Will the Bears Players Organize Offseason Workouts? And Other Points of View.

Bears

“The Bears cut DT Tommie Harris this offseason and needed to find a three-technique tackle to replace him. They filled their two most pressing needs with their first two picks, improving both lines. Paea possesses both strength and quickness and could help at either interior position for the Bears. He’s capable of manning the nose or playing in gaps, where he is more comfortable. Rod Marinelli should be able to light a fire underneath him.”

The Bears picked a guy in the second round who needs a fire lit underneath him?

  • ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert talks about the misconception amongst at least some NFL experts that Stephen Paea will be a run stuffing nose tackle in the Bears 4-3

“Today, you might laugh at the thought of putting John Randle, Warren Sapp and Stephen Paea in the same sentence. But we do so more to describe a mentality than assess his skill level. I would be worried if a second-round draft pick was hoping to become, say, the next Ted Washington or Tony Siragusa. All I’m saying is the Bears are hoping for — and need — more than run defense from the No. 53 overall pick of the draft.

Seifert is under valuing the nose guard position but the Bears are running a 4-3 not a 3-4 so he’s got a point.

“With the high amount of collisions required at the safety position in Lovie Smith‘s preferred defense, GM Jerry Angelo seemingly must address the position every year. There’s a chance Danieal Manning could depart, as well. Conte was a late riser who really impressed secondary coaches in the evaluation process. He plays like a poor man’s John Lynch and elevated on draft boards in a weak safety class.”

and of fifth rounder Nathan Enderle:

“Enderle is a big, smart stationary passer who too often over thinks the game. He has the mental capacity to handle all the demands of Mike Martz‘s complex offense. The key to Enderle’s development will be how much Martz can hone his instincts and teach him to cut it loose and trust what he sees.”

“If you think it’s too early to look into next year’s class, consider that NFL teams meet to share notes on 2012 senior prospects every year at this time. It’s the tipoff to the draft process starting anew, the initial gathering of information shared by scout services that aids in lining up travel schedules for scouts who return to college campuses beginning in August.”

Here’s what he said about the Bears 2012 “pick”:

“15. Chicago Bears: *Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

“Gilmore’s thin build belies a toughness and attitude that all cornerbacks need to succeed. Though no guarantee to be a first-round pick without a strong junior year, his upside warrants this projection.”

He doesn’t sound like a prototypical fit for the Bears defensive system but I’ll bag that pick when we come to it.

“Chicago committed 27 blown blocks that led to sacks or penalties, according to Football Outsiders’ Game Charting Project, the third-highest total in the league, but blown blocks tell only part of the story. The Bears ranked 30th in the league in adjusted line yards on runs up the middle last season, where [Olin] Kreutz and Garza do most of their dirty work. The FO game charters noted many instances of missed blocks by Garza that led to stuffed running plays, and even Kreutz whiffed on his fair share of blocks against quicker defenders.”

Frank Omiyale could move from left to right tackle, allowing J’Marcus Webb (7.5 blown blocks last year) to move inside to challenge Garza.”

“‘There are very few people in the NFL who understand football techniques and schematically know the game as well as him,’ [former offensive line coach Harry] Hiestand said.

“A couple of years ago, Kreutz would have told you he had no desire to coach. Now, he says ‘we’ll see what happens.’ If the Bears can identify an heir apparent, he’d probably handle a mentoring role well.”

“Obviously, we gave up a lot of sacks but we were still able to get to the NFC Championship Game. We’re not too far off. We have to make improvements and get a couple more guys in there. We’ll see what happens.”

“Q: Where does Herman Johnson fit into the offensive line plans?”
“– Mike (Valparaiso, Ind.) ”

“A: At 6 foot 7, 360 pounds, Johnson definitely fits the mold of the humungous players coveted by offensive line coach Mike Tice… Johnson’s best shot at competing for a chance to contribute in 2011 is to report to the team (whenever they’re allowed to) in tip-top shape. The Bears have told me they’re not concerned about players reporting out of shape. But with a guy as big as Johnson, you’ve got to be at least a little worried.”

“Is there any way the Bears bring back Tommie Harris on a cheaper contract or incentives-laden contract? Tom C, Columbia, Mo.

“If you look at the history of the Jerry Angelo/Lovie Smith regime, when they turn the page on a player, they typically do not go back. They did it with Chris Harris, but he was a different case than most. I think we have seen the last of Tommie Harris in a Bears uniform.”

This is about the third time I’ve read a fan question revolving around this issue. I’m having a hard time understanding it. Tommie Harris had about as good a year as he’s going to have last year and it was very average. Its fairly well established that the three-technique tackle has to make that defense go.   The Bears need an upgrade and Harris would just be taking up a roster spot without playing special teams.

  • The Lions, Cowboys, Saints and Jets players are all working out on their own together. Will the Bears?  To answer that question, I’ll just say this.  The Saints have Drew Brees. The Bears have Jay Cutler.


Pompei basically answers the question the same way I did but in professional news publication language rather than the blogger language of hatred and vitriol:

“Some of these workouts are overrated. Unless they are done under the supervision of coaches, their value is limited. The primary benefits of these types of workouts are building camaraderie and working on timing between quarterbacks and receivers. These types of workouts are not going to decide who wins the Super Bowl. That being said, the Bears quarterbacks and receivers should have been working out together long ago. If they have not been (and I am not completely sure they have not been), it shows a void of leadership on the team.”

