Roethlisberger Gets “Punched in the Nose” and Other Points of View

Bears

“‘Bring him back,’ Goodwin said Thursday. ‘The biggest thing about Olin is his leadership. I’ve been watching film on him the last few games because we didn’t know who we were going to face in the Super Bowl. Let me tell you, he can still play. All the things I saw him do when I was with the Bears, he can still do now. It’s a no-brainer to re-sign him, No. 1 as a player, but No. 2 as a leader.'”

Elsewhere

“What has gotten the Packers to this point is good drafting, but not just that. It’s also solid player development. The Packers’ coaching staff prepares young players well, and then gives them opportunities.”

“When you see the Packers’ defense jog onto the field Sunday, rest assured they will be guided neither by statistical tendencies nor computer “readouts.” Their game plan will be the work of a man who literally wrote the book on this system, a man who sat at a desk last week with a pen and an bag of multicolored highlighters and wrote down his plan to help win a Super Bowl championship. Based solely on his own knowledge, instincts and a file of reports from every game he has coached, Capers will almost certainly make a call or two that the NFL has never seen.”

  • ESPN’s Sal Palatonio interviews B. J. Raji.  Sounds like the Packers are depending on Raji to dominate as the Steelers are hurting at center:

  • Jake Locker isn’t one of Mel Kiper‘s top 25 NFL prospects:

Nate Solder 6-9 315
Gabe Carimi 6-7 327
Tyron Smith 6-5 280
Anthony Castonzo 6-7 287
Derek Sherrod 6-6 305

One Final Thought

Sam Farmer at the Los Angeles Times quotes Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians on the troubles quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has faced:

“That happens to a lot of these guys, the young kids who come in and have success.  There’s a sense of entitlement. … It happens to all of us. Whether it’s someone who writes a bestseller, you look at yourself different. You feel pretty good about yourself.

“It’s the same thing as a coach. You win some ballgames, you feel pretty good about yourself. It’s different when that success kind of becomes who you are, and you stray away from your family and you roots and everything.

“It takes a punch in the nose to get you back.”

Aaron Roger’s Extensive Comments on Brett Favre and Other Points of View

Bears

“It was interesting to hear the Green Bay Packers praise the play of nose tackle Anthony Adams prior to the NFC Championship Game. It was also very telling. By nature, the position doesn’t produce much in the way of statistics, but he proved long ago to be a shrewd free-agent signing. Adams is a dependable and durable two-down performer and quietly he’s one of the real leaders in the locker room, making him a priority to re-sign as he’s an unrestricted free agent.”

“The 23rd overall pick of the Packers, Bulaga has mostly played at right tackle, and his performance has been inconsistent. One NFC scout told me that Bears seventh-round pick J’Marcus Webb has more upside than Bulaga.”

Elsewhere

“I bet two dozen [Steeler] players … Not one, not a single player, went to his defense. It wasn’t personal in a sense, but all kinds of stories like, ‘He won’t sign my jersey.’ ”

The original quote was reported by SI.com’s Peter King. King has admitted that he put the “Steeler” in brackets and that the commissioner never implicitly stated that this was the case. But it not exactly a denial by Goodell, either.

“I asked Ochocinco how [quarterback Carson] Palmer’s situation compares to when the receiver tried to get traded a few years ago.
“’The difference is I would be scrutinized,’ he said. ‘In Carson’s case, they would do everything they can to fix the situation.’”

Ochocinco thinks the Bengals fired offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski to make Palmer happy.

  • I know that football players are a superstitious lot.  But this is ridiculous.  Via Jim Litke at the Associated Press.
  • This expert is obviously better than most as he makes his Super Bowl pick:

  • Hmmm.  He makes a good point.  But I’m not so sure I trust that guy.  Let’s see what this expert has to say:

Yep.  That pretty much finalizes it.

“No.”

  • Steeler’s center Maurkice Pouncey speaks to Chris Berman at ESPN.  He really seems to think he can play.  We’ll see.


One Final Thought

Florio collected some interesting quotes from Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. This was among them

“’That’s what makes you enjoy this week so much: All those times getting your ass kicked,’ Arians said in reference to the times he was actually fired as a college coach.”

Thinking of Betting on the Super Bowl? Maybe Better Think Again. And Other Points of View

Bears

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune does another positional analysis, this time of the offensive line. He concludes that the Bears need two linemen, probably one veteran and one draftee, probably one for the interior who can play center and probably one for the tackle position. I generally agree. Perhaps the most interesting point was his bottom line:

[General manager Jerry] Angelo has his work cut out for him. The Bears assign one person to be a crosschecker for each position in the draft, an overseer if you will. Angelo has been that man for the offensive line. The draft is his baby and the line has been his position. It’s time to produce.

  • David Haugh, also at the Tribunetalks to backup quarterback Caleb Hanie.  The Bears are in a bit of a bind with Hanie because they’ll probably have to pay $1.759 million next year to keep him.  I found this quote to be interesting:

“‘You think about fourth-and-4, if I had just pumped that ball into Earl (Bennett),’ Hanie said. ‘Or on (B.J.) Raji‘s (interception return for a touchdown) if I would have taken just three steps instead of five steps, would he have just missed it. Or if I had gotten reps on that play, I would have maybe progressed over to Devin (Hester). But that’s how it goes sometimes.”’

This is the classic “loser’s lament”, worthy more of a Lions player who is still learning how to finish a game..  Hanie should know than to make these kinds of statements.


Elsewhere

Tom Brady and Drew Brees averaged 44 attempts against the Steelers this year. They picked Pittsburgh apart with short precision passing for 655 yards, five scores, and one pick.

I doubt this fact has been lost on the Packer coaching staff.

In any case, hope that the Packers coaching staff will still be raided is not lost (yet).  Let’s not forget that Dom Capers would certainly still look good on that Titan sideline as head coach. Assuming Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t decide to refuse to give him permission to interview, of course. After all, he might find his way from there to the Bears one day.

“Rush four—and drop seven. That’s it. Whenever you send the corner cat (Sam Shields in this situation, “C” in the white square), you are playing coverage in the backend and looking to steal a play.”

Raji is the defensive tackle that drops into coverage as Shields rushes.

“Dom has done more as far as moving people around,” Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson said. “LeBeau has done a fantastic job, but they are pretty standard with their zone blitzes. They let their players’ abilities be better than the guy across from them. Dom really moves his people around a lot. They can be coming from anyplace. He’s probably a little more diverse than LeBeau.”

  • Chris Erskine at the Chicago Tribune gathers hair advice for Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews.  Sunday, for heaven’s sake, please come quickly.
  • Sam Farmer at the Los Angeles Times does a pretty good job of bottom lining this game for me:

“Tell me how the Packers do at stopping Rashard Mendenhall, and I think I can tell you who wins this game.”

Mustain was rated ahead of Tim Tebow and behind only Matthew Stafford among prep quarterbacks in 2006.

But don’t let that spoil the rest of National Signing Day.

  • Some of the Super Bowl ads are starting to hit the Internet.  This Doritos commercial looks promising.

One Final Thought

Via BenMaller.com we have this little nugget for those thinking of investing in the Super Bowl.  R.J. Bell at pregame.com says that Vegas has won money on 18 of the last 20 Super Bowls – the exceptions being 2008 (Giants vs. Pats) and 1995 (49ers vs. Chargers).  What’s the estimated net amount that gamblers have lost over that time period?  Over $11 BILLION dollars.

Don’t go betting the house on this one, folks.  Or barn if you live in Green Bay.

Packers-Steelers Couldn’t Be Simpler

Sam Farmer, writing for the Chicago Tribune, previews the Steelers-Packers game by pointing out the keys for Pittsburgh.  Unlike the complex issues involved in the Packers-Bears game last week, this one couldn’t be simpler.  Green Bay’s run defense against Pittsburgh’s run-oriented offense:

“If the Packers are poised to stop the run in a 3-4 formation — as opposed to bracing for the pass with a 2-4-5 — the Steelers will look to throw.”

Though this is a good point, I’m going to disagree.

Certainly the key for the Steelers is to run and hold the ball, keeping Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers off the field and wearing the defense down at the same time.

But unlike Farmer, I think the Steelers are going to be able to run on Green Bay in that 3-4.  And I think Green Bay knows it.  Look for them to put at least 8 in the box and play a four man line.  They did this a few times against the Bears and I think we’ll see it a lot more next week.

Chad Johnson’s Application for a Name Change and Other Points of View

Bears

“Every player has Lovie’s back. After last season we all got together and talked about how we are going to screw up a great thing if we don’t turn our team around. He treats us like men and he is the kind of coach you want to play for. We are very lucky to have him.”

“‘I just got off the phone with (coach Lovie Smith) and he made the comment, ‘Kevin, you’re not coming back, you’re coming home,’ ‘ O’Dea said. ‘Any time someone makes a comment like that to you, that’s pretty special.'”

  • Biggs also reviews the interesting story of wide receiver Devin Aromashodu as he heads towards restricted free agency.  I’ve talked to fans who are irrate that Aromashodu didn’t make it on to the field more this year.  We probably won’t find out for sure what the Bears problems with him have been unless or until he leaves but there surely is a problem.  It could be as simple as a lack of ability on special teams but I’ve a feeling there’s more to it than that.
  • Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers on people questioning the toughness of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler:

“I was real disappointed, to be honest with you.  I’ve known Jay for a few years now and know what kind of competitor he is. I thought it was disrespectful, some of the stuff said about him.”

Yes, I would say that total disrespect for Cutler as a person and a player sums it up well.

“Urlacher insists that the Julius Peppers hit on Aaron Rodgers was clean. What is your take? Will there be a fine? Jim Johnson, Skandia, Mich.

“Peppers hit Rodgers’ helmet with his helmet. You can’t do that. He might not have intended to do that, and he might not have even been able to avoid doing that, but he did it. I think he is going to be fined.”

  • Pity this little girl.  Not because the Bears lost.  Little girls need their daddy and how can she have any opportunity to grow up normal with so little respect for hers?  Via The Sports Pickle.

Elsewhere

  • Carson Palmer might want out but to no one’s surprise, the Bengals have no intention of trading him.  Its idle speculation but I was stuck by the timing of Palmer’s statements.  He made them almost immediately after the Bengals decided to keep Lewis.  One wonders if Chad Johnson isn’t the only one who has a problem with the head coach.
  • Florio also reports that ground work is being laid at the Senior Bowl before assistant coaches meet at the NFL Scouting Combine to discuss forming a union.
  • Florio also correctly points out that not all players will begin missing pay checks in September if there is no collective bargaining agreement.  Those due roster bonuses or who would ordinarily be getting signing bonuses in March as part of free agency will be vocal about making a deal as soon as possible.
  • Michael David Smith, also at profootballtalk.com, takes us through the Steelers goal line stand as they played the Jets last Sunday with the NFL Network show Playbook.  The Jets tipped at least one play.
  • Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette reports that the Packers have decided to take their Super Bowl picture with everyone in it instead of leaving out those who are on injured reserve.  Good move which would have only been better had the correct decision been made in the first place.
  • Tim Twentyman at The Detroit News says that though the Lions biggest need is at cornerback they aren’t likely to get an elite one in the draft.
  • Twentyman also says out that the Lions are in a very stable position with the coaching staff and their core players intact heading into a period of labor uncertainty.

As Pompei pointed out today, the NFC North is shaping up to be one tough division next season.  Whether the Bears win or not, we’re going to see some good football.

“The Steelers’ usage of Troy Polamalu is very interesting — and perhaps very telling. In Pittsburgh’s two playoff games, Polamalu’s and Ryan Clark‘s roles have often flip-flopped, with Polamalu often in deep coverage in the middle of the field instead of tormenting the offense by attacking the line of scrimmage and being used in his usual variety of ways. That tells me that he just isn’t healthy and in a way, he can be hidden in the deep middle of the field, where there is far less contact. The extra rest before the Super Bowl could do him very well.”

One Final Thought

Rick Telander at the Chicago Sun-Times on Cutler:

    “Socially, Cutler has major issues, ones that have come home to roost.”

    “People say Cutler is arrogant, cocky, immature. I wonder.
    But whatever ails him now, it’s all in his head.”

Bear Vs. Bear and Other Points of View

Bears

“In short, all of the problems this team has experienced at different points of the season showed up in one game — and it just happened to be the most important game of the season.”

  • I will quibble with only one of Pompei’s grades.  He gave the linebackers a 9 of 10 and I did think they made big plays in this game.  But I also strongly suspect that poor linebacker play was behind many of the huge holes that we saw in the running game in the first half.  I probably would have down graded them a bit more.
  • Pompei was tough on Tim Jennings and rightfully so:

“For the second time in three weeks, the Packers went right at Jennings.

“Rodgers threw in Jennings’ direction 13 times and exploited him whether Jennings was playing zone or man. Only four of the 13 passes did not result in gains for the Packers.”

I agree with all of the people who believe that the Bears need to look towards improving the team at the line of scrimmage.  But the Bears also need help at cornerback.  Its a need that too few people are mentioning.

  • Not surprisingly, the Bears would like to extend Lovie Smith‘s contract rather than let him go into the 2011 season as a lame duck.  Brad Biggs at the Tribune hits the nail on the head:

“The question now is how many years will be in a new deal.”

“Why is it that the Packers draft Bryan Bulaga in the first round of the NFL draft (No. 23 overall) and he starts in the NFC Championship Game and shuts down Israel Idonije. While Chris Williams, the Bears’ No. 1 pick in 2008 (14th) overall, is playing his third position and was at the very least one-fifth of a poor effort against the Packers’ defensive front Sunday?”

“How can you have a quarterback [Todd Collins] like that in the NFC Championship Game? The Packers started Matt Flynn against the Patriots on the road and nearly won. How do they do that?”

“If Frank Omiyale is the Bears’ starting left tackle next season, the Bears are in trouble. You don’t have to see the film or know what protections were called to know that the Bears should expect better than that at left tackle to win a championship. There’s room for good-but-not-great on all NFL teams, but not at key positions like that. Not when you’ve got good-but-not-great — and that’s being charitable — all the way down the line.”

For those who don’t know, the “key positions like that” are left tackle, defensive end, and quarterback.  The Bears didn’t draft any of the starts at those positions.

“He engineered two successful surprises: Opening the game with three cornerbacks and one safety, and then making a rare line call that resulted in nose tackle B.J. Raji‘s interception return for a touchdown. The alignment in the secondary left cornerback Charles Woodson as a hybrid safety/cornerback, and defensive end Ryan Pickett said, ‘It gave us a chance to cover and it gave us a chance to play the run at the same time. We had big guys to match up on the run and we had the guys to match up with their receivers on the outside.’ If nothing else, it was the kind of back-straightening curve ball Capers is known for. Meanwhile, Capers accurately presumed the Bears would target tailback Matt Forte on a third-and-5 pass at their 15-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. As a result, he made a rarely-used call for Raji to ‘spy’ on Forte. While rookie nickelback Sam Shields blitzed, Raji backed off the line and surprised quarterback Caleb Hanie. ‘We were taking away the quick routes,’ Raji said. ‘He looked for the check down, and I was there.'”

  • ESPN compares the speed of Bear Devin Hester to that of…  a bear:


Elsewhere

“(NFLPA executive director) DeMaurice Smith aspires to be a politician and is milking the labor situation for short-term fame to blow up his name and help earn a spot in office, with no regard for future of the NFL. The longer his name is in the headlines, the better for his career. It’s unfortunate — a lockout is not as much about the players and owners as it is Smith’s ego.”

  • This report from The New York Times via ESPN would seem to support that conclusion:

“I wasn’t sure about (Panthers new head coach) Ron Rivera hiring Sean McDermott — guys who get fired usually get let go for good reason. But what you have to remember, this is going to be Rivera’s defense. He’s going to call the plays and run it. It’s a lot like Rivera when he came to Chicago. Lovie Smith was there and expected to run (the defense). There’s not as much risk as you think. What Ron needed was someone who could break it down and do the dirty work and that’s where McDermott will be great for him. I think they’ll be a great team. And I like the (Rob) Chudzinski hire (as offensive coordinator). You have to remember — San Diego had the best offense and defense in the league, and they were missing a lot of parts this season. (OLT) Marcus McNeill was out. (WR) Vincent Jackson was out. They were missing a lot of receivers. The defensive line was beat up. They coached the heck out of those guys. Carolina pulled from the right tree.”

One Final Thought

ESPN’s Kenny Mayne starts trash talking since Rex Ryan wouldn’t:

The Bears Offseason Begins and Other Points of View

Bears

“Cornerback Tim Jennings said they were more aggressive defensively in the second half, playing more man-to-man and trying to put more pressure on Rodgers in order to make him move in the pocket and get rid of the ball more quickly. [Linebacker Brian] Urlacher had a more simple explanation.

‘‘’We just hunkered down,’ he said of what changed in the second half. ‘Guys got off the line. We got takeaways, we got pressure on them and played how we play.’’’

  • Even after such a brutal loss, linebacker Brian Urlacher‘s mind was still on playing general manager.  Via Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune:

“‘We’ve got to get Olin signed up,’ Urlacher said, referring to 13th-year center Olin Kreutz. ‘If we get him back, we should have a chance to be good again.'”

  • More Urlacher via McClure with a comment that only confirms that Urlacher doesn’t understand the way the new NFL works:

“‘Julius Peppers wouldn’t say much about the helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers quarterback [Green Bay quarterback] Aaron Rodgers that resulted in a 15-yard penalty, but Urlacher spoke up. ‘It was a good hit. (Pepper is) 6-7. What is he supposed to do?'”

It was not a good hit.  It was a penalty.  The fact that Peppers is so tall only means that he has to try harder to lower his target.  To my eye he didn’t try at all.  Urlacher needs to stop complaining and get used to it.

“As it turned out, Cutler was less efficient than not only Rodgers, but also Caleb Hanie, who is supposed to be a professional clipboard holder.

“‘I kind of wish we had Jay in there the whole game the way things were going,’ Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said.”

“After the crowd around him dispersed, Cutler turned and faced his locker. His eyes grew watery as he took his time buttoning his purple jacket.

“Cutler’s car was parked inside the tunnel and he walked to it slowly, his left leg as stiff as his upper lip.”

“Almost instantly, Cutler was criticized across the Internet (for coming out of the game). Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said on his Twitter account he played the entire season on a bad knee, and Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes also chimed in.

“‘Who? Where’s he at right now?’ Urlacher said about Jones-Drew. ‘Home. It’s easy to talk (crap) about someone when you’re sitting on your couch watching their game. That’s what I am saying. I don’t understand it. I don’t get it.'”

Neither do I.  Though I do have some thoughts on it here.

“Either through the draft or free agency, it is likely the Bears will try to bolster their offensive line. They could use another pass rusher as well.”

Though the Bears apparently like what they have, there will be much talk amongst the fans about the need for a sizable wide receiver as well.  But we’ve got all kinds of time for that.  All kinds of time.

Elsewhere

“I don’t even feel like the bridesmaid.  We’re more like the flower girl, I guess. We can’t get past that last hurdle. It hurts.”

“We almost pulled out another one, but again, our goal for next year, I got news for you … it won’t change and it will never change.  We are going to chase that Super Bowl. We are going to chase it until we get it. And we’ll chase it after that again.

“But that’s it.  If you want to criticize us, then go ahead, but you have no right.”

One Final Thought

Rogers knows how the Packers got to where they are this season.  Via Michael Hunt at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“Character.  Look at our roster and a number of players who were not with us or were not counted on to play a big role. The biggest difference between last year and this year is our character and that we believe in each other.”

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PTI Word on Potential Obama Super Bowl and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Having just watch ESPN’s NFL Matchup show, I’m glad Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com took the time to note down some of the interesting and unique analysis of the Bears-Packers game by Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge.  You can find it here.
  • The village mayor basks in the big city spot light as he wagers with Mayor Daley  on today’s game.  Via the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Earl Bennett‘s wife just had a baby boy.  I guess he was involved somewhere in the process as well.  Via Neil Hayes at the Sun-Times.
  • Five year old Jack Lawyer won the Bears game face contest by ripping the head off of a Packer Christmas ornament.  Via the Sun-Times.

“It’s a risk to send pressure at [Green Bay quarterback Aaron] Rodgers. He has shown the ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly and accurately. With the Packers using a six-man protection (the running back stays in the protection scheme), there is no guarantee the Bears will get a hit on Rodgers. Therefore, the coverage and tackling in this scheme are crucial to the Bears’ success”

“‘I think if he gets under pressure, he’ll just start slinging that sucker around like free loaves of bread in the hood, man,’ Strahan said during an appearance on the ‘T.Ocho Show.’ ‘I don’t think he’s going to sit back there hold it and be cool with it.'”

  • Pompei also got this comment from Saints safety Darren Sharper regarding the leadership ability of both quarterbacks in this game:

“You talk about body language — Aaron’s might be 10 times better than Jay’s.  Jay’s body language sometimes just kills you.”

“It so happened the college kids were playing the defending NFL champion Packers.

“‘It’s an all-star game and they came out to pounce our ass,’ Buffone said. ‘I remember what Jimmy Taylor’s first words were: ‘You guys didn’t come up here to play football, you came up here to count your money.’ I told him as he was screaming at me, ‘Look you (jerk), I was drafted by the Bears. There is no money.'”

“Under [Bears offensive coordinator] Mike Martz, the Bears have not attempted to get Olsen the ball downfield as much. In fact, they have not attempted to get him the ball as much, period.”

Its worth noting that Olsen was not Cutler’s primary receiver even on that play.

  • PTI debates Barak Obama going to the Super Bowl.  Couldn’t agree more with Tony Kornheiser on this.

Elsewhere

  • Dan Le Batard at the Miami Herald writing about the Dolphins.  But he could have easily been saying the same thing about the pre-Jay Cutler Bears.

“A slew of alleged Dolphins leaders have been run through this rinse-repeat car wash since – a cornucopia of alleged offensive minds, defensive minds, culture changers, hot candidates and legends. And all have left here varying degrees of exposed or diminished. It isn’t a coincidence that the organization’s descent began when Dan Marino’s did. You don’t need greatness and stability atop your organization as much as you need it atop your huddle.”

“Ideally, find a young guy, build around him, know you’re going to have him for the next nine, 10 years as your starting quarterback. Those guys are sometimes hard to find.”

A former Bear ought to know.

“I called him up, interviewed him on the phone. I said, ‘Hey, man, you want to come out here and help me out, help us win a championship?’ That was his interview.”

“Asked about the 18-game season by Judy Battista of the New York Times, Steelers chairman and American ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney said, ‘I’d rather not have the money.’ I say the NFL needs this guy more than Ireland needs him.”

Mike McCarthy will need to win about five Super Bowls before most Packers fans will elevate him to Vince Lombardi‘s exalted status, but I say he’s already a better coach.”

“With two picks in every round for the first four rounds, the Patriots will not have enough roster spots available to ensure those players will make the team. As a result, I can see them being aggressive in the draft to ensure they come away with the specific players they need. They have depth, they have youth, but they need an impact defensive player who can be impactful right away — not down the road.”

  • The New York Jets did well keeping their mouths shut this week.  But they finally exploded Thursday.  Here’s Jets safety James Ihedigbo‘s message to Jets fans.  Via Steve Serby at the New York Post:

“Stock the refrigerator full of champagne and get ready to celebrate.”

One Final Thought

Rod Marinelli on his visit to Charlotte, NC with coach Lovie Smith to recruit defensive end Julius Peppers to play for the Bears.  Via Vaughn McClure at the Tribune:

“One thing I wanted to make sure he knew was how important it was for me to be there,” Marinelli said of the meeting. “He was important to us.

“You have to know the guy. He doesn’t want to hear someone in his ear yakking. I understand players. I have a good beat on a person. And one thing I really wanted to express to him was that I really wanted to coach him.”

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Brett Favre Is Ready to Let the Packers Beg Him to Come Back and Other Points of View

Bears

  • I don’t know if I should respect this or be worried by it.

  • Tom Skilling‘s game day forecast:

“Of course Dom does a great job. It’s the final four. There are a lot of great coaches coaching this week, but in the end, what it will come down to is it’s a players game. I think it will be something as simple as blocking and tackling. Some of those basic fundamentals will win this football game.”

Give the Bears credit.  No matter what happens tomorrow it has to be admitted that they are generally a well-coached team with good fundamentals.  Smith has a point.

“Would the Bears be playing in the NFC Championship had they lost as many starters for the season as Green Bay has? Tom Zanette, West Chester, Pa.

“I doubt it. I doubt any other team would have made it this far with as many injuries as the Packers had. And I’m surprised the Packers made it this far. I don’t think the Bears have the same depth. Look at what happened to them last year when they lost Brian Urlacher. It’s a real testament to the entire Packers organization that they made it this far. General manager Ted Thompson and his staff built up the team’s depth with draft choices, and then they found replacement parts on the street. Coach Mike McCarthy and his staff found ways to minimize the impact of player losses. And substitute players stepped up big time.”

Hard for even a jealous Bear fan to argue though I might point out that the Bears have a pretty good coaching staff as well.

“How come Jay Cutler never pump fakes before throwing a pass? I think there are a few times a game where he could get a D-back or D-lineman to bite. Jim from Los Angeles

“He pump fakes a little, but certainly he could use the pump fake more frequently and effectively. Some players are just more comfortable doing it than others. What’s more important is that he’s not locking onto receivers and telegraphing his passes. And for the most part, he’s not doing that.”

“PEOPLE ARE WORRIED about the SI cover jinx now that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, center Olin Kreutz and guard Roberto Garza are on the current cover of Sports Illustrated.

“You know how the superstition goes: Be on the SI cover, and you’re doomed.

“‘Doesn’t affect me because I’m Mexican,’ Garza said with a chuckle at Halas Hall.

“Here’s the thing: Joe Montana, John Elway, Michael Jordan and every Super Bowl winner has been on the cover of SI.

“It’s kinda up to you.”

“Maybe it’s me, but I’ve sensed a I-know-something-you-don’t attitude from the Bears all week.”

Maybe its me but I’m sure the Packers are giving off the same vibe.  I’ll bet they all have some surprises in store.

“(Bears WLB Lance) Briggs plays with great base. He is great taking on blocks. He is always around the ball. He is very underrated. … (On the other hand, Bears RB) Chester Taylor is 31 and can’t avoid anymore. He’s done.”

  • For those who put any stock in such things EA Sports simulates the NFC Championship Game:

  • These characters kind of look like Brian Urlacher.  If he had hair:

  • For those looking to make an investment:

Elsewhere

“On Friday, Mark Sanchez said of Scott: ‘That’s his personality. If I would have done an interview like that, it wouldn’t have gone over so well. That’s just not me. But that’s Bart to a T.’”

  • The Buffalo Bills have hired former Bears head coach Dave Wannstedt as assistant head coach and inside linebackers coach.  Wannstedt certainly knows his X’s and O’s.  Good hire.
  • And the Browns have hired another former Bear head coach, the stubborn but even-tempered Dick Jauron, as their defensive coordinator.
  • Todd McShay at ESPN thinks that another quarterback from Delaware might be on the NFL radar:

  • Former Jet Greg Buttle talks about the inspiration the Jets have drawn from Dennis Byrd:

  • Adam Schefter at ESPN talks about how the Steelers are different compared to the first time they played the Jets:

  • More good betting advice on the Jets-Steelers:

  • There isn’t a single comment I could make about this college mascot that wouldn’t get me in trouble.  From The Sports Pickle:


One Final Thought

The author’s name isn’t going complete on the page but I’m going to guess its Telander:

“The game today hasn’t even started, but there’s already an elemental urge to preserve it, to keep it just as it is, in suspended anticipation. The game can’t possibly live up to the buildup, can it?

“Can it?”

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Jon Stewart Has a Message Just for You Patriots Fans and Other Points of View

Bears

  • A shout out to Bear Goggles for the Packer jokes found in this post.
  • Kudos to Packer running back James Starks for being classy, at least publicly, about being passed over by the Bears in the draft in embarrassing fashion (via Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times):

“Starks said he had no hard feelings over being snubbed by the Bears, who told him they were going to draft him in the sixth round, then had to tell him they had changed their mind. The Packers selected him 12 picks later.

‘‘’I was thankful, actually, that they thought of me,’ Starks said. ‘Most teams wouldn’t have thought of me in situations like that. I prayed on it. I knew things would fall my way. Now I’m a Green Bay Packer, and I’m lovin’ it.'”

A first grade teacher explains to her class that she is a Cheesehead.

She asks her students to raise their hands if they are
Cheeseheads too.

No one really knowing what a Cheesehead was, but wanting
to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like flashy
fireworks.

There is, however, one exception. A girl named Kristen
who has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks her why she has
decided to be different.

“Because I’m not a Cheesehead.”

“Then”, asks the teacher, “what are you?”

“Why, I’m a proud bear Fan,” boasts the little girl.

The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks
Kristen why she is a rebel.

“Well, my mom and dad are Bear Fans, so I’m a Bear Fan too.”

The teacher is now angry. “That’s no reason,” she says loudly. “What if
your mom was a moron, and your dad was a moron. What would you be then?”

A pause, and a smile. “Then,” says Kristen, “I’d be a Cheesehead”

“We won’t play a player unless we feel like he can be effective and won’t hurt the team – that he can help the team. I don’t think any of our players would put themselves out there knowing that they can’t do their job and that would definitely be the case with Chris. He’s making progress. There’s no reason really to think that he can’t and won’t be able to perform the same way he normally does.”

  • The obligatory intermission:

“That’s who we are. We believe in our basic philosophy of eventually it’s going to come down me beating the guy across, a one-on-one battle no matter how you get in it. There is only so much you can do. The teams who have a philosophy just blitzing every snap, eventually, though, as you blitz you are going to have to beat someone to get there most of the time. You are not going to have a free guy. If you have a free guy, it’s someone on the outside. So it still comes down to a one-on-one football game. For us it’s the same situation. We just do it a little bit differently, but in the end, as our players said, we’re not going to change a whole lot. For the most part, you are going to know what we are going to do and we are going to try to out-execute you.”

We’ll see.

Q: Did you here about the Packer fan that died at a pie eating contest?

A: The cow kicked him in the head!

“The one thing we did see when we looked at Tim was he was a tough, competitive guy, but he’s taken that to another step. Both our corners are so physical. I’m so proud of what these guys do and how tough they are and how well they tackle and how well they compete. They have good ball skills, man coverage, but in our system you have to tackle. You have to be physical, there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it and both of them have done a great job with tackling. To answer your question, he’s a heck of a ballplayer.”

I would agree.  But I’ve been waiting all year for someone to take advantage of Jennings short stature.  Hopefully I’ll still be waiting next week.

Q: What’s the difference between a porcupine and Lambeau Field?

A: The pricks are on the outside of a porcupine.

  • Marinelli, again via the Tribune, on Brian Urlacher, who the Bears were missing all last year:

“The biggest thing he does is he brings a calming effect to the entire defense because he they know if something comes up that is a surprise or whatever, he’s going to handle it. It’s a tremendous calming effect for the defense. His verbiage, his communication, is always right. He’s able to put the players in the good situation all the time. So it’s a comforting feeling for a coach, but also for the defensive team.”

Q: What do you call a Packer fan with a sheep under his arm?

A: A pimp.

“It’s part of what we are, built in. You have to adjust all four guys that are rushing, unless we’re blitzing, they’ve got to work together. I always tell them four equals one. We have to know where each other is. Each guy has got to do his job and be accountable. You can’t let it take the aggressiveness out of our pass rush.”

Q: Why is it a good idea to bring a Packer fan along to a Vikings game?

A: You can park in the handicap zone.

  • Fred Mitchell at the Tribune points out that beginning Friday, the bronze lions guarding the Art Institute will sport a Bears helmet (south Lion) and earmuffs and scarf (north Lion) throughout the weekend.

Q: What do you call a sober Packer fan?

A: A liar.

Q: How do you save a drowning Packer fan?

A: Take your foot off his head.

  • Mark Schlereth at ESPN makes his pick. Jerk:


Elsewhere

  • Eric Mangini discusses how the Jets might go about beating the Steelers Sunday with profootballtalk.com‘s Mike Florio:

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

  • Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu missed practice again yesterday.  I’m guessing he’ll play but if he’s less than 100% it could be a huge blow to the Steelers.  Via Florio.
  • We’ve heard repeatedly about how good Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly is but Pro Bowl coach Mike Smith chose to go in another direction (via Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com).
  • Todd McShay at ESPN has released his first mock draft:



One Final Thought

Jon Stewart has a message just for Patriot fans (via The Sports Pickle):