To Re-Sign or Not to Re-Sign? That is the Question.


Mike Mulligan
at the Chicago Tribune speculates about Alshon Jeffery‘s future with the team:

“Franchise tags won’t be set until the 2016 salary cap is set in March, but Corry, writing for CBSSports.com, recently predicted it will grow about 7.5 percent to $154 million. With big-money deals for Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas added to increases for Julio Jones and A.J. Green and Calvin Johnson‘s top-dollar deal, the franchise number for a wide receiver is projected to jump from $12.8 million to just over $14.5 million.

“The number will be the richest at any NFL position other than quarterback (projected $19.75 million) and defensive end ($15.5 million).

“Is Jeffery worth that kind of money? “

Aishon_jeffreyYes, he probably is.

The real problem with Jeffery is that he’s been injured so often this season. Worse, he’s been out with exactly the kind of soft tissue injury that head coach John Fox mentioned as the major issue with Jeffery after he was hired in the off-season.

But the truth is that franchising Jeffery for a year minimizes the risk. Sure, the Bears will try to sign him at their price, which will take the injury risk into account. But even if Jeffery refuses and decides to try to prove to the Bears that he can, indeed, remain healthy, its only a one year contract with a rebuilding team that will have plenty of cap room to absorb the hit. Over the next off-season, I would expect the Bears to talk a lot to Jeffery about how to manage these injuries. If he responds, he’s going to see his pay day with the Bears. If he doesn’t, he’ll see it elsewhere. But probably not until 2017.

The real problem that the Bears will face in the off-season isn’t what to do with Jeffery. Its what to do with cornerback Tracy Porter. Porter has been healthy this year but has a brutal history of injuries as documented by Dan Wiederer, also at the Chicago Tribune:

“Through the summer, the biggest thing Porter seemed to have a knack for was getting hurt and bouncing around. When he signed with the Bears on June 8, shortly after being released by the Redskins, Porter joined his fifth team in five seasons.

“His resume came loaded with red flags, most notably the durability concerns of a player who had missed 23 games the previous three years.

“A mysterious seizure episode in Denver had been a culprit in the 10 games he missed in 2012. Last season, hamstring and shoulder injuries sidelined Porter for 13 games with the Redskins.

“Then, on Aug. 11, in the third week of Bears training camp, Porter tweaked a hamstring. He doesn’t remember how.”

Porter is a problem. He’s currently the Bears’ best corner but he’s 29 years old and, though he probably has some good years left, that’s not young for a cornerback. Will this be the year he breaks out and never looks back? Or will this be the exception to the rule, one of the few where he remained healthy? It’s a critical question because if he continues to play the way he has, he could demand a reasonably large amount of money on the open market.

What you do with Porter, of course, depends on the situation. If he’s healthy the rest of the year and he’s willing to be reasonable, maybe you give him a two year contract with most or all of the guaranteed money in the first year and see how it goes. If he’s going to require top dollar, though, you have to let him go. There’s little reason to roll the dice on a player in Porter’s situation when you are still at least a couple years from making a deep playoff run. Whether they sign Porter or not, the Bears will undoubtedly continue to look for younger cornerbacks in the draft. And that, not taking risks on free agents like Porter, has to be their primary focus.

It’s the Brad Biggs Show Today. And Other Points of View.

Bears

    • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reviews the film from Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals:

      Eddie Royal looks out of position on the outside, and that’s the way it’s going to be without Alshon Jeffery (and Kevin White). Undrafted rookie Cameron Meredith flashed a little at the very end and might be worth looking at in place of Marquess Wilson, who is not maximizing his playing time.”

      Royal insisted during the preseason that he was looking forward to proving that he’s more than a slot receiver. But I think we all understood that wasn’t what he was signed to do. Wilson has, once again, been a major disappointment. He was targeted five times for only one catch and 10 yards. It may be time to accept that he’s the seventh round pick that he is.

    • Biggs continues:

      “Bennett needed to run a better route on the Jefferson interception, but the ball was behind him. Period. He didn’t get enough chances as he was targeted only six times. With Jeffery out, the Bears needed to do a better job of highlighting him in the passing game.”

