No, They’re Not Kidding. And Other Points of View.


  • The Bears re-signed Dante Rosario. Rosario’s value is really on special teams and the Bears probably still need to find a tight end who can block the run. From Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune.
  • Hub Arkush at points out that Bears head coach John Fox likes a runningback by committee. That leads him to speculate that the Bears might take a running back with their second round pick. That would fit in well with this ESPN report that Georgia’s Todd Gurley had an “extended conversation” with Bears southeast area scout Sam Summerville at his pro day.
  • Former Bears Director of College Scouting Greg Gabriel at the National Football Postthinks the Bears will trade back in the draft. He also thinks the Vikings will fill their need at guard and Detroit will fill their need at defensive tackle. Bud Dupree has that kind of look that would land him in Green Bay ahead of any decline from Julius Peppers.
  • Gabriel also writes for WSCR in Chicago. He does a very good job of breaking down the type players Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio used in the 3-4 defense that San Francisco played. It involved smaller, penetrating linemen rather than the big bodied 2 gappers that teams like Baltimore use. They also had smallish, speedy linebackers and tall corners. Whether these were the players Fangio preferred of this was a case of making the best of the players you are given is unknown. What scheme Fangio will use here is a matter of debate but if you think he’ll try to play the same scheme in Chicago that he did in San Francisco, these are the types of players to expect the Bears to collect.


  • Matt Vensel at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune dreams that the Falcons, Giants and Rams are all going to over-draft offensive linemen to allow Amari Cooper to fall to them. I think it far more likely that they’ll have their choice of those linemen and, in fact, they could do a lot worse than Brandon Scherff. He’d do a wonderful job of solidifying their left guard spot, vacated by the release of Charlie Johnson.
  • The Vikings biggest need may be a starting cornerback opposite Xavier Rhodes so its no surprise that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer were watching Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes rather closely at his pro day. He’s probably a slam dunk pick for them in the first round. Via Ben Goessling at ESPN.
  • Mel Kiper “re-drafts” the 2009 prospects for ESPN. You don’t think the draft is a crap shoot? Out of the 32 new “first round picks” not one was drafted in the original top nine. Michael Crabtree was the highest original pick to make the list at 10 and two of the players in the new round originally went undrafted.
  • Kyle Meinke at acknowledges that Detroit has taken a step back n free agency, largely due to losses at defensive tackle. However he believes that the team may make up for it, not by signing more talent, but by continuing to develop the talent that they have.He’s got a point. Good organizations are the ones that not only draft talent but coach it up to get the most out of it. This may be the most overlooked aspect of Green Bay’s success and its one that the Bears are going to have to emulate as well if they want to get younger and more competitive at the same time.
  • Rex Ryan plans to have the Bills practice largely on two fields in camp, a change from Doug Marrone who ran 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills on one field. The idea is to maximize reps for the quarterbacks who are competing to start, EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor.Both the Bills and the Jets are planning on challenging the old saying that, “If you have two quarterbacks competing to be the starter you don’t have one.”
  • How does an owner solve a problem where he signed a player who abuses women to a huge contract? He trots out his daughter and sells her for the sake of public relations. From David Moore at the Dallas Morning News.
  • Defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson has been signed by the Jets according to Rich Cimini at In retrospect I’m kind of wondering why the Bears weren’t interested here.
  • Mike Florio at thinks the value of having a veteran combine is minimal. I’m going to mildly disagree. Having a standard medical on these veterans can be pretty valuable and some teams may be holding off on working out and talking to some of these veterans until they get a solid handle on it.
  • Regular readers know that I have a man-crush on Teddy Bridgewater. Those who don’t want to read anymore about it can stop now. Because Bridgewater gets it as he addresses his rookie season via Brian Murphy at the Pioneer Press:

    “‘I wasn’t impressed,’ he told the Pioneer Press this week.

    “‘Yes, we did some good things as a team,’ he continued, ‘but we could have been much better finishing games. That’s what separates championship teams and determining whether you’re playing games in January or watching games in January.'”

  • The Chargers and the Raiders propose a shared stadium for Carson, CA and suddenly Rams owner Stan Kroenke is presenting detailed plans at the NFL owner’s meetings for his Inglewood stadium with offices for two teams… Things are getting even more interesting in Los Angeles.
  • Mike Florio at is surprised that it took nearly a week for Chris Borland to conclude that he should voluntarily give back a portion of his signing bonus. I’m not the lest bit surprised. The NFLPA can’t be happy to see anyone give back signing bonus to teams under any circumstances and this decision might further undermine the case that any players brings to keep his bonus in the future.
  • And in the former Bear, LOL department:

One Final Thought

Kyle Samec at the Cowboys Nation Blog says that Greg Hardy makes the Cowboys “a legit threat, whether people like it or not”. Is that to the opponents or just their women?

Head-Scratcher? And Other Points of View.


  • According the Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune the Bears signed free agent guard Vlad Ducasse. Ducasse was drafted in the second round in 2010 by the Jets and played well but has struggled ever since. He shows flashes of ability but this is one of those signings where you wonder if the team wasn’t better off with Eben Britton. Perhaps the Bears believe Britton has topped out and that Ducasse has more potential if they can find a way to bring it out. In that respect, he’s a bit of a boom or bust signing. At 6-5, 326 pounds he’s at least got the look of a road grader that might come in handy in a run first offense.

    John Mullin at thinks the signs point to Kyle Long moving to left tackle in part because the Bears have apparently been looking strictly for help on the interior line in free agency. I tend to agree.

  • Marc Sessler at on Bears left guard Matt Slauson‘s comment that Jay Cutler can be “every bit of a Tom Brady, a Peyton Manning, an Aaron Rodgers“:

    “Where do we begin? Our friend Slauson has boarded a rocket ship into the bizarre, taking us to new frontiers of insane offseason hype.”

  • Michael C. Wright at goes over the Bears draft options at wide receiver:

    “In the debate between [Amari] Cooper and former West Virginia receiver Kevin White, coaches seem to prefer the former, while scouts tend to give the edge to the latter. That’s primarily because coaches view players with an eye toward them helping right away, while scouts take more of a long-term perspective.”

    This was a funny statement only because my experience is exactly the opposite. Coaches tend to like the physically gifted, less developed prospects (like Johnny Manziel) because they think they can coach anyone with the necessary physical skills to be a star. Scouts, on the other hand, tend to go with the Teddy Bridgewaters of the world. IMO they also have a bad habit of being right. Anyway, Wright goes on to quote Cooper:

    “You don’t want to give the defensive back any signals about what route you’re going to run. Every time I run a route, I try to make it seem like I’m running a different route than I’m actually running so I can get open.”

    If the Bears go in this direction, they certainly have an interesting choice. White is both bigger and faster but Cooper has the look of a football player. Which choice he makes (if available) may tell us something about Bears general manager Ryan Pace.

  • The Bears attended a private workout by Northwestern safety Ibraheim Campbell. Campbell had four forced fumbles in 2014, an unusually high, Charles Tillman-like number. Via Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • How do you beat Aaron Rogers and the Packers in the NFC North? Probably the same way that Houston is trying to beat Andrew Luck and the Colts in the AFC South. From Zak Keefer at the Indianapolis Star.
  • Kevin Fishbain at points out the Bears need for a tightend:

    “The Bears were interested in Virgil Green, who re-signed with the Broncos, and [offensive coordinator Adam] Gase used two tight ends a decent amount in Denver’s offense the past two seasons. It’s a weak tight end draft, and there’s not much left on the free-agent market, yet this is a position group that should grow in the coming months.”

