Bears Shifts Philosophy Under Emery. And Other Points of View.

Bears

Rasheedah Watley has known Brandon Marshall since he was 12 and laughed when I asked her Wednesday if the Bears can change Marshall in ways the Broncos or Dolphins couldn’t.

“’It’s very foolish to think that,’ said Watley, Marshall’s high school sweetheart. ‘I don’t know how many chances you can give somebody. I’m really fearful for someone’s daughter or sister. The guy needs some real help.’’

“Watley has a pending civil suit against Marshall based on a history of alleged domestic violence.”

‘‘I have only had positive experiences with Brandon.  He is misunderstood. Once you get to know him, he will give you the shirt off his back.”

‘‘My thing is this: Get to know him, the man, before you pass judgment.’’

“In due time, the truth will be out, and we’re excited about that.  Given my history, I definitely understand the concern and the questions.”

Ya think?

Personally, Im assuming it was just the story from Marshall’s lawyer.  According to Dan Pompei, also at the Tribune, general manager Phil Emerydeclined to say whether he called the New York police, talked to bouncers at the club, hired a private investigator to look into the matter or simply relied on the word of a colleague looking to move a player.”  He also “would not say whether language was included in the deal to protect one of the draft picks if the player winds up with a long suspension this year.”

That sounds good until you realize that the Bears really never have rehabilitated a player.  They’re really better known for cutting guys like this.  I respected that.  Until now.

“Yeah, I’ll take that responsibility,” Cutler said. “Brandon will take that on as well. He knows what he’s done wrong in the past.  Any support I can give him, I’m there for him.”

“Emery got into an uncomfortable exchange with a reporter at one point when asked if the trade, the first big move of his tenure, could be seen as symbolic of his philosophy or simply a matter of timing.

“‘In terms of bringing in big productive playmakers, yes,’ Emery said. ‘In terms of bringing in people we feel are going to fit … our goal of winning a championship and someone (who) is mature and (has) shown … courage to improve as a person, yes.’”

Biggs also pointed to the change:

“Time and time again, the Bears did their best to shift the conversation to Brandon Marshall the football player, not the man off the field.

“[Emery said,] ‘Also, the performance on the field reveals the person’s football character in terms of his passion, his toughness, his competitiveness. We know Brandon’s one of the top players in the NFL, and that speaks volumes about his football character.’

Head coach Lovie Smith also seems to be on board:

‘“Every employee you hire, there’s some risk,’ Smith said. ‘But you weigh that, which we did. I looked at what we had in place here. Having Jeremy Bates here, being his position coach in Denver, helps a lot. Having him work with Jay and knowing that relationship, a relationship between a quarterback and a receiver … is very important. That helped a lot also. And we’re trying to win games.”

Finally, Potash also emphasized the new bottom line :

“A question about the risk of acquiring oft-troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall elicited a nearly five-minute soliloquy from Bears general manager Phil Emery on all the factors that convinced him it was worth it to trade two third-round draft picks for a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver with a litany of personal-conduct issues.”

“That’s all well and good. But it took coach Lovie Smith about 45 seconds of his own babble to cut to the heart of the matter when asked a similar question.

‘‘’We’re trying to win games,’ Smith said.”

So if Marshall spends his offseason beating women, its only a reflection of his ‘football character’.  Under the new regime, that’s what counts.

  • In fairness to Emery, based upon the calls to sports talk radio I’ve heard, this seems to be OK with a surprising number of fans, many of whom can’t see past the uniform.  But even those fans become quiet when you ask them this:  “How often will Marshall show that character if he’s suspended and not on the field?”
  • Assuming that Marshall does eventually find his way onto the field, the good news for those fans is that the Bears seem to have gotten a wide receiver who was superior to anyone else out there.  Biggs compares him to top free agent Vincent Jackson:

“Marshall, Emery pointed out, has the second most catches of any receiver in the NFL over the last five seasons, behind only the Patriots’ Wes Welker. What he didn’t say is Marshall has almost twice as many catches (474 to 242) as Jackson over that period.

“‘We really like who he is as a route runner,’ Emery said. ‘We like who he is in terms of his flexibility of alignment. Brandon can be an X, or he can be a Z or he can be an inside slot because he has that great combination of size. He’s 230 pounds. Length, he’s taller than 6 feet 4. And he has great route feet, you know, body control, hips, and he has great strength to move defenders out of the way to get position and make the catch.’”

“One executive who has studied both players said Jackson is faster and a little better with the ball in his hands. But Marshall competes for the ball better, is a superior blocker and a significantly better route runner.”

“In 2010, Marshall had a drop percentage of 8.5, which ranked 60th in the NFL that season. That means 59 receivers caught a higher percentage of the catchable passes thrown their way.

“In 2011, Marshall’s drop percentage was 6.9, ranking him No. 52 in the league.

“In this case, the percentage confirms what the raw numbers suggest. Marshall’s drops weren’t only a function of his high involvement in the Miami Dolphins offense. He missed more catchable passes than dozens of other NFL receivers.”

“As we discussed Thursday, it would be difficult to reconcile any suggestion that Marshall has turned a personal corner if the allegation from Sunday’s incident — that he punched a woman in the eye — is true. It would make Friday’s news conference performance a high-quality con job.”

Seiferts comments highlights the difference between words and deeds.  And history indicates that even Marshall’s words aren’t trustworthy.

In terms of the current incident, here’s what Marshall said (emphasis is mine):

“Monday night, he was involved peripherally in an incident at a New York club in which his wife was hit with a bottle during an altercation neither of them was part of, according to a statement from Marshall’s attorney, Harvey Steinberg.”

And here’s what the police reportedly say:

“New York City Police received a report Monday about the alleged assault outside the tony club Marquee in Manhattan at about 3:30 a.m. An argument between a group of men and Marshall that had begun inside spilled outside when Marshall allegedly hit her.”

So, basically, we have yet another lie from a player who has had plenty of practice doing it.  The next thing you know, we’ll hear that she slipped on a McDonalds wrapper and his fist hit her on the way down.

  • Many fans have pointed out that the victim might be simply trying to take Marshall for some money.  But the woman’s motivation is irrelevant.  What’s important is that the Bears just bought a receiver who is likely headed towards a suspension before he ever sees the field as a Bear.
  • Seifert compares the Marshall acquisition to that of a sports car.