      I noted in my game comments that the Bears came out in double tightend, throwing to both Bennett and Zack Miller. But they didn’t carry it through the game.

    • It’s the Brad Biggs show today, folks:

“Right guard Vladimir Ducasse added two more penalties to give him four. Even if the holding call looked questionable, that is a problem. Right tackle Kyle Long is in a tough spot with a cast on his right hand.”

Those who insisted that it was a good idea to move Long to tackle and wonder why it took so long should take note here. I’m not saying it was the wrong thing to do but if Jordan Mills had these kinds of penalties, the town would be burning him in effigy. I’m not at all sure that putting Charles Leno in at tackle and letting him develop wasn’t the right thing to do. He probably wouldn’t be much worse than Ducasse and he has a higher ceiling.

    • On a day when I have to believe that the Bears are desperately searching for a solution at quarterback, I have to once again agree with Biggs that they must surely be looking forward to having Tracy Porter available. He’s been out with a hamstring injury but believes that he’s getting closer to being ready to play. Terrance Mitchell is also a possibility. He got burned by Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday and admits that he made a mistake in hesitating on the tackle, saying, “I should have just come up harder, you know what I am saying?” I do, indeed. But I’m concerned that his football instincts didn’t tell him that. It looked ot me like he lacked confidence and I’m not sure its the kind of thing you can teach.
    • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com gives out some pretty harsh grades but with this caveat:

“It is also fair to point out that as well coached as the Bears looked against the Packers, they didn’t appear well prepared for Arizona, and John Fox and company should be looking in the mirror this week as well as at the tape.”

Gotta disagree with Hub, there. I liked the offensive game plan before quarterback Jay Cutler got hurt and there’s only so much you can do on defense with that talent. The Bear biggest problem in relation to their performance in week one was the penalties and the turnovers. I suppose that could be coaching but I’m inclined to believe it was a team effort.

Elsewhere

  • I know that Bears fans are feeling pretty sorry for themselves right now. But at least they aren’t the Detroit Lions. The Lions are 0-2. Their next three opponents? vs. Denver Broncos, at Seattle Seahawks and home vs. Arizona Cardinals. That looks to me like 0-5, folks.
  • I didn’t see the game but by all reports they came out flat and gave a subpar performance again this week against Tampa Bay. I’m starting to wonder if head coach Sean Payton isn’t on the hot seat. If he isn’t, I’m wondering if he should be.
  • It appears that Kam Chancellor made a major miscalculation in holding out for the first three games this year. Yes, the Seahawks were worse without him but they never budged in negotiations. According to Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com Chancellor racked up $1.1 million in fines and the team could demand that he return $500,000 in signing bonus money now that he’s ended his hold out. He’s also missed two game checks. The team would undoubtedly like to be lenient but I can’t imagine that they think they can afford to be so. This is a good team with a lot of players that will undoubtedly want more money over the next couple years. Letting Chancellor off the hook in any way encourages them to follow his lead.
  • Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has the unenviable task of preparing his 0-2 team to play the Bengals this weekend. He says that the Bengals are the best team in the NFL. Right now, to my eye, he’s right.
  • There are a lot of reasons why the Dolphins are not living up to the preseason hype. But Omar Kelly at the Sun-Sentinel is spot on when he says that the team has to get tougher and run the ball more.
  • How good has running back Dion Lewis been for the Patriots? He’s fumbled twice in two games but head coach Bill Belichick can’t afford to put him in his dog house.
  • Michael Rand at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “A younger, dumber, childless version of myself might have been tempted to take a press release from the Vikings about installing breastfeeding/lactation suites at TCF Bank Stadium (and eventually U.S. Bank Stadium) and make a few lame jokes along with the information.” Count me in as being both young and dumb.

One Final Thought

He just now came to this conclusion? VERY, VERY NSFW.

