Preseason Games Are about “Toughness of Mind” and Other Points of View


  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli on the value of tonight’s preseason opener:

“’I love practice, but you look at this to get all the things you’re teaching and to see if the habits are starting to become developed,’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. ‘You find out about conditioning and you find out the toughness of mind. Some of these guys can crack and some won’t crack; they’ll just keep playing. Sometimes you look for that — that toughness of mind.’”

“Keep an eye on the tight end in [offensive coordinator] Mike Tice‘s offense. The Bears have shown a lot of Ace personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, one back) in camp and that leads to options in the passing game. With the tight ends involved, you can create some matchups in the middle of the field, use boot action and target soft spots in zone coverage.”

This is true but only if you show that you can run the ball with the double tight end.  If not, they’ll treat the smaller tight end like a wide receiver and play nickel.  Unless the tight end is very good, he’ll lose that match up.  It might not be evident tonight as teams put individual players in difficult positions just to see what they can do.  But eventually its going to be a factor.

‘‘’I thought one guy would separate himself and jump out there, but that didn’t really happen,’ Tice said after Monday’s practice.”

This was never a legitimate competition anyway.  I’m guessing Chris Williams lost this job the minute Webb showed up to camp in shape.  Biggs at the Chicago Tribune appears to agree:

“Tice and [head coach Lovie] Smith both professed faith in Webb during the offseason. Webb is more of a prototypical left tackle but he was far too inconsistent in 2011 to enter camp as the unquestioned starter. Williams’ presence, in the final year of his contract, should push him.

“If the Bears didn’t pull Webb from the position last season, why are they going to replace him now?”

Williams had only one practice with the starters at left tackle before the decision was made.  Tice has way too much pride in his pet project to give up so easily.  Webb is going to be in there until he loses his mind one too many times and Cutler gets hurt again.

“Clearly, Tice was sending a message to Webb. It looked like he sent one to Williams, too, when Williams was removed from the order he had been working in practice after an exchange with Tice. Tice declined to comment after practice.”

“At least one NFL team is curious if the Bears will part ways with Williams before the season begins based on an inquiry from a personnel man.”

“The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Louis, who played basketball in high school and lined up at tight end in college, is accustomed to walking on his toes. But to master the craft successfully, he knows he has to get used to playing with his feet on the ground.

“To compensate, Louis has made a conscious effort to modify his everyday steps during training camp at Olivet Nazarene University.

“’I try to walk more flat-footed now,’ he said. ‘Offensive linemen play with flat feet, so I have to work on it really hard.’”

  • Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times gets Bears backup quarterback Jason Campbell to open up about the Raiders trade for Carson Palmer last season after his collar bone injury:

“‘It was hard to swallow,’ Campbell said. ‘After the whole trade, [Raiders head coach Hu Jackson] told me, ‘I just want to win, and I want to win now.’

“I was like, ‘Dang. In this game, there’s really no patience.’”

“Tice has removed all seven-step drops from the passing game. Everything the Bears do now will be on three-and five-step timing. That means Cutler will have to improve his diagnostic skills, in the pocket and especially at the line of scrimmage. An underrated athlete blessed with arguably the league’s strongest arm, Cutler, though no dummy, has never had to rely heavily on his mental aptitude. Martz’s system may have been complex, but because it was so rigid and rule-oriented, Cutler didn’t always have to be much of a decision maker. (He didn’t even have the power to change protections, let alone call an audible.) Martz was more concerned about Cutler’s mechanics (which have improved but can still be too inconsistent from play to play).

“Tice will undoubtedly ask his quarterback to be more a thinker and less of a reactor, though he won’t try to make Cutler become Peyton Manning. To highlight Cutler’s strengths, Tice will incorporate more moving pockets (bootlegs, rollouts, etc.) into the passing game.”

“Marshall isn’t the only risky new receiver. There are many who believe the rookie possession target Alshon Jeffery will be too lazy and moody to live up to his second-round billing. If he is, the Bears could be in a bit of trouble because the reliable veteran Earl Bennett is not as effective outside as he is in the slot and the intriguing second-year man Dane Sanzenbacher lacks the size to play on the perimeter, at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.”

“‘He’s a great back,’ [Michael] Bush said.

“Added [Matt] Forte, ‘He’s very easy to get along with.

“‘At the end of the day, we’re kind of the same. We never get too high or way too low. In the end, it’s going to work out pretty good for everyone.’”

“I was excited we got Michael Bush this year. He is a physical runner and has a burst outside too. Do you envision plays where both Matt Forte and Bush are in the backfield at same time? Justin C., Woodsboro, Md.

“It may be something that Mike Tice tinkers with from time to time as a changeup, but I would not foresee a steady diet of it. If you are trying to run the ball with both Forte and Bush in the backfield, you can get a better blocker on the field than either Forte or Bush, whoever is not carrying the ball. If you are trying to throw the ball with Forte and Bush in the backfield, you can get a better route runner on the field than one of those players. Although it often seems like an enticing idea, there are reasons you don’t see too many teams using two halfbacks together. It just doesn’t work very well. The new trend is for teams to use multiple tight ends together. That does work very well, and I would expect for the Bears to go that route quite a bit.”

  • McClure quotes running backs coach Tim Spencer after a fumble by Forte in practice:

“‘He kind of got a little thumb injury, and I’m not trying to make any excuses for him, but it did kind of hit him on his thumb,’ Spencer said.”

May be something to keep an eye on.

“Harvey Unga said after Friday’s practice he is trying to get accustomed to playing the H-back role and performing some of the duties of a tight end. The Bears selected Unga in the supplemental draft to play running back.”

Dom DeCicco got his share of reps in the middle during the offseason as Urlacher rested, but such hasn’t been the case for DeCicco during camp.”

  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has an interesting thought about how to handle the apparent problems Brian Urlacher is still having with his knee:

“So, back to the top: It only matters if Urlacher misses a real game, but the question will be whether he can make a second game. That seems to be the subtext here: The Bears have a lot of time to let Urlacher rest before the season opener, which remains a month away, but what about the second game?


“And it’s not just any second game, either. It’s a second game just four days later and it’s in Green Bay.


“If Smith’s suspicious and unsatisfying answers indicate Urlacher’s questionable readiness to play a full season, then the Bears ought to act like the Packers game is his season opener. “


“Tell Urlacher to skip the opener against the Indianapolis roadkill and get ready for the more important game four days later in Green Bay.”

  • Marinelli says Shea McClellin is pressing. From Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune:

“Marinelli says he is trying to unclog McClellin’s mind so he doesn’t think too much.

“’It’s the words I choose,’ Marinelli said. ‘I keep talking about, ‘Make sure you’re getting off the ball, I’ll clean you up.’ So as long as he keeps coming off the ball then we can clean this up. He’s kind of thinking, ‘Am I going to get punched this way.’ We have to create on the go.’”

