Wild Draft Rumors, Debatable Needs at Wide Receiver and Running Back and Other Points of View.

Bears

“Whether the Bears address their offensive line on the first or second day of the draft, or both, the football absolute at work is the need to get the pick right. Very, very right.

“This is beyond the obvious need to acquire talent now. It involves not having to go after the same position again and again if there’s a miss near the top of the draft. Because the cost of a failed pick ripples into subsequent drafts, as the Bears have found too often.”

“Replacing players because of age or free-agency departures is part of the deal. But needing to address the same position year after year is a hidden disaster.”

I’ve often said that the Bears need impact players – and they do.  But even more than that the player needs to be a solid hit.  It has to be a guy you can plug in to a position that you can now forget about as a need for years to come.

I don’t think the Bears can afford to go with a boom or bust guy here.

“Stubbornly refusing to attempt to upgrade the position last offseason, the Bears probably will take their chances once again with [Johnny] Knox, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, and whoever else they can muster.  They shouldn’t.”

“The Bears have do have their share of shortcomings at wide receiver. But QB Jay Cutler is capable of making each and every one of their pass catchers better – as long as he has an offensive line that can protect him. That’s the Bears’ No. 1 priority in the draft.”

Along with virtually everyone else I’m inclined to agree with LeGere.  I don’t like the receivers anymore than Florio does (or LeGere for that matter).  But I’d put wide receiver third or fourth on the list after upgrading at the line of scrimmage.

  • Florio also thinks running back is a need ahead of cornerback.  Though I have no problem with the Bears upgrading at the position, Chester Taylor’s contract is such that he’s going to get another year to show he can perform.  The Bears took Harvey Unga in the supplemental draft last year and probably still want to give Garrett Wolfe and Kahlil Bell their shot to compete for jobs this sumer.  If they see someone they really like, they could take him late but otherwise I think the Bears are full up here.
  • Michael C. Wright at ESPNChicago.com talks about the Bears need at center.  He lists the top 20 prospects at the position and the round they are projected to go in, giving an overall draft positional grade of “C-“.  But Wright doesn’t account for most of the guards that are thought to be center prospects as well, including Florida’s Mike Pouncey.  Add them into the mix and the Bears could pick up a good one if they choose to go that route.
  • Though its unlikely the Beas will take one very high, it is possible they will go receiver somewhere in the draft.  Matt Waldman, writing for the New York Times, profiles his third and fourth best receivers, Randall Cobb and Greg Little, respectively:

  • More trouble for South Florida defensive back Mistral Raymond, a potential Bear target.  Via Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune.

Elsewhere

“Projecting and developing drafted quarterbacks is one of the worst things the Raiders do as a franchise. Al Davis hasn’t nailed one since 1968, when he took quarterbacks in the first two rounds with second-round pick Ken Stabler (No. 58 overall) quickly surpassing first-round pick Eldredge Dickey (No. 25) and leading the franchise to its first Super Bowl title in addition to winning the Most Valuable Player award.”

  • Todd McShay and Mel Kiper talk second tier quarterbacks on ESPN.  It can’t be said enough that these evaluations are critical for the Bears as teams may look to trade up either with them or in front of them to get into the first round to take one:

“’His motion was off [last year],’ the NFC executive said. ‘His release point was all over the place. So, guess what? Now, it’s pretty good. He worked on it, fixed it in the offseason.’

One Final Thought

As high as Pelissero thinks Locker may go, it may not be high enough.  As McShay talks draft in this video he says he thinks the Titans at eight might take Locker ahead of Minnesota.  He also thinks the Bengals might draft Julio Jones over A. J. Green in the #4 slot.  Those would be some shocking picks:

Illinois Governor Has Not Paid Off on Bet and Other Points of View

Bears

“It obviously depends on how far they trade down and how motivated their trading partner is to move up. But in speculating about what type of compensation the Bears would get in exchange for the 29th pick, we can look back at what occurred in last year’s draft when two picks in the same vicinity were dealt. The Ravens traded the 25th pick to the Broncos in exchange for selections in the second (43rd overall), third (70) and fourth (114) rounds. The Vikings traded the 30th pick along with a fourth-rounder (128) to the Lions in exchange for choices in the second (34), fourth (100) and seventh (214) rounds.”