There Are “Injuries” and Then There Are “Injuries”

brain-injuryAdam Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times is off base with this comparison between quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer:

“But [Arizona head coach Bruce] Arians is the perfect coach for him at the perfect time. The No. 1 pick in 2003, Palmer just happened to connect with Arians in his 30s, a decade into his career.”

“The point is, it’s never too late for a quarterback to find that right fit, especially at a time when college schemes have impeded their development and most NFL teams desperately need them.

“It’s an interesting notion to consider as Bears quarterback Jay Cutler prepares for his second start under coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

“Can Fox and Gase finally be the right guys for Cutler?”

This doesn’t fly with me. Palmer was always a pretty good quarterback whose career was simply derailed by injury. He happened to hit upon both Arians and a pretty good Arizona surrounding cast at the same time to revive his career. Cutler’s only injury is in his brain, which simply isn’t wired in a way that’s likely to generate wins.

 

I’m much more inclined to agree with Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune, who was spot on this morning when he said that “…Jay Cutler is in Year 10 and has won one playoff game. If you don’t believe the quarterback you have can win the Super Bowl for you, you’re spinning your wheels until you get one.”

Get Over Yourself, Pacman

Cincinnati cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was fined $35,000 for ripping the helmet off of Oakland receiver Amari Cooper and slamming his head into it on Sunday.

Jones plans to appeal responding, “It’s magnified because it’s me.”

A couple points:

  1. This was the egregiously bad act of a dirty player, no matter who it is. Had it been up to me (or most people), Jones would have been ejected and suspended.
  2. It’s not magnified because its you, Adam. Now that you are (apparently) no longer spitting in the face of women and physically abusing them in nightclubs you are no longer relevant.

Forte Jerseys Burning Hot in Wisconsin. And Other Points of View.

Bears

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune states categorically that the Bears defensive linemen will play one-gap. But I’m reasonably certain that it will depend upon who the player is (e.g. Eddie Goldman Vs. Will Sutton) and what defensive alignment they are in. It will be interesting to see how they handle it.
  • Campbell quotes defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on the defense’s lack of talent.

    “We’re going to have to make our own building blocks. We need to make the guys that we have here better.”

    I think that’s the way its done no matter how much talent you have. But it’s going to take some time.

  • Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times unleashes this zinger:

    “The early leader for Bears Quote of the Year came when outside linebacker Pernell McPhee was asked this week to describe Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

    “‘Hall of Fame,’ he said. ‘Two words.'”

  • I suggested on Friday that head coach John Fox was laying in the weeds by characterizing his top three wide receivers as “questionable” despite the fact that they practiced all week. But consider this via Finley. Broncos with a questionable tag appeared in games only 35 percent of the time last year under Fox. It does make you think.
  • Bears running back Matt Forte on the fact that his jersey, not Rogers’ is the best selling jersy in Wisconsin since the end of last season:

    “There must be a lot of Bears fans in Wisconsin. Either that, or they’re buying it to burn it or something. I don’t know.”

Elsewhere

One Final Thought

I don’t usually shill for anything but I’m going to make an exception and recommend that readers support Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com by becoming a Pro Member at the site. Hub is the former publisher of Pro Football Weekly, a magazine that went down with the dawn of the Internet age. He’s not always right and I often don’t agree with him but he’s usually willing to say things that other people aren’t willing to. We need more like him.

This is an informative site largely focused on the Bears. It also doesn’t hurt that its easy to navigate (though I could wish that as a paying customer I wouldn’t have to sell myself to Google to read some of the articles). It’s a good, reliable source for fans who want to go above and beyond in their understanding of what’s going on with the team.

A.J. Green Gets His, Will Alshon Jeffery Be Far Behind?

The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that the Bengals and wide receiver A.J. Green have joined the wide receiver contract extension party by agreeing to a four-year extension.

Fellow receivers Dez Bryant, Julio Jones and Demayrius Thomas, all recently signed five year contracts in the neighborhood of $70 million over five years. However Green will get more money per year and more up front than all of them. Green signed a four-year extension worth $60 million.