“McClellin had been struggling in one-on-one pass rush drills but in live drills with the reserves at the end, he blew past starting left tackle J’Marcus Webb.”

Sounds like a routine play that most of the league could make to me.

“Paea making a move?

“Second-year defensive tackle Stephen Paea continues to make progress, according to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

‘‘’He’s coming,’ Marinelli said. ‘I’m very pleased with all of his work — at the nose, the [three-technique] and the nickel. He shows tremendous skill. Great pad level. He’s healthy. When he’s out there, you can feel him.’”

Paea probably is the defensive tackle to keep an eye on this year.  Much has been made about the progress of Henry Melton but I’ve seen nothing from him that makes me think we didn’t think we saw him top off last year.  Something tells me if anyone is going to step up this year, its going to be Paea.

  • Former defensive end Alex Brown will retire as a Bear.  Via Biggs.
  • This is the kind of thing that could spell trouble for D.J Moore.  From McClure:

“Veteran Kelvin Hayden, who entered camp healthy and competing with Tim Jennings at left cornerback, slid over to nickel back for the first time during practice Thursday at Olivet Nazarene University.”

Moore doesn’t seem worried:

“Ain’t no challenge to me at the nickel position,” Moore said. “Shoot, if this is not my position, it don’t really make sense.”

Now those are the words of a man who may be headed for a fall if I ever heard them.  By all accounts Hayden has been playing well and he may be the third best corner in camp.  Ahead of Moore.

  • I thought this excerpt from a Biggs article was interesting:

“The Bears are working on Hester improving catching short punts that sometimes take long rolls and back the offense up.

“‘Teams were trying to kick the rugby kick short and have it hit the ground where there was a chance it would hit us or roll,’ [special teams coordinator Dave] Toub said. ‘We want him to go up and fair catch those balls. Fair catch it. We’ll get out of your way, but catch it.'”

“‘I think it’d be nice if all the players could go up under one [lawsuit] and represent all the players,’ Dent said recently. ‘Obviously, everybody wants to make some money off that, just like everybody wants to make money off our Super Bowl team.

“‘Everybody wants their little piece of the pie. But I just haven’t figured out what.’”


“Yes, the Packer defense took a step back. After ranking fifth (in yards allowed) en route to a Super Bowl title in 2010, it ranked 32nd in 2011. Opponents averaged a league-high 299.8 yards per game throwing against Dom Capers’s unit. This data is a bit misleading, though, as the potency of Green Bay’s offense led to a lot of garbage time or shootout games. Yes, Green Bay’s defense must bounce back this season, but it doesn’t have as far to bounce as you’d think. If it did, the Packers would not have gone 15-1(!).”

“How is James Starks looking in Packers camp so far? @splurge76, from Twitter

“He didn’t do much when I saw him, but I know Packers coaches have not been doing handstands about his performance. I asked Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Clements about Starks, and this is what he said. ‘Early on he was a little tentative. He’s getting better. He is the kind of guy who needs reps. The more times he has to carry the ball the better he gets. He has a lot of ability. He runs hard.’  The running game is an issue in Green Bay.”

  • Center Jeff Saturday said the Packers’ offense is completely different from the offense he was a key part of in Indianapolis.  Via Pompei:

“The offense we had there is dead,” he said. “I don’t think anybody runs it. So there isn’t a ton of carryover. But I like this offense.”

  • The eldest son of Eagles head coach Andy Reid has been found dead at the Eagles training camp facility.  Via Mike Florio at
  • Pompei points out that former Bear Caleb Hanie’s back up job in Denver is by no means secure:

“Hanie is competing for a job with the Broncos.  He opened up camp as the clear No. 2 quarterback, but all three Broncos backups have been alternating as the No. 2 in recent practices.  Some believe second-round rookie Brock Osweiler has emerged as the favorite to be Manning’s primary backup.

“‘It’s kind of like we have a 2A, 2B, and 2C right now,’ Broncos coach John Fox said. ‘Caleb has probably had the most experience of the three, but Adam Weber with us all last year. Brock got in early, and got a lot of good reps during OTAs.’”

When you are being mentioned in the same breath with “Adam Weber”, that can’t be good.

One Final Thought

I’m really fascinated by the fact that the writers at the Sun-Times seem to be absolutely convinced that Shea McClellin is going to be a linebacker.  For instance, we have this from Potash in a story about Brian Urlacher’s knee injury:

“Rookie defensive end Shea McClellin fits the Urlacher mold better than anybody on the team. He’ll probably find his way there by mistake, just as Urlacher did.”

I tend to believe the team when they say that McClellin is a defensive end.  but I’m going to be really interested to see if these writers turn out to be right.

Quick Comments: NFL Draft First Round

  1. Did the Vikings play the Browns?  Hard to tell. Tampa Bay may have been threatening to move into the pick.  Trent Richardson was considered to be the best prospect in the draft by some analysts.
  2. Why so many trades?  It’s likely because there’s a rookie wage scale. Teams are a lot more likely to trade picks if they know it won’t cost them an arm and a leg in addition to draft picks.
  3. I’m guessing that when Tampa Bay traded back to the seventh pick they thought that they were going to get Morris Claiborne. Then Jaguars took Justin Blackmon and the Rams were likely going to go to another need position.  The Cowboys probably foiled the plan when they traded up to jump ahead of the Bucs. Mark Barron is fine but there wouldn’t have been a thing wrong with Stephon Gilmore in that slot, either.
  4. The Eagles needed to trade ahead of the Rams at 14 because they would have grabbed Fletcher Cox in a heart beat. Nice work getting into the 12 spot by trading with Seattle.
  5. Bruce Irvin at 15, Seattle?  Really?
  6. I was sure the Bears were going to go with left tackle Riley Reiff when he got past St. Louis. Instead they went with the defensive end.
  7. I experienced some disquiet when I saw the Lions benefit from the Bears pass to take Reiff.
  8. Quinton Coples fell but not too far to the Jets at 16.  He’s going to be fascinating to watch.  If he becomes a higher effort guy, he could be one of the best players from this draft.
  9. The Patriots traded up twice in the first round?  Who saw that coming?  I can’t say it was a bad idea, though.  Chandler Jones at 21 and Dont’a Hightower at 25 were both great pickups for their defense.  I’m sure Houston would have nabbed Hightower at 26 and if not them, then Baltimore later in the round.  Jones was a fast riser who might not have lasted long, either.
  10. Shea McClellin does fit the Bears in a lot of ways. I thought the Bears might be scared off by the reported three concussions that McClellin sustained but perhaps they bought into McClellin’s denial that this was the case.
  11. McClellin is apparently a high motor, high effort guy who I think most Bear fans are going to like.  He has the reputation of being a tweener who many thought would be a better fit as a 3-4 linebacker.  Assuming he plays end with the Bears, he won’t see as many double teams with Julius Peppers on the other side.  He’ll probably need work against the run.
  12. Pro Football Weekly has McClellin rated as going at the top of the second round.
  13.  The Bears filled a need but was he the best player available?  I have my doubts.  There were a lot of high rated offensive linemen on the board that the Bears probably didn’t anticipate would be there.  They used their offseason to set up to take a defensive linemen only to see Riley Reiff, David DeCastro, and Cordy Glenn fall to them.  They recently signed guard Chico Rachal with the possible intention of moving Chris Williams back to tackle.  I’m wondering if they might have handled their offseason differently had they known DeCastro and Reiff would be there.

Being Careful with Cap Space. And Other Points of View.


“It seems unbelievably quiet at Halas Hall since Phil Emery‘s news conference. Do we have any sense for how his role and authority is developing compared to general managers like Ted Thompson, moves he’s considering on his staff, the timing of selecting directors of pro and college personnel now that Tim Ruskell is gone, etc.? I’m open-minded at this point but the silence seems strange. Surely they don’t think all that needed to be changed was the GM. Phil, Chicago

“You are right about Halas Hall being very quiet since Emery’s news conference. This is by design. Get used to it. The Bears have gone into lock-down mode in terms of dealing with the media and public. We have been told Emery will not speak at the scouting combine, though the large majority of NFL general managers do, and Jerry Angelo always did. We also have been told all other members of the front office and assistant coaches are now off limits to reporters all offseason. This is a new policy. The Bears don’t want us to know what they are doing or thinking because they believe it puts them at a competitive disadvantage. In my opinion, it is part of a decades-old NFL tradition of unreasonable paranoia. I can tell you Emery’s plan was to wait until after the draft to make any staff additions or changes.”

“Chicago Bears: Most everyone has the Bears pegged to pursue wide receivers in free agency and/or the draft, and Outsiders doesn’t discount that possibility. But based on its analysis of the Bears’ 2011 season, offensive tackle should be the Bears’ top priority. Left tackle J’Marcus Webb allowed 10 sacks and was “among the worst [left tackles] in the league.” The Bears’ running game, meanwhile, was stuffed for a loss or no gain on 24.1 percent of its runs, a ‘catastrophic’ figure blamed mostly on poor run blocking. “

“Chicago Bears: Two offensive linemen to keep in mind at No. 19 overall are Stanford’s Jonathan Martin and Ohio State’s Mike Adams. Both could conceivably play left tackle. “

“Does it look like Chris Williams will be in mix at guard? Will the Bears try to either draft or sign a free agent guard? Rick Mahomet, Illinois

“It’s too early to say definitively where Williams will line up in training camp. But if I had to bet, I’d say he’s going to be moved back to tackle. The Bears have enough good guards with Chris Spencer, Lance Louis, Edwin Williams and even Roberto Garza if they wanted to move him from center. They are more thin at tackle. Williams is a more natural tackle. If the Bears add an offensive lineman, it likely will be a tackle.”

If Williams moves to tackle, I’d say Frank Omiyale’s days with the team are numbered.  I might also point out that there were rumblings about Williams moving to center last season.

  • Should the Bears decide to go the free agent route, it looks like Arizona left tackle Levi Brown might be available at the right price to provide some competition at that spot.  Via Pompei, this time at The National Football Post.
  • ESPN’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert suggests that Randy Moss might be a good fit for Bears while at the same time squashing the idea.
  • Former Moss teammate Cris Carter would appear to agree on both counts.  He suggests that Moss would be a good fit via Biggs.

“I believe the best place for him is New England,” Carter said, according to “Now I believe a team that might want to look at him is Chicago with Jay Cutler and Mike Tice because him and Mike Tice get along great. He has respect for Tice. Jay Cutler and Moss? I think they could work that out.”

““The one thing you have to address with Randy Moss is not a conditioning thing. It’s not an age thing.  It needs to be addressed. I believe it’s the elephant in the room. It’s that thing called quit.”

“The Bears — and 31 other teams — could have signed Randy Moss last year if they wanted him. They did not want him, and there are good reasons why. Moss is not the player he was, but he probably still is the pain in the can that he was. In a three-month span in 2010, Moss wore out his welcome with three teams. He still could run then, but has aged a year since. Moss is a player who is entirely reliant on speed. Once his speed goes, he offers nothing. And if his speed has not been compromised yet, it likely will be compromised soon, perhaps after a little wear and tear during a training camp. I doubt that new general manager Phil Emery would seriously consider Moss. I know new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who was Moss’ head coach in Minnesota, has some affection for him. But that does not mean Tice wants to coach the 35-year-old. I wouldn’t touch him.”

“If the New York Giants can get into the playoffs with a 9-7 record and win a Super Bowl, why can’t the Chicago Bears?

“‘Just get in the playoffs. Anything is possible,’ Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett said Monday night before accepting an honor at the 24th annual Comcast SportsNet Awards Dinner. ‘You’ve just got to continue to work hard and stay focused. Those (Giants) did a great job with doing that and they won a Super Bowl.’”

The Giants flat out have more talent than the Bears at almost every position.


“Big mistake taking Ron Jaworski off Monday Night Football. Sad that TV thinks NFL viewers want to be entertained, but not educated and informed.”


“How fast is Justin Blackmon? It has been widely accepted that the Oklahoma State receiver will be a top five pick. But he’s not a burner. If Blackmon runs a 4.6 40, it’s unlikely a team will be able to justify using a top five pick on him. There are a few other receivers who may be speed deficient who need to run well as well. Among them are Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, Wisconsin’s Nick Toon, South Carolina’s Ashlon Jeffery and Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu.”

“The NFL, it seems to me, has a problem on its hands: position coaches are being prevented from interviewing for promotions to coordinator positions like never before.”

“This is unfair to the coaches involved. In some cases, they are denied a once in a lifetime opportunity to double, triple or quadruple their salaries and set up their families’ futures. This can create serious resentment. Sometimes coaches don’t even know other teams were interested in them until well after the fact.”

“In addition to being bad for coaches, it’s also bad for the NFL. Why? Teams are not able to hire the most qualified coaches, and the quality of football ends up sacrificed.”

“How did it get to this point? Once upon a time, the NFL allowed teams to protect only one assistant on each side of the ball from interviewing for a promotion. Back in March of 2000 at an NFL meeting at the Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach, Fla., that I attended, the league decided to do away with the so called “supervisory tag” system.”

I’d say the restriction needs to be re-implemented.

“‘People want more football,’ [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell said, via  “I think they want less preseason and more regular season and that’s the concept we are talking about here.”

“Actually, the more accurate statement seems to be that the fans want less preseason and the same regular season.  Only season-ticket holders endorse the prospect of fewer fake games and more real ones, for obvious reasons.”

I can only say that I totally agree with Goodell.  I want more football and I’m pretty sure they can find a way to implement it while not seriously diluting the play on the field.