Having said that, ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert has an alternative thought:

“It’s possible that some players are awaiting a ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, which is determining whether NFL owners will get a permanent stay to keep the lockout in place. If that’s the case, the earliest teams would re-open for business is the end of June. You could expect more players to start organizing themselves if that comes to bear. We’ll keep you updated.”

“What scared me about (Washington’s) Jake Locker is that won-lost record. It was ugly. Look at the personnel at Stanford. It’s not great outside of Andrew Luck. Look at Jim Everett at Purdue. Look at Mississippi since Eli Manning left. If you are a great quarterback, no matter what you have on the line, at receiver and running back, I think you go 8-4, 7-5 and play in bowl games. How do you start four years and go 15-25?”

I think this is something that you could generally apply to all quarterbacks, pro and college. I’ve heard the excuse made numerous times that Jay Cutler lost so many games because he played at Vanderbilt. But I look at his body language and his leadership skills and I wonder. Does that really hold water?

Elsewhere

“When we interviewed (TCU QB) Andy Dalton, he said the accomplishment he was most proud of was gathering 750 kids to listen to his ministry every week, not winning the Rose Bowl. When we asked him how he is going to handle guys on the field when the bullets start flying and his teammates are yelling at him, he said the first thing he is going to do is pray about it. I couldn’t help but think, this might be the next Danny Wuerffel. If you are talking about (Dalton) going to be your starter, I would be nervous.”

“But executive vice president Stephen Jones wondered last month how the labor issues would affect their pursuit of these hidden gems.

“‘It will be different,’ he said. ‘We’ll see if it is a disadvantage.'”

“There is obvious reason for concern. Because of the lockout, all 32 teams will have more time to research the strengths and weaknesses of the undrafted rookies. Not much else is going on, after all. There are no mini-camps being conducted, no organized team activities to plan and no roster moves to be made.”

  • The Cowboys might be at a disadvantage in another way (along with almost everyone else). Eric Edholm at Pro Football Weekly says that six unnamed agents told him that they’d been contacted by teams about undrafted free agents (against the rules). In fact Missouri center Tim Barnes actually named the Bengals, Ravens, and Dolphins as having contacted him.

“‘It was almost like a normal year in terms of contact, a little less (phone contact) than normal maybe, only without the signed contracts at the end,’ one of the agents said.”

Edholm told WSCR last night that from the information he’s gathered it looks like as many as 10-12 teams may be involved.

“Williams told ace Texans reporter John McClain he played at 290 pounds last year. There is no prototype of an outside linebacker who weighed that much. The Texans have pointed to DeMarcus Ware as an outside linebacker Williams can be like. But Ware weighs about 30 pounds less.”

“Offenses will try to force Williams to drop. The Texans will counter by moving him to the other side of the formation. But that will mean another linebacker, likely [Brooks] Reed, will have to drop and cover a tight end or back. That’s not an appealing option for the Texans either.”

“The Vikings long have been connected with Redskins QB Donovan McNabb, who could be traded or released, and we hear there’s still a decent chance that the Vikings could get involved with him.”

  • Jared Allen thinks he’s going to get 17 sacks in 2011 to put him over a hundred for his career. Allen is nothing if not entertaining.


“’Our thought has been we have always been looking to make our program as effective as it can be,’ said the N.F.L. executive, who insisted that he not be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. ‘There have been some things, H.G.H. is one of them, that the union has resisted,’ he added. ‘When we get to the point where there is not a party involved, maybe we should consider what we consider important to keep pace with science and trends.’

“’If we had some clarity of where this thing was going to end up,’ he said, the league ‘might have more clarity of what we would do.’

George Atallah, the spokesman for the National Football League Players Association, said the group would have no comment.”

For those who aren’t reading between the lines, this is a negotiating tactic. The NFL knows full well the extent to which HGH is used in the league and how much it will impact the current players if they start to test for it. Careers based upon how well a person’s body responds to HGH would likely rapidly go down the tubes.

  • Alan Schawz at the New York Times takes an in depth look at the brain trauma discovered in almost every pro football player who has so far been examined:

“The set of 15 players tested by B.U. researchers to this point is far from a random sample of NFL retirees that could represent the wider population. Many of the players died under conditions that could be related to CTE: [Charlie] Waters and [Dave] Duerson by suicide, John Grimsley from a gun accident, Tom McHale from a drug overdose. Their families then donated their brains largely to seek an explanation for the mens’ behavior.

“‘There’s a tremendous selection bias, so you can’t make any conclusions about the incidence or prevalence of disease,’ said Dr. Ann McKee, the B.U. group’s lead neuropathologist and director of neuropathology at New England Veterans Administration Medical Centers.”

One Final Thought

For all that its universally acknowledged that the Bears had a good draft, thier free agency needs look an awful lot like the pre-draft ones. Via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune.

Whatever the Reason, Nick Fairley Is Obviously Not Happy to Be a Lion and Other Points of View

Bears

“I don’t see any dramatic changes. My role will really be as a sounding board, an advisor if [team president] Ted [Phillips] wants me in that role; as a representative of the family, of ownership and the board; and to create as positive of an environment as possible. The way I see it my job is to work with and in support of the president and CEO in creating a climate that’s conducive to sustained success.”