The extension-mania that has hit the league makes me wonder when Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, whose contract is up after this season, will get his. The Bears front office is understandably being cautious with Jeffery, who has a bad habit of getting hurt and who hasn’t shown the new regime anything on the field, yet. But Green’s contract might serve as a model for the team and Jeffery’s representatives to follow.

According to profootballtalk.com a key negotiating point was the Bengals not guaranteeing money past the first year, making the duration of the deal key to Green’s representatives, settling on a four-year deal, not five. A similar structure might decrease the team’s risk in extending Jeffery to the point that it might become feasible to do a deal sooner rather than later, something I’d recommend they do rather than letting Jeffery hit the open market. The franchise tag will also remain a very viable possibility for Jeffery unless someone else emerges this season who will be a candidate for it.

“The Drill with the Bell” and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune rightfully describes the Bears situation after the third exhibition game as abysmal. The most significant highlights:

    “This team is short on talent, and you didn’t need to watch the most significant of the four exhibition games to know that. The Bears’ drafts from 2009 through 2014 — six drafts totaling 40 selections — produced four of the team’s starters in the 21-10 loss to the Bengals.”

    “Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery should return soon enough from a calf injury and make it five starters from those six drafts. That’s it. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, offensive linemen Kyle Long and Charles Leno and inside linebacker Shea McClellin are homegrown talent from those drafts. The core that general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox inherited is abysmal. When Fox said he wanted to underpromise and overdeliver when he was hired, you can bet he knew he couldn’t promise much. Not right away.”

    “The team is going to be flush with salary-cap room after this season when Jeffery comes out of contract, and Pace won’t have a long list of his own players to lock up long term. The Bears could be a major player in free agency, but that’s a trap. Free agency is for plugging a hole, not laying a foundation.

    “The Bears’ only way out of this predicament is to draft better. Pace and Fox need two and probably three draft classes to really build a foundation. That much was reinforced Saturday night.”

    The key phrase: “two and probably three draft classes to really build a foundation.” Up to this point most people have been saying “at least one more”. But I always thought at least two sounded more like it. And lets not forget that by the time that third additional draft is over, a lot of the talent on offense will be significantly older. So that side of the ball needs young talent almost as much as the defense does.

    Bottom line, this team is officially rebuilding from scratch. Bears fans had better be in this for the long haul if they’re going to find any enjoyment in the performance of their team over the next few years.

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com also was gloomy after the game but did note some positives, including this one:

    “I do think we learned that Rashad Lawrence is either the third or fourth best receiver on the roster right now, depending on how you rank him against Josh Bellamy, and he should make the team. If you view it objectively, Lawrence has shown more in a Bears uniform than Marquess Wilson has in two-plus seasons.”

    Here’s hoping that Arkush is right in this evaluation. Having young players like Lawrence emerge is one of the few good about a dismal injury situation.

  • Arkush also has some interesting thoughts on the inside linebacker situation that I happen to agree with:

    “There has been a perception throughout camp that [Shea] McClellin and [Christian] Jones have earned those spots, but the reality is they were just given to them because they are perceived as the best options.

    “Jones is a great-looking prospect but appeared completely lost against the Bengals.  McClellin keeps getting credit for looking comfortable and learning the position, but the reality is he has shown no signs he is physical enough to play the position or can make plays less than 5 or 10 yards downfield.

    “It’s time to give [Mason] Foster and [Jon] Bostic some fraction of the chances McClellin and Jones have enjoyed.”

    Jones and McClellin were the initial choice over Foster because of their relative youth and upside. Bostic’s been injured. But its time both got the chance to show what they can do in the middle after a poor showing by McClellin and Jones against the Bengals, especially in coverage.

