- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reports on the Bears acquisition of running back Michael Bush. This was a good signing, I think. You need two good running backs these days. Bush has good size but moves well and is almost kind of a slasher. At minimum, he’ll be a good replacement of Marion Barber and he’ll probably be better in short yardage situations than anyone on the roster.
- Bush’s signing generated this somewhat petulant response from Bears free agent Matt Forte on Twitter:
“There’s only so many times a man that has done everything he’s been asked to do can be disrespected! Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last….”
Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune has a potential explanation:
“Perhaps the reason Matt Forte is so sensitive to sharing the meeting room, shower area and backfield with Michael Bush is he knows Bush can be more than just his caddie.”
The problem that I have isn’t that Forte feels disrespected. Its just that when someone offers you more money than most people will make in a lifetime, I don’t want to hear you complain about it.
His situation is totally different from yours and mine and I do understand that. I just don’t want to hear him cry about how “good guys finish last” on Twitter as if we’re supposed to be sympathetic.
Forte has an agent who is in charge of negotiating his contract and making public statements when warranted by things like this. He would be a lot better off dumping Twitter, concentrating on football and letting his agent do his job by catching the flak.
- Pompei answers this good fan question:
“There were six other NFL teams that finished with the same record as the Chicago Bears. The Arizona Cardinals pick 13th in the upcoming draft and the Bears will select at 19. How was draft order determined, and how badly do you think this will impact the Bear’s ability to get the player they want?”
“— Norb Gecewicz, Deer Park
“The first tiebreaker in the draft for teams with identical records is strength of schedule. Because the Bears played a stronger schedule than the Cardinals, Cowboys, Eagles, Jets, Raiders (their pick now belongs to the Bengals) and Chargers, they pick last among all the 8-8 teams. And picking 19th as opposed to 13th definitely could cost the Bears dearly. If you say the Bears’ biggest need is an edge rusher, the Cardinals, Cowboys, Jets and Chargers all could use one as well (though each of those teams runs a 3-4). If you say the Bears really need an offensive tackle, the Cardinals, Jets and Chargers are threats to take one of them. And if you still want another receiver, the Cardinals, Jets and Bengals all could ruin the Bears’ plans.”
- For those looking to see the Bears bolster the defensive line, Pompei gives some draft analysis:
“The four best defensive ends in the draft that fit the Bears’ scheme, in alphabetical order, are Melvin Ingram from South Carolina, Whitney Mercilus from Illinois, Nick Perry from Southern Cal and Courtney Upshaw from Alabama. There is a chance the Bears will have their pick of these four, but I really think there is a good chance Mercilus is off the board at 19. I also think there is a good chance Quinton Coples from North Carolina could be off the board, but I don’t see him as the kind of player the Bears will be looking for. Different players will rank these ends in different orders based on their schemes, so we can’t be completely sure how they will come off the board.”
“According to the West Virginian Times, Smith and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin were both on hand Friday, probably to get a close look at defensive end/outside linebacker Bruce Irvin.”
Despite the fact that he was at the combine for interviews, Biggs says that the Bears will have him in for a visit before the draft. He may require an extra hard look because of his checker past. In fact, after his pro day last week, he was arrested for allegedly damaging a sign outside a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop. But given the Bears new focus on “on field character”, it probably won’t matter much.
Pompei reports on what scouts think of Irvin for The National Football Post:
“The fear is that at 245 pounds, Irvin isn’t big enough to put his hand in the dirt, and he doesn’t have the understanding of the game to play outside linebacker. Coaches will have a hard time trusting him as an outside linebacker, but it may be the only thing he can do.”
- Pompei answers another very good fan question:
“With Mike Shanahan looking for weapons for Robert Griffin and the price for [Brandon] Marshall being so reasonable, why do you think the Redskins did not trade for him? Marshall had his most productive games playing for Shanahan. With the trade for RG3 and the signing of Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, it’s obvious that draft picks and money are not the issue. Does Shanahan know something we Bears fans don’t? — Mazhar Paliwala, Buffalo Grove
“My sense is Shanahan had his fill of Brandon Marshall, but I could be wrong. In 2009, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that had Shanahan stayed in Denver, he was preparing to cut Marshall because he believed Marshall hurt the Broncos more than he helped them. If Mortensen said it, I believe it. He’s as solid as they come. Then again, the Marshall that Shanahan knew might not be the Marshall that Lovie Smith is going to know, if Marshall is to be believed. Marshall says his treatment for borderline personality disorder has made him a new man. We’ll see. But there is another reason why the Redskins might not have been in the Marshall trade discussions. Even though the compensation requests from the Dolphins were reasonable, the Redskins don’t have much trade ammunition after the RG3 trade. They already are missing a second-round pick this year and first-round picks in 2013 and 2014. They really are not in position to be giving away two more picks.”