“You’ve read the reviews, which include a long history of high performance and extensive maintenance. You’re hemming and hawing. You figure you’re a great driver, never had an accident, and feel relatively immune toward the chances the car will break down on you. The dealer offers one final test drive. As you careen around the final corner into the lot, laughing the whole way, the transmission drops to the ground.

“What do you do? Write it off as a random and unpredictable incident? Or do you connect it with the documented history of this model and head to the minivan dealer?”

“It wasn’t clear if Marshall intentionally struck [Christine] Myles or if he meant to hit one of her friends, according to the [New York Daily News] report.

“Only buying that if the other friend was a woman.”

“A strong sales pitch for defensive end Jeremy Mincey fell short. He was minutes away from joining the Bears Tuesday night when the Jaguars lured him back with a four-year contract.”

  • Seifert comments on the re-signing of Israel Idoinije:

“The question is whether the Bears intend for Idonije to resume his full-time role, or if their pursuit of Mincey (and possibly others) indicate they will continue searching for another starting option. The Bears don’t have much depth at the position, which is why they were forced to play Idonije — a longtime reserve/swing lineman — on 84.4 percent of their defensive spans last season. “

The signing of Idonije, along with Jennings and Steltz, is simply insurance.  The Bears are now working in free agency to make sure they don’t take a step back at any position of need.  They’ll now look to draft the best players available to compete at these positions to make themselves better knowing that if no one falls to them, they are covered.

“It does not sound as if the team is intent on finding a new starter for the offensive line, however.

“Smith indicated he was excited about Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams returning from injuries. ‘I like the look of our offensive line with the guys with have signed up right now,’ he said.”

Though I most certainly do not like the idea of J’Marcus Webb at left tackle again, I do recognize the Bears’ problem.  Teams usually don’t let good ones get away and there’s not much out there.  For instance, Seifert comments on what was probably the best left tackle realistically available:

“Veteran Marcus McNeill visited earlier this week, and his situation is a perfect example of how left tackles who are available often are damaged goods in some way. McNeill is a two-time Pro Bowler but has had two neck surgeries and suffers from spinal stenosis. It would have been hard to count on him for more than a year-by-year basis.”

Emery seems to have the right idea:

“Asked about adding a lineman, Emery said the Bears will always be searching for depth.  He said they could look at other free agent linemen, and the team will look “very hard” at offensive linemen in the draft.”

“Outside of [Peyton] Manning there are no “marquee” players left. On a short term deal though I think once he is healthy, and as he showed last season in New England, Andre Carter can really provide a boost to a defense. He’s not a long term option but if you’re a contender, running a 4-3 defense, with a hole at defensive end you can do far worse than to sign Carter on a one year deal. If I was theJacksonville Jaguars I’d take a look at him.”

You could say the same for the Bears, I think.

  • Biggs quotes Emery on new backup quarterback Jason Campbell:

“Arm strength is very important because of our weather and the teams we play.  That to me was a prerequisite moving forward.”

“Cutler joined coach Lovie Smith in raving about tight end Kellen Davis, who signed a two-year contract. ‘He can be one of the premier tight ends in the league if we use him correctly and he stays healthy and all the stars align,’ Cutler said. ‘He’s such a talented guy, so big, so strong, fast, catches the ball well. So we’ve got to design a package that sets him up for success.’”

Davis is probably an adequate tight end but he’s never going to be a star in the league.  He’s good for short passes of 10 yards or less or the occasional pass down the seam but don’t count on him to do much with the ball after the catch.

Elsewhere

  • Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com highlights the conflict of interest that results from players with competing interests are represented by the same agency, in this case Peyton Manning and Alex Smith:

“Both players are free agents, and the 49ers surely will want to keep Smith if the 49ers don’t land Manning.  In order to best represent Smith, his agent should be trying to persuade the 49ers to make a decision sooner rather than later.  In order to best represent Manning, his agent should be trying to persuade the 49ers to wait on Smith until Manning makes up his mind.”

“More specifically, the two teams are contemplating suing anyone and everyone connected to the sudden removal of $46 million in total cap space over the next two years, based on the contention that their treatment of the term ‘uncapped year’ too literally somehow created a competitive disadvantage.  Even though no rules or policies were violated.”

  • Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post explains:

“The word is that [Washington owner Dan] Snyder is beside himself, but he has only his uncontrollable self-interest to blame. What happened was this: Back in 2010, when the NFL entered hardball negotiations with the players union for a new labor contract, the owners warned each other not to use the situation to get a leg up. They were in an uncapped year, with no limit on player salaries, and entering a tense and emotionally fraught labor situation, and they asked each other not to abuse the circumstances.

“In essence they said, ‘Don’t try to set yourselves up to be in a better spot when this is over.’ Think of it like a yellow caution flag in a car race: The drivers agree to hold their places and not to accelerate until the track is clear.”

“Snyder is said to be lawyering up and alleging ‘collusion,’ but experts say a legal challenge will be tough. For one thing, colluding in this instance means improperly acting collectively to suppress salaries. But salaries weren’t suppressed. They were just moved around, manipulated by the Redskins for the purpose of evasion and gaining a future competitive advantage when the cap was reinstated. For another, the group that the NFL owners supposedly colluded against, the union, has signed off on the punishment.”

I’m sure the league got advise from their lawyers before they did this but I have to say that I’m not at all sure there’s no case here.  When owners “warn each other” it sure sounds like collusion and I’m not at all sure salaries weren’t suppressed.  Jenkins probably says that’s the case because the cap room the Redskins lost was distributed amongst the other teams in the league.  But had the owners not “spoken to each other,” who knows how many other franchises would have dumped cap the way the Redskins did.  And who knows how high the effective cap would have been this year had all of that extra cap been distributed amongst the other franchises.

In any case, to me “uncapped” means “uncapped” no matter what the owners whisper amongst themselves.  Anything less seems to be illegal to me.  Or at least it ought to be.

  • Seifert points out that the Packers need a center now that Scott Wells has left for the Rams.  Look for them to draft one early.  Wisconsin’s Peter Konz is a good possibility.
  • Pompei, this time writing for The National Football Post, digs out this interesting nugget:

“In fact, Bucs owner Joel Glazer was quoted as saying this in 2007. ‘Free agency can be almost like a drug. You look for that quick hit, that quick feel-good. I know teams that year in and year out are the Super Bowl champions of free agency, and amazingly enough it doesn’t seem to happen for them during the season. If you can resist the urge for about six weeks, you’re often better off.’”