  • Two time Pro Bowler Tim Jennings was undoubtedly the most surprising cut Sunday. But I was also taken aback when young cornerback Al Louis-Jean was cut. Louis-Jean has the length that the current coaching staff was seeking at the position but apparently wasn’t progressing fast enough after a promising start to his career last summer.
  • It looks to me like Zach Miller has won the battle for the third tight end spot. Adam Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times notes that he’s been playing a lot of fullback with the first team offense and he’s been the Bears choice as the second player in two tight end sets. Martellus Bennett was a given and Dante Rosario is a very valuable special teams contributor. The Bears carried three tight ends last year.
  • Everybody should be holding their breath for another Kevin White-style injury revelation. Not only did Alshon Jeffery not play in the game against the Bengals, he wasn’t even healthy enough to make the trip to Cincinnati. Via Jahns. The other injured wide receivers watched from the sideline. It’s hard to trust this regime after the White affair and their initial description of Jeffery’s injury as minor, despite the fact that he was in a walking boot afterwards, looks more and more like it may have been another smoke screen.
  • If you think you’ll feel better if former Bears head of scouting Greg Gabriel blows smoke up your rear end, read this.

Elsewhere

  • Having said that, Gabriel and I do agree on Bills (in my opinion likely starting) quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is mobile and has been much more accurate than I expected during the preseason. He’s been head and shoulders above both Matt Cassel and, especially, E.J. Emanuel. If Taylor is as good as he’s looked, the Bills may be just good enough offensively to find their way to the playoffs behind an excellent defense.It’s worth noting that Manuel was promised a start in the third preseason game and got it. But he threw only two passes and got only 10 minutes of work. He’s looked very bad in the previous games and reportedly hasn’t been much better in practice. Taylor and Cassel have likely both surpassed him.
  • Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com discusses the possibility that Robert Griffen III may not be ready to start the regular season. The Redskins, who initially said he’d be ready to play in the third pre-season game against the Dolphins, suddenly changed course, claiming that the doctors still want him to be held back for “one or two weeks”. He has the support of ownership but RGIII hasn’t looked good this preseason and the football people reportedly want him gone from the team altogether. Head coach Jay Gruden would love to see Kirk Cousins take the job away in week one. The Bears play the Redskins December 13.
  • The Animal Rescue League is pulling an October event out of Heinz Field in protest of the Steelers signing of Michael Vick.

    “‘While we understand that Mr. Vick has made an effort to atone for his past mistakes and has worked to help strengthen animal abuse laws, we do not believe that it is appropriate for him to continue a high-profile and influential public career,’ the release [from the League] states.”

    Like everyone else, I abhor what Vick did. But let’s bear in mind that this isn’t a Ben Roethlisberger situation where Vick bought his way out of a rape conviction. Vick did his time on the dog fighting conviction and now he should be able to continue living his life, “high-profile and influential public career” or not.

  • Conor Orr at nfl.com explains what he learned from the Vikings – Cowboys game Saturday:

    “Completely understand the Vikings’ reticence with Cordarrelle Patterson, but my goodness, he is the most athletic player on the field every time he leaves the bench. It is a type of Tavon Austin situation that has to be taken care of so as not to waste Patterson’s prime years.

    “Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner and head coach Mike Zimmer mentioned a certain precision lacking in his routes. But just look at this kick return! Something has to give.”

    Patterson is Percy Harvin. All potential and no production. He’ll flash and entice and if the Vikings are lucky, they’ll sucker another Seattle into a trade once they give up on him.

Next Opponent

The Cleveland Browns play the Bears Thursday at Soldier Field. A few notes:

  • Keep an eye on the Cleveland defense. Though the starters probably won’t see much action, the defensive line has been impressive in its ability to penetrate to stop the run.
  • Also keep an eye on Cleveland returner Shane Wynn. He’s looked to me like he might be special.
  • Don’t expect to see Johnny Manziel. He’s out with an elbow injury. It’s a shame because he’s been looking like a real quarterback in the preseason. There’s still some hope there for Browns fans.
  • Don’t expect to see former Bears quarterback Josh McCown, either. According to Mary Kay Cabot at the Cleveland Plain Dealer head coach Mike Pettine has already said he’s not playing. McCown had a very good tune up game against the Buccaneers on Saturday. His passer rating was 113.9.
  • One of the more interesting things to watch for will be how the Browns handle Terrelle Pryor. He didn’t play Saturday (or in any of the preseason games) with a lingering hamstring injury. The former quarterback is trying to make the roster as a wide receiver.