“You have to be careful with players who did not produce a lot in college, especially wide receivers. I think he would be a fine pick in the second round, where taking big risks makes more sense.”
- Pompei also quotes former Redskins GM Vinny Cerato on new Bears QB Jason Campbell:
“He has a big arm, a very good arm. He’s athletic. He can run. He can make first downs with his legs. He can make all the throws.
“The negatives are he holds the ball too long at times. He fumbled a lot from the pocket. And he has just average anticipation. He gets in trouble some from holding the ball.”
- ESPN’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert delivers some bad news regarding Brian Urlacher:’s late season knee injury.
- Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Corey Graham has signed with the Baltimore Ravens, presumably because they promised him a chance to play in the defensive back field. They promised Brandon Ayenbadajo the same thing. How’s that working out?
- Pompei, this time writing for The National Football Post, on former Bears running back Cedric Benson:
“The Bengals’ backfield makeover isn’t about dissatisfaction with Cedric Benson as much as it is about molding the offense to suit Jay Gruden’s offense… The Bengals are looking at backs with speed, receiving skills, and the ability to pass protect.”
So it’s about dissatisfaction with Benson.
- Last week I wondered if the Bears might not pursue defensive end Andre Carter. Ian Rappaport at the Boston Herald provides a pretty good clue as to why they haven’t.
- Fans wondering why the Bears didn’t pop for Mike Wallace will find thier answer here. From Matt Barrows at the Sacramento Bee.
- Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com reports that Jeremy Shockey is seriously considering a law suit against the NFL Network’s Warren Sapp after Sapp reported that he was the snitch who gave information on the Saints bounty program.
- It looks like the Redskins and Cowboys are also feeling litigious. They might sue the league over the penalties they incurred for dumping salary in what was theoretically an uncapped year of the last labor contract. It apparently wasn’t and the teams are now paying for violating a rule that wasn’t a rule even though it was. If you get my meaning. Via Mike Florio:
“It’s unknown whether the Redskins and Cowboys are bluffing in order to force a compromise, or whether they indeed truly intend to file suit. Reducing the allegations to writing necessarily will expose that the league was engaged in collusion in 2010, which could have all sorts of unintended consequences for the entire NFL, including the Redskins and the Cowboys.
“And so the real question is whether the Redskins and Cowboys are angry/crazy enough to drop a grenade into a room they won’t be able to escape.
“The answer very well could be yes.”
- Cowboys QB Tony Romo takes a lot of heat. So this statement from a Brownsville Herald interview with Hall of Fame QB Troy Aikman is going to take some people by surprise:
“Herald: Who do you think is the better quarterback, you or Tony Romo?
“Aikman: ‘I think Tony already is a better quarterback than I was. I know how quarterbacks are judged but as far as his play-making ability and the things that he is capable of doing, he is a far more athletic quarterback, capable of making more plays than I ever was able to. He has a good team around him and hopefully, and I believe this will happen, I believe that he will win a Super Bowl before he is done playing.’”
“You know, you can’t … everyone has their opinion. You go out there and try to help your football team win, and I just happen to play with an edge to me. I never want to hurt the football team, but also want to make big plays and help this football team win and lead this football team.”
“Quinn will now be reunited with coach Romeo Crennel and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, both of whom worked with Quinn in Cleveland. It actually gives Quinn a bit of an edge over incumbent starter Matt Cassel.
“‘You can’t make every decision in life based on money,’ Quinn told the Kansas City Star, via NFL.com. ‘For me, personally, I had to make the best decision I felt like for me. And Kansas City was the right choice.’”
- Former Bears Director of College Scouting Greg Gabriel, now at the National Football Post, doesn’t think much of writers (and bloggers) who think they know more than scouts and general managers about prospects.
- The NFL is apparently considering making some changes to instant replay. The proposals call for moving the entire operation to the replay booth without the involvement of officials on the field and expanding the automatic use of replay to all turnovers: interceptions and fumbles. The full list of proposed rule changes can be found here. Via Florio.