    The Bears are going to want the option of using two tight ends in a run-based offense. I’d be surprised if they didn’t find one that could block somewhere. The draft actually is a viable possibility here if all you want is someone who can block and catch a ball only every occasional blue moon.

  • The Bears sit at 25th in Elliot Harrison‘s NFL power rankings at I thought that was surprisingly high until I looked at the teams below them: Jets, Redskins, Jaguars, Browns Buccaneers, Titans, and Raiders. You could debate whether the Jets are worse than the Bears but with their quarterback situation I’m inclined to agree with Harrison. Even with a terrible defense in transition to a 3-4, the Bears belong at 25th in a miserable bottom portion of the league.


  • Conor Orr at wonders about the success of the teams in the AFC East as the spend to try to catch up with the Patriots:

    “[H]ow does [Bill] Belichick buffer his offense to face off against three brutal front-sevens twice a year? What will his counter be to all the noise being made by his counterparts in free agency? Perhaps the Patriots will be a sleeping tiger now that the market is officially open and they’ll load up for one last (reasonable) title shot in the Brady-Belichick era.”

    Doubtful. Because they don’t have to load up.

    The point about building the front-seven is well taken. The best thing to do is to mimic the Baltimore Ravens who give the Patriots the most trouble year in and year out.

    But the problem with the AFC East generally right now is that the other teams are playing fantasy football, over-paying talented players and winning in March when, in fact, what counts is winning in January. The Patriots win football games because they get players to hit the grass every week and do their jobs. The other teams in the division can spend gross national product but until they get that part down, it’s the Patriot’s devision to lose.

  • Mike Florio at reports that DeMaurice Smith has been re-elected as NFLPA executive director. This is good news for fans. Smith faced eight challengers the most vocal of which was Sean Gilbert, who wanted to sue the NFL for collusion and to force the league to re-open negotiations on the collective bargaining agreement. Gilbert’s election probably would have meant labor trouble, something no fan wants. Gilbert may have shot himself in the foot by advocating an 18 game season, which the vast majority of players clearly don’t want.
  • Gregg Rosenthal at thinks Adrian Peterson will most likely stay in Minnesota. Why? Follow the money.
  • Chris Wesseling, also at speculates that Phillip Rivers might be traded, perhaps to the Titans. All indications are that Rivers will play out his contract in 2015. Similar to the situation in New Orleans with Drew Brees, I doubt very much that San Diego could get what it would want for the 33 year old Rivers. He’s worth more to them than anyone else at this point.

    A lot of teams are going to be looking to develop young talent behind aging quarterbacks this offseason. The Bears arguably need one worse than anyone else and if they have their eye on anyone in particular, they may have to over draft him. Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, also at, has the Bears taking Marcus Mariota with the seventh pick in the draft. It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

  • The Dolphins had the smash hit signing of the year when the added Ndamukong Suh. But you have to wonder if the price of crippling the rest of the team with the cap implications is going to prevent them from winning and defeat the purpose. From Armando Salguero at the Miami Herald.
  • Mike Rodak at suggests that the Bills are spending recklessly in free agency rather that looking for value. Personally I think situations like this almost always end in disappointment as performances in December rarely meet expectations generated in March.

One Final Thought

Rosenthal considers the signing of Bears wide receiver Eddie Royal to be one of free agency’s biggest “head-scratching” moves:

“In a relatively depressed receiver market, the Bears gave $10 million guaranteed to a receiver that has topped 800 yards once in his seven-year career. It was just a random move, and felt a little more painful after the Bears grudgingly swallowed paying Jay Cutler big money into 2016.”

I think the Bears offensive coaching staff sees Royal as a Wes Welker-type of player. The Bears have never gotten the most out of these types of slot receivers but if anyone knows how to do it, it should be Gase. This could be a better signing than most people think.

Not the Only Thing. Thank Goodness. And Other Points of View.


  • The signing of new outside linebacker/defensive lineman Pernell McPhee reminded me ominously of the Lamarr Houston. The description of the versatility of each was so similar it was chilling. But Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune put me more at ease as he describes the history of previous Baltimore rejects:

    “Former Ravens Arthur Jones (Colts), Paul Kruger (Browns) and Dannell Ellerbe (Dolphins) all left for big paydays elsewhere the last two years. Total it up and they signed for $108.5 million with $43 million guaranteed on the way out of Baltimore. Ellerbe will reportedly be released in Miami. Jones was a solid player up front for the Colts last year and Kruger followed 41/2 sacks in 2013 with 11 this past season in Cleveland.”

    “Kruger was more than a system player for the Ravens and McPhee, who has terrific size at 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, is a better pass rusher. Kruger can’t put his hand in the dirt and rush like McPhee.”

    Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune comforts me a bit as well on this signing by quoting general manager Ryan Pace:

    “‘I don’t think it’s a scheme thing where he’s getting this production — he’s beating his man one on one,’ Pace said at Halas Hall. ‘What’s exciting about him is it might be a tackle, it might be a guard, it might be a center. He’s all over the place winning one-on-one matchups.'”

    We have to hope that he’s more Kruger than Ellerbe. But at least there’s a history of singing these free agents with success and Pace’s reasoning seems sound.

  • Biggs reports that the Bears appear to be playing it smart in free agency, looking for moderately priced bargains. These guys won’t be play makers but they’ll fill holes until the draft can replenish their young talent.
  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times when asked if the Bears are rebuilding:

    “They’re rebuilding on the fly, which means they’re reconstructing their defense from the ground up, but still could contend if they stay healthy. Their offense was second in the NFL in points in 2013. They’re missing Brandon Marshall from that equation. But if he’s truly addition by subtraction, the Bears at least have the chance to contend in an NFL where almost every team’s expectations are fluid.”

    I disagree. There’s no way the Bears will contend for anything while transitioning to a 3-4 defense. They have square pegs fitting round holes all over the place and you can’t sign enough free agents to fill all the holes.

    The Bears built false hope amongst the fan base last year that they had a team that could go to the Super Bowl. Here’s hoping this regime is smart enough to control expectations. This team belongs near the bottom of the division next year.

  • Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times responds to “The Bears will fail in free agency if” with this surprising answer:

    “A quality receiver isn’t signed. Brandon Marshall’s production may be overblown, but the Bears still need help at the position. Pace wants to address needs in free agency to allow for taking the best player available in the draft. So it’s best to find a receiver, too, while still addressing the defense.”

    With needs all over the defense, I didn’t expect Jahns to push for an offensive player. But he’s got a point. You could argue that the Bears need two receivers and the odds are that they couldn’t take more than one in the draft.

  • Jeff Dickerson at ESPN passes on the rumor that the Bears have serious interest in Terrance Knighton. Knighton is a classic 2-gap, space eating nose tackle and such a signing would be an indication of what kind of 3-4 defense the Bears plan to run.
  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune indicates that the bears are in the bidding for center Sefen Wisniewski. Signing him might mean moving Roberto Garza to right guard, Kyle Long to left tackle and Jermon Bushrod to right tackle. That’s a shuffle that will make a lot of Bears fans who have been calling for the Long move happy.


One Final Thought

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune didn’t think much of the rumor that the Bears were interested in trading Jay Cutler for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick

“Kaepernick drove the Niners crazy with the same inconsistency and inaccuracy that defined Cutler’s season. Kaepernick’s contract contains more outs than Cutler’s, but would a team give up draft picks for a starting quarterback without making a commensurate financial commitment? A younger quarterback prone to similar poor judgment would represent change merely for the sake of change, not to mention the draft picks the Bears likely would have to give up in any package for Kaepernick.”

The difference is, of course, that Kaepernick has the mental attitude of a winner and Cutler is the text book definition of a loser.

People in the media defending Cutler over a weak free agent crop is understandable. I don’t agree with it but its understandable. But defending him over a proven winner like Kaepernick is insane.

I think Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times probably has the best handle on the situation:

“My head has told me for years that Cutler isn’t the answer for the Bears. My head told me that they should have cut ties with him this week. The argument we’ve been hearing for years – ‘Who are you going to find who’s better than Jay?’’ — isn’t an argument at all. It’s a capitulation. It’s defeatist thinking. It’s spinning your wheels and convincing yourself that you’re getting somewhere.

“If your job is to evaluate football players for a living and you’re confident in your abilities, you should be able to come to two conclusions after putting Cutler on a microscope slide:

“I can’t win with this guy.”

Having said that, Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune at least makes me feel a little better about the current regime at Halas Hall, if not about the decision to stick with Cutler in 2015:

“[As] many times as we’ve lived this news conference, the thing that came through this time was the lack of love for Cutler from Pace and Fox.

“That’s a welcome change if they weren’t going to change quarterbacks.

“Past regimes cast Cutler as a franchise quarterback. They marveled at the physical skills and his knowledge of the game. They dreamed big dreams.

“And they got a nightmare.

“A nightmare that will continue with the quarterback who led the NFL in turnovers.

“Pace and [head coach JohnFox, however, sounded more like they were stuck with the $126.7 million quarterback than they won the lottery.”

I’m entering the stage of acceptance over this. The biggest problem is that, if you’re a fan that has any hope at all that the team can quickly turn it around this year, your season is already over in March. It’s not that the Bears can’t win games with Cutler at quarterback – they can. But I think it’s well established now that, for instance, they aren’t going to win a playoff game. Effectively the success of the team will always be capped as long as Cutler is here.

So now it’s all about watching the team develop. Development of the new schemes on offense and defense. Development and evaluation of new players and old. It’s about learning more and more about the nuances of the game.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” For the Bears, it’s not really too much about winning anymore.

Being of Two Minds and Other Points of View


  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune petty much sums up why Brandon Marshall isn’t a Bear:

    “The Bears questioned where Marshall’s focus was, or he never would have been dealt. According to [Bears head coach John] Fox‘s football glossary, Marshall qualifies as Pro Bowler more than Super Bowler, a point underscored when the wide receiver wondered in his first meeting with Fox and general manager Ryan Pace whether he could work for Showtime again on Tuesdays during the season. A Super Bowler would have volunteered to quit his part-time TV job and established himself as a team-first, me-second guy. That never happened because that’s not Marshall.”

    I’m still not totally convinced that Marshall couldn’t have simply been told, “No. No Showtime. I expect your Fall to be God, family and football 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” But I can’t hardly blame Fox and Bears general manager Ryan Pace for wanting players who don’t need to be told that. In fact, you could argue that if you need to be told, your commitment will never be completely there anyway.

    There’s a good part of me that does’t care much for this trade. The Bears are going to miss Marshall’s talent on the field. He certainly played like a warrior right down to the very end of a miserable season and, unlike some of the players on this team, he’s one guy that no one could accuse of lacking heart. The locker room tirades weren’t good but at least they were rooted in a desire to win.

  • Anyway Marshall won’t have to fly to New York on Tuesdays now. Marshall never really understood what the problem was with doing the show even as his own statements danced around the real issue. Via Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times:

    “‘What’s more detrimental: a guy that goes out Friday night, smokes, drinks, do all that stuff, out ’til 4, 5 in the morning?’ Marshall said last month. ‘Or a guy on his day off flying to New York, an hour and a half flight, talking a little football and coming back?’

    “The hardest part, he said, was the show’s ‘tough questions’ surrounding the Bears’ 5-11 season.

    “‘How do you answer those questions?’ he said. ‘How do you keep those boundaries between, ‘Hey, I’m on television,’ but the No. 1 priority is to keep the team first.'”

    It’s true that spending what was probably more like four or five hours on a plane every Tuesday wasn’t a big deal. What Marshall either didn’t understand or didn’t acknowledge is the distraction that his appearances undoubtedly were for him the rest of the week. The bet here is that if Marshall was honest with himself he’d realize that a part of his mind all week was thinking about how he was going to answer those “tough questions” on Tuesday. That’s a part that wasn’t concentrating on football.

  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune characterizes Marshall on the way out the door as a “loser”. It’s a message that resonates with me if for no other reason than it’s something I’ve said in my criticism of of quarterback Jay Cutler many times. The Bears are reportedly talking to former Bears coaches and staff about Cutler. Here’s hoping they were as frank as their evaluation as they apparently were with Michael C. Wright at

    “At least 10 former Chicago Bears staffers from the Lovie Smith and Marc Trestman regimes said recently they believe the team can’t consistently compete for championships as long as it fields a lineup with Jay Cutler under center.”

    “Two teammates, who also asked to remain anonymous for this story, characterized Cutler as a divisive figure with whom they’d rather not continue to play.”

    “One more former staffer said the Bears could win with Cutler as long as the coaches handcuff him to the system.

    “But that’s precisely what the staff did when Mike Martz served as offensive coordinator during the 2010 and ’11 seasons, according to another former coach, and Cutler and Martz were often at odds”

    “One staffer said that while Cutler was injured and Josh McCown was flourishing as the replacement in 2013, there was a significant faction in the locker room that believed the latter should’ve remained the starter. Another coach said that fairly early in the 2014 season, it was apparent the team had made two mistakes: (1) not re-signing McCown, and (2) continuing to stand behind Cutler after it was clear he was not going to consistently operate within the confines of Trestman’s offense.”

    “[E]very one of the former staffers interviewed from the Smith and Trestman regimes pointed out similar flaws in the quarterback. Two ‘R’ words — ‘renegade’ and ‘rogue’ — were often used by the former staffers when asked about Cutler’s ability to play within the confines of an offensive system.”

    This is just about the most damning article about Cutler I’ve ever seen. The only think that could make it worse is if the sources gave their names. Most of it confirms what I always thought except that I believe that Cutler not only refuses to operate within the confines of the offense, I’m pretty sure he’s simply not capable of it.

    Given that, as Wright also points out, general manager Ryan Pace is close to former offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who I think we can safely say did not have a high opinion of Cutler, I’ll believe Cutler will be back next year when I see it.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune wonders if a Cutler trade won’t follow on the heels of the Marshall deal:

    “One NFL source said the Titans are the only realistic destination in terms of a trade for Cutler. It would be something if Pace could move Cutler and his guaranteed salary of $15.5 million for 2015. The solution isn’t to start Jimmy Clausen, re-signed to a one-year contract Friday, or David Fales. But the Bears might believe the sooner they shed Cutler and begin the process of searching for their next quarterback, the better. They might desire as clean of a slate as possible, and moving on from Cutler after trading Marshall would sure accomplish that.”

    As anyone who reads this blog knows, it’s been my feeling for a long time now that this is exactly what the Bears should do. Despite Biggs statement about the Titans there’s a part of me that wonders if Eagles head coach Chip Kelly isn’t clearing cap space to be used in part for Cutler. He’s not ideal but he’s a better fit for that offense than the guys he currently has.  Admittedly that’s a long shot.

    However, it’s also possible that the Marshall trade was simply a message to Cutler – the two ‘R’ words used in the previous item to describe Cutler won’t be tolerated under the current regime. We’ll see how it all works out.

  • Take this report of the Bears interest in quarterback Marcus Mariota for what its worth.
  • John Mullin at reviews the list of the Bears own free agents and one name popped up that I’d forgotten about: long snapper Jeremy Cain. The Bears might want to get Cain re-signed. I don’t think you want to be caught out without a reliable long snapper and to my eye, Cain made the grade last year.

One Final Thought

Former Bears safety Anthony Walters :

“‘Part of you loves when pain is inflicted on you,’ Walters said. ‘It’s a grown man’s sport. I remember if I got hit so hard or if I hit somebody so hard where there may have been a moment of wariness, I’m like, ‘Wow, that was exhilarating.’

“‘It’s almost a rush and it’s hard to explain that. That’s what we grow up loving.'”

Some Combine Thoughts and Other Points of View


  • I considered this comment from Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times to be interesting news:

    “The Bears have plenty of defensive holes, but that doesn’t mean Pace and Co. are being narrow-minded.

    “Some offensive lineman at the combine said they were told that the Bears are looking for interior line help.”

    This makes me wonder if many fans are going to get their way and see Kyle Long moved to tackle. They also need a plan for the future at center.

  • And this report from John Mullin at was interesting as well:

    “As part of their evaluation process for [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler, the Bears are going beyond the usual video reviews and expected to be reaching out for thoughts from some of the very offensive coaches who lost jobs in part due to Cutler. That group includes coordinators Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice and Aaron Kromer, plus former quarterbacks coaches Matt Cavanaugh and Pep Hamilton, now Andrew Luck’s offensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts, sources confirmed.”

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall during these conversations. I’d hope that at least a few of these guys would be willing to characterize Cutler as the hopeless loser that he is. But my guess is that most of them will be kinder than they should be. Mullin certainly seems to think that the comments will be more centered around how to get the best out of Cutler but he’s working under the assumption that Cutler will be around next year. I’m not.


  • I thought this article from Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times was going to be another one of those Jameis Winston Vs. Marcus Mariota columns. It wasn’t. In particular, this point about college quarterbacks who play in spread offenses was interesting:

    “It’s worth noting that two head coaches with stellar reputations for developing quarterbacks had polar opposite views on that subject.

    “‘I think it’s great training,’ the Packers’ [head coach Mike] McCarthy said. ‘There was a time when people felt that shotgun and all this wide-open offense in college would hinder a quarterback playing in the NFL because you had to teach them to get under center. The reality of it is pressure, third-down, key-situational football is the biggest challenge for a young quarterback. And I think these college programs have done an outstanding job of playing wide-open, asking the quarterbacks to do more and I think they’re much better prepared today than when I first got into the league.

    “Arians had a different viewpoint: ‘So many times, you’re evaluating a quarterback who has never called a play in the huddle, never used a snap count,’ [Cardinals head coach Bruce] Arians said. ‘They hold up a card on the sideline, he kicks his foot and throws the ball.

    “‘That ain’t playing quarterback. There’s no leadership involved there. There might be leadership on the bench, but when you get them and they have to use verbiage and they have to spit the verbiage out and change the snap count, they are light years behind.'”

    I find myself siding with McCarthy here. The things that Arians is emphasizing are things that can be taught to a conscientious student that works hard. I don’t think what McCarthy is talking about can.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune documents the many changes to the Packers this off-season. He quotes head coach Mike McCarthy on the matter.

    “When we had the opportunity to win the Super Bowl, I didn’t feel like, ‘Hey, let’s not change anything and keep going.’ I have seen it happen in the past. I have been part of that situation. I think you have to take each and every year and start over.”

    There is a large part of me that wonders if this wasn’t part of the problem for the Bears last year. Offensively I, at least, would have liked to have seen some different people on the line. You have to wonder if the lack of change on that side of the ball didn’t contribute at least a little to the stagnation that we saw there.

  • Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty doesn’t quite get it as he talks about being a college spread quarterback transitioning into a pocket passing league. Via John Mullin at

    “‘I am a pocket passer. I want to extend plays, extend plays within the pocket,’ Petty said. ‘That might be a little bit different than most spread quarterbacks who want to run it out of the pocket. For me, I feel like my game can translate easier in that and the fact that I want to play within the pocket and I want to extend plays within the pocket and beat you doing that.'”

    If desire to work out of the pocket was all that counted, there’d be all kinds of first and second day draft picks at the position. It isn’t about desire to extend plays by escaping the pocket. Lots of guys can do that. It’s about movement within the pocket to find throwing lanes while you are surrounded by men who are about 6’6″. It’s about being able to do that and that’s something that no one will know if you can do until you do it. It doesn’t help that most spread quarterbacks aren’t asked to do the other thing that’s absolutely essential – throw with anticipation.

  • Unlike people who have a life, I spend over 20 hours watching combine coverage on the NFL Network.  I don’t hold much with giving a prospect a lot more consideration because of a good combine performance.  But it is a good chance to learn something about the prospects by listening to what analyst Mike Mayock has to say about them. Here are a few observations:
  1. In my opinion there are four impact players at the top of this draft:  Leonard Williams, Winston, Dante Fowler, and Danny Shelton.  Of the four, only Shelton is likely to be there for the Bears.  He’s got a lot of phone booth quicks for his size and its obvious that he might even provide some pass rush.  If you are going to run a base 3-4 of the type that the Patriots run, requiring a big, 2-gapping nose guard, he’s your guy.
  2. Williams reminds me of a shorter version of Julius Peppers.  I consider that to be high praise.  If you listen to his peers, its well deserved.  When the defensive line prospects lined up for a picture, the photographer asked, “Whose going number 1?” in the same joking way that he might ask you or I to “say ‘cheese’”.  All of them pointed to Williams and said, “Leonard”.  That’s an endorsement you can take to the bank.
  3. The two most impressive quarterbacks whose name wasn’t Winston or Mariota were Bryan Bennett and Petty.  You could hear the ball whistle as it left Bennett’s hand and he really appears to be able to spin it.  Petty is what Mayock correctly called a “natural thrower”.  Both look to me like the kinds of guys who have the talent to develop into a starter if they have the right heads for the job.
  4. I was led to believe that one of Winston’s major problems was that his release was too long.  If it was, he solved it.  His release was quicker than Mariota’s.
  5. The tight ends are really supposed to be bad this year and never was that more evident than when you watched them go through the gauntlet drill.  The wide receivers run through this drill at speed and are often fluid, natural pass catchers.  Th tight ends ran through it at half speed and were dropping balls all over.  It was painful.
  6. Several mock drafts now have the Bears taking linebacker Vic Beasley.  Man, I hope not.  My impression of Beasley as I watched him play for Clemson was that he lacked instincts.  I’d hate to see him be taken by the Bears because of a good combine showing.
  7. I was a little insulted as Daniel Jeremiah posted his “franchise fits” for each defensive position group on Sunday.  The Bears should have been on every single list.

One Final Thought

Hub Arkush at opines this little piece of inconsistency:

Justin Houston, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Jason Pierre-Paul, Stephen Gostkowski and Charles Clay will be staying in Kansas City, Denver, Dallas, New York, New England and Miami, respectively, as the only players to receive franchise or transition tags this season.

“The biggest impact of those decisions is almost every team is now considering offers for Ndamukong Suh and Devin McCourty, and it would be a real shame if the Bears weren’t in on both.”

Why inconsistent? Here’s what Hub said about the Bears just 2 weeks ago before the announcement that they were going base 3-4 defense. Hub’s point was that the Bears need to rebuild, going younger and relying primarily upon the draft to improve:

“Forget free agency. If they’re staying in a 4-3 long term, they should re-sign Stephen Paea. That’s about it.”

He’s also repeatedly argued that the Bears should keep Cutler essentially because a weak free agent market means Cutler gives them the best chance to win. Since when is that a priority in a rebuilding year? Don’t you start searching now for a replacement rather than wasting a year with a guy you know can’t do the job? Even in a weak market you might catch lightening in a bottle with a guy like Matt Moore. Since when has Brian Hoyer had the chance to play with anything close to the offensive talent the Bears have? In fairness to Hub, other media members have made this argument with similar degrees of inconsistency.

Hub had it right the first time. It’s time to rebuild through the draft and let other teams throw around the stupid money. Given that teams like the Jaguars and the Raiders literally have to spend money to meet the minimum cap requirements, the price for players like Suh and McCourty could be especially insane this year. There will be plenty of players left over to fill gaps in the team after the initial wave of free agency is over.

Some Personal Favorites for Bears Head Coach and Other Points of View


  • Matt Forte‘s thoughts after the Minnesota game were probably very pertinent to the Bears current situation. Via Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:

    “Sometimes we line up in a formation that we ran a specific play out of a few more times than we should have. Defenses are smart. They watch film, read their keys and they know stuff like that.”

    The Vikings were keying on the screen game and stopping it cold. The Bears never adjusted. Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune supports my claim:

    “The Bears said they didn’t gameplan to get Matt Forte the eight receptions he needed to surpass Larry Centers for the NFL single-season record for a running back at 102. It just happened. Unfortunate thing is the eight catches went for only 23 yards. That is proof they were not all designed. According to Pro Football Reference, it was only the fifth time since 1960 a player has had eight catches and 23 or less yards. In 1995, Jets running back Adrian Murrell had nine receptions for 12 yards in a 12-0 loss to the Saints.”

    The Bears never really adjusted offensively to any of the things that defenses were doing to them. Not Sunday. Not before Sunday. Not in game. Not between games. The vast majority of the time the only thing they did at half time as far as I could tell was recommit to the original plan. And the original plan always looked the same. And not surprisingly the results looked the same. That’s probably a major reason why Marc Trestman is no longer the Bears head coach.

  • Of all of the players I thought the comments upon Trestman’s departure of wide receiver Brandon Marshall were probably the most interesting. From Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune:

    “‘You have some guys that aren’t used to change, which is kind of unique,’ Marshall said. ‘So when change happened, a lot of guys, they didn’t respond well, and that really hurt us.

    ‘Everybody sees it differently. For me, I know every coach comes in, they’re going to do things differently. I was able to bend a little bit, and there were some guys that wasn’t able to bend, and it trickled down into our locker room, and it kind of, like, hurt us. That’s why we’re here.'”

    “‘We just didn’t come together. Players didn’t come together. Coaches didn’t come together. And unfortunately, we got guys that’s fired and you’ve got players that’s going to be cut and traded.'”

    I wasn’t happy to hear that former defensive players like Lance Briggs and special teamers like Robbie Gould were agitating after the coaching change. But I think its ironic that the defense and special teams arguably were the units that came together and performed the best late in the year. It was the offense that was totally dysfunctional and they were the ones that, as a unit, were most responsible for getting Trestman fired..

  • I probably like wide receiver Brandon Marshall more than most fans at the moment. But the guy’s got to settle down. Via David Just at the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • I actually watched most of the press conference that George McCaskey and Ted Phillips held at Halas Hall. Like most of the media, I was fascinated by McCaskey’s response when he was asked about how his mother and the primary owner Virginia felt about the changes there (the Chicago Tribune won’t let me embed it but the video is here).  McCaskey paused a long time before answering, obviously considering carefully how much he wants to talk about his 91 year old mother. When you see any of the family with her in public its obvious that they goes to great lengths to protect her when she’s out and about. After he decided to answer the question candidly, his comments were the hit of the press conference.Even though I figured the family was trying badly to get her a championship and, for obvious reasons, were trying to get it darned soon, like most people I figured that Virginia had little influence on how the Bears were being run. I think I was wrong. It was very obvious to me that George meant it when he said Virginia was “pissed off”. You can see Phillips nodding his head in the background of this video as George McCaskey spoke. The bet here is that he’d heard about Virginia’s dissatisfaction and he may very well have heard it directly from her.
  • Chris Hine at the Chicago Tribune asks if nice guys can coach in the NFL. I think the answer is the same in the NFL as it is anywhere else. You can be nice. You can’t be soft.
  • I couldn’t agree more with Mike Freeman at the Bleacher Report.
  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune writes about the NFL Network report that Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta wouldn’t be interested in the Bears’ GM job if Bears president Ted Phillips “still” was involved in football decisions. Honestly, I can’t remember a situation where I heard that Phillips ever was involved in making “football decisions”. He’s involved in hiring the GMs but surely people recognize that the final decision on such things are ownership’s. Phillips is, for all practical purposes, an advisor in the process to George McCaskey. An extremely influential one, to be sure – he does, after all, have to work with whoever the hire is. But no one is going to be hired without McCaskey’s full approval. It’s basically his decision. And, more to the point, the operation of the team has always fallen under the responsibility of the GM and his staff with, by every account, very little interference from anyone above that. It sounds to me like someone needs to talk to DeCosta and explain the situation to him. And maybe to Haugh as well.
  • Haugh did have one comment that I do agree with and understand perfectly well:

    “If Phillips wants the Bears to benefit from his experience, behind the scenes, he will reinforce the perils of hiring a coach before the general manager. A strong chain of command depends on the general manager’s compatibility with a coach he chooses — not one forced on him. It’s interesting that the Bears requested permission Tuesday to interview NFL coordinators Adam Gase and Todd Bowles for their coaching vacancy, which is best filled by somebody with experience. But the names of possible GMs on their radar carry more significance because that represents the Bears’ logical first move.”

    Ordinarily the thought of interviewing and hiring a head coach before hiring a GM would have driven me crazy. But I think I might have an idea of what’s going on here. Given Ernie Accorsi‘s involvement, I’m going to guess that he’s advised them to start by showing interest in the popular candidates and, possibly, by interviewing them. That gets their foot in the door before other teams have a chance to snatch them up.

    But I’m also going to guess that he’s told them that it would be best to hire the GM first and let him have huge input, if not make the final decision, if possible. Indeed, that’s what sources have told Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times here. Only in the case of a guy that they’re 100% sure is the right head coach would they actually make the hire.

    The guess here is that the search for a GM will go right smartly, as well. It sounds to me like the Bears are moving with a sense of urgency, knowing that the right guys might not be available if they wait around. And, of course, if they wait too long to hire the head coach the better available assistants will be gone as well.

  • I thought Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times had an interesting take on former GM Phil Emery:

    “Emery was dedicated and thorough, but he did not have a manager’s touch. The first indication was his poor handling of Brian Urlacher’s departure from the team in 2013 — with a low-ball contract offer and an approach that didn’t give him the respect he deserved. You can quibble about the details, but if Urlacher — one of the greatest Bears in franchise history — leaves the organization with disdain, you’ve done something wrong.”

    I thought, and still think, that Urlacher’s dissatisfaction with the way this happened had more to do with him than Emery. And as to the last statement, remember that Brett Favre‘s parting with the Packers didn’t exactly go well, either. But few of us would argue that the Packers were wrong.

    Having said that, perhaps in retrospect we should have considered this to be the first sign that that Emery had some flaws in this area.

  • I have a very strong suspicion that former Accorsi associate Marc Ross is the next GM of the Bears. Perhaps the Bears have a thing for people whose names are Marc with a ‘c’. Here’s hoping this one works out better.
  • I found this report from John Mullin at that Emery was the reason why former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli didn’t stay on in the same role after Love Smith’s departure to be interesting:

    “At the time, the plan was to retain the highly regarded Marinelli to run the defense. And he had planned to, remaining on even after close friend Smith was fired. But back in mid-January 2013, as part of their final selection process for a head coach to replace Smith, Emery and the organization had Marinelli interview the three finalists for the head-coaching job.

    “Marinelli was asked to rank the three. He did. [Bruce] Arians was his runaway first choice; [Darrell] Bevell was the second; Trestman was a distant third.

    “Emery selected Trestman.

    “When he learned of the decision, Marinelli abruptly angrily resigned and left Halas Hall for Dallas and a de facto demotion to defensive line coach.”

    Not that Emery made the right decision but has anyone considered the fact that Bruce Arians was going to bring in Todd Bowles as his defensive coordinator (via Potash)? You could actually argue that one reason why Arians wasn’t hired was because Emery wanted Marinelli more and then, ironically, lost out on both in the process.

  • Of note this year has been the development of linebacker Christian Jones. Biggs comments:

    “Linebacker Christian Jones showed continued development throughout the course of the season. He looks like he could challenge for a starting position next year. Jones said he wants to become stronger against the run so he can play more downhill.”

    To my eye all of the young linebackers got better as the season wore on and I’d say they all need to get play downhill more. The key is probably play recognition, something I’m guessing will only some with experience.

  • I don’t know what the Chicago Sun-Times number one sports story of the year is going to be but which ever one it is, its the wrong one. Because the number one sports story is their number 2 story. Hockey isn’t as popular as football and the Cubs and White Sox split the town in half. Though I’m sure my personal guess – Jackie Robinson West – pulled at some heart strings and will be a popular choice, no one paid any attention to them until the final week of the story and no one was paying any attention to them a week afterwards. Nothing move the needle in this town like the Bears.


  • So much for head coach Jim Caldwell ringing discipline to Detroit. The Lions might be the dirtiest football team I’ve ever seen. And they’re killing themselves with it. Dominic Raiola really let that team down. Now Ndamukong Suh tried his best to do the same thing. Via the Chicago Tribune.
  • Darin Gantt at reports that the Arizona Cardinals are very interested in how quarterback Drew Stanton has been treating his knee. The knee has become infected. The problem? He didn’t have surgery or any treatment from the team that would lead to such an infection. So the belief is that he got unauthorized treatment outside the facility. Not good for him or the team that needs him badly to return for the postseason.

One Final Thought

Biggs runs through 23 potential head coaching candidates.

Generally speaking I’m sticking to my guns and saying that the Bears need a head coach who can coach quarterbacks. That was, in my opinion, the one single thing that was unquestionably right about Marc Trestman.

But as I ran through this list I saw one one exception to that rule: David Toub. Much though I love Rex Ryan (suggested here by Potash), Toub is the better non-offensive/quarterback-oriented choice because he’s one of the few guys – maybe the only realistic guy – that I have confidence would be able to consistently find the right offensive coordinators to succeed. He’d be absolutely perfect.

Just one other note. I’ll be disappointed if the Bears aren’t seriously considering Packers offensive coordinator (and former quarterbacks coach) Tom Clements. Though Biggs didn’t have him on his list . Someone who had learned what its all about under Mike McCarthy might be a good fit. He’s probably ready.

Being Human. And Other Points of View.


  • I knew the minute I saw the headline that Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times had written this. Similar to Hub Arkush, Morrissey’s cynicism can be refreshing when you want someone to write a hard truth. But both tend to go too far and see things in an unbalanced, unnecessarily negative light. This is one of those times. I find the implication that its acceptable for players like Dominic Raiola to occasionally cross the line into dirty play to be unacceptable. Morrissey says, “To be clear, I’m not condoning Raiola’s behavior” but then goes on to say that we shouldn’t be outraged by it because that’s just the way true, competitive football players are. What nonsense.
  • And just to spite me, Arkush chimes in with a positive comment buried amongst his negativity:

    “What else can go wrong this season? Well, the Bears could beat the Vikings and drop several spots in the draft, and my gut tells me that’s what’s going to happen. There is a chemistry among a tight group of veterans on this team, and what we learned last Sunday is that they’re not going to embarrass themselves.”

    I don’t know which veterans he’s talking about but Robbie Gould and Jay Cutler, who is saying all the right things verbally while saying, “I’m still a sulking boy” by wearing a Vanderbilt hat in press conferences, are giving them a bad name.

    If this is Cutler’s last game as a Bear, his legacy with me will be associated with Brian Urlacher‘s most perceptive comment when he referred to Cutler (off the record) as a female body part. Physically Cutler is as tough as anyone you’d ever like to see. But Urlacher was still dead on.

  • John Mullin at weighs in with his own perceptive comments as he begins to put a bow on the 2014 season. Most of this article is an indictment of Bears head coach Marc Trestman but I took some other interesting tidbits from it as well:

    “Trestman too often appeared out of touch with the NFL ‘way’ both on and off the field.”

    “Much of [the team dysfunction] traced to Trestman, who in ill-advised and clumsy exercises of damage control only succeeded alienated his central team leader.

    “Teammates voted Cutler one of the captains going into the 2013 season. But Trestman this year installed a system of rotating captains instead. He named Cutler as a captain just three times through the first 15 games, only once more than second-year right guard Kyle Long. Defensive end Jared Allen has been a co-captain in the last five and six of the last seven games.”

    My assumption was that Trestman was instituting the rotating captains in part to keep the BBQ-shilling Lance Briggs from being named permanently. It never occurred to me that Cutler, with his evident lack of innate leadership skills, might also be a target. If he was then it was useless. Cutler is who he is and that’s not a leader. Perhaps this was a recognition of that rather than an inducement to improve in that area. Either way it is an indictment of both men.

  • Mullin continues:

    “Starting to describe a mistaken route by Brandon Marshall against the Green Bay Packers in Week 10 this year, Trestman began saying that Marshall had run a wrong route, then caught himself and redirected into something about miscommunication. That effectively threw blame on Cutler and began the real unraveling of the coach-quarterback relationship, the most important for any team.”

    Assuming this was the case, you would think that Cutler would recognize that such misdirection would help him more often than it would hurt him. But the see comment above about the female body part.

  • And finally, one last quote from Mullin’s article:

    “Trestman talked often of wanting to keep team business in-house, yet took no steps to curtail repeated outbursts by Marshall and imposed no more discipline on [Aaron] Kromer than to order an apology for speaking to an an outsider about frustrations with Cutler. Asked for reactions to various player actions, Trestman typically professed that he hadn’t heard what was said or hadn’t seen what was done or had happened.”

    “They were small things and not what should have affected play on the field. But some question existed throughout on whether Trestman truly related to players on levels that mattered to them. He spoke of things like ‘growing the man’ and every quarterback having his own ‘journey,’ which is true but not coin of the communications realm in the NFL. And treating someone like a man doesn’t automatically make him one.

    “Perhaps just coincidentally, the Bears were degenerating into an undisciplined team on field, reflected by penalties and overall sloppiness on all phases. Trestman’s second season marked the first time in 30 years that a coach’s team became more penalized from his first year to his second. In just 14 games the Bears already were dramatically ahead of their year-one rate of infraction under Trestman.”

    It’s almost certainly not a coincidence and Mullin undoubtedly strongly suspects that. Indeed, treating someone like a man doesn’t automatically make him a man. I’m reminded of what former NFL safety Matt Bowen wrote for the Chicago Tribune earlier this month:

    “To be honest, players want to be held accountable. They want to be pushed, challenged. That’s how they improve and it resonates throughout the building when poor performances are deemed unacceptable.”

    Trestman lives in an ideal world where people push themselves and hold themselves accountable. It’s a lamentable truth that more often that not reality doesn’t match that. His failure to recognize this might have been his greatest mistake.

    There is a lot more to this article. I’ve already quoted too much of it but if I extracted more excerpts a lot of them would be just to add “Me, too.” Its well written and well worth a read.

    My guess is that this is the first of many such articles from many different sources that will come after Black Monday. It will be interesting to see what new facts come out of them.


  • Mary Kay Cabot at the Cleveland Plain Dealer quotes Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby on what he sees as a wasted season for the Browns top two picks of the 2014 draft:

    “‘There’s so much ([cornerback Justin] Gilbert) could’ve done better and he didn’t put forth the effort,’ said Dansby. ‘So yeah, it’s a wasted year.

    “‘Like [quarterback] Johnny [Manziel] said the same thing, it’s a wasted year for him. That’s how he feels. He’s like ‘damn, I’ve got to take this more seriously. I’ve wasted all this time.’ That’s basically what he’s saying. So it’s like ‘don’t waste your time man, because it’s precious bro. You never know when you’re going to be done. You’re one play away from never playing this game again.”

    “Dansby said he was surprised to hear Manziel publicly admit Tuesday that he has to take it more seriously because this is his job now.

    “‘When did you figure that out?’ said Dansby.”

    Its possible that Gilbert and Manziel will suddenly turn it on and start working harder. But I think its far more likely that this is who they are. Some people with the Browns are evidently going to have to start paying less attention to the physical talent and more attention to what these prospects have inside. And given that Manziel wasn’t the general manager’s choice, the guess here is that its the coach and the owner who interfered to get Manziel on board.

  • You can see why Jets players love head coach Rex Ryan. Compare his statements about Sheldon Richardson‘s Pro Bowl snub to the mealy mouthed response Trestman or former Bears head coach Lovie Smith likely would have made. Ryan’s comments are contrasting Richardson with Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.  Via Dom Cosentino at

    “Rex Ryan on Wednesday admitted he was ‘kind of shocked’ Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson wasn’t selected to the 2015 Pro Bowl. And after initially saying he thought it might have been because the Jets have won just three games this season, Ryan dropped the hammer.

    “‘If it kept him out of the Pro Bowl because some guy had X-amount of sacks, and that guy can’t hold his jock as a player, to be honest with you, I think that’s kind of strange to me,’ Ryan said.

One Final Thought

I did find this Morrissey comment to be amusing:

“Part of me says this season can’t end soon enough. Another part of me wants it to go on forever. Drama, controversy, finger-pointing — it’s a columnist’s dream. Who stays and who goes? Phil Emery? Marc Trestman? Jay Cutler? All of them? None of them? The real season starts after the [Vikings] game.”

I, personally, follow the league for the game on the field and like it best when the players are overcoming adversity to triumph over obstacles. But the downside of being human also comes with that and I guess I’ll take what I can get.

Kyle Long Has the Right Idea. And Other Points of View.


    • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune produces this interesting tid bit that could be an indication of what general manager Phil Emery‘s future might hold:

      “Quietly, the Bears have begun exploring potential replacements for Emery in the event they make a change in their front office, a league source said. Nothing has been decided, but a source characterized the Bears as open to several approaches to fixing what’s wrong.”

    • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune argues that franchising quarterback Jay Cutler wasn’t a practical option last offseason:

      “Hindsight is a wonderful tool for armchair quarterbacks. It’s always easy to identify a blitz protection gone awry and a secondary receiver that was wide open when looking at the film. Playing armchair GM is even easier. Certainly placing the franchise tag on Cutler and making him play this season before making a multiyear commitment would have put the organization in a different position right now.”

      I’ll accept Biggs’s arguments but suggest that they are basically beside the point. Hindsight might be 20-20 on franchising Cutler but regular reservations about him were expressed by fans and media everywhere including this space. Much has been said about Cutler’s ability to read defenses and that may or may not be fair. But there’s no doubt that he’s a “see-it-throw-it” quartback in a league where you have to throw the ball with anticipation to a receiver before he gets open. Cutler has never shown that he can do that and he didn’t show it last year, either. It simply can’t work any other way in the modern NFL.

      The problem wasn’t that the Bears didn’t franchise Cutler. The problem was that they misevaluated him. My only real question was how much of that misevaluation falls on Emery and how much on Bears head coach Marc Trestman.

Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times has some nice things to say about defensive coordinator Mel Tucker:

“Say this for Tucker, though: the Bears’ much-needed youth movement on defense has helped replenish a roster beset by age and injury.

“Assuming David Bass starts for the injured Willie Young, Tucker will take the field Sunday in Minnesota with five first- or second-year players in a starting role. At least five more — including rookie defensive tackles Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson — have been steady contributors this season.

“Tucker said ‘every single one of those guys’ has improved this season.”

They have, indeed. And its very noticable, especially at linebacker where they play a little faster with a little more confidence every outing. The Bears are a long way from the defense that gave up back-to-back 50 point disasters mid-season. Tucker and the defensive coachng staff deserve a great deal of credit for that. Its a shame that its too little too late. But at least they’ve help lay a foundation for the future. Here’s hoping some of them survive the coming apocalypse.

One Final Thought

Kyle Long is going to the Pro Bowl again this year and he’s got the right idea. Via Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:

“Whoever they put out there at quarterback, I know what my job is. So that’s what I’ve got to handle.”

Some veterans like kicker Robbie Gould could take a lesson from him.

Bears Fans in for a Grim Finale with Cutler Back at QB. And Other Points of View.


  • Alshon Jeffery didn’t seem to have a good explanation for why he was dropping passes all over the field Sunday. Via Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:

    “‘You’ve got to catch the ball,’ Jeffery said. ‘Some of them probably were just me trying to catch and turn before I had the ball. But most of all, I still have to catch the ball.'”

    I know that balls coming from a different quarterback can often look different and these transition take some getting used to. That might be particularly true after taking balls from Cutler all year. He routinely fires the ball particularly hard trying to fit it into tight windows to receivers who are barely open by the time it gets there.

    The Bears receivers might also have needed to get used to the ball coming out before they go into their breaks. I’m sure they knew that going in but knowing it is one thing, experiencing it is something else.

  • Dominic Raiola claims that stomping on Ego Ferguson‘s leg was a “total accident”. It sure as hell didn’t look like a total accident. It looked like the kind of Ndamukong Suh-type thug move the Lions have been known for. Apparently the Jim Schwartz effect doesn’t wear off too easily. From the Chicago Tribune.On a related note, I can’t wait to hear what Brandon Marshall has to say about the Lions center on Inside the NFL this week.
  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune evaluates running back Matt Forte‘s performance Sunday:

    “Forte ran hard, carrying would-be tacklers with him on a handful of occasions. He made a poor attempt at pass blocking against Jason Jones on the fourth-and-1 play at the goal line as Jones and blitzing linebacker Ashlee Palmer forced Clausen to roll out and throw off-balance.”

    Forte has been struggling a bit in protection, particularly in recent weeks. Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times cites some Pro Football Focus stats and claims that the problem dates back to last year. This might be an area to work on in the offseason. The inconsistencies on the offensive line haven’t helped.

  • Potash on the FOX broadcast Sunday:

    “Last week, ESPN’s Jon Gruden called for Jimmy Clausen to replace Cutler. This week, Fox analyst Troy Aikman took his shot.

    “‘I think [Cutler’s benching] goes beyond performance,’ Aikman said on the Bears-Lions telecast, ‘and is real reflective of whatever Jay Cutler is or isn’t as a leader or someone who inspires the play of those around him.'”

    The guess here is that Cutler is suffering for past sins with the national media. I never heard the generally positive Gruden go after anyone like he did Cutler. I can’t imagine what Cutler did to piss him off but it must have been pretty bad. In that respect, Cutler might be getting what he deserves.

  • Kicker Robbie Gould just can not keep his mouth shut. Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times sees through the hypocrisy:

    “‘It’s not the Bear way. This whole season is not the Bear way. Pointing fingers, things getting out of the locker room, that’s not the Chicago Bear way. And I think for me, being around an organization for 10 years, seeing guys like Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, who most likely have walked through the tunnel the last time — it’s tough. We weren’t taught this way under Lovie (Smith, the Bears’ previous head coach).

    “‘We weren’t taught to do these things, and we stayed together as close-knit as we possibly could. You don’t have to like everybody, you don’t need to like everybody. But you have to respect everybody and go to work for those people. It’s unfortunate for everyone because it’s not the Chicago Bear way.’

    “The Chicago Bear way – is that when a kicker questions his head coach’s decisions?

    “The Chicago Bear way – is that when Briggs misses a practice the week of the first regular-season game to fly to California for the grand opening of his new restaurant? Let’s not get nostalgic. Almost from the start, the pining for the Lovie era by veterans undercut Trestman’s ability to do his job.”

    I consider Gould’s comments not just to be a betrayal to the team and the coaching staff but a form of cowardice. With Trestman having one foot out the door, the odds were good that there would be no repercussions for Gould.


One Final Thought

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune has been sharply critical of virtually everything at Halas Hall for the last month and his reaction to the news that the Bears would go back to quarterback Jay Cutler after Jimmy Clausen came up with a concussion Sunday was no exception:

“[General manager Phil] Emery should have knocked at the door, asked [head coach Marc] Trestman to turn off his book on tape, and ordered the coach to start rookie David Fales against the Vikings. If Trestman refused, Emery should have fired him — something likely to happen next Monday anyway.”

It’s not that simple and Haugh knows it. It’s easy to say that but you still have an entire team that needs to believe that the organization is still trying to win on Sunday. Even more, if Fales isn’t ready to start then you could do quite a bit more harm than good throwing him into the fire. Its worth noting that both Wiederer and Rich Campbell also disagree with Haugh.

I don’t like the idea of starting Cutler. I thought Clausen had a chance of beating the Vikings but I don’t think Cutler will be able to do anything different against what is sure to be the kind of defense that has had him snake bitten all year – the kind that Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer as much as said he should have played after the last game. I thought Clausen was beginning to do some of the things that are necessary to break out of it, even if it was only the last game at stake. But you have to do what you have to do and Cutler probably does give them a better chance to win, small as those chances may be.

Having said all that, I’m not the kind of horrible person who would wish injury on anyone but I must admit that there is a part of me that would like to see something else happen that might allow us to see something of Fales on Sunday. As it is, I think we are all in for another frustrating afternoon of watching Cutler and the Bears offense flounder.

The “Serial” Murder of Bears Season and Other Points of View


  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune thinks Monday’s debacle was finally the end for Bears head coach Marc Trestman. Its the first time all year the veteran reporter has said so and he’s probably the reporter in town whose opinion I have the most faith in when it comes to these sorts of things:

    Aaron Kromer, spared for the time being, seems destined to go down with Trestman as well at the end of this season, which mercifully is less than two weeks off.”


    “Those in league circles have reserved serious doubt over the last two months that the Bears would move on from Trestman after only two seasons — and with two seasons remaining on his contract. It’s not the way the McCaskeys have conducted business in the past. Heck, they brought back Dave Wannstedt after a four-win season in his fifth year. But things were never this out of kilter when Wannstedt was in charge.”

    No matter what the Bears do, no matter how many coaches or GMs they fire or don’t fire, they’re going nowhere as long as Jay Cutler stays. I can’t imagine they’ll eat that unfortunate contract they signed him to earlier in the year but there will be no hope whatsoever that they’ll be better next year if they don’t.

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune on general manager Phil Emery‘s pre-game comments:

    Emery was extremely angry about the Kromer situation. His comments during the pre-game show on WBBM-AM (780) indicated as much. At the risk of misinterpreting them, it sure sounded as though he would not have been as lenient or forgiving as [head coach Marc] Trestman was in permitting [offensive coordinator Aaron] Kromer to remain on the staff.

    As I’ve said many times, GMs have no business commenting on the state of the team too often during the season. Generally the players need to hear one voice and that is the head coach’s. In this case Emery could do no good and a lot of harm by commenting. As it stands, most of Chicago is now under the impression that he is distancing himself from Trestman. Whether that is true or not, it does no one any good to communicate it and it leaves people with further proof of the organizational dysfunction that is becoming more and more evident under his watch.

  • Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune offers the insight into the Bears situation that comes with being a former player:

    “To be honest, players want to be held accountable. They want to be pushed, challenged. That’s how they improve and it resonates throughout the building when poor performances are deemed unacceptable.”

    Somewhere along the line I think Marc Trestman got the impression that NFL players would hold themselves accountable without interference from him. Probably in an ideal world, that would be the case. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to match reality. That should have been evident way back in September when linebacker Lance Briggs decided to take the day off to open a restaurant. If it was, it was probably too late by then to do anything about it.

  • Biggs addresses Kyle Long‘s situation with the team and wonders if they’ll ever move him from guard to tackle:

    “[Ndamukong] Suh, who the Lions will attempt to re-sign in free agency, isn’t the only three-technique tackle in the NFC North to concern the Bears. The Packers’ Mike Daniels and Vikings’ Sharrif Floyd are emerging young talents.”

    “Teams construct rosters to have matchup advantages against division opponents and shifting Long to tackle would create a void for the Bears six times a season if Suh remains with the Lions.”

    That’s a good point. I’m a believer in the Marc Trestman/Aaron Kromer theory that teams should keep the pocket clean from the inside out with strong guards as the anchor of the line. I think I like Long where he is.

  • Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker on covering Calvin Johnson and, presumably, the other Lions receivers. Via Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times:

    “‘We have to play tighter coverage, be more disruptive on the routes and we have to hit the quarterback more,’ Tucker said. ‘We’ll work to get that done.”

    Too little too late but its nice that Tucker finally is adjusting to his situation. At the time of the first meeting he thought he could bring pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and take care of the Lions receivers in soft coverage. That hasn’t worked all year, dating back to the preseason.

  • Hub Arkush at continues to lose my respect by taking cheap shots at the Bears for their decision to bench Cutler:

    “Ironically, Cutler with his 28 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and 89.5 passer rating rates a notch above Matthew Stafford, who has 19 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and an 87.8 rating. Stafford does have 157 yards on Cutler with 3,797 to Cutler’s 3,640.”

    “Perhaps that is why Stafford hasn’t been benched?”

    Arkush knows perfectly well that Cutler’s stats were accumulated in garbage time of horrendous losses. Often the games were close with very low scores at half largely because of the offense’s ineptitude. Cutler is a fantasy quarterback.

    You don’t have to agree with the Bears decision to go with Jimmy Clausen – there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical of Clausen. But these kinds of cheap arguments should be beneath Arkush.

One Final Thought

For those of you who haven’t seen this parody of the podcast, “Serial”, from Barstool Sports, you need to listen to it. We may never know who murdered the Bears.