The fact that the Bucs are eating up cap space by signing free agents like its going out of style this year doesn’t diminish the truth behind this quote.  The only proven way to consistently compete in the NFL is through the draft.

  • Free agent tackle Samson Satel’s timing rivals Brandon Marshall’s.  Via the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
  • Sam Monson at Pro Football Focus has a few observations from the first week of free agency that I thought were interesting:

“The schematic balance in the NFL continues to shift.”

“This offseason cornerbacks are raking in big money, but the shift in value seems to have come at the cost of linebackers, who are once again experiencing a slow market. Last offseason several high profile and talented players saw a complete lack of interest and ended up signing on for cheap, short contracts in the hope that they could try again down the road. At the time some of this was put down to the chaotic and truncated nature of post-lockout free agency, but now it looks more like the league has begun to value smaller defensive backs who can play the pass over linebackers, many of whom are now rendered two-down players by the ever expanding passing game.”

“Some teams evidently don’t watch tape

The Vikings signed John Carlson to a healthy contract worth around $5m a season. It’s a five-year contract that can be dumped after two seasons, but regardless, the only way you could decide that is good value is if the last bit of John Carlson tape you watched featured a golden dome and Touchdown Jesus.”

“This is a move that seems speculative at best, blindfolded dart-throwing at worst.”

“Quarterback Dominos”

“The Manning sweepstakes is now only down to a couple, but the market for Matt Flynn, another potential answer to a team’s QB issues, is being hampered by the shadow of the Kevin Kolb deal last season. Flynn has shown huge ability in flashes, and teams have thrown big money at those players before, but his current options seem reluctant to pay him for performance that they can’t guarantee he’ll hit. The Cardinals sunk a lot of money into Kevin Kolb on similar potential, and after a stinking first season in the desert, they just had to bite the bullet and pay him another $7m bonus because they have no viable alternative. Nobody wants to repeat that same mistake with Matt Flynn, while the evidence of what it means if you guess wrongly staring them so plainly in the face.”

“Mario Williams: Signed with the Bills after other teams were unable to clear enough cap room to sign both him and his pectoral muscles”

One Final Thought

WSCR’s Steve Rosenbloom did an interesting interview of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s  Omar Kelly.  On whether Marshall’s treatment for borderline personality disorder will affect his on field performance: “He’s trying to kill ‘The Beast.’”

Lovie Smith Apparently Thinks We’re Morons. And Other Points of View.

Bears

“Bates turned down an opportunity to interview with the Bears and sources indicated it was because of a communication issue with former general manager Jerry Angelo.”

You have to wonder if “communication issue” isn’t code for something else.  I’m sure the odd situation at Halas Hall where Angelo interfered with the coaches wasn’t lost on Bates.

“If I’m a Bears fan, I wouldn’t get caught up in titles too much concerning why Bates wasn’t hired as passing-game coordinator. That is all it is, a title.”

Then why didn’t they give it to him? I think the answer can be found as John Mullin at CSNChicago.com opines that the hiring of Bates portends changes in the offense.  I don’t agree and, in fact, Bates’ background in the West Coast Offense is probably the real reason he wasn’t given the title of passing game coordinator.  He’s probably not familiar enough with the scheme Tice wants to run to be of much use in that capacity, at least for a while.

“In terms of being one-and-done in Seattle, it relates more to Matt Hasselback than any failures by Bates. Hasellback had been in the west-coast Offense his entire career under Mike Holmgren. There were certain principles in the offense, I believe, Matt felt very strongly about over years of experience executing the system. Bates arrived in Seattle with his own set of beliefs in the system under [Jon] Gruden and Mike Shanahan’s tutelage as well.

“Yes, it is the same offense but areas of emphasis and how it is executed normally morph under whoever is calling the plays. Hence, the statement ‘philosophical differences’ when Bates was relieved of his offensive play-calling duties, despite making the playoffs while in Seattle.”

“Why was Jeremy Bates out of football last year? Did he get fired in Seattle and if he is so good why didn’t he have a job in the NFL this past season? — Chip, Wichita

“Bates was fired in Seattle for a couple of reasons, according to people I’ve spoken with who are familiar with the situation. The primary reason is the Seahawks offense wasn’t very good. The second reason is he didn’t mesh well with everyone in the building. He is known for being a bit prickly. He is, however, a football junkie who has a passion for the game and is good at what he does. A lot of head coaches are leery of adding a coach who is potentially combustible, which explains why Bates was out of football last year.”

“What do you think the chances are that the Bears go after Jermichael Finley in free agency? I’m assuming that new offensive coordinator Mike Tice will utilize the tight end much more than Mike Martz considering he actually played the position in the league… — Mike Clark; Hawley, Penn.”

“It might come down to whether or not the Bears want to invest in a big time wide receiver or a big time tight end, assuming Finley hits the open market. You can’t have everything you want because cash and cap space are limited. Finely would be an outstanding addition to the Bears because of the reasons you delineated. But adding him would not alleviate the need for a wide receiver. We have to be careful about making too many assumptions about how Tice wants to use the tight end. Just because he used to be a tight end doesn’t mean anything. Martz is a former tight end too. In Tice’s time in Minnesota, his tight ends were not big parts of the offense in his first two years. But in both of his last two years, tight end Jermaine Wiggins led the team in catches.

1)  I don’t think investing in a tight end in free agency is a wise move.  I’m not sure of the current statisitics but at one time it was the most injured position in football.

2)  Actually Tice did try to use Jim Kleinsasser  to create mismatches in his first years as Vikings head coach.  The problem was that the Vikings weren’t too successful at it.  Here’s hoping that he’s more successful with the Bears.

“Who would you rather see in a Bears uniform next year: Vincent Jackson or Marques Colston? Both players seem to possess the talent and size of a number one wide receiver. Is there are possibility that the Bears sign one of these free agents? — Phil Keith, Milwaukee

“They are similar wide receivers. Both are very good players. Both have been very productive. Both players cause mismatches because of their size. Both have benefited from playing with outstanding quarterbacks and in ideal conditions. Their hands are decent, not great. Even though both players are about the same size (6-5, 230 for Jackson versus 6-4, 225 for Colston), Jackson is a more physical receiver. Colston might be a little faster and moreexplosive. From what I’m hearing, both could be available, probably at a price of about $9 million a year. Jackson might be a better fit for the NFC North, but either would look good in a Bears uniform. Jackson and Colston aren’t the only attractive potential free agent wide receiver for the Bears. Others who could be on the market include Dwayne Bowe, Josh Morgan, Robert Meachem, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, DeSean Jackson, Mario Manningham, Laurent Robinson and Plaxico Burress.