One Final Thought

This unique Jets drill where offensive linemen keep pass rushers from getting past them to ring a bell caught my attention. From Ben Shpigel at The New York Times:

“That tinny sound signifies superiority or regret, serenading the linebacker who bulled past, or mocking the lineman, like a sad trombone, who failed to stop him. In other pass-rush or pass-protection drills, heavyweight bags or dummies or even sacrificial equipment managers or coaches simulate the quarterback.”

“‘You do not want to hear that bell,’ guard Brian Winters said.”

This is a clever idea. It’s one thing to lose or win an encounter in a drill. Its another thing altogether for everyone within a hundred yards to know. Something tells me linemen on both sides of the line of scrimmage are concentrating extra hard leading up to the start of the season.

Quick Comments: Bears at Bengals 8/29/15

Defense

  • Once again the defensive starters were simply a step too slow all over the field.  We can only hope that the players will be able to play faster with time spent in the defensive scheme.
  • The defensive line was blown off the line of scrimmage too often, especially late in the first half.  With second round rookie Eddie Goldman out with a concussion, Will Sutton may have stepped up enough to earn some playing time when Jeremiah Ratliff is absent to start the season.  Jared Allen played reasonably well with discipline and with some good tackling.  Generally speaking, though, the Bears simply have to play better in the front seven or its going to be a miserable year.

Offense

  • I thought the Bears ran the ball reasonably well, especially considering that their top four wide receivers were out and the whole stadium knew they were going to have to grind it out on the ground.  But the Bears committed five penalties for 62 yards in the first half.  Not all of that was on the offense but it was enough.  You simply can’t run the ball when you commit that many penalties.  You put the offense into a hole that they can only pass their way out of.  The Bears will have to clean that up.
  • Once again, the Bears went to the no huddle in order to establish some momentum on offense.  It didn’t really work but if they manage to establish that running game they might wear some people down this season.
  • It was notable that quarterback Jay Cutler was throwing the ball away when nothing was there.  He’s been taking care of the ball and he isn’t forcing anything.  Jimmy Clausen has convinced me that the offense wont do a face plant if Cutler gets hurt.
  • I can’t really say that any of the young wide receivers took advantage of the absence of Alshon JefferyEddie Royal, and Marquess Wilson to really step up.  It not that they were generally terrible but I didn’t think anyone really distinguished themselves.  Martellus Bennett was solid.
  • The offensive line was fine in general but Charles Leno had another rough night. He gave up a sack and had a penalty.  Two weeks before the opener and the Bears still don’t have a right tackle.
  • Jeremy Langford was solid once again.  He’s got a knack for making yards on his own out of nothing.

Miscellaneous

  • Special teams have been solid and a bright spot this preseason.
  • There were too many penalties on both sides in the first half.  But it ws nothing compared to the second half when the backups were in.  The half seemed to take forever.