UCLA safety Rahim Moore is getting a lot of attention from a number of NFC teams. I’m hearing both the Cowboys and Bears have a lot of interest in the center field standout and he could be an option for both in round two.

Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue DE— I’ve seen him taken by the Bears in at least one mock draft

Christian Ponder, Florida State QB – my gut feeling is that someone is going to trade up to take Ponder.  The Bears are a possible trading partner but will also benefit if someone in front of them trades down, leaving another good non-quarterback to fall.

Mike Pouncey, Florida C/G – there’s almost no way Pouncey falls to the Bears as he continues to rise up boards.

N.F.L. Draft: Torrey Smith, 5th-Ranked Receiver – NYTimes.com

Matt Waldman, writing for the New York Times, is reviewing the top five players by position.  It highly iunlikely the Bears will go wide receiver in the first round but the second is not out of the question.  Here is the profile for Torrey Smith, his fifth ranked receiver.

  • Greg Gabriel at the National Football Post breaks down Iowa quarterback Ricki Stanzi.  The Bears will probably draft a developmental quarterback and if Stanzi falls far enough, he’s a distinct possibility.

Elsewhere

“It’s a different way of thinking about line play.  How much has Dallas embraced it?   If you match this philosophy up with players visiting Valley Ranch this past week, it seems the Cowboys are rather warm to the approach.”

I also have agreed with this assessment.

  • Because of the success of Ndamukong Suh and to a lesser extent Gerald McCoy from last year’s draft, many assume defensive line is a good direction to go in at the top of the draft.  Not necessarily so says Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“Of the [last] 15 defensive linemen who have gone in the top six overall, only five have made at least one Pro Bowl. Of the seven defensive ends, the last four are disappointments headlined by Vernon Gholston, who can be called a bust after three underwhelming seasons with the Jets.”

“Complicating matters this year is the fact that without a CBA agreement teams won’t be allowed to sign undrafted free agents right away.”

“I’ve been told that means if a team needs to fill a position – like fullback, safety or nose tackle with a youngster to develop – they will have to draft him in the later rounds, using one of their sixth or seventh-round picks.

“I’ve been warned this could alter the approach of the late round selection, preventing teams from drafting the best available player (no matter what’s already on their roster) because they are addressing needs in this new, unchartered era of the NFL.”

“A mini-trend this year, according to several front office men, is that teams are not giving prospects a particular grade just because those players are ‘supposed to’ have that grade, as per the rest of the league. It seems that teams are more inclined to go out on a limb with players, even if their thinking is unconventional. The result could be more surprise picks, especially towards the end of the first round.”

  • Matthew Cammarata at the Detroit Free Press thinks the three most likely picks for the Lions at 13 will be cornerback Prince Amukamara and offensive tackles Anthony Castonzo and Tyron Smith.  As I said yesterday, there’s a wide disparity of opinion on whether the Lions actually need a tackle of not and one of the more interesting questions in this draft will be what the Lions will do if Amukamara isn’t there.

You can count Tim Twentyman at the Detroit News as one who thinks offensive tackle in the first round probably shouldn’t be an option:

“By most accounts, this year’s crop of tackles is deep with first-round talent but short on a sure thing.

“Read most of the scouting reports on these tackles and you’ll see the words ‘potential”’ and ‘project.”’ There aren’t any guys that knock my socks off.”

“Some fans don’t want to hear it, but left tackle Jeff Backus is coming off two of the best seasons in his career. Coach Jim Schwartz called last season’s performance Pro-Bowl worthy.”

“Southern Cal OT Tyron Smith is getting a lot of interest from the Cowboys at nine, but I am also hearing they like Missouri DE Aldon Smith a lot and would love to pair him opposite DeMarcus Ware off the edge.