Kendall Wright*, WR, Baylor

“The Bears have not spent a first-round pick on a wide receiver since David Terrell in 2001, and at some point they have to pull the trigger on a playmaker for QB Jay Cutler. A versatile speedster who can threaten defenses vertically and is dangerous after the catch, Wright is on the rise after catching 108 passes for 1,663 yards and hauling in 14 touchdowns in 2011.”

There are very few reasonable things the Bears could do in this draft that I would object to.  But this pick would make me very unhappy.  Wright is only 5’10” and its doubtful he would help a Bear receiving corp that can’t get off the line of scrimmage.  They’re looking for a better version of Roy Williams.

“Assuming the Bears address their biggest need and finally get Jay Cutler a legit No.1 receiver this offseason, don’t you think they should trade Johnny Knox as well?… — Martin G., Philadelphia

“The trade market for wide receivers in body casts usually isn’t too inviting.”

LOL.

I think its funny that had to actually create a category, “Biggest mistake II”, just to get  Bear in there.  The Roy Williams signing was nowhere the the magnitude of “Biggest mistake I” Donovan McNabb.

Let’s face it.  The Bears were a pretty ‘blah” team.

“More Snaps

Corey Graham: +3.4 from 89 snaps

“Sure it’s a small sample size, but there was enough in watching Graham fill in for D.J. Moore covering the slot to wonder just how the special team’s ace would handle a role as part of the defense. The soon-to-be free agent did more in 89 snaps than some do in five times as many so maybe this will be the year a team gives him a shot to make his way into their sub-package D.”

Elsewhere

“Appearing with Ross Tucker on SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Opening Drive, [former Colts general manager Bill] Polian said that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski failed a physical with the Colts prior to the 2010 draft.

“Though it looks like excuse-making, the reality is that there were many different opinions regarding Gronkowski two years ago.  He had a serious back injury in college, which originally occurred while lifting weights.  Some teams viewed the situation as a potential career-limiter.  Other teams saw it as a non-issue.”

“We’re either going to have to improve the quality of what we’re doing in the Pro Bowl or consider other changes, or even (consider) eliminating the game, if that’s the kind of quality game we’re going to provide.”

“Any chance to up the intensity will also be met with a pragmatically cautious approach by players, New England Patriots lineman Logan Mankins said earlier this week.

“’You’re going to give a little effort, but you’re not going to get out of control,’ Mankins, a four-time Pro Bowl pick, said during a Super Bowl media session. ‘Some guys are free agents over there. You get hurt in a Pro Bowl and it’s going to affect that contract with another team. Who would want to get hurt in a Pro Bowl and not be able to play the next season?’”

I totally agree with Mankins.  As a fan I’d be pretty upset to see someone on my team get hurt playing in a meaningless game like this.  I’d rather see it eliminated.

“Trade deadline: The league is looking into moving the mid-October trade deadline later in the season to create more intrigue and strategy for buyers and sellers. For instance, the Broncos got nothing for Kyle Orton by unloading him in November, even though a lot of teams were angling for a quarterback. The Broncos could have used help at other positions and happily would have worked a trade.

“Also, the league will weigh the merits of compressing the free-agency window, just as it was forced to do last summer because of the lockout. That created a lot of excitement and interest because of the fast-moving bazaar of players switching teams. It saved teams money, too — something of keen interest to owners — because most players simply didn’t have the time to play one suitor off another.”

  • I thought it was interesting that in his latest mock draft, McShay has wide receiver Justin Blackmon falling to the Redskins at 6 (past the Vikings who definitely need offensive weapons).  This is probably going to be one of the most interesting drafts ever in terms of who goes where in the to ten picks.  There are a lot of guys there past consensus number one pick Andrew Luck with not a lot separating them in terms of talent.  Its also going to be interesting to see if anyone falls in love with Robert Griffin III and trades up for him.
  • To my surprise, the Vikings quest to get a new stadium continues:

“The current site on the table is adjacent to the Vikings current home at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, and the plan would allow the Vikings to continue playing at the Metrodome for the majority of the construction process. The team would need to play for one season at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium while the last 25 percent of construction is completed, and Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley has been meeting with University officials to discuss those arrangements, according to Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.”

I’ll say this.  The Vikings really don’t want to move.  With an empty stadium waiting in Los Angeles, I’m not so sure I’d still be in Minnesota right now if I owned the team.

Personally, I think Turner is a reasonably option for anyone looking for a coordinator.  But Shoop has had a lot more success in college at North Carolina.  Some guys are just better coaching the college game and he might be one of them.  Unless he’s learned a great deal in the time since he left the Bears, I’m going to say he’s much, much better off staying there in the future.

In the end, the Buccaneers finally ended up hiring Mike Sullivan, Eli Manning’s quarterbacks coach with the Giants (Via Florio).

You’ve got to be kidding me.

“Though Manningham didn’t have huge numbers, reliance on him in one of the game’s biggest moments meshed with something former Colts coach Tony Dungy had been saying last week.  In the 2006 AFC title game, during which the Pats raced to a 21-3 lead, Belichick found a way to take away both Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.  The Colts then adjusted, targeting tight end Dallas Clark and taking advantage of opportunities in the running game.

“And so with Belichick so determined to take away what the opposing offense does best and with opposing offenses now figuring it out, the chess match needs to move to the next level, with Belichick making the enemy think he’ll be taking away the top weapons and then pouncing on the guy to whom the ball will actually go.”

“Safeguards in contracts against misconduct typically consist of the payment of money, often via something known under the law as ‘liquidated damages.’  Basically, the parties agree in advance that the actual harm resulting from a violation will be too difficult to tabulate, so they agree to a specific payment that will be due and owing if/when the party does that which the party agreed not to do.”

I hope she never makes another ungarnished dime again.

“Late in the Super Bowl, on the Patriots’ final drive, the Giants were called for having 12 men on the field.

“But the penalty was only 5 yards, and the time that drained off the clock — eight seconds — was well worth the punishment. The infraction was almost certainly  unintentional — Justin Tuck was trying to hustle off the field. But what’s to prevent other teams from copying this formula under similar circumstances?”

I agree with Monkovic that the chances are good that the competition committee will make a rule addressing this.

“Now that’s odd: The Patriots did win something — the coin toss. That might not sound like a big deal, but it was the first time the AFC has won that 50/50 proposition in 15 consecutive Super Bowls.”

  • The Sportress of Blogitude has pictures of Greg Jones as he proposes to his girlfreind after the Super Bowl.  Note the look of joy on his mother’s face in the background in every picture.

One Final Thought

From Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“The Bears also interviewed Alex Van Pelt and Greg Olson, but Smith insisted Bates was his man.

“‘I did a lot of research, and I think Jeremy is a perfect fit,’ Smith told the team website.

“‘Did we look at other guys? Yes, we did. Every time we have an opening, I look at everybody available.

“‘But in the end, it was Jeremy by a landslide.’”

Really?

Like me, Kip Lewis at CSNChicago.com remembers things a little differently:

“Recently published reports stated Jeremy Bates would not be considered for a position on the Bears’ coaching staff, but today Bates was named the team’s quarterbacks coach.”

As does Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:

“The Bears’ announcement of Bates’ hiring did not include the term “passing game coordinator,” a title that was offered to ex-Buccaneers offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who turned down the job last month. Olson chose to join the Jaguars, who gave him the title of assistant head coach along with quarterbacks coach.”

I understand that Lovie Smith has to put a positive spin on this.  But that doesn’t mean he should feel free to  treat us like an idiots.  We know what happened here.

Game Comments: Bears at Buccaneers

Offense

  1. Tampa Bay looked alert for the screen for most of the game. Good scouting there as that seems to be the primary mechanism the Bears use to slow the rush.
  2. Matt Forte looked great.  He ran with patience and vision and made a lot of yards on his own.   As has been the case this game was about the Bear running game.  Once Forte got going it opened up the pass which the Bears had less success with but which they were able to sue to at least keep moving the ball.
  3. Speaking of the run, nice game Marion Barber.
  4. Tampa’s reaction to Forte’s runing was to do what they should have done from the beginning of the game.  They started by trying to play seven in the box but eventually they started stacking and crashing the line of scrimmage to stop the run and pressure Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.  This made the Bears have to beat them with the pass, something they aren’t as good at.
  5. Roy Williams had a bad drop but otherwise I thought he had a reasonable game.  I particularly liked the block he threw on Forte’s touchdown in the first quarter.  Generally speaking I’m not prepared to be too critical of the receivers this game though they continue to be pedestrian.
  6. I’m sick and tired of seeing the Bears pull lineman in short yardage situations.  Its too slow to develop and it doesn’t work.  I’m assuming this is how Roberto Garza ended up getting shoved into Forte in the end zone on the safety.  Really poor. EDIT: I watched the replay Sunday night and Garza did not pull on the play. He just got knocked back from the center position.
  7. Tampa Bay really didn’t play that well defensively.  They made a lot of mistakes.  I’m thinking in particular of the Barber touchdown run where the Tampa Bay safety got caught in the misdirection and failed to fill his gap.  Things like that are a killer.
  8. Generally speaking I once again thought the offensive line did reasonably well today.  They got less help in pass protection and still generally protected Cutler OK though there were plenty of gaffes to clean up still.  The run blocking was pretty good until the fourth quarter.

Defense

  1. The Bears started in the cover two on first down but they started gradually blitzing more often until the fourth quarter. This actually had an effect on Tamp quarterback Josh Freeman who appeared to me to be looking for it even when it wasn’t there.  About midway through the third quarter the Bears stopped blitzing all together and went into the cover two shell almost entirely.  This made the fact that the Bucs were allowed to come back and make this into a game at the end particularly inexcusable.
  2. There was some poor tackling initially but other than that I didn’t think the Bears looked sluggish or jet lagged.
  3. Freeman really had a bad, bad day. It wasn’t just the interceptions.  His accuracy was awful.  Much of this probably can be chalked up to the pressure the Bears got on him.
  4. Speaking of the pressure, it was pretty good until the fourth quarter.  That’s when the Bears went into their cover two shell and the Tampa offensive line got comfortable.
  5. Chris Harris showed his deficiencies once again but I thought the coverage by the defensive backs was generally good otherwise.Charles Tillman stood out.
  6. Tampa Bay converted too many third downs today.

Miscellaneous

  1. I watched this game at a bar so admittedly it was a little tough to hear them but it seemed like Daryl Johnston, Kenny Albert and Tony Siracusa did a good job. In particular it sounded like Johnston’s thoughts were paralleling my own.
  2. I know you don’t want to kick to Devin Hester but I thought conceding the opening kick off to the forty was taking it too far.
  3. Tampa Bay punter Michael Koenen was great today. He kept pinning Hester up agains the sidelines and limiting his returns and he hit some booming punts.  He and Ronde Barber were maybe Tampa Bay’s best players today.
  4. I was amazed at the number of Tampa Bay injuries today.  I’m tempted to say it had something to do with the way they prepared for the game by staying with free run of a resort but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.  It might have just been bad luck.
  5. I won’t say there were too many drops but the ones the Bears had certainly seemed to hurt.  The drop by Roy Williams leading to another by Barber for a pick six was a particularly damaging sequence.  Again, the Bears have to clean this up.  they can’t have plays like that.
  6. I won’t say that there were too many penalties, either, but they were really damaging to both teams.  There isn’t a worse time to commit a senseless block in the back than on a pick that was taken down to the one yard line.
  7. There were too many turnovers on both sides.  Tampa Bay practically gave the game away with them but the two the Bears had were damaging, too.  Again, one of these days someone is going to kill Cutler on those dangerous throws.  He’s living on the edge.  Nice job by the Bear defense here.
  8. There are a lot of things I could emphasize in this final point.  The running game continuing to carry the Bears offense.  The turnovers the Bears finally seemed to start getting.  The poor cover two defense that led to the Tampa Bay comeback.  But I’m going to choose to focus on something else.  The Bears badly need safety help but when Brandon Merriweather started displaying poor discipline, they benched him.  Aquib Talib is a very talented defensive back for the Bucs who has displayed a lack of discipline on and off the field but the Buccaneers have chosen to continue to play him despite that.  I’d say that it came back to hurt them today as Talib committed a damaging personal foul with 3 and a half minutes to play.  Though Johnston chose to frame it as the Buccaneer defense “bailing Talib out” by holding the Bears to a final field goal, that penalty cost the Buccaneers a minute and a half of valuable time at the end of the game.  The difference between what you can do with 3:30 left and 2:00 left offensively is huge.  Bottom line I’m glad the Bears have taken the stand on Merriweather that they have.  Sometimes the game really does come down to what’s right and what isn’t.

Saying It All About the Draft and Other Points of View

Bears

BEARS: There are several good offensive tackles in this draft, and the Bears should be able to get one with the 29th pick. USC’s Tyron Smith will be long gone, but Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod or Colorado‘s Nate Solder might be on the board. The Bears also could use a defensive tackle — maybe Baylor’s Phil Taylor or North Carolina‘s Marvin Austin — to fill the Tommie Harris void.

I’m astounded at the number of people who seem to think Phil Taylor is a viable fit for the Bear defense. He’s a nose tackle and though I’ve heard he can play the three-technique, I just don’t see it. Could be wrong.

  • Here are the five names Rob Rang at CBSSports.com has on the Bears draft board:

–CB Brandon Harris, Miami (Fla.)
–CB-FS Aaron Williams, Texas
–OT Nate Solder, Colorado
–OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
–OL Danny Watkins, Baylor

Elsewhere

There’s a team in the draft that has a deal on the table — I’m guessing New England (surprise!) — with a team trying to come back into the first round. The deal will net the team dealing the first-rounder the following: a second-round pick in 2011 and a first-round pick in 2012. The deal, I hear, is contingent on the player the trade-up team wants still being there. Could it be Tennessee trading into the bottom of the first round, at 28, to get Jake Locker or Andy Dalton? Stay tuned.

  • Farmer continues with the Vikings needs:

VIKINGS: They need a quarterback and likely have to trade up from No. 12 if they want Auburn’s Cam Newton or Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert. However, there’s a good chance Washington’s Jake Locker, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett will be around. Locker is enticing at that spot. Cornerback is a glaring area of need, too, as is defensive tackle, where the Williams Wall once stood.

I think the chances are better than “good” that those quarterbacks will be around when the Vikings pick. Locker would be a reach – which is not to say the Vikings still wouldn’t do it. But I would hardly call him “enticing” that early.

  • Speaking of Locker, Greg Gabriel at the National Football Post breaks him down and he’s not pulling any punches:

“At the Senior Bowl practices, it was more of the same. He flashed but overall he was indecisive with his reads. He just didn’t trust what he was seeing and would be late getting the ball out of his hand. This caused accuracy problems and also gave defenders time to make plays. Overall, Locker is going to need a lot of time and good coaching. Because of his football character, I would never want to bet against him but he is a long ways away from being a starting NFL quarterback. He will do whatever it takes to improve, but I’m not sure his lack of natural instincts will ever be able to be overcome. Needless to say I would never draft him in the first round. Because of his intangibles I might want to take a chance in the third if I really had a need at the position.”

  • Bill Parcells tells ESPN a little bit about the week of preparation leading to the draft as he previews his draft special tomorrow night:

  • ESPN also does one of its “Sports Science” features on Florida’s Mike Pouncey:

“And this is supposed to surprise me how?”

Marshall was stabbed by his wife Friday.

One Final Thought

Also from King:

“Finally, this Tweet from our friend Greg Cosell of NFL Films, after examining all the quarterbacks in the draft: ‘Very anxious to see where QBs go. A bad draft but many teams need one. Could be lot of reaches. Not a top 20 QB in draft. It’s about hope.’ That just about says it all.

Mike Singletary Will Be a Better Head Coach Next Time Around. And Other Points of View.

Bears

“Among the 12 playoff teams from the 2010 season, the Bears are seventh with 24 drafted players on their roster, four behind the league-leading Packers and Ravens.:

“And while defensive tackle Tommie Harris is the Bears’ only first-round pick to make a Pro Bowl roster since 2002, the club has distinguished itself by scoring in later rounds with stars such as Devin Hester (second round), Lance Briggs (third) and Johnny Knox (fifth).”

“By contrast, the Detroit Lions have no draft picks from 2002 to 2005 on the current roster. Busts during that stretch include quarterback Joey Harrington (third overall, 2002), receiver Charles Rogers (second, 2003), receiver Mike Williams (seventh, 2004) and receiver Mike Williams (10th, 2005).”

“It’s an annual affair as teams work to spread as much misinformation as possible in an effort to mask their true intentions.”

Biggs goes on into a detailed discussion centering on the possibility that the Bears might trade down.

“Here’s where the switch from Greg Gabriel as college scouting director to Tim Ruskell as director of all player personnel [becomes a factor]. Gabriel clearly liked the small-college Texas kids (more than just Texas ones, actually) and it remains to be seen how Ruskell leans on the projects from smaller programs.”

“Williams was moved to left guard out of necessity, not because anyone thought he was a better guard than tackle. [Offensive line coach Mike] Tice and Lovie Smith thought Williams was the best candidate to play the position. In a perfect world though, I think the team would like to give Williams another shot at tackle, probably right tackle, where he has played his best football. Which position he will play depends on other players the Bears acquire.”

Elsewhere

One Final Thought

Pompei answers your questions:

“Do you think Mike Singletary has gotten a bad rap as a coach who isn’t a good X and O guy?”

“-David, Bratislava, Slovakia

“I don’t think it’s fair to judge Singletary as a head coach after a little more than two years with the 49ers. I don’t think anyone could be considered a ‘good X and O guy’ working with the quarterbacks that Singletary had to work with. I’m not sure Singletary was ready to become a head coach when he became one. But knowing him the way I do, I’m sure he has learned from the experience. And if he gets another chance, I’m sure he’ll keep his pants on this time.”

I could not agree more.  Like most NFL fans I loved Singletary’s famous 49ers rant shortly after he took over as head coach.  He also reportedly dropped his pants to make a point during a half-time speech.  But I also was disturbed by this press conference because I knew how wearing a display of that kind of emotion can be week-after-week on the average human object.  Eventually your people tune it out.  I think that’s what happened with the 49ers players.

People love to criticize Lovie Smith for not showing more emotion.  But, as Pompei said, next time Singletary will probably take a lesson from guys like him and keep his pants on.

JaMarcus Russell as an Abject Lesson and Other Points of View

Bears

“On his Twitter account, former Packers public relations director Jeff Blumb said he was hearing through the NFL grapevine that that Packers would be playing the Chicago Bears in the Thursday night opener.

“My question is why?”

“The Bears’ defense was very, very physical. The O-line was not. I believe you can make average talent above average if you make them nasty. Can Mike Tice do that? Shane, Grand Forks, N.D.

“I think a good offensive line coach can improve technique, understanding and cohesion. I don’t think a good coach can make a player “nastier,” to use your term. A blocker’s temperament is something he’s born with. I suppose it can change over time, but if it does it’s probably more about what’s going on inside that player than how he responds to external forces.”

“To this point, there has been a general sense that Angelo — a onetime scouting director himself — has been drawn to individual players he likes more than he has been guided by a larger plan to build a balanced team. Case in point: He has drafted 18 defensive backs and 11 offensive linemen over his tenure. Six of those 11 offensive linemen were taken in the seventh round, part of the reason the Bears are short-handed at the position this offseason.”

“McShay said that he has 28 players with first-round grades in this year’s draft. Not what you want to think about if you’re, say, No. 29. But with the possibilities of reaching, that does not mean there won’t be a first-round talent when the Bears’ turn comes.”

Truth.  Every team sets its board differently based upon circumstances.  Besides, I think we can reasonably expect one or two teams to be taking second round quarterbacks in the second half of the first round, causing other prospects to fall.

  • Mullin had this to say about the new people who are influencing the Bears draft this year.

“Insiders say that [new director of player personnel Tim] Ruskell has shifted some of the often-excessive attention given to prospects targeted in later rounds and turned that on higher-round possibilities.”

“…[Mike] Tice is a player. What that suggests is that the lines will be addressed early and often, and probably pretty well.”

“I would like to see the Bears draft an impact three technique tackle in the first round considering the importance of the position and I’m really high on the DT from Oregon State Stephen Paea.  — Chris P., Virginia Beach, Va

“I think Paea is an interesting prospect, but I’d be surprised if he were taken in the first round, based on the front office men I’ve spoken with. He is projected to be a second- or third-round pick. Paea didn’t play as well last season as he did the year before. He’s also considered a little undersized for the position. He has good initial quickness, is tough and plays with good leverage, but he is not the explosive kind of interior pass rusher who gets double digit sacks in the NFL.”

A number of mock drafts have the Bears reaching for Paea.

“Is there a chance the Bears go after a wide receiver in free agency like Vincent Jackson, Sidney Rice or even Steve Smith? Craig, LaSalle, Ill.

“I would say there is a chance, depending on how the draft goes. If the Bears don’t pick a receiver in the draft, they almost assuredly will be in the market for one in free agency.“

“Of the last 10 players to be chosen with the 29th pick, seven of them became reliable starters. Only one of them has become a star, however.”

  • McShay got together with two scouts, one from the NFC and one from the AFC, to do a mock draft.  I can’t believe they gave the Bears nose guard Phil Taylor.  Admittedly he would have been the best player available and nose guards are extremely valuable – if you are a 3-4 team or if you are running the type of 4-3 that the Vikings have the last few years.  But at least on the surface, that’s an awful fit for the Bears defense.
  • Jeff Dickerson at ESPNChicago.com does a positional analysis of defensive tackles and defensive ends in the draft and Michael C. Wright does the same for the guards and offensive tackles.  I don’t necessarily agree with the grades – especially Wright’s evaluation of the guards – but its a reasonable listing of the relevant players.  The Bears will certainly be looking to upgrade the these positions early.

Elsewhere

  • The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock at ESPN:

  • Mel Kiper and McShay discuss what the teams at the top of the draft should do in the draft:

Pompei certainly says some good things about Newton but, as usual, its words like these that scare the crap out of you if you are drafting in the top 10:

“But he is not a very accurate passer and is an inconsistent decision-maker who played in a spread offense. His release is a little funny. Moreover, he is a one-year wonder after transferring twice and coming out early. Questions abound about his maturity and leadership as critics say he’s a finger-pointer who’s difficult to get along with. Newton comes with a demanding entourage.”

“‘Don’t believe everything you see and hear in the media,’ he said. ‘It’s not reality. I’m not a delicate, little, weeping flower. I’m the tough quarterback who won Super Bowls.’

“Brady says he will, however, continue wearing women’s underwear.”

One Final Thought

JaMarcus Russell is failing at life.  Or something.  Jason Cole at Yahoo Sports tells us that his life coach has fired him:

“[John] Lucas did not return several phone messages left for him, and agents Eric Metz and Ethan Locke did not want to discuss Russell’s condition. However, the sources said Russell’s lack of effort had driven even Lucas, who has made a career of helping athletes and others with drug and addiction problems, to the point of frustration.”

Matt Bowen at the National Football Post thinks Russell’s story should be a lesson to this year’s draft prospects.  It should be a lesson to us all.

“Talent? Everyone has talent or they wouldn’t be wearing a jersey with the NFL shield stitched on the front. What Russell didn’t have was the willingness to improve, to practice his craft and to act like a professional towards the game.”

“I don’t expect to ever see Russell play in the NFL again. That time—and that opportunity—was thrown away. However, the prospects that will soon be celebrating in family rooms across the country next week when they see their name flash across the screen need to take notice of this.

“Because they won’t last if they don’t show up ready to work.”

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

Bears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere

  • The Detroit Lions are on the clock at ESPN:

  • So are the Minnesota Vikings:

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


“Myth Buster

LeGarrette Blount is a budding star

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

One Final Thought

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

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

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

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

Bears

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

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

  • As are the Chargers:

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

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

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

One Final Thought

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

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

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

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

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

Five Apps Every Sports Fan Needs and Other Points of View

Bears

“Asked if [Jay] Cutler would still be a Bronco if he were in charge at the time, Elway said, ‘There’s a good possibility, yeah.

“’I would say that. But I don’t know. I wasn’t in the middle of that. I didn’t know Jay real well.

“’But I would have done everything I can, especially when you have a talent like you have in Jay. Those guys don’t come around very often.’”

  • ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert answers your questions: including this one about whether the Bears need for a receiver:

“melliott74 writes: I remember a few years ago the Steelers were looking for a bigger receiver, and they drafted a ‘steal’ in the 2nd round named Limas Sweed. You’re welcome to take him.

“Kevin Seifert: Well, to be fair, Sweed’s career has been derailed for reasons other than being a big receiver who didn’t play that way. Most notably, he ruptured an Achilles tendon last spring.

But I understand what you’re saying. As they prepare for the draft and free agency, I don’t think the Bears should over-prioritize height for receivers. All I’m saying is that coach Lovie Smith is right to note that he doesn’t have a big receiving threat.

Tight end Greg Olsen could fill that role sometimes, but it’s not the same as having a speed-based threat who can ‘go up and get it.'”

Elsewhere

“Scouts say as many as nine outside linebackers are getting no worse than third-round grades from most teams, which is astounding.”

“I would say that one thing you definitely miss is that team camaraderie.  There’s a few guys that come out here daily, so we get a little bit of it. But it’s not the same as a traditional offseason, where it’s 50 guys out there and you’re all working towards one purpose. For the most part, though, we’ve been pushing each other very well.”

“The Jerry 2.0 years started with seemingly effectiveness, as he has retained many of the player templates installed in the [Bill] Parcells years.  Every player from Dallas ’08 draft remains in the league and the one player Dallas cut, 6th rounder Erik Walden, just earned a Super Bowl ring with the Packers.

“That said, the high-round gambling which dogged Jerry 1.0 [between Jimmy Johnson and Parcells] appears to be creeping back into the Cowboys drafts.  Martellus Bennett is a physically imposing, but equally immature tight end, a fact the ’08 Hard Knocks made plain.  Bennett continues to progress slowly, but thus far represents a poor return for a 2nd round pick.”

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock at ESPN:

  • Of interest to Bears fans is this entry in the Whispers feature at Pro Football Weekly:

“Not many people expect the Patriots to keep both their first-round picks (Nos. 17 and 28). The Pats also start the second round with the 33rd overall selection. The 28th appears to be the one for sale, and a report surfaced from the owners meeting in New Orleans that the Chargers could be a suitor. The Patriots have more holes to fill than you would think for a team coming off a 14-2 record, with a young defense and an aging offensive line. However, that shouldn’t end the Draft Day tradition of Bill Belichick making a deal and trading an early pick for a future pick.”

The Bears have the 29th pick, the one immediately after the relevant Patriots spot.

One Final Thought

This time of year the news in the press (and subsequently much of what you find referenced in this blog) is dominated by what people say about the draft.  So these statements by Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel in the National Football Post have particular relevance, especially to the teams fans:

“I used to tell people in the last few weeks leading up to the draft that the first thing I have to do when the draft is over is go to confession and beg for forgiveness for all the lies I told the previous two months.”

“While I was with the Bears, I would change things every year so the media could not be certain as to why we were doing things. One year I may bring in for visits many of the players we were interested in and the next year not bring in any and then the next year only guys we may want as potential free agents. Of course then there were some years when you would bring in the big “smoke screen” candidate only to let other clubs “think” we were interested in that player. I felt you could never have a pattern on how you did business; you have to change from year to year especially when dealing with the draft. If I was ever asked about a certain player’s injury, I would always say that it was a concern even if it wasn’t. If that answer would throw off what a few clubs thought we may want to do then it was the right answer.

“The bottom line is the only things that you can really believe is what you know to be true.”

Mike Tice Makes Nice and Other News

Bears

  • Packers nickel back Sam Shields insists he’ll play Sunday but he currently can run on a knee which has a mystery injury (via Tom Silverstein and Gary D’Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).  Safety Atari Bigby has been ruled out for the game.
  • The Bears can probably expect a steady dose of full back John Kuhn this week.  Kuhn was the subject of this interesting feature from the AP.  Kuhn has been coming on since Ryan Grant went down for the Packers and, as Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune has pointed out, the Bears typically struggle with bigger, more physical backs.
  • It appears that the Bears are going to have to deal with more than the pass rush of outside linebacker Clay Mathews.  Mathews comments via Pete Dougherty at the Green Bay Press Gazette:

“[Packers nose tackle] B.J. [Raji] is really starting to come into his own now. Sacks are like a drug, you want more. B.J.’s starting to get a taste of it, so he’s turning into a pretty good pass rusher.”

Add the currently injured Cullen Jenkins to the mix when the playoffs start and the Packers are going to be even more of a hand full.  Jenkins is unlikely to start the Beas game but he hasn’t been ruled out.

  • Matt Bowen at the National Football Post gives his opinion on how much the Bears starters should play from the point of view of an ex-player.
  • Despite cries of “no respect” from players and fans, the Bears improvement on offense is starting to get some national attention.  Gregg Rosenthal at profootballtalk.com had some good things to say.
  • Biggs points out this interesting fact:

“Veterans Chris Harris and Danieal Manning are expected to start Sunday at Lambeau Field and mark the first time the Bears have had safeties paired for an entire season since Tony Parrish and Mike Brown in 2001.”

Elsewhere

In fairness to the Packers fans, the negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement adds uncertainty to pretty much all off-season activities this year.

  • Greg Bishop at the New York Times emphasizes a dilemma that the Jets face which Bear fans will certainly recognize.
  • Vikings defensive tackle Pat Williams gave his always unique take on the movement of the Eagles game from Sunday to Tuesday to Tom Powers at the Pioneer Press:

“‘This was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life,’ Pat Williams said. ‘It was b.s. Play the damn game. We should have played on Sunday.’

“Pat was getting agitated. He’s spent the past four days eating Philly cheesesteaks and hanging around the team hotel.

“‘Fan safety. Fan safety!’ he said. ‘The fans all left. They ain’t no good, anyway.'”

“It starts with the head coach, as Andy Reid likes to say. That is more than boilerplate this time around. The Eagles came out being too cute by half — a shovel pass to DeSean Jackson, really? — against a team they should have been able to dispatch without resorting to such chicanery.”

Easy to see who former Vikings head coach Brad Childress learned to formulate his offensive game plans from.

“We’ve said for weeks that it’s dangerous to just throw away Kubiak’s effective offense when it has so much continuity.  Phillips may not be a great head coach, but he brings a lot to the table as a defensive play-caller.”

I couldn’t gee more.  Some guys just aren’t cut out to be head coaches.  In truth, Kubiac may be one of them, too.  But he’ll be giving himself a better chance with Phillips being in charge of the defense.

One Final Thought

For the first time I can remember, maybe the first time ever, Mike Tice has something nice to say publicly about pass-happy Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz.  From Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“A lot of credit goes to Mike to be able to adjust on the go and call the game a little differently [since the bye week]. He’s done a great, great job. He’s really helped us get to where we are.”

Its snowing in hell.