“However, after Haynesworth’s very good season, he signed a $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins. He then proceeded to sit on his fat ass and do nothing, knowing that $41 million of that contract was guaranteed money. Haynesworth is not a smart athlete. Haynesworth is a genius.”

One Final Thought

There’s been a lot of talk about the fact that teams can bring their free cap space forward from 2011 to 2012.  According to Seifert, the Bears will get an extra 7.7 million which brings them to roughly $25 million below the cap.  And I’m happy to see that the Bears are willing to spend some of it:  Via Biggs:

“‘The bottom line, and Phil [Emery] knows this, if there is someone we want — and it makes sense — money is not going to be an issue,’ Bears Chairman George McCaskey said Wednesday after a concussion symposium for high school coaches and athletes at Halas Hall.”

But here’s hoping that the Bears do what McCaskey suggests and make sure that the signings do actually make sense.  I’d hate to see the Bears simply blow the money because they can.  Its wasteful and there are better uses for it.

For instance, it would be nice to see them take care of their own first.  According to Biggs the Bears can lock up Matt Forte for the 2012 season starting tomorrow. That’s when the 15-day period to use the franchise tag starts. The period extends to 3 p.m. on March 5.  Even if he is tendered, the team has until July 15 to work out a long term deal.  After that, Forte could only play under the one-year tender.

Yes, I know.  Running back is a punishing position and its a risk.  But Forte is one of the few impact players the Bears have and as matter of principal those are the guys you want to wrap up and keep.

There is another consideration here.  The Bears (wisely) want to become a draft-driven team.  That means that they are going to be drafting prospects that we all hope will be impact players in the future.  But if they don’t plan ahead, they could end up in the same bind the Lions are in.  Scott Krinch at reminds us all that they they are in a load of cap trouble because they suddenly have a lot of high impact players from past drafts to deal out money to.

The Bears would be well advised to be careful in free agency.  Instead, they should use their cap space by re-signing guys like Forte with front loaded contracts that leave them with a lot of cap space later.  Under the circumstances, they might even go ahead and give in by extending Lance Briggs for a year and there are a number of players who have contracts running out at the end of next year as well.  Long-term, dealing out relatively small amounts of money up front by extending these players will allow the Bears to sign future impact players that they will obtain through the draft to reasonable contracts without running into the cap trouble that the Lions currently are in.

Quick Game Comments: Seahawks at Bears


  1. The Seahawks opened with seven in the box against run personnel. They did that a lot for most of the game.
  2. The Bears came out running Marion Barber into the line. Kahlil Bell followed on about the third series and then Barber was noticeably more effective after that. I’m wondering if the one-two-punch of two different types of runners didn’t making them both more effective (a la Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones in the Super Bowl year)
  3. Nice point from color man Tim Ryan about about how the blocking for Bell (largely zone) differs from the blocking for Barber (mostly man).
  4. I’m starting to wonder if we aren’t finding out why Jay Cutler wasn’t targeting Johnny Knox more. He’s a small receiver who spent a lot of time on the ground early (again) before leaving injured.
  5. Speaking of that, terrible looking injury to Knox. Scared the heck out of me.
  6. Caleb Hanie looked more accurate. I also liked what Hanie showed in terms of his mobility. He really bought a lot of time with it and to my eye, threw more accurately on the run.
  7. On a related note, nice half time adjustment by Seattle as they did what they could to keep Hanie from moving to his right. Its apparently that part of beating the Bears with Hanie is keeping him in the pocket.
  8. To my eye, Mike Martz did a good job of sticking with the run until the Bears fell too far behind and were forced to pass. Of course the game was over then anyway. There’s no way the Bears offensive line can protect under those conditions without max protect. There’s not enough talent for it.
  9. I still think Martz could do more with the play calling to help out against the rush with more delayed handoffs/draw plays or screen passes. Admittedly the few times they’ve runit, the Bears haven’t shown that they can run the screen very well since Hanie took over so that could be a big part of it.
  10. I thought the pass protection for Hanie was for the most part pretty miserable. Rushing yardage was occasionally hard to come by despite the fact that the Seahawks often weren’t stacking the box. Not a good game for the offensive line.
  11. Having said that, I was watching Lance Louis and he looked dominant at times in pass protection. Despite his flaws as a right tackle, I really do like his aggressiveness.
  12. Lest all of the blame fall on the offensive line, the other positions didn’t coever themselves in glory either. Some miserable blocking by the running backs.
  13. I thought Ryan was totally unfair to Martz when he started whaling on his scheme late in the game. There are plenty of teams who expect the receiver and the quarterback to adjust to the blitz at the line without audibles. I understand that not everyone is going to agree with that scheme. But it is legitimate and its not too much to ask for an offense to execute it.
  14. If Martz has a major fault its late in games when they’re behind that they call too many slowly developing plays, sending half the team out too many men on routes instead of using them for protection. Some teams can do that. The Bears with that offensive line can’t. They have to max protect under those conditions.
  15. Josh McCown threw his interception with authority.


  1. Unlike the Seahawks, the Bears come out with eight in the box against run personnel. They obviously identified Marshawn Lynch as the major threat. On the other hand they probaly remember how Tarvaris Jackson threw when he was with the Vikings.
  2. Nice stand on first and goal from the one yard line in the first quarter. Of course, it was ruined by a special teams penalty.
  3. It looked to me like the Bears were having a hard time getting pressure a good part of the time with their front four. It allowed Seattle to dissect their zone defensive coverages and move the ball. Blitzes were more effective.
  4. Its time to just say it. Julius Peppers just plain gets held on almost every play. Otherwise he just never get blocked at all.
  5. Jackson has a bad habit of holding the ball too long. He probably needed to be occasionally reminded by coaches to let go. The clock in his head isn’t any better with the Seahawks than it was with the Vikings.
  6. Having said that, Jackson does look more accurate than I’ve seen him in the past.
  7. The Bears are getting thin at safety without Major Wright and now Chris Conte.
  8. Long completion to Benjamin Obomanu in the third quarter led to a Seattle touchdown. It looked like Tim Jennings just totally blew the single coverage as Steltz was moving into the box and he had no safety help. I thought that Seattle tried to go at Jennings in the second half whenever they saw single safety.
  9. This brings up another point. I thought the Seahawks had too many big plays this game. Many of them came on Marshawn Lynch runs that went 15 or 20 yards. Those can’t happen.
  10. Nice game for Stephen Paea who ended up penetrating into the offensive backfield quite a bit.
  11. I’m tired of watching the Bears blow coverages at important times in ball games as teh Seahawks threw their touchdown to Michael Robinson to make it 31-14.
  12. The Bears defense looked tired in the second half of this game and there was no excuse for it. The time of possession was practically even when the Seahawks scored that touchdown.


  1. Ryan and Chris Myers did a good job. I’ve always liked Ryan. He does a good job of pointing out things I wouldn’t otherwise see.
  2. Ryan strongly implied that the Bears got out coached today. I saw nothing to indicate that he wasn’t right.
  3. Devin Hester looked indecisive most of the game taking returns. The Seattle kicking game stood out in limiting him. On a potentially related note, The Bears sent Earl Bennett out to return a Seattle punt near the end of the first half. The Bears probably thought Bennett had the more sure hands in that situation.
  4. Robbie Gould spent most of the game knocking kickoffs out of the end zone.
  5. Even one drop was too many in this game but I didn’t think the Bears receiers were too bad in this area otherwise.
  6. Unbelievable penalty on the Seahawks 22 yard field goal try in the firs quarter from Corey Graham. The Seahawks turned it into a touchdown.
  7. It looked to me like the official in the defensive backfield was letting both sides get away with a lot in coverage.
  8. Johnny Knox began early with a nice fumble of Caleb Hanie’s first decent pass to set the Seahawks up for their first score. Hanie’s poor decision to throw to Kellen Davis down the seam leading to an interception in the end zone in the first half hurt badly. On the other hand, Caleb Hanie was right on target to Red Bryant for his pick six in the third quarter. Couldn’t have been more accurate. The interceptions by Brandon Browner Richard Sherman were icing on the cake.
  9. What a play by Peppers, knocking the ball out of Jackson’s hand for a Idonije recovery for a touchdown near the end of the first quarter. Bad job by Jackson holding the ball too long in the end zone.
  10. Its no revelation to say that turnovers are what killed the Bears today when they couldn’t afford any errors. It was tough to watch this team literally throw contests away the last four games after watching them play so well for more than a year before that. The Bears met adversity in the form of a number of major injuries and went out with a whimper. But that’s what teams that don’t have what it takes do.

Bear’s Olsen Was on the Trading Block for Eleven Minutes and Other Points of View


  • Neil Hayes and Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times report that the Bears have interest in Brad Smith in free agency.
  • Bob LeGere at the Daily Herald explains why Oregon State center Alex Linnenkohl and Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher , both undrafted free agents who signed with the Bears, are players to watch.
  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reports this fascinating story about Greg Olsen and the possibility that the Bears might be offering him as trade bait:

“His agent Drew Rosenhaus sent a mass email to the league’s general managers and personnel people at 7:56 p.m. Wednesday night announcing the Bears were making Olsen available for trade. The email went to scores of people, including Bears general manager Jerry Angelo and contract negotiator Cliff Stein.

“’The Bears have granted me permission to seek a trade for Greg Olsen,’ Rosenhaus wrote. ‘Please let me know if interested. Sounds like the Bears will be very reasonable on the compensation in return for Greg.’”

“But 11 minutes later, Rosenhaus sent another mass email to the same recipients, including Angelo and Stein, asking them to ignore his previous message.

“’Please disregard my previous email regarding Greg Olsen,’ the one-sentence email said.”

Not very likely, Drew.

I can’t imagine what’s going on here.  But between the messed up trade with the Ravens during the draft and things like this, Bears management isn’t exactly inspiring confidence in their organizational skills.

  • The Bears apparently wanted former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Justin Durant but the Lions got him.  That’s unfortunate as the Bears have needed an upgrade at strong side linebacker for a while.  It will be interesting to see what direction they go in now.
  • The Bears are apparently targeting offensive tackles in free agency rather than guardsESPN’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert says that the Steeler’s Willie Colon and the Saints Justin Bushrod are on their radar.


“Never did I think the Minnesota Vikings would draft a quarterback No. 12 overall, declare him their Matt Ryan/Joe Flacco — i.e., an instant starter on a veteran team — and then acquire a veteran to start ahead of him just before training camp.”

“With the Seahawks pouncing in back-to-back days on former Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and former Vikings receiver Sidney Rice, it’s possible that the folks in Seattle have confused the latter with Jerry and the former with Joe Montana. Or Steve Young.

“The reality is that, during their mutual time in Minnesota, Jackson and Rice never really clicked, even with running back Adrian Peterson pulling a safety to the line of scrimmage on just about every play.”

Assuming he doesn’t take his foot off the gas after getting big money, Rice is a good receiver.  But Tarvaris Jackson is never going to be a consistent quarterback.  I would agree with Florio is that he’s a very leaky vessel to pour much hope in.

One Final Thought

DJ Gallo at ESPN’s Page 2 blog gives us this handy chart to follow for NFL Free Agency:

Duerson’s Brain a Cautionary Tale for Critics of New Rules and Other Points of View


“‘I am very comfortable with these three quarterbacks,’ Martz said when asked if the need for a veteran backup still exists. ‘Nathan will compete with Caleb for the backup position. I would expect that Caleb will end up being the guy, but Nathan is good enough to be that player.'”

I’m guessing that the fourth quarterback on the roster, Matt Gutierrez, must be feeling good about being all but eliminated from consideration in May.

Pompei also had this for those who say Enderle was a reach in the fifth round:

“Critics wondered why the Bears chose Enderle so high when they had other needs. Enderle represented good value in the fifth round. I had a fourth-round grade on Enderle based on opinions from three front-office men from other teams I spoke with prior to the draft.”

“Enderle doesn’t have a cannon like Cutler. That’s OK. The three things Martz prioritizes in a quarterback are accuracy, intelligence and toughness.”

Martz goes on to say that he doesn’t have to make mechanical changes with Enderle, and he played in a “very sophisticated offense” that asked him to do a lot of the things he will be asked to do with the Bears.

I’ll accept that Enderle might be competition for Hanie but the odds are very low that he’ll do so effectively if the lockout doesn’t end reasonably soon.  Despite what Martz says, from what I can tell, Enderle has a lot of work to do shortening that occasionally long wind up of his.

“Nate Enderle took a boatload of sacks at Idaho, so he’ll fit right into Mike Martz’s system.”

“Free safety Chris Conte (California) was quietly viewed by some as the best developmental prospect of this year’s weak safety class. Speaking of developmental prospects, Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle, at 6-4, 240 pounds, has the build and arm strength well worthy of his fifth-round selection.”

“Now, more than ever, I believe the Detroit Lions, not Chicago, is the team to challenge Green Bay in the NFC North. With Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh paired at defensive tackle, the Lions’ D-line becomes an extraordinary pass defense, while the addition of Titus Young gives the club an explosive wide receiver opposite Calvin Johnson. Yeah, I know, the Lions still need cornerbacks, but quarterbacks won’t have much time to exploit whoever is there. I’m already making Detroit this year’s sleeper, and there’s plenty of room on the bandwagon. This is a vastly improved team that won its last four starts — including one over Green Bay — and just beefed up an already impressive defensive line.”


  • Rob Rang at gives his thoughts on the draft:

“No. 1 pick Nick Fairley gives the Lions a potential tandem at defensive tackle, with Ndamokung Suh, that is the best not only in the NFC North, but in the NFL. Suh is the Lions’ best defensive player but Detroit strengthened that area in a way that also projects to aid the secondary with improved pass rush.”

Did anyone else notice how angry Fairley looked when they finally called his name?  He wasn’t happy lasting to 13 after being projected so much higher in January.  I would expect he’ll start trying to make the rest of the NFL pay for their doubt.  (Picture from US Presswire)


  • Tom Kowalski at contrasts current GM Martin Mayhew‘s draft room with former GM Matt Millen‘s.  He repeats this storry about the 2006 draft when the Lions were on the clock debating about whether to take guard Max Jean-Gilles.  Kowalski doesn’t mention it explicitly but the first problem was that they hadn’t worked this out in advance rather than debating it for five minutes while actually on the clock.  Here’s the second problem:

“The Lions spent so much time talking about Jean-Gilles that, when they decided not to draft him, they didn’t have another option ready to go. As they wondered what to do, a voice in the back of the room (the identity of which I haven’t confirmed yet) said ‘Take Brian Calhoun.’ So they did.

“In his two-year career in Detroit, Calhoun had 54 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards and never scored a touchdown.”

“Look, Mayhew isn’t going to be perfect and he’s going to whiff on some draft picks (cough, Derrick Williams, cough). But one of the tricks to a successful draft is limiting your mistakes by being thoroughly prepared. It’s one thing to miss, it’s another thing to not know what the hell you’re swinging at.”

“Don’t tell me the lockout didn’t have an impact on this year’s draft because it did. I’ve never seen so many reaches, starting with Aldon Smith with the seventh pick of the first round, continuing with quarterbacks Jake Locker and Christian Ponder and moving through the bottom of the round, then on into the next two days. There were stretches everywhere, and I have to believe it was because clubs drafted for need. Usually, you hear “the-best-player-available” explanation for choices, but not this year. The past three days clubs gambled everywhere to fill needs they would have already solved through free agency or trades.”

“The Seattle Seahawks allowed opponents to score 33 or more points in nine of their past 12 starts, including the playoffs, and ranked 25th in points allowed. So what do they do? Draft offense with three of their first four choices. Someone please explain.”

Not only did they take offense, they didn’t even take good offense, reaching for guard James Carpenter in the first round:

“OT James Carpenter to Seattle: Most people had him rated somewhere in the middle of the second round, yet the Seahawks took him with the 25th selection … with Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod still on the board. The Seahawks envision Carpenter as their next right tackle and say they love his versatility and nastiness. OK, I’ll buy that — just not at the 25th spot.”

How much of a reach was the selection of Carpenter?  Even Alabama coach Nick Saban couldn’t believe it:

Finally, we have this from coach Pete Caroll:

“’We are happy with Charlie and hoping he is going to continue to flourish and blossom. I’m not feeling like we missed out on a quarterback opportunity’ — Seattle coach Pete Caroll on Charlie Whitehurst and the Seahawks’ failure to draft a quarterback.

Bottom line Caroll is starting to remind me why he didn’t make it with the Jets all those years ago.  With him at the helm the Seahawks may have been as good last season as they’re going to be for a few years.

“I’ll tell you what I find intriguing about quarterback Blaine Gabbert: When the Washington Redskins had a chance to choose him they didn’t. Instead, coach Mike Shanahan traded out. Shanahan knows how to develop quarterbacks, and he needs a good young one in Washington. But instead of taking Gabbert after he unexpectedly lasted until the 10th pick, Shananan passed. Then he just avoided the position altogether, refusing to use any of his draft picks on a quarterback. Keep that in mind as Gabbert’s career unfolds”

The guess here is that Washington didn’t “avoid the position altogether” on purpose.  They probably traded back thinking they could pick up Christian Ponder.  The Vikings were rumored to like Jake Locker and the Redskins probably thought they’d pass on Ponder.  They didn’t.

“When one team held an audition for him, no receivers from Auburn showed up. You got to be kidding me. You’re Cam Newton, and you can’t get anyone from your offense to come to your workout?”

I’ve heard people say that Newton’s character concerns don’t necessarily translate to the field.  I think this translates.

“With so many pressing needs on the roster, they still want to fix RB? And they get Murray who is best known for his ability to catch the ball (he had 71 receptions in 2010). This redundancy with Felix’s new-found catching ability is quite a statement.”

“True, Elmore has posted videos of him both jumping out of a pool and into a truck on YouTube. But it’s also worth noting that Elmore actually had more production last season than his more-famous teammate, defensive end/linebacker Brooks Reed.”

Wonder how he would have done without Reed on the other side garnering the attention.

  • Sturm also had this to say about the fact that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called Larry Lacewell, Butch Davis and Barry Switzer for advice on various picks:

“Previous draft disappointments haunt the Cowboys. And when Jerry tells us that he is not listening to his scouts, but more about how he listens to his old buddies about picks, then we should assume that the draft process has not changed very much. I needed Jerry to tell me that Tom Ciskowski and his staff have targeted this player and we trust them. Instead, he tells me that Switzer signed off on the Cowboys taking an Oklahoma RB.”

Amen.  At least when Jerry Angelo stands in front of the media, he can tell you how much his coaches and area scouts whose business it is to watch these prospects for months and years like the picks and why.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  No matter what else you think of them, thank heavens the Bears have ownership that doesn’t interfere with the day-to-day running of the personnel department.  Generally speaking it is a route to disaster long term for any franchise.

“Detroit Lions — Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh give the Lions two young, strong players who can help carry Matthew Stafford off the field when he’s injured”

One Final Thought

Finally Judge welcomes Patrick Peterson to the NFL with this sarcastic response to a quote from him:

“‘Everybody loves the game of football. I can’t see the world without it. How do you think the world would be without it?’ — Arizona CB Patrick Peterson. I dunno, Patrick, but why don’t you ask the people who survived the 57-day strike in 1982. Better yet, ask someone in Libya.”

I’ll tell you exactly how they the world will be.  Full of people surprising themselves by finding better things to do on Sunday.  NFL beware.

NFL Sends Inconsistent Signals with Recent Rule Change and Other Points of View


“One thing Phillips said on the issue [of the grass playing surface at Soldier Field], however, sounds like an utter crock: ‘The players know how to play on it, and frankly, it’s been part of our home-field advantage.’ The Bears players rip it as much or more than opponents do. They don’t like it and don’t sound confident on that kitty-litter. And I wouldn’t be talking home-field advantage if I just lost the NFC Championship Game at home.”

  • Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times points out the the NFL chose what head coach Lovie Smith considered to be the worst possible option for the kickoff rules:

“’The part that we’re not OK with is moving the ball up to the 35-yard line,’ Smith said. ‘The rest of it, we could live with.’

“Much to Smith’s chagrin, the NFL voted to move the kickoff yard line from the 30 to the 35 and opted to keep two-man wedges and touchbacks at the 20-yard line.”

“Other owners and their representatives crowed about McCaskey’s speech, which is what you do when you want to keep the sucker at the poker table — praise his play. But if McCaskey wasn’t so worried about his speech, then maybe he would’ve shown some clout to round up enough votes to block the new kickoff rule.

But no. The Bears were unable to prevent the NFL from minimizing the league’s most dangerous return game. The Steelers, meanwhile, with one of the hardest-hitting defense, made sure that proposals regarding hits on defenseless players didn’t pass. Some teams have clout, apparently. Some teams have Fredo McCaskey.”

  • Jensen also writes of Bears president Phillips’ confidence that the team is in good shape headed into a lockout:

“I think it’s huge,” Phillips said when asked about his team’s continuity, “and with the labor uncertainty we have now, that’s why we’ve preached, internally, to cover all bases and be ready because you never know when the deal is going to get done.

“We’re going to have a competitive edge.”

  • Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune quoting Smith on the criticism of the Bears for announcing quarterback Jay Cutler‘s return as “questionable” after his injury in the NFC Championship game:

“We can’t worry about the criticism.  We’re trying to win a football game. … What were we supposed to do? We’re behind, trying to win the biggest game in the history of our franchise. Let’s worry about what everybody is thinking about our quarterback? That’s the last thing.”

  • It also sounds like Pompei has a suspicion the Bears might be drafting interior offensive linemen rather than tackles as he answers questions from fans:

Are the Bears really considering Florida’s center Mike Pouncey with their first pick in the draft? I think it’s more than time to bring on Olin Kreutz successor, don’t you? And, would the Bears trade up to draft him? — Walter Brzeski, Chicago

If they aren’t, they should be. The Bears might need help on their interior offensive line more than they need help at the tackle position. Within two years, they might need three new starters at left guard, right guard and center. Pouncey could start out this year as the left guard, and then move inside to center when Kreutz moves on (assuming Kreutz is re-signed). The problem is Pouncey probably won’t be on the board when the Bears pick at No. 29. Trading up is a possibility, but it would come with drawbacks. The Bears have had a deficit of high draft picks over the last two years because of trades. Giving away two high draft picks for one good prospect in this scenario might not make good sense.

I agree 100% both because I think the guard and center positions are a need and because the draft probably will fall such that it will make the most sense for the Bears to go that way.  But what they do will probably depend mostly upon how they feel about the fourth or fifth tackle prospects as opposed to their second guard prospect, though.  And the defensive linemen available will factor in as well.

  • Smith’s comments about the backup situation at guard would seem to validate Pompei’s opinion.  Smith doesn’t sound happy about their play last year.  Via Michael C. Wright at

“If you just be a team player, eventually, you’re gonna really get a chance to prove whether you can play or not, and you need to take advantage of your opportunity.  Lance [Louis] hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunity. Edwin [Williams] did not take advantage of his opportunity, or hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunity yet. We still like those guys. They’re young players that are in the system.”

“Overall, Sherrod will eventually become a winning left tackle in the league. Some teams may start him off on the right side while he gains experience but he has the traits to play on the left side. The more tape I watched of this player the more I liked him. He has range and athleticism to go along with long arms…all traits needed to become an effective left tackle in the league.”

“There isn’t a prejudiced bone in our bodies or my dad’s body,” Ryan said, including twin brother and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. “That’s why I know it’s crazy.”

“‘We didn’t come out and check the body or nothing like that, but he’s fine,’ Smith said. ‘I talked to Jay just before he went on his trip to Africa. His spirits are high, in a good mood, you know. [He’s] excited about everything.”

Cutler’s had a rough month or two and its nice to know they were talking to him.

  • There aren’t many matchups Julius Peppers can’t win but this is one of them.
  • The Bears website is featuring a quick 4 minute feature on general manager Jerry Angelo and the NFL draft.  Most of the footage appears to be from last year but its still pretty good:


  • To no one’s surprise, Bengals owner Mike Brown isn’t backing down on his refusal of quarterback Carson Palmer‘s request for a trade.  Palmer is threatening to retire. Via Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“I haven’t talked to any other team about him and I have no plans to trade him.”

Brown’s problem goes well beyond the quarterback.  If he gives in on Palmer there might be a line of players behind him.

  • Most Bear fans have one hope as regards the future prospects of the very young and talented Green Bay Packer team.    That is that they handle success in the same way that the Bears handled it after their Super Bowl run in 2006 – poorly.  However it seems that head coach Mike McCarthy is more aware of the problem that Lovie Smith apparently was.  Via Rob Demovsky at the Green Bay Press Gazzette:

“’We’ve achieved team success at the highest level, and I’m a big believer that every level you hit brings new devils,’ McCarthy said. ‘Definitely, there will be some new challenges that come with winning the Super Bowl. We’re anticipating it. It’s something we’ll talk about and keep in the forefront as a football team because to me, that’s where I’ve seen failure.'”

“I think our division is extremely competitive … It’s very competitive. We were 4-2 in our division games, and we strive to do better than that, and we’re going to need to do better than that. I think our division, we spend a lot of time on division games, I’d put our division up against anybody’s. It’s competitive as hell.”

  • NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert at ESPN quotes Lions head coach  Jim Schwartz on how they are monitoring the rehab of quarterback Matthew Stafford during the lockout.  There isn’t supposed to be any contact between the organization and the players during this time:

“Our trainers are in communication not with the players but the people who are doing their rehab… We can’t supervise, but we can communicate with the people who supervise. So you have an idea. And you know they’re at professional places.”

“It’s hard to say (it was a wasted year).  I think sometimes setbacks are set-ups for better things in the future. Sometimes your best lessons come from tough times. I think I’m a better coach today with that experience. Not the record, but I think it made me better as a coach.”

“From my vantage point I couldn’t quite see whether Pete Carroll wore a cat-ate-the-canary look on his face when he heard the question. But when a Philadelphia-based reporter inquired whether his Seahawks have had conversations with the Eagles regarding a trade for quarterback Kevin Kolb, you could almost hear Carroll’s brain whirling as he very carefully chose his words.

“‘There’s no conversations going on,’ said Carroll, perhaps notably dropping into present tense. ‘Not what you want. I talk to [Eagles head coach] Andy [Reid] a lot. I like Andy a lot.”’

Translation:  Carroll is determined to overpay for Kolb and make the Eagles an even better team for years to come by giving them multiple high round draft picks.

  • Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant ejected from mall in Dallas for the high crime of wearing droopy pants.  He didn’t take it well.

One Final Thought

Jensen again on the kickoff rule change:

“Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, insisted player safety superseded any other points.”

Except that it didn’t.  All NFL plays are dangerous.  This one might or might not exceed the standard of what’s too risky and what isn’t.  But one thing is clear.  If – and its a big “if” – the play actually is too dangerous and if player safety really does supersede all other points, it should have been eliminated.

The truth of the matter is that this was a war between player safety and the money that comes from highlights of exciting kickoff returns.  So we are left with half measures as fans are sent a mixed message.  As a result the whole thing sounds more like an effort to make it look like the league is protecting the players than one to actually go all out and do it.

This was a poor decision all around.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Baltimore Ravens are on the clock at ESPN:

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

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

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

One Final Thought

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

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

I can only imagine.

Aaron Rogers Refuses Autograph to Dying Child and Other Points of View


  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune:

“’As you go back to the preseason,’ Lovie Smith said, “no one really saw us being in this position.’ Raising my hand.”

Mine too.

“When. The. Bears. Have. The. Ball. Shut. The. Hell. Up. Already.”

This leaves hometown American Idol winner Lee DeWyze to sing at halftime instead of the anthem (via Jeff Dickerson at

“So we didn’t win a couple of years there. That’s not Lovie’s fault.  It wasn’t because we weren’t coached well or weren’t prepared. And this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, so, yes, I think Lovie should get an extension now.”

So whose fault is it?

Step carefully, Brian.  Perhaps you should stick to talking about the Packers.

“At the same time, we know the Bears can do better. Would the Bears be playing for a playoff berth today if they had had the injuries the Packers’ have dealt with this season?”

“A small, but not insignificant part of the improvement of the Bears running game is Greg Olsen’s improved blocking. The Bears always insisted Olsen was a true tight end when it was pretty clear that his ineffective blocking made him a wide receiver playing tight end. Tight ends coach Mike DeBord gets credit for improving Olsen’s blocking to passable for an NFL tight end.”

Olsen’s blocking has improved and it was down right good against Seattle.  But I don’t think one good game makes it “passable”.  I don’t think he’s ever going to be a good blocking tight end.

  • Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune puts his finger on the problem that the Bears have with defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who they may have to pay as much as $5 million next season if they don’t cut him.  Harris did well against the Seahawks last week:

“And it would be foolish to make a multi-million dollar decision based on one game. But if he plays against the Packers the way he did against the Seahawks, hold everything.

“What needs to be defined is what Harris is, and why he is what he is. Is Harris the player you don’t notice because he is getting blocked or is he the player you can’t see because his feet are quicker than the eye?”

“’There’s no question Mike could be a coordinator, if he wanted to,’ Billick said. ‘But he should be thought of as a head coaching candidate going forward.’”

I would agree.  Tice strikes me as a leader but I’m not sure how he’d do calling plays.

“ columnist Rick Reilly took [Jay] Cutler to task last week for not working hard enough to be, in his view, likable.

“‘Cutler could own Chicago if he wanted … (and) have his name on half the billboards,’ Reilly wrote, connecting dots to produce a portrait of a sullen brat who dates a former MTV reality star rather than the strong, silent type others might see in Cutler, especially if he manages to actually win a Super Bowl.

“‘Mr. Reilly wasn’t very happy with me,’ [Cutler] said, grinning slightly after last weekend’s divisional playoff victory. ‘There are a lot of distractions, especially the situation we’re in now. We’ve just got to focus in and do our jobs.’

“There’s plenty of time to pose for billboards and tape commercials later.”

Yes, but Cutler won’t be doing any of that.  Because its not important to him and simply he doesn’t want to do it.  And, as is evident particularly when he deals with the media, Cutler doesn’t do things he doesn’t want to do.

“’The first couple times we went up there, it was easy to be impressed, especially if you were a young coach. There was all this history and tradition, Vince Lombardi and all that,’ Ryan said. ‘But after they rubbed it in a few times, it gets under your skin.

“’So, yeah,’ he added, ‘there were some games when we were more interested in making points than scoring them.’”

“The question for the NFC championship game this week is whether Smith’s game plan Sunday will be more like the teams’ first meeting in Week 3, when he sat back in Cover-2 zones and gave up big yardage but kept the Packers from putting up many points in a 20-17 win at Soldier Field. Or will he play it more like the regular-season finale three weeks ago, when in the Packers’ 10-3 win Smith played mostly with a single safety deep and, very un-Cover-2-like, used extensive man-to-man coverage that included pressing receivers at the line of scrimmage?”

I’d say both.

  • Rob Demovsky at the Green Bay Press Gazette got this interesting comment about the last regular season game when the Bears played the Packers:

“At least one player on the Packers’ side questioned whether the Bears really did go all out in the season finale. To injured running back Ryan Grant, from his perspective on the sideline, something seemed amiss that afternoon.

“’Honestly, it didn’t look like necessarily that they might have been giving it their all,’ Grant said. ‘But who knows? This is a different atmosphere. They’re going to want this game.’”

I don’t know about the coaching staff but if the Bears players were giving all out effort during that game they sure had me fooled.

  • Most of us took note when it was announced that Terry McCauly, the referee when the Packers got called for 18 penalties in Week 3, would be officating this game.  But Demovsky makes a key point:

“But it won’t be the exact same officials. During the regular season, the referee works with the same crew. But at this point in the playoffs, the NFL compiles what it believes to be the best officials at each position.”

  • Tim Hasselbeck at ESPN thinks the Bears are overrated:

  • ESPN’s Ted Bruschi thinks the Bears defense will stop Aaron Rogers:

  • ESPN’s experts this Heinz Field is worse than Soldier Field.  Warning, Skip Bayless is in this video.  Be prepared to scoff:

  • They also debate which defense is better.  I note that there are no debates about which is the better offense.
  • Mel Kiper has completed his first mock draft for ESPN.  Here’s the relevant video for Bears fans. The sharp fan will note that Kiper has the Bears picking THIRTY-FIRST:

  • Demovsky avoids autograph seekers.  At least he didn’t blow by a cancer patient:

  • Green Bay center Josh Sitton talks about the problems that come with preparing to play an opponent for the third time this season:

  • Here’s a little lesson in etiquette for those Packer fans who plan to attend the game at Soldier Field:


  • Hasselbeck thinks that the Jets became more conservative on defense as the season wore on and that has made them more unpredictable:

  • Vince Young makes a vain attempt to convince the sporting world that he’s a grown up:

  • Here are the Kiper picks that everyone who isn’t a freak like me cares about:

“According to a report released this week by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, more than 86 percent of NFL wideouts became receivers as a way to compensate for the lack of things thrown at them during their childhood.”

“Pittsburgh police issued an arrest warrant today for Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who allegedly racked up nearly 200 felony charges that were accidentally misfiled during his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

They’re also supplying Ben Roethlisberger with police women to have sex with.  True story.

“Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers created a controversy today while shopping at a grocery store near his home. Witnesses say Rodgers purchased his groceries and left the store without once acknowledging a child in the store who will one day die.”


One Final Thought

This fan apparently wants everyone to know what he’s doing in the dark upper deck seats near the rafters.  Like the people who know him wouldn’t have guessed it already.  From the The Sports Pickle:

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