If Smith is there for the Cowboys I’ve got a feeling he is a virtual lock here.  They needs a tackle as Marc Colombo is on his last legs and Smith is the consensus as the best tackle in the draft.

“I know they’ve had a lot of talk about the quarterback situation here in Miami, we’ve had a lot of talk about it in Charlotte too.  It’s all going to boil down to quarterbacks. in this league, the running game is predicated on whether you have a quarterback or not. If you don’t have a quarterback, teams will stack the box and they force you to do what you do best. …

“It’s basically going to boil down to who has the better quarterback, or who’s making the conscious effort to go out and find a quarterback or mold a quarterback they already have into a championship caliber quarterback.”


One Final Thought

Apparently Illinois governor Pat Quinn is on the border of welshing on his bet with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. From Jim Singl at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Brad Biggs at the National Football Post:

“So, that means Quinn has yet to show up decked out in his best green and gold gear at a Wisconsin food pantry. What gives? Is he weaseling out, Singl asked?

“’No, no, no, absolutely not,’ Quinn’s spokesman Grant Klinzman said. ‘He fully intends to live up to the terms of the bet.’

“That’s nice. Was Quinn planning on settling up anytime soon or does the NFL lockout have him really down in the dumps?

“’He’s a very, very busy guy,’ Klinzman said. ‘I think you guys have been pretty busy, as well.’”

 

Bears in a Bind if Titans Try to Take Mike Tice

Both Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times and Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune are reporting that the Tennessee Titans might have an interest in hiring Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice as their offensive coordinator.

Some interesting aspects to this:

1)  New head coach Mike Munchak was the offensive line coach there and he would certainly see Tice’s value to the team as a replacement for himself.  However Tice’s value as a coordinator is debatable.

Though he is definitely a leader of men and he would make a fine head coach, there’s been very little evidence that he would make a good X’s and O’s man.  He seemed to recognize the value of the tight ends that he had in Minnesota and he knew how to use them.  But I’m guessing that he had very little to do with designing any kind of a complex passing game involving multiple route combinations beyond creating some individual mismatches.

2)  Lovie Smith and the Bears must give the Titans permission to contact Tice about the job.  Ordinarily this is a no brainer.  Smith has always been supportive of assistants who were seeking to advance and it would take an extraordinary circumstance, indeed, to prevent him from doing that.  This might be that circumstance.

The Bears offensive line is a work in progress.  Tice has been crucial to the training of young players such as J’Marcus Webb and Lance Louis.  To lose him now would be a blow to thier development.  In addition, the Bears are likely to add at least two more linemen to the mix over the next few months, at least one of whom may be a draft pick.  Those linemen will need to be indoctrinated in the Bears offensive system.

But I don’t think that these factors would ultimately cause Smith to hold Tice back if it weren’t for one more major difficulty, as Biggs describes it:

“In mid-February, it would be difficult for the Bears to find a replacement for Tice, who Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo have called one of the league’s best line coaches. Most of the coach shuffling is complete so the pool of candidates isn’t deep.”

This may be part of the reason why the New York Jets denied the Titans permission to talk to offensive line coach/assistant head coach Bill Callahan.  Tice is not an assistant head coach.

3)  The fact that the Titans are looking to raid the Bears coaching staff rather than one of the Super Bowl staffs is as much of an indictment of Angelo as it is a compliment to Tice.

The Bears offensive line was roundly criticized and was generally believed to be one  of the worst in the league.  Its obvious that the Titans believe that Tice worked miracles with a talent depleted line and this offer is a general acknowledgement of this fact.  Teams know that if Tice had any players to work with, the Bears offensive line would have been one of the best units, if not the best unit, in the NFL.  Tice should be proud.  Angelo should be ashamed.

Perhaps the Bears can offer Tice an assistant head coaching position and a bump in pay for him to stay.  But if not, I think Smith knows what the right thing to do is.  Generally speaking, you want the people around you to be happy.  Good people do what they can to make that happen.  If nothing else, on a professional level you want to make it so that other coaches and players around the league want to work for you.  Long-term, that’s how you become the best.

Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy was roundly criticized by this blogger when he held quarterbacks coach Tom Clements back from interviewing for the Bear offensive coordinator position.  I would hate to see the Bears sink so low.

Wide Receiver Seems to Be the Bears Issue of the Day and Other Points of View

Chicago Bears

  • David Kaplan and Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune talk to former Bears and Colts general manager Bill Tobin about how he went about drafting two members of this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class: Richard Dent and Marshall Faulk.
  • Former NFL safety and current Chicago Tribune contributor Matt Bowen‘s needs for the Bears:  offensive tackle, cornerback, wide receiver.  The Bears surely do need all three but they probably see defensive tackle as a more critical need than both cornerback and wide receiver.  Probably.
  • Looks like Todd McShay agrees with me.  Maybe I should reconsider my position.  Via ESPN’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert.
  • Having said that, Brad Biggs, also at the Tribune, continues his excellent positional review of the Bears, this time with the wide receivers:

“The Bears continue to value their receivers more than others do. They lack a difference-maker at the position and if they want to see Cutler flourish, it’s a position that will have to be addressed.”


Elsewhere

Kevin Van Valkenburg, Baltimore Sun

Here is why there is no chance NFL owners and the NFL Players Association work out a new labor agreement by March 3: It takes only nine owners to shoot down whatever proposal both sides come up with.

This isn’t just a labor dispute in the eyes of some owners. It’s a battle for the future of the sport. Rich men do not like parting with their money, especially the richest and most eccentric of the bunch, and they can (and most likely will) block whatever proposal the two sides put together in the next three weeks until they get exactly the deal they want.

I get a kick out of it when people say that the people involved in this are “too smart” to let it go into the season next year.  If the baseball strikes of the seventies, eighties and nineties taught us anything, its that this is definitely not true.

  • Chris Mortenson at ESPN talks about the labor impasse.  Note that he thinks that the current labor deal has to be allowed to expire to get it out of the jurisdiction of the federal courts in Minneapolis.  Very interesting but not surprising.  The owners are not happy with judge David Doty.

Mortenson comes through with more details in this article.

“’Typically in the staff meeting after the season concludes, I pretty much a have the whole season laid out for our coaching staff,’ McCarthy said. ‘That’s not the case this year.’

“As a result, McCarthy said he and the staff have taken what he called a ‘prepare for the known’ approach to the offseason. Since the annual NFL Scouting Combine is being held as scheduled in Indianapolis in two weeks, and the 2011 NFL Draft is set for April 23-25, the staff is focusing on those set-in-stone events. McCarthy said the assistant coaches are off until Feb. 21, then will have some more time off after the scouting combine. They’ll then return to work to do their scheme evaluation work the first two weeks of March, another annual offseason ritual.”

  • ESPN’s Trent Dilfer thinks more of quarterback Cam Newton than I do.

I’ll give Dilfer his due as a former NFL quarterback.  But I think the guys at Scouts Inc., who have Newton as the 28th rated prospect and who have undoubtedly studied a lot of tape rather than simply judging him based upon a workout, probably have a better handle on him.

  • McShay talks about his mock draft below.

One Final Thought

The Sports Pickle reports that the NFL has made an interesting offer to those who were not allowed to sit in the seats they paid for at Super Bowl XLV.

Bookies Take a Bath on the Super Bowl and Other Points of View

Bears

Elsewhere

  • Michael Wilbon at ESPN talks about watching the Super Bowl at the White House with Bears fan Barak Obama.  Oh, yeah.  He’s the President of the United States, as well.

“The worst-case scenario is the type of grudge match that wiped out the 1994 World Series and the 2004-05 NHL season. Although possible, there are too many billions at stake for the sides not to eventually come to their senses.”

Baseball fans said the same  thing in 1994.

I’ve gotten a definite impression that there are a least some owners who are more interested in breaking the union than getting an agreement.  I get the impression that DeMaurice Smith is more interested in making sure he doesn’t give much if anything in his first negotiation than he is in looking after the best interests of the game and, therefore, the players.  Its a bad combination.