- To ESPN’s great joy, there’s some momentum building for Robert Griffin III as the number one overall pick instead of Andrew Luck. Merril Hoge likes RG3 better (vai Florio) and there are certain aspects of his game that Greg Cosell at the NFL Films Blog likes better as well. On the other hand, the scouts that Pompei trusts aren’t buying it.
Both Cosell and Pompei, who is writing for The National Football Post, agree that Luck is the most NFL ready in terms of his experience in a pro style offense and that Griffin has the stronger arm. But the differences in opinion are notable:
1) Cosell believes RG3 shows better ball placement, Pompei’s article disagrees.
2) Pompei’s people believe that Luck avoids pressure in the pocket better. But what Cosell says in this regard about RG3 is significant:
“[Griffin impressed me with] his patience and composure in the pocket. He did not move when the bodies started closing it down. He threw effectively out of what we call a “muddied” pocket”. He did not need much functional space to deliver the ball with velocity and distance. Surprisingly, in my 5 game breakdown of Luck, he exhibited a tendency to move too quickly, to leave the pocket too early. The result was often a positive because of his athleticism and ability to throw on the run, but I am very anxious to chart this element of his game in the NFL.”
What sticks out to me about Griffin is his unconventional throwing style. But its not necessarily a bad thing. He seems to throw over the top a lot which will keep the ball from being batted down and he his release is reasonably quick as he literally seems to flick the ball out.
I don’t know if I like him better than Luck but I definitely do like him.
“I understood why the Dolphins wanted Peyton Manning, possibly the greatest quarterback of all time. I even understood the pursuit of Matt Flynn as someone who has a potential upside worth exploring. But you have to draw the line somewhere and accept that you’re no longer seeking to upgrade the position, but rather just looking to replace Moore for the sake of it.”
“If you watched Matt Moore last year, you’ll know that the Miami Dolphins really don’t need to. Which begs the question; just what were they watching?”
“So why are the Dolphins having a hard time luring free agents to South Beach? Steelers safety Ryan Clark has a theory.”
“Clark later says, ‘It’s my honest opinion. Not a good guy making decisions.’
“Here’s referring, presumably, to G.M. Jeff Ireland.”
“If it’s true, the Dolphins need to find a way to fix the situation. If it’s not true, the Dolphins need to find a way to reverse a false perception.”
I’m not so sure its Ireland that Clark is referring to. Stephen Ross, the owner of the Dolphins, doesn’t seem to have the sense of integrity that most of the other people around the try to NFL exhibit. I think his attempt to secretly interview Jim Harbaugh for a position that Tony Sparano still held told us all we need to know about him.
I might add that he didn’t do his trading partner on the Brandon Marshall deal any favors either. Via Izzy Gould at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
“[Miami fan Jason] Lawrence said he asked [Ross] about the decision to trade leading wide receiver Marshall to Chicago for two third-round draft picks. Twice, Lawrence said, Ross would not say if the Dolphins were rebuilding. He told Lawrence moving Marshall was not about money, but more about protecting team morale.
“’[Ross] said they had been shopping [Marshall] for a couple weeks,’ Lawrence said. ‘Nobody would return their phone calls about getting him. If Chicago didn’t take [Marshall] … they would have ended up cutting him very shortly after that, and got nothing.’”
So basically the Bears gave two third round picks for a wide receiver they could have gotten for a lot less because no one else wanted him. Setting aside what this means for the Bears, the fact that Ross would embarrass the Bears by letting this out speaks volumes for his integrity or lack thereof.
Teams are likely to be very careful about dealing with the Dolphins in the future.
- Looking at GM Jeff Ireland’s Wikipedia page, some Dolphins fans have apparently chosen to protest the teams recent moves in their own unique way. Via The Sports Pickle:
One Final Thought
For those wondering why the Saints got such a severe penalty for carrying on a bounty program, you might want to read the official statement from the NFL. There was a lot of lying going on, here.
Its fairly evident that head coach Sean Payton was, to say the least, taken by surprise (even though he shouldn’t have been). Via Florio:
“[Jay Glazer on NFL Network] said, ‘Are you OK?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m not OK.’ He is stunned. He’s going to lose about $8 million. He is beside himself here.’”
Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune bottom lines the situation:
“Some people contend that every team has run something like the Saints’ pay-for-pain idea. Maybe, maybe not. But the Saints did it, continued doing it and got caught. So, consider this a tax on the stupid, as well.”