“I read comments from Jerry Angelo where he indicated that this was a tough draft. Apparently he had a hard time getting a handle on things but I don’t think he ever explained why. Could you shed some light on it? Tom Shannon, Chicago

“What Angelo meant is that it was difficult for him to get a handle on how the draft would play out regarding the Bears. To start with, any time you are picking 29th, things are usually unpredictable. And that was the case this year. But this draft had more peculiarities than most, especially in the most important spot for the Bears, from the late first round to the late second. You had the volatility that the quarterbacks would create. Then you had four positions – wide receiver, linebacker, safety and tight end – with very few legitimate prospects in that late first round, second-round range. So that would force teams to go in other directions that they might not normally go in. All in all, the Bears were fortunate the draft played out like they hoped it would, and they were able to walk away from the first two rounds with potential starters at their two biggest areas of need – offensive tackle and defensive tackle. But they really couldn’t predict it would have happened that way.”

“You are right that this is the second free safety the Bears have taken in as many years. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy with Major Wright. You can never have too many safeties who can cover. Perhaps if some of the safeties they had taken in previous years had become better players, they wouldn’t have had to select Chris Conte. But it’s not like they were taking safeties in the high rounds that were not panning out. They were taking safeties late, with the hopes that one of them could come through.”

I think the fan is referring to a Sun-Times column by Mike Mulligan where he made the same points.

“With the addition of Gabe Camiri, the Bears have their bookend tackles for the next decade. I like the we need to get bigger philosophy for the O line. So, any truth to the rumors of Chris Williams playing center? I think Olin Kreutz is overrated at this point of his career; and too small.
“David, Oak Brook

“I don’t see any chance of Chris Williams starting at center this year. If the Bears did want to give Williams a new position, they would need an offseason to acclimate him. They don’t have an offseason this year thanks to the labor problems. So I think their options with Williams are limited. It’s possible the Bears will have Williams learn to play the position eventually and consider him as a potential successor to Kreutz, but it’s not something that is going to happen soon. If this team gets its way, Kreutz is going to be snapping the ball in 2011.”

“The NFL is a cutthroat business at every level. That’s why I got a kick out of [Baltimore owner Steve] Bisciotti‘s comments about saying what the Bears did was a deviation from their great legacy. No one in the history of the league was more cutthroat than George Halas. In fact, this move was in perfect keeping with the Halas tradition.”

I thought the Bears should have given the ravens the pick. But I admit that I also smiled at Biscotti’s comment. What would he know about Bears tradition?  I’m sure Halas would have laughed him out of the league if he had asked him to just give him that pick.

One scouting director in another city said he was the top safety on his team’s board. A veteran scout for another club mocked the selection, the seventh safety the Bears have drafted in seven years.”

Elliot Harris at NFL.com looks at the percentage of starters drafted by NFC teams:

“While most of the teams towards the bottom of the rankings had tough years, like the Redskins and Vikings, the 2010 Bears were an anomaly. One explanation is the success of trades and free-agent acquisitions, which is how the franchise acquired Jay Cutler and Julius Peppers. Another is Chicago’s success at drafting contributors who don’t necessarily start. Either way, the Bears’ championship game appearance shows there is definitely more than one method to having a successful season.”

“In a recent ‘Chalk Talk’ you quoted Jerry Angelo about the injury to Stephen Paea’s knee: “He went to the [Combine] recheck in Indy—we interact with 10 other teams in the league and everybody that we interact with was fine with him.” What does “interact with 10 other teams” mean?
“Tom S.
“Chicago

“The NFL splits into four groups of five teams and two groups of six teams to do medical evaluations of players at the Combine. The Bears are paired with the Dolphins, Eagles, Lions, Steelers and Texans. Doctors from one of those teams examine each prospect and then give a report to the other five clubs. Individual teams can seek to gather additional information on their own when warranted, such as asking the player to take an MRI exam. The group of six teams also trades its medical information with a handful of other clubs. (That’s why Jerry Angelo mentioned interacting with 10 other teams). Players with medical issues at the Combine return to Indianapolis for a recheck at a later date. That’s also what Angelo was referencing when discussing Stephen Paea’s knee injury.”

“Now I’m nervous.”

“I have written about concussions before and the headaches that were the result of helmet-to-helmet hits as a pro, college and high school player. They won’t go away anytime soon, nor will we see concussions stop at the NFL level.

“Actually, I believe they will increase. The reasons are clear: Talk of an 18-game schedule, the speed of players and, above all, the desire to use the helmet as a weapon.

“Lower your head on contact and put the ballcarrier down.”

I’d be nervous, too. I can’t wait for the next moron to call into WSCR and complain that they shod put the players in dresses because the new rules are taking the violence out of the game.

“’We didn’t draft [Nathan Enderle] to be the third quarterback,’ Martz said. ‘If that was the case, then there was no reason to draft a quarterback.'”

It’s true enough in that you draft him to eventually become more than that. But Martz seems to me to be implying something more immediate:

“You have to be good at that position to win, and one just isn’t enough. We feel really good about Caleb, but what if Nate is better? Who knows? I don’t know that he is or isn’t.”

I know what he is. A rookie. And you just implied that without a single season of experience he might still be better than your current second quarterback who has three under his belt.

Yes. I think Martz definitely has a problem with Hanie.

“Asked if he has abandoned a passing philosophy that — with Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger — emphasized throwing to spots and timing-based routes, Martz said, ‘We never left that. That’s what the system is.’

“But Martz said the way defenses approached his offense forced them to deviate from that.

“’That’s probably the best way to put it,’ Martz said.

“’But [Jay Cutler] has no problem with that at all. It’s not something he can’t do. But we leaned on the running game.'”

Martz might not have abandoned the philosophy but to my eye Cutler clearly did (which is probably why Jensen asked the question). Cutler might actually not have a problem with it in theory. But for whatever reason he and the rest of the offense didn’t execute it on the field and Cutler was often looking for open receivers instead of throwing to a spot. Let’s hope they get their act together this year.

“Now, I can’t speak for Jay [Cutler] in the sense of, I don’t know what being a diabetic does to you. I have no idea, so I can’t really speak to that. But I’m just saying that he needs to improve his body language, and I think everybody would admit that.

“But as far as the game of football and the ability to throw the football, he does that very well. And I think the other quality we got to get to is the leadership thing. You’ve got to be able to lead as a quarterback.”

I usually ignore most of whatever spews out of Ditka’s mouth. But I admit I’m not exactly left wondering when Cutler is going to start organizing those offseason workouts during the lockout.

Elsewhere

  • Speaking of OTAs I find it ironic that players pushing for reduction of out right elimination of them are out there doing it on their own during the lockout.
  • Bengals quarterback coach Ken Zampese thinks big picture when talking newly drafted quarterback Andy Dalton. Via Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“As I looked at the other guys that were coming out, who would I sleep better at night having? It was Andy (Dalton). You start thinking about quality of life during the season and how the day-to-day stuff goes, that was the guy.”

“The Cardinals’ 2010 season may have solidified Kurt Warner’s Hall of Fame candidacy. Rarely does a team face-plant after losing one player – even if that player is a star quarterback.”

“It takes a special degree of compulsiveness to constantly overthink things in a system as rudimentary as the one San Francisco ran in 2010. In that sense, [quarterback] Alex Smith was peerless.”

“4. Washington Redskins

Desperate for a quarterback, the Redskins reach and take Terrelle Pryor with the fourth pick in the draft. Higher-rated quarterbacks are available, but Dan Snyder falls in love with the Ohio State quarterback in pre-draft interviews after Pryor promises Snyder he can tattoo advertising on him to open up an additional revenue stream.”

“Just finished watching a highlight film of Julio Jones. If he can carry that over to the NFL….SCARY.”

If he can hold on to the ball.

  • Todd McShay at ESPN thought the Lions had the best draft in the NFL because they ignored needs in the secondary and took the best available guys. That was defensive tackle Nick Fairley in the first round.


Apparently McShay didn’t hear that the Lions did everything they could to trade up to get defensive back Patrick Peterson (via Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press). Doesn’t sound like a team that was all that happy to ignore needs to me.

Fairley will help via the pass rush but the Lions are going to still have to do something to improve that defensive backfield and that linebacking corp or they’re not going to be as good as people think.

One Final Thought

I previously posted that I thought that Fairley looked angry because he fell to the 13th pick. If the draft had been in January, there’s a chance he would have gone #1 overall. But this Bears fan had a different take on the matter:

Only the Players Get Younger. And Other Points of View

Bears

“As much as the critics will argue they need an offensive lineman I’m not sure that’s something that’s at the top of their list,” the former executive for the Redskins and Texans said Wednesday. “You might see a good defensive player fall to them, whether it’s a guy like [Purdue defensive end Ryan} Kerrigan as an outside pass rusher, maybe somebody along those lines.”

  • Jeff Dickerson at ESPNChicago.com gives the Bears Derek Sherrod in his mock draft.  He’s got them passing on Akeem Ayers, who’s probably a better player and who might fill a hole at strong-side linebacker.  But that’s not a value position.
  • Mel Kiper and Todd McShay at ESPN talk Bears draft:

Elsewhere

“There is no way to sugar coat a team that went on to fire its coaching staff and to release many of its best defensive players and just start over – including making no effort to retain Ryan. But after breaking down a few of their finer efforts, I have come to the conclusion that Ryan’s creativity and motivational skills are two of his finest traits. And I submit to you that both of those are the two traits that I felt were sorely missing in Dallas the last few years.”

I’d have to quote virtually the entire article to hit upon all of the interesting strategical points here.  Its great reading.

“Q: Is Stephen Jones the only person in the Cowboys organization who has influence over his father?
“Reginald Smith, Dallas

“TAYLOR: He has more influence than anyone else. I think Jason Garrett is high on the list, too. Jason is a smart guy, and I think Jerry truly respects him. That respect is the reason Jason really has a chance to succeed here. The key to winning in Dallas is being able to tell Jerry, ‘No. We don’t need to do it that way.’”

  • The Bengals are on the clock at ESPN:

  • as are the Bills:

  • and Kiper and McShay:

Strong Side:

“Leads the league in blog posts about how he should be the MVP.”

Weak Side:

“Still technically a bust for a first pick.”

One Final Thought

Welcome to the rest of your life, Kevin Seifert, who just realized that players born in 1990 are eligible for the NFL Draft:

“Every generation reaches that point. We’re at the point where babies born during the Bell Biv Devoe period are headed to the NFL. It’s time to pass the Geritol around. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we watched the Jim Harbaugh-led Chicago Bears win the NFC Central, all while dreaming about the Cradle of Love girl? “

Wild Draft Rumors, Debatable Needs at Wide Receiver and Running Back and Other Points of View.

Bears

“Whether the Bears address their offensive line on the first or second day of the draft, or both, the football absolute at work is the need to get the pick right. Very, very right.

“This is beyond the obvious need to acquire talent now. It involves not having to go after the same position again and again if there’s a miss near the top of the draft. Because the cost of a failed pick ripples into subsequent drafts, as the Bears have found too often.”

“Replacing players because of age or free-agency departures is part of the deal. But needing to address the same position year after year is a hidden disaster.”

I’ve often said that the Bears need impact players – and they do.  But even more than that the player needs to be a solid hit.  It has to be a guy you can plug in to a position that you can now forget about as a need for years to come.

I don’t think the Bears can afford to go with a boom or bust guy here.

“Stubbornly refusing to attempt to upgrade the position last offseason, the Bears probably will take their chances once again with [Johnny] Knox, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, and whoever else they can muster.  They shouldn’t.”

“The Bears have do have their share of shortcomings at wide receiver. But QB Jay Cutler is capable of making each and every one of their pass catchers better – as long as he has an offensive line that can protect him. That’s the Bears’ No. 1 priority in the draft.”

Along with virtually everyone else I’m inclined to agree with LeGere.  I don’t like the receivers anymore than Florio does (or LeGere for that matter).  But I’d put wide receiver third or fourth on the list after upgrading at the line of scrimmage.

  • Florio also thinks running back is a need ahead of cornerback.  Though I have no problem with the Bears upgrading at the position, Chester Taylor’s contract is such that he’s going to get another year to show he can perform.  The Bears took Harvey Unga in the supplemental draft last year and probably still want to give Garrett Wolfe and Kahlil Bell their shot to compete for jobs this sumer.  If they see someone they really like, they could take him late but otherwise I think the Bears are full up here.
  • Michael C. Wright at ESPNChicago.com talks about the Bears need at center.  He lists the top 20 prospects at the position and the round they are projected to go in, giving an overall draft positional grade of “C-“.  But Wright doesn’t account for most of the guards that are thought to be center prospects as well, including Florida’s Mike Pouncey.  Add them into the mix and the Bears could pick up a good one if they choose to go that route.
  • Though its unlikely the Beas will take one very high, it is possible they will go receiver somewhere in the draft.  Matt Waldman, writing for the New York Times, profiles his third and fourth best receivers, Randall Cobb and Greg Little, respectively:

  • More trouble for South Florida defensive back Mistral Raymond, a potential Bear target.  Via Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune.

Elsewhere

“Projecting and developing drafted quarterbacks is one of the worst things the Raiders do as a franchise. Al Davis hasn’t nailed one since 1968, when he took quarterbacks in the first two rounds with second-round pick Ken Stabler (No. 58 overall) quickly surpassing first-round pick Eldredge Dickey (No. 25) and leading the franchise to its first Super Bowl title in addition to winning the Most Valuable Player award.”

  • Todd McShay and Mel Kiper talk second tier quarterbacks on ESPN.  It can’t be said enough that these evaluations are critical for the Bears as teams may look to trade up either with them or in front of them to get into the first round to take one:

“’His motion was off [last year],’ the NFC executive said. ‘His release point was all over the place. So, guess what? Now, it’s pretty good. He worked on it, fixed it in the offseason.’

One Final Thought

As high as Pelissero thinks Locker may go, it may not be high enough.  As McShay talks draft in this video he says he thinks the Titans at eight might take Locker ahead of Minnesota.  He also thinks the Bengals might draft Julio Jones over A. J. Green in the #4 slot.  Those would be some shocking picks:

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.’”

 

Hypocritical Madden Game Causing Head Injuries. And Other Points of View.

Bears

“How much change does Toub expect on Sundays in the fall? He says half the kickoffs in the NFL could be touchbacks.

“’We’ve invested in a lot of money in Devin (Hester) and our return game and players and they’ve basically devalued that for us,’ Toub said. ‘I don’t think there is any question. You’re hurting the teams that are good in the return game and you are rewarding teams that aren’t very good in kickoff coverage. With just the rule change, they got better on kickoff coverage. To me, it’s not real fair. That’s the way it is. We’ll play it out.’”

“If Corey Liuget and Marvin Austin are there when Chicago picks in the first round, which one do you go with and why? Shaun, Anchorage, Ak.

“I would go with Liuget in a second, and that probably explains why Liuget won’t be available when the Bears are picking. Liuget is a much safer pick, and he’s more talented. Austin could develop into a fine pro. He has the talent to be even better than Liuget. But picking him high is risky because he has been inconsistent on and off the field. Teams have more concerns about his personality and coachability than his athleticism, and the fact that he hasn’t played in a year is troubling.”

“Dan, why are we not hearing more about Drake Nevis, the DT from Louisiana State?”
“—Tony, Arlington Heights”

“Nevis would be a good fit in the Bears’ scheme. The only hesitation with him is he is a little smaller than ideal. Some teams fear he will wear down against bigger competition, and might be best suited as a wave player who takes maybe 40 snaps a game. He also had only one season of top production. For those reasons, Nevis is not considered as desirable a prospect as Liuget and some of the other top tackles.”

“I was just young and immature. But at the end of the day, I learned the valuable life lessons that attitude will take you everywhere you want to go in life, and to be prepared when your number is called.”

“Last season, Bennett caught five or more passes in a game only twice. But though he lacks a lot of home run potential, the Bears should target him more often. It goes against [offensive coordinator Mike] Martz’s nature, but a controlled passing game featuring Bennett, [tight end Greg] Olsen and running back Matt Forte with some deep shots downfield could be a winning formula, considering how strong the Bears’ defense and special teams are.”

“It’s difficult [for them].  You don’t know what to do, nobody’s telling you what to do so you’re kind of out on your own, and you feel like you’re alone in this situation but I always give my phone number to everyone to call me if they want to. Other guys in their respective positions [do the same], so if the wide receivers are feeling some type of way, they can call Rashied [Davis], or defensive linemen they can call myself.”