I’m not holding my breath waiting for the next season to start.

“Chargers: Is this their last season in San Diego? They are the clubhouse favorite to relocate to Los Angeles, and the NFL will be looking to move back into the nation’s second-largest market once the CBA is resolved. If the Chargers can’t get a stadium deal in San Diego — and the prospects of one are looking bleaker by the day — they will be looking to exercise the escape clause in their Qualcomm Stadium lease.”

I know that the Chargers are only one of many teams that have talked of relocating.  But I think this one might be the real thing.  There’s absolutely no way they’re going to get a stadium in San Diego.

  • Mike Munchak in the Titan’s new head coach:

“With players, the way we look at it when we’re going to new teams is the city appeal, how we feel about the location, and then it’s, ‘What was it like when I played that team?’  Certain teams you play against, you’re like, ‘Them guys were soft. I don’t want to be part of that organization. I don’t want to play for them.’ Or, ‘They were arguing on the sideline, I don’t want to be part of that type of disruption.’

“‘I know there’s some teams that we played, some guys were like, ‘It’d be all right to go to war with those guys. They show up on game day. They show up to fight.’ And that’s what we do.'”

I think the NFC North as a group holds up pretty well in this respect.  The Vikings, perhaps, didn’t show as much fight as you’d like to see.  Other than that, the the division has some pretty tough, high football character teams.

  • Charlie Walters at the Pioneer Press thinks the Vikings are looking at last place next year.  I’m not so sure.  There’s a lot of talent on that team.  If Les Frazier gets them to play like they did in 2009 with the addition of even a decent quarterback, they’ll be as dangerous as anyone.
  • On the other hand, Jeremy Fowler, also at the Pioneer Press, points out that DT Pat Williams is unlikely to be back.  If DE Ray Edwards leaves via free agency and DT Kevin Williams actually has to serve a suspension stemming from the Star Caps case, they could have some trouble on the defensive line next year.  That’s the strength of their team.
  • According to Geoff Mosher at the Delaware News Journal, the Eagles have shot down a rumor making the rounds through cyberspace that Jon Gruden, a former Super Bowl champion coach and current ESPN analyst, would be replacing Andy Reid as Eagles head coach.  Via benmaller.com.
  • Those who claim that sports books always go with the spread that gives them a 50:50 split, listen up.  The Las Vegas casinos as a whole made less than a million dollars on the Super Bowl with some suffering rare losses.  The books who lost stuck with the “dead number” not moving thier odds despite heavy betting on the Green Bay Packers.  The strategy is risky but it maximizes profits if the initial number turns out to be the right one.
  • George Bretherton at The New York Times thinks the Steelers should have run the ball more in the second half of Super Bowl XLV.  I generally agree, especially as he has laid it out.  But more generally the Steelers made it very tough on themselves throughout the game with harmful penalties that consistently put them in holes they had to try to pass their way out of.
  • The Sports Pickle tracked the NFL’s official Facebook page during Super Bowl XLV.

One Final Thought

Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic can’t understand people who don’t watch the Super Bowl.  Its really simple.  They haven’t discovered television.  Or fire.

Super Bowl XLV Still Hasn’t Happened Yet and Other Points of View

Bears

“If you want to criticize something, let’s talk about the offensive line, let’s ask the decision-makers up in the front office in Chicago, and I know they’re going to hate me for this, but why is Jay Cutler and Matt Forte playing behind that? I’m not going to get on those guys, because you can’t even move outside until you fix inside.”

Elsewhere

“The key for the Steelers is their pre-snap disguise. Free safety Ryan Clark will show a single high safety look (Cover 1 to the offense) while strong safety Troy Polamalu will move to his blitz alignment and time the snap of the ball. What the Steelers create is a two-on-one blitz versus the running back in protection (strong safety and nickel back) with the outside linebacker “scooping” to attack the left tackle. This blitz will test the protection schemes of the Packers’ offensive line and could get a free runner at [Green Bay quarterback Aaron] Rodgers‘ blind side.”