A Few Things to Watch For: Bears at Bengals

  1. The Bears were feeling pretty good about themselves after Saturday’s exhibition win over the Colts. But after they reportedly came out on the short end in two days of practice leading up to the game, I’m inclined to think that was as much because of the Colts under-performing as it was the Bears performing well. The Bengals, similar to the Colts, didn’t play well on Monday night against the Buccaneers and I would expect them to pick it up in the last exhibition game in which the starters will see any time. at minimum, I would expect them to tackle better. So once again, we are looking at a good test for the Bears to judge how close or, more likely, how far away they are from being truly competitive.
  2. This game should be about who steps up. The Bears are now officially looking for unknowns to emerge in the wake of injury to rookie WR Kevin White, a more minor, but lingering, injury to veteran Alshon Jeffery and a three game suspension to start the season doled out to defenive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff this week.  Jermon Bushrod may also be on the sidelines with a bad back and its unlikely that Eddie Royal will play with a hip injury as well.  .  This is an opportunity for younger players to make themselves known as potential building blocks for the future. Marquess Wilson will be getting a long look at wide receiver and 2014 third round draft pick Will Sutton will undoubtedly get a good long look as well. Sutton is an interesting story. He was drafted as a 3-technique tackle for the 4-3 and most thought he wouldn’t have a place with the Bears. But he is reportedly emerging as a decent nose tackle. Now is his time to show us. Second round draft pick Eddie Goldman will now likely become the starter at nose tackle. He won’t be coming from nowhere but Bears fans will be watching to see if he continues to progress with what will likely be even more playing time. Other guys to keep an eye on are Willie Young, Brandon Dunn and Cornelius Washington. Each could step up and fill a void on the line in some capacity.
  3. Competitions at OLB and safety continue. For now, Jared Allen appears to be holding on as a starter at the former with rookie Adrian Amos apparently still starting at the latter position. Both positions may still be in flux into the season.
  4. Charles Leno is trying to hold on to the right tackle position.  He’ll likely be doing that from the left side if Bushrod is out, giving us a good look at both him and Jordan Mills on the right.  The side-by-side comparison could be interesting.
  5. On a related note, with the wide receiver corp down to second and third string backups, it will be even more important for the Bears to be able to establish a running game once the season starts.  Keep an eye on this aspect of the game.  So far this preseason, I’d say the backups have run the ball well.  But the best I can say about the first unit is that they’ve held their own.  With or without Bushrod, with or without the wide receivers where a team like the Bengals might reasonably expect the Bears to run the ball out of necessity, if the running game stalls against the Bengals, it might spell bad things for the start of the regular season.  Injuries are never an excuse.  You either do or you don’t do.

Cutler Trade Good for Almost Everybody. Almost. And Other Points of View.

Bears

  • Elliot Harrison at nfl.com constructs his all-under 25 team. Guess how many Bears are on it?
  • Rob Demovsky, Green Bay blogger at ESPN, thinks the Bears signing of Pernell McPhee was the worst NFC North free agent move to date. Ben Goessling in Minnesota thought it was the Eddie Royal signing. Michael Rothstein in Detroit thought it was Ray McDonald. Clearly the Bears are making a great impression around the division.
  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune sets a fan who continues to make excuses for quarterback Jay Cutler straight as he answers your questions:

    “Will the Bears use more rollouts and bootlegs? It’s certainly a possibility. But the idea that the Bears didn’t do that under Marc Trestman, Mike Tice, Mike Martz and Ron Turner is flat out wrong. Everyone runs the boot game.”

    “To expect Cutler to change dramatically as a player with more bootlegs in the offensive scheme would be a miscalculation in my opinion. Look at how many offensive coaches he’s already worked with. Do you think every offensive coach the Bears have hired as been inept and incapable of coaching offensive football? The answer to that is no. Cutler is going to be who he’s been. If he can cut down on the number of turnovers, he has a chance to remain on the field.”

    I continue to be amazed by the number of fans who continue to make excuses for Cutler after six years of up and down play. Cutler was surrounded by about as much offensive talent as any quarterback in the NFL could reasonably expect to have. He had a head coach who believed in him at the beginning of the year and was as easy and as accommodating as any he’ll find to work with. He’ll never be any better than he was last year.

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com likes Missouri defensive end/outside linebacker Shane Ray better than I do.
  • Arkush also sings the praises of Bears general manager Ryan Pace‘s free agency moves but wisely ends the article with the critical question: “Now, can Pace draft better than his predecessors?” Pace is using free agency to set up the draft but the draft is where you really have to execute.
  • I’m not entirely sure why Jeff Dickerson at ESPN thinks that Bears safety Brock Vereen doesn’t fit the “aggressive, hard-hitting mold that new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and secondary coach Ed Donatell are known to prefer in safeties”.
  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune gets a little more information about the blocking scheme that the Broncos ran on the offensive line last year from new center Will Montgomery. It sounds like a little bit of everything depending on the situation.

Elsewhere

One Final Thought

Chase Goodbread at nfl.com points out that the Bears trade for Cutler apparently benefited teams all over the league – seemingly everyone but the Bears.