  • Finally, Smith talks offseason with Chicago reporters in this video.  From Vaughn McClure at the Tribune:

Elsewhere

  • The Detroit Lions are on the clock at ESPN:

  • So are the Minnesota Vikings:

  • Speaking of Minnesota, democracy is apparently dead there.  Along with the populace.
  • Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer wonders if the Bengals will end up taking Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the draft.  In the process he states that the first two picks in the draft are “nearly set”.  That’s news to me.
  • Bob Sturm at the Dallas Morning News documents the fall of cornerback Terence Newman in 2010.  Newman’s play will be a critical factor in determining the their degree of success in 2011.
  • The Cowboys apparently handle their visits with players a bit differently than most teams.  As far as I can tell, most teams seem handle therse visits one or two players at a time.  However, David Moore, also at the Dallas Morning News reports that the Cowboys had 16 players in at once including potential first or second round picks Tyron Smith, J.J. Watt, Nick Solder, Aaron Williams, and Rahim Moore.
  • Rafael Vela at the Cowboys Nation blog takes a fascinating look at how the Cowboys approached drafting offensive tackles last year.
  • Ryan Grant’s car service is obviously run by a Bears fan.  Via Bob Wolfley at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Todd McShay at ESPN is releasing a new mock draft.  Here are picks 1-10:


“Myth Buster

LeGarrette Blount is a budding star

“Character wasn’t the only reason Blount went undrafted. And there’s a reason the Titans cut him after training camp.  Blount has little speed and struggles to change directions. That’s fine for a power runner. But Blount’s not a power runner. He’s just a runner who happens to weigh 250 pounds. To his credit, Blount broke a lot of tackles in 2010 (it was amazing the way defenders would slowly trickle off of him). But far too often he left yards on the field by bracing for contact or not pressing his holes. And he couldn’t be counted on in the passing game or short-yardage situations. It will be difficult for Blount to carve out a long-term niche in the N.F.L.”

One Final Thought

With the news that Madden Football video game will include removing players with concussions as part of the game, we have this disturbing report from The Onion on the effect of Madden upon the real players:

“Examining MRIs and PET scans of Madden football veterans, scientists discovered severely damaged neural pathways in parts of the brain associated with motivation and attention, malformations that might explain the common inability among players to perform such basic tasks as maintaining hygiene and preparing meals for themselves.”

When will E.A Sports realize that players safety must come first?

Teams Who Have Things Like “Quarterback Schools” and Teams Who Don’t. And Other Points of View.

Bears

“You can’t be real excited about a guy’s play that year when they’re beaten out by someone else.  Zach went into the season as the starter, and didn’t play as well as he needed to early on, which allowed Tim [Jennings] to take advantage of that opportunity. So Zach needs to come back [strong] this year, which he’s capable of doing.”

  • John Mullin at CSNChicago.com (in my opinion correctly) points out the the Bears are probably looking to improve the interior of the offensive line rather than offensive tackle.
  • ChicagoBears.com is doing an interesting series of videos on the draft’s top 30 prospects.  I don’t think its likely Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith will fall to the Bears but character issues might drag him down:

  • Most Bear fans would be extremely happy if Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey fell to them:

Kicking and Screaming – Ditka’s Soccer Practice
Tags: Kicking and Screaming – Ditka’s Soccer Practice

Elsewhere

“While Nawrocki concedes Newton’s physical skills are immense, he still considers the Auburn QB a risky gamble on greatness.

“Under ‘negatives’ for Newton, Nawrocki writes: ‘Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and will always struggle to win a locker room. … Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.’”

  • As are the Chargers:

“It would take a skilled psychologist to determine what goes through the mind of an NFL player that had the world at his fingertips and willfully let it all slip away.”

“Did the Jets know about Ainge’s problems before or after the draft?  If they didn’t know, it raises a lot of questions about drug-testing procedures in the league.”

  • Michael Silver at Yahoo Sports correctly points out the powerlessness of the NFL fan to do anything about the NFL lockout.  The only substantial thing you can do is to stop allowing the NFL owners and players from making money from you.  That is, to stop being a fan.  Which kind of defeats the purpose.
  • Now that AFLAC has fired Gilbert Gottfried, Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones wants to be the new mascot:

One Final Thought

Seifert, ESPN‘s NFC North blogger, quotes Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy in a nice entry about the team’s quarterback school, something McCarthy runs every March:

“…it’s to give those young quarterbacks that chance to go back to square one every year. You learn the base protections, all the adjustments, I’ve been in the same offense since 1989, and I still learn something new each year. You’re never too experienced or been in it long enough to not find a better way this year.

“Because today’s game, it’s just a big circle. The NFL is just a circle of adjustments, whether it’s the 3-4, or whether it’s the 4-3, whether you’re spreading them out or running the ball. You really don’t run new plays. There are so many great coaches and players that have come before us and you’re just reinventing the stuff that have been done over history. You try to stay one step ahead of your opponents.”

Its not hard to figure out why the Packers won the Super Bowl last year.  The players are expected to go the extra mile in preparation and they do it.

I’d suggest that the Bears should run on one of these “quarterback schools”, too.  But you’d need a coach who could teach something to quarterbacks who will listen.  I’ve seen little evidence that the Bears have either.  That tells you something.

NFL Considering Scab Owners and Other Points of View

Bears

“There’s not many perfect fits for that three-technique for Chicago but you could see maybe a Corey Liuget out of Illinois. I’ve got him going 14th to the Rams but after the Rams, there’s not many teams looking for a true defensive tackle. I personally think he’d be a better fit as a nose tackle in a 4-3…[but] if he’s there at 29 you’d have to think long and hard about passing on a guy like Liuget.”

“Most of our guys … they are smaller receivers, so to have a little bit of a different flavor wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

  • Omar Kelly at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has posted this interesting video of Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano talking about finding an NFL center.  He’s talking about moving guard Richie Incognito to the position.  Many believe that the Bears are looking for someone to either replace or groom behind Olin Kreutz:

  • Bob Sturm at the Dallas Morning News points to this video which demonstrates why he thinks offensive tackle Nick Solder is overrated.  Most experts believe that the Bears would take Solder if he fell to them.  This is not a flattering picture of a guy who was flat out dominated by a smaller, quicker man.

Elsewhere

  • Tom Pelissero at 1500ESPN.com in Minnesota adds up the clues and comes to the conclusion that the Vikings may be looking to trade up and take a run at Blaine Gabbert.
  • Elizabeth Merrill at ESPN profiles Gabbert.  I know that there are no character concerns for him but there’s something off when a guy has had a personal trainer simce the eighth grade.  I don’t want to make too big a deal of it but it hardly sounds like a normal upbringing.  I hope we aren’t talking about  Todd Marinovich.
  • Drew Sharp at the Detroit Free Press tries to convince us that the lockout will hurt the Lions “far worse” than most teams.  The Lions have a stable coaching staff with no scheme changes.
  • Chris McCosky at The Detroit News quotes Lions head coach Jim Schwartz on Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith:

“I learned a long time ago that you can’t judge a guy on a quote, on what a guy said or what you heard that he said.  If you don’t know the guy, you can’t judge him.”

Smith has four failed drug tests.  I don’t think this is a case of “he said, she said”.

  • Schwartz and Tom Kowalski at mlive.com are still trying to find a way to twist poor coaching and Calvin Johnson‘s error into a catch.  These guys need to get together with Bob Costas and get it all out by throwing a pity party and having a good group cry.  I was at Missouri during the fifth down controversy and even we didn’t whine this much for this long with a lot more justification.
  • Vic Carucci at NFL.com has Bear fans weeping over the idea that the lockout as put a wet blanket on the Green Bay victory celebration.
  • Seifert makes the case that the Packers  might have a need at wide receiver.  Could be but I would still put it no higher than fourth on the list.
  • Kendrick Ellis appears to be the latest beneficiary of the constant need to nose tackles for the 3-4.  Via Aaron Wilson at The National Football Post.
  • Johnny Jolly we hardly knew ye.
  • Armando Salguero at the Miami Herald writes that Dolphins owner Steven Ross has told Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland that they don’t have to win now and that they have guaranteed job security.  So basically they’re dead men walking.
  • Former NFL safety Matt Bowen at The National Football Postcomes out strongly against HGH testing because it requires drawing blood.  But I’m pretty sure players have to give blood already for AIDS testing.  Fear is almost certainly what is stopping testing for growth hormone.   But I doubt its fear of a needle.
  • Bowen also points out that rookies will be behind due to the lockout for a number of reasons including lack of a playbook.  Though he has a point, most rookies will almost certainly find a veteran to help them out with these issues.
  • The Charlotte Observer got beat writers for the top 5 teams in the draft to do a mock draft.  Its a neat concept that I’d like to see done for the entire first round.
  • Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer does a comparison of the top two wide receivers in the draft.  A.J. Green is a possibility for the Bengals but that fourth pick would be awfully high for Julio Jones.
  • I’m way behind on my videos. The Seattle Seahawks are on the clock at ESPN:

  • So are the Saints:

  • and the Eagles:

  • and the Colts:

  • and finally the Chiefs:

“If you polled the entire league, I would guess the opinions are split on (Auburn QB) Cam Newton. Anyone that really knows the kid and did their homework will have him down on their board. We had him at the very top of our board before the Combine. He’s got talent — you have to give it to him. But I wouldn’t think about him until the end of the first (round), and even there, I’m not sure I’d want him. Now it’s a little different when you’re in the hunt for a quarterback. We got a good one. … I just think you’re asking for too much trouble with a guy like him. It’s just like Vince Young — all the warning signs were there. The lower (Newton) goes, the better his chances will be.”

and on a related note:

“What do you think the hit ratio is on one-year wonders in the first round. We did the study over five years. It’s not very good. What’s scary is how many of them there are in this year’s draft. I would not touch either of the two at Auburn that everyone is talking about. I hope they go early so that some good players fall to us.”

I’m on the fence about Nick Fairley but I’ll say out right that Newton in the top ten is a boat load of bust waiting to happen.  Both of these guys seem to me to have potential football character issues.

“Trading down is an option that I am sure they would love. I also here of several other teams that would love to move down, too – Washington for sure. So, you need a partner. That is why we look at 2 particular positions – QB and WR. Here is why you want those guys taken at 1-8 (Gabbart, Newton, Green, and Jones) – so that the good DE/OL/DT prospects get to you at #9. Here is why you DONT want them to be taken at 1-8 – so you have teams calling you to move up and snag them. This is the draft day chess game that the Cowboys have to play and have to play right.”

“(Georgia OLB) Justin Houston is very talented, but he could be the next Vernon Gholston. It’s scary, but he shuts it down way too much. He’s one of the draft’s great magicians. He can disappear with the best of them.”

  • Shocking news from the The Onion which is reporting that NFL is considering hiring replacement owners for the 2011 season.
  • And The Sports Pickle has obtained an official proposal for rules changes from the NFL Kickers Association.  Amongst the suggestions is the elimination of tackling on kickoffs to avoid injuries (i.e. humiliation, embarrassment and emasculation).
  • After paying a 16 year old girl for sex, former New York Giant Lawrence Taylor got sentenced to 6 years probation and to a lifetime of humiliating jokes and laughter from this blogger a total stranger who occasionally breaks in and hijacks my keyboard.  In Lithuania.

One Final Thought

The fifth Season of Mad Men looks like it will be delayed to 2012 as executives from AMC and Lionsgate Studio can’t agree on who gets more of the lucrative amounts of money that the show brings in.  Suddenly I have the urge to show DeMaurice Smith a picture of January Jones, wait about 30 seconds and then kick him in the balloons…

    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.

    Mike Singletary is a Parent Who Knows How to Do It and Other Points of View

    Bears

    • Chicago Tribune columnist Dan Pompei conducted a wide ranging interview with Bears president Ted Phillips.  Phillips told him that the team expects to be able to spend money on free agents when the labor stoppage ends.  We’ll see if that’s still the case if game (and substantial revenue) are lost.
    • Phillips also described what I would consider to be a reasonable attitude toward the new rule changes with respect to kickoff returns:

    “There are some aspects to the proposal, including the elimination of the two-man wedge and having all the players except the kicker no more than 5 yards behind the ball, that would be more acceptable than moving the kickoff to the 35.”

    Bottom line, the Bears don’t mind making kickoff returns safer.  But they see no reason to cut down on the number of them.  I’ve got a feeling that the Bears won’t be alone in that attitude.

    Phillips admitted members of the organization “really haven’t talked to him.”

    “Maybe some of the coaches did,” Phillips said. “Now, with the work stoppage, we can’t talk to him. But when the time comes, we’ll sit down with him and see how things are going.”

    With months of offseason ahead with no contact, let’s hope that someone did talk to him.

    Asked if the Bears would consider trading [quarterback Jay] Cutler, Phillips said, “I mean, no one is untradeable. But we couldn’t be happier with Jay as our QB. He’s our guy. Our organization has never wavered in saying, ‘Jay’s our quarterback, and we’re excited to have him.’”

    The last time someone told Cutler that he wasn’t untradeable, he was headed out of town.  Let’s hope he reacts better in his current environment.

    • And Charles Barley is showing up Dez Clark on the golf course:

    Elsewhere

    “I think we’ve got good people that are going to help them [in] their fundamentals and get them from a technique standpoint. But I’ve got to feel good that they’ve got the leadership qualities and can mesh with some of my thoughts on the quarterback position. My one-on-one time with them, and just being around them is as important to me as what they can do from a pro day or workouts.”

    “Good athletes at quarterback don’t always become franchise quarterbacks. For us, we’re looking and hoping to find a franchise quarterback. For us, that’s what we’re looking to find. So my time with him is as important or more important than what we see on tape.”

    Always assuming that Frazier actually means what he says, I would agree with Seifert in that I think these comments might be significant in terms of the Vikings attitude towards Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.  In fact, I’d take it further and say that even in the seemingly unlikely event that Newton were to fall to them, they very well might not take him.

    • Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com makes a good point I hadn’t thought of.  H addresses the problems that coaches like Frazier have when it comes to dealing with players who get themselves in trouble during the lockout.  The Vikings have had two incidences, one involving the arrest of cornerback Chris Cook and the other with running back Adrian Peterson comparing the NFL to “modern-day slavery”:

    “’Adrian is a great kid, as you guys know,’ Frazier told reporters Sunday while arriving at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans for league meetings.  ‘This is a time where not being able to communicate with the players — it’s hard to form an opinion. . . .  So, you kind of reserve judgment on everything that you see right now . . . all the information that you’re getting is through the media.’”

    “Future draft picks, beyond 2011, also can be traded.  But an ominous caveat comes from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

    “Per Mort, the league has advised teams that any trades of draft picks beyond 2011 will occur ‘at [their] own risk.’

    “In other words, there may not be a draft in 2012.”

    “Our Rams sources believe it certainly wouldn’t hurt to at least look into adding veteran WRs Plaxico Burress, who has been in prison the last couple of years, and Randy Moss, who played under new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in New England. ‘But there are obvious issues with both of them,’ said one team insider. ‘Unlike Michael Vick, who was 28 (nearly 29) when he got out of prison, Burress will be 34 years old (in August). Moss is a bit more intriguing, but it really does seem like he’s no longer a difference maker. He didn’t do anything with the Titans.'”

    “Another factor that has made evaluations difficult is the prevalence of spread offenses in college. With the spread, teams typically don’t see as many one-on-one matchups or throwing downfield.

    “Said [Bengals defensive backs coach Kevin] Coyle about the evaluation process: ‘The first thing is, can he stay with the receivers and be physical? Does he have the change of direction and able to stay tight on routes? Can they come out of their breaks and explode? You really have to search as you study the tapes. You might go through a game and see only three or four plays.'”

    • The Baltimore Ravens are on the clock at ESPN:

    “The guys in the locker room call me the cheapest guy around,” Pitts said with a laugh, “but you have to be wise with your money. You can live a great life and still be careful and still be smart.

    “I tell guys, ‘Why do you need that $250,000 car? A Mercedes is a great car, and it’s $85,000. You can afford that on your salary, and what’s that ($250,000) car going to do for you?’ “

    [Insert your comment about the NFL labor stoppage here].

    One Final Thought

    Mike Singletary talks: Bob Sansevere at the St. Paul Pioneer Press listens:

    “I think my kids have seen the eyes. They know the look: ‘OK, Daddy is serious.'”

    I can only imagine.