“The Packers need to attack Ben Roethlisberger from his right side to push him left. That means the Steelers quarterback will have to throw across his body when he scrambles loose, rather than setting up in a more natural stance and finding his receivers.”

Hines Ward recalled how Tomlin initially instituted dress codes and included more contact than an MMA fight during his first training camp.

“‘He was very militant,’ Ward said. ‘Some veteran guys challenged his authority, and they’re no longer here. The guys that he kept, we bought into his belief and his system.'”

“When you walk in our building and you have pictures of Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Mike Holmgren — our history is among us all the time,” he said. “It creates a standard and expectation that fits right along with our visions.”

“Roethlisberger will be without Maurkice Pouncey, the outstanding rookie center who suffered a high ankle sprain early in the AFC championship game against the Jets. The Steelers switched to backup center Doug Legursky, a second-year player who finished the game.

“‘The NFL is made up of lots of players like him — guys who somehow got an opportunity and seized it,’ Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. ‘We’re completely confident (in him). That’s why we’re not changing what we do.'”

“The Packers and Steelers are two reasons you shouldn’t get too enamored with free agents. Neither team usually is a player in the free agent market, and both are better because of it.”

Matt Cassel has Drew Brees to thank for his success last season. Cassel’s coach Todd Haley made Cassel watch a lot of tape on Brees’ footwork and his pass drops, and rode Cassel hard about trying to do it the way Brees does it. Brees is known for having the best footwork in the league, and Haley wants Cassel as close to that as possible. Haley asks some of the same things of Cassel that Sean Payton asks of Brees. Haley and Payton were co-workers in Dallas.”

“Even based solely on the regular season, I thought McCarthy should have been runner up [to Bill Belichick].”

I think McCarthy should have won.

“You don’t hire an offensive or defensive guy. You hire a leader.  That’s the No. 1 thing to look for is a leader, someone to stand in front of the room, command the respect of the organization and obviously the players, and somebody the owner feels good about.

“Because wherever their expertise is, they have to be able to hire around it. So No. 1 is leadership, the second thing is the ability to communicate, and the third for me is to hire and delegate.”

“ARLINGTON, TX—Despite the overwhelming media hype, countless interviews with players and coaches, and considerable speculation about the big game since the conference champions earned Super Bowl berths nearly two weeks ago, Super Bowl XLV still hasn’t happened yet. “It feels like it should have happened last Sunday, but it didn’t,” Ohio-area football fan Jared Britton told reporters Friday, adding that instead of the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl happened.”

One Final Thought

Football con man Michael Vick won the AP Comeback Player of the Year award despite having attended a party just last June at which a man was shot in cold blood.  I’m wondering if he still gets this award if it had been a dog.

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

Bears

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

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

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

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

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


Elsewhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Final Thought

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

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

Andy Reid’s Run in Philadelphia May Be Nearing an End and Other Points of View

Bears

  • I’m sure all will join me in expressing our sympathies to the McCaskey family upon the death of Tim, second son of Ed and Virginia.  He is in a better place.
  • It seemed like every week I was talking about how the Bears would have liked to have gotten more turnovers.  Despite that, according to Larry Mayer at chicagobears.com, it turns out they did pretty well in that department.  At 35 take aways they generated the second most in Lovie Smith‘s tenure as head coach.  Not surprisingly they generated the most in 2006 at 44.

Elsewhere

“‘As soon as [Vernon Davis] catches the touchdown,’ York said, ‘you might want to see where Vernon grew up, or hear the story of him being raised by his grandmother. Maybe you want to see his highlight reel from high school. ‘”

Or you might want to see an ad.  Odds are good you’ll get one.

  • The Titans are interviewing offensive line coach Mike Munchak for the head coaching position today.  Indications are that the Titans want to make a quick hire, possibly by the end of the week.  That would be bad news for those of us hoping to get Dom Capers out of Green Bay.  It sