to have a competitive edge.”

  • Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune quoting Smith on the criticism of the Bears for announcing quarterback Jay Cutler‘s return as “questionable” after his injury in the NFC Championship game:

“We can’t worry about the criticism.  We’re trying to win a football game. … What were we supposed to do? We’re behind, trying to win the biggest game in the history of our franchise. Let’s worry about what everybody is thinking about our quarterback? That’s the last thing.”

  • It also sounds like Pompei has a suspicion the Bears might be drafting interior offensive linemen rather than tackles as he answers questions from fans:

Are the Bears really considering Florida’s center Mike Pouncey with their first pick in the draft? I think it’s more than time to bring on Olin Kreutz successor, don’t you? And, would the Bears trade up to draft him? — Walter Brzeski, Chicago

If they aren’t, they should be. The Bears might need help on their interior offensive line more than they need help at the tackle position. Within two years, they might need three new starters at left guard, right guard and center. Pouncey could start out this year as the left guard, and then move inside to center when Kreutz moves on (assuming Kreutz is re-signed). The problem is Pouncey probably won’t be on the board when the Bears pick at No. 29. Trading up is a possibility, but it would come with drawbacks. The Bears have had a deficit of high draft picks over the last two years because of trades. Giving away two high draft picks for one good prospect in this scenario might not make good sense.

I agree 100% both because I think the guard and center positions are a need and because the draft probably will fall such that it will make the most sense for the Bears to go that way.  But what they do will probably depend mostly upon how they feel about the fourth or fifth tackle prospects as opposed to their second guard prospect, though.  And the defensive linemen available will factor in as well.

  • Smith’s comments about the backup situation at guard would seem to validate Pompei’s opinion.  Smith doesn’t sound happy about their play last year.  Via Michael C. Wright at ESPNChicago.com:

“If you just be a team player, eventually, you’re gonna really get a chance to prove whether you can play or not, and you need to take advantage of your opportunity.  Lance [Louis] hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunity. Edwin [Williams] did not take advantage of his opportunity, or hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunity yet. We still like those guys. They’re young players that are in the system.”

“Overall, Sherrod will eventually become a winning left tackle in the league. Some teams may start him off on the right side while he gains experience but he has the traits to play on the left side. The more tape I watched of this player the more I liked him. He has range and athleticism to go along with long arms…all traits needed to become an effective left tackle in the league.”

“There isn’t a prejudiced bone in our bodies or my dad’s body,” Ryan said, including twin brother and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. “That’s why I know it’s crazy.”

“‘We didn’t come out and check the body or nothing like that, but he’s fine,’ Smith said. ‘I talked to Jay just before he went on his trip to Africa. His spirits are high, in a good mood, you know. [He’s] excited about everything.”

Cutler’s had a rough month or two and its nice to know they were talking to him.

  • There aren’t many matchups Julius Peppers can’t win but this is one of them.
  • The Bears website is featuring a quick 4 minute feature on general manager Jerry Angelo and the NFL draft.  Most of the footage appears to be from last year but its still pretty good:

Elsewhere

  • To no one’s surprise, Bengals owner Mike Brown isn’t backing down on his refusal of quarterback Carson Palmer‘s request for a trade.  Palmer is threatening to retire. Via Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“I haven’t talked to any other team about him and I have no plans to trade him.”

Brown’s problem goes well beyond the quarterback.  If he gives in on Palmer there might be a line of players behind him.

  • Most Bear fans have one hope as regards the future prospects of the very young and talented Green Bay Packer team.    That is that they handle success in the same way that the Bears handled it after their Super Bowl run in 2006 – poorly.  However it seems that head coach Mike McCarthy is more aware of the problem that Lovie Smith apparently was.  Via Rob Demovsky at the Green Bay Press Gazzette:

“’We’ve achieved team success at the highest level, and I’m a big believer that every level you hit brings new devils,’ McCarthy said. ‘Definitely, there will be some new challenges that come with winning the Super Bowl. We’re anticipating it. It’s something we’ll talk about and keep in the forefront as a football team because to me, that’s where I’ve seen failure.'”

“I think our division is extremely competitive … It’s very competitive. We were 4-2 in our division games, and we strive to do better than that, and we’re going to need to do better than that. I think our division, we spend a lot of time on division games, I’d put our division up against anybody’s. It’s competitive as hell.”

  • NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert at ESPN quotes Lions head coach  Jim Schwartz on how they are monitoring the rehab of quarterback Matthew Stafford during the lockout.  There isn’t supposed to be any contact between the organization and the players during this time:

“Our trainers are in communication not with the players but the people who are doing their rehab… We can’t supervise, but we can communicate with the people who supervise. So you have an idea. And you know they’re at professional places.”

“It’s hard to say (it was a wasted year).  I think sometimes setbacks are set-ups for better things in the future. Sometimes your best lessons come from tough times. I think I’m a better coach today with that experience. Not the record, but I think it made me better as a coach.”

“From my vantage point I couldn’t quite see whether Pete Carroll wore a cat-ate-the-canary look on his face when he heard the question. But when a Philadelphia-based reporter inquired whether his Seahawks have had conversations with the Eagles regarding a trade for quarterback Kevin Kolb, you could almost hear Carroll’s brain whirling as he very carefully chose his words.

“‘There’s no conversations going on,’ said Carroll, perhaps notably dropping into present tense. ‘Not what you want. I talk to [Eagles head coach] Andy [Reid] a lot. I like Andy a lot.”’

Translation:  Carroll is determined to overpay for Kolb and make the Eagles an even better team for years to come by giving them multiple high round draft picks.

  • Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant ejected from mall in Dallas for the high crime of wearing droopy pants.  He didn’t take it well.

One Final Thought

Jensen again on the kickoff rule change:

“Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, insisted player safety superseded any other points.”

Except that it didn’t.  All NFL plays are dangerous.  This one might or might not exceed the standard of what’s too risky and what isn’t.  But one thing is clear.  If – and its a big “if” – the play actually is too dangerous and if player safety really does supersede all other points, it should have been eliminated.

The truth of the matter is that this was a war between player safety and the money that comes from highlights of exciting kickoff returns.  So we are left with half measures as fans are sent a mixed message.  As a result the whole thing sounds more like an effort to make it look like the league is protecting the players than one to actually go all out and do it.

This was a poor decision all around.

Draft Strategy Around the League and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Pat Kirwan at NFL.com doesn’t think the Bears are going to be filling their needs along the line of scrimmage in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.  He has them picking Texas cornerback Aaron Williams in the first round and Boise State wide receiver Titus Young in the second round.
  • Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune writes a profile of Matthew Smith, who is Bears head coach Lovie Smith‘s son and his agent:

“It’s valid if you disagree with a particular play call, but to say my dad is dumb because he doesn’t do what you do in a situation, that’s what gets my blood boiling.  Nobody gets to my dad’s position being dumb. My dad is very, very smart.”

  • The Tribune‘s Brad Biggs makes the point that the Bears, who have excellent special teams, will be hurt by the new kickoff rules which are being proposed by the Competition Committee.
  • The Bears are lucky in some respects.  Bart Hubbuch at the New York Post thinks its a good year to need a corner in the draft.
  • Bear fans who are still hurting from the Chris Williams fiasco won’t be too happy to hear that Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi has knee problems.  Many mock drafts have the Bears taking Carmi in the first round.  Via Dan Pompei writing for The National Football Post.

Elsewhere

  • Sad news as doctors have discovered that NFL Films president Steve Sabol has a tumor on the left side of his brain.
  • ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert answers your questions.  Here’s a really good one:

“Andy of Chicago writes: Much has been made about the Packers’ roster depth. Along with the 53 they had at the end of the season, they could return as many as 15 players from IR and perhaps Johnny Jolly from suspension. Throw in another 8 or 9 draft picks, and those first-year gems that Ted Thompson seems to find outside of the draft before the season (Sam Shields, Frank Zombo, Ryan Grant, etc.) and that’s a lot of bodies in camp. Figuring they’ll probably lose 7 or so players to free agency, do you think Thompson might change his strategy and package picks in the draft to prioritize quality over quantity, i.e., move up on the board?”

Seifert:

“If the Packers think (Texas A&M linebacker Von) Miller is as good as media analysts suggest, would it be worth them to trade multiple picks to get into the top 5 and draft him? The idea would be that any players the Packers take on the second and third days of the draft are going to have a hard time making their roster.

“It makes some sense, but I it would require a significant departure from the way Thompson has built the team in the first place. I think the chances of him staying course — adding more and more talent on annual basis — are much higher than a one-time philosophical shift.”

“I think that guy is going to be a great player.

“You can’t win without one, and trust me, when I lost them, I got fired.”

“I can teach a guy to get up under center.  But I can’t teach a guy to throw. He has a tremendous arm, and I think he’s going to be really effective no matter what he was doing in college.”

“The concept of trading for next year’s picks value wise is pretty good.  Generally speaking, if you can bump up a round, that’s pretty good value.”

“General manager Martin Mayhew has long championed taking the best player — within reason. For instance, the Lions won’t take a quarterback in the first round.

“But if that yields an offensive lineman as most mock drafts suggest, the Lions could be left with the same gaping holes at linebacker and defensive back they finished with last season.”

“A number of coaches throughout the NFL have been turned off by the overall way Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert has handled himself this post-season. They did not like the fact he didn’t workout at the NFL Combine and cited his overall demeanor and body language as turnoffs. The more info I gather on Gabbert the less I feel like he’s being endorsed as a high first round pick. He could end up being the one quarterback to slide a lot further than many think come April.”

  • Well, the Packers didn’t lose defensive coordinator Dom Capers as I’d hoped they would after he did such an excellent job in 2010.  But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a significant shake up in the Green Bay staff.  Pro Football Weekly‘s Dan Arkush reports:

“But team insiders believe [new wide receivers coach Edgar] Bennett, in particular, will have a very tough act to follow in Jimmy Robinson, who left for a position on Jason Garrett‘s staff in Dallas. Robinson, who commanded great respect as a former NFL receiver, is widely considered to be the best WR coach in the business. While Bennett could not be more eager to prove himself in his new role, the consensus seems to be that he definitely will have his work cut out for him.”

  • Can’t imagine Staley doing this.  And I don’t want to:

One Final Thought

Fred Mitchell and David Kaplan at the Tribune quote Bears linebacker Lance Briggs on the departure of defensive tackle Tommie Harris:

“We know the business and we know that one day we all won’t be together.  It was tough to see Alex (Brown) go last year, and now it is tough to see that Tommie is not going to be there in the locker room and sharing laughs. I have been in Chicago ever since Tommie was drafted, and we developed a relationship on and off the field. That’s how football players grow, being able to trust that man next to you to do his job.”

Jay Cutler Is a Twinkie and Other Points of View

Bears

“Something positive

“DT Tommie Harris looked creaky at times and was asked to handle only about 15 snaps a game. Given his hefty contract, it’s no surprise that the Bears released him after the season. But Harris can still play. He can still get uncommonly deep penetration with his initial quick step off the ball. As long as he’s not asked to move laterally, he can produce. Any 4-3 team needing a situational interior pass-rusher should take note.”

  • CBS Sports’ Rob Rang has updated his Big Board.  Some names of note for Bear fans:

16. Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida: Size, strength and the athleticism to block at the next level, Pouncey’s ability to stand out against SEC competition makes him an easy first-round pick.

20. Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California: In terms of pure talent, Smith is this year’s best tackle — but his experience lies on the right side, his future lies on the left and scouts have questioned his maturity. He’ll impress when he works out at USC’s pro day March 30.

21. Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: A road grader with enough size, reach for pass protection, Carimi would be best off moving to right tackle.

22. Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois: Overshadowed a bit by ex-teammates Mikel Leshoure and Martez Wilson at Illinois, Liuget will wind up the earliest-drafted and best NFL player of the trio.

23. Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor: Don’t let his marginal tests at the combine or the fact that he’s 26 distract from the fact that Watkins is the toughest, nastiest interior lineman in this class. He might not make the first round, but he’ll one day be viewed as a steal.

24. Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State: I’m admittedly higher on Sherrod than most, but see him as an ideal swing tackle capable of stepping in immediately and well worth a first-round pick.

25. Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor: A top-20 talent athletically, but will have to answer questions about his suspension and transfer from Penn State to get drafted there.

Mikel Leshoure was 35.

  • The Bears are on the clock with the ESPN crew:

Elsewhere

“Myth Buster

Jared Allen is a dominant pass rusher

“In 2010 at least, this wasn’t true. Allen was not much of a factor early in the season–– even though he faced frequent one-on-one blocking. He came to life down the stretch … once he faced inferior competition. This isn’t to say Allen is not an elite defensive end. But his struggles last season only give more ammunition to detractors who point out that a majority of his sacks in ’09 came against the feeble Packers and Bears offensive lines.”

“Myth Buster

Jahvid Best is a superstar in the making

“The ’10 first-round rookie running back has superstar features (speed, lateral agility, terrific acceleration and soft hands). But he had a tendency to abandon his blocking last season, which led to too many potential three-and four-yard gains ending in gains of zero or lost yardage. Experience and playing behind a more consistent offensive line should help.”

  • Williamson also does another entry in his weekly “Pressure Point” series which looks at a player who must improve in 2011.  This week its Marshawn Lynch and Williamson doesn’t pull any punches:

“Lynch is more effective as an every-down runner and, at his best, he can wear down a defense. But he just doesn’t do a good enough job of creating on his own when the blocking is sub-par. He becomes a lateral runner instead of a bulldozer. He too often gets what is blocked and nothing more.”

“With all the team needs Seattle has, I would not use a lot of resources on the running back position right now…  But if Lynch doesn’t step up his game in 2011, I would look for a back one year from now.”

  • According to the New York PostJenn Sterger is suing her former manager to get back materials related to the Brett Favre sexting scandal.  He may intend to use those items in a tell-all book.  I had a feeling that Sterger would have dropped this without a fuss if it weren’t for bad advice she was getting from the start of it.  I’d say this supports the idea.
  • NBC 2 Fort Myers in Florida reports that Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Mario Henderson was arrested on a weapons charge Thursday morning (via BenMaller.com).  At 6’7″, 300 lb Henderson is so large that he couldn’t fit into the back of the police car.  He was offered the option of lying down in the back or walking four blocks to the station.  He decided to lie down.
  • Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to start staying awake in that tanning bed.  Via Deadspin:

Sun burn

One Final Thought

Jay Cutler‘s true, soft nature revealed:

However, lets not make the mistake of believing this means he’s not tough.

Replay Still Needs Reform and Other Points of View

Bears

“Most NFL teams would not want a fourth-year pro as their No. 3 quarterback. It’s a situation where if the team didn’t believe in him as a No. 2 after that much time, it’s never going to be comfortable with the player in that role.”

“The most logical scenario would be to make him the No. 2 or allow him to compete with another veteran. If he doesn’t win the job, it would be time to move on.”

  • Biggs also reports that the Bears are looking at running backs, another low priority.  Cal’s Shane Vereen is on the radar.
  • With only two linebackers on the roster, the Bears would appear to be thinking about that position as well.  The Bears are reportedly working out Syracuse linebacker Doug Hogue.
  • Amongst the players at the higher priority categories, Biggs says that the Bears are hosting Boise State wide receiver Austin Pettis for a workout and offensive line coach Mike Tice was at Florida’s pro day to watch what seems like their entire offensive line workout.  That would include guard/center Mike Pouncey who I’m sure the Bears would love to take in the first round but who is unlikely to be there for them.  Tice and Martz were also taking a good look at likely first round offensive tackle Gabe Carimi at Wisconsin’s pro day (via Vaughn McClure at the Tribune).  Biggs reports that the Bears are also bringing in Northwest Missouri State corner Ryan Jones for a workout.
  • And finally, Dan Pompei at the Tribune had an article focused on the Illinois pro day where three highly regarded draft picks attract almost every team in the NFL.  These are defensive tackle Corey Liuget, linebacker Martez Wilson and running back Mikel Leshoure.  The Bears would be most interested in Liuget but Biggs reports that Tim Spencer, the Bears running backs coach, had “a long chat” with Leshoure.
  • ESPN‘s Todd McShay released another mock draft.  This one is two rounds.  He has the Bears taking Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod in the first round and North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin in the second.  This would be a reach for Sherrod with guards Danny Watkins from Baylor and Orlando Franklin from Miami still on the board.  McShay has Watkins going in the second round to the Lions and Franklin going to the Steelers at 31.

Elsewhere

  • Kevin Seifert, ESPN‘s NFC North blogger, tries to get a handle on the Vikings draft.  He says the first thing the Vikings have to do is decide if they want to target a quarterback and if Jake Locker is their guy.  If so, look for them to trade down into the twenties.  They could try to trade up for Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert but it would likely be a long, costly climb.  The knock on Locker is his accuracy.  He never managed a completion percentage better than 58.2 percent in his career.  Statistically, quarterbacks with a completion percentage of less than 60 percent in college don’t do well.
  • McShay has the Vikings picking Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo in the first and Dalton in the second.  That would certainly work.  He also is giving Lions fans wet dreams by projecting Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara to still be there for them in the first with Watkins in the second.
  • Tom Sorenson at the Charlotte Observer says that there are lots of indications that the Carolina Panthers are planning to take Newton as the first overall pick.
  • The New York Jets are on the clock:

  • Chad Ochocinco will be trying out to play professional soccer during the lockout according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.  Whatever.
  • The NFL isn’t the only one on the other end of a lawsuit from Tom Brady.  Poor baby’s had a rough week.

One Final Thought

Farmer also reports that the competition committee will be recommending changes to instant replay.  they took some steps in the right direction but they didn’t make the change we all know should be made.  Challenges should be completely eliminated and the decision to review should be made in the booth.  The NFL is the only league where the burden of making sure the calls are right falls upon the head coaches. The whole system is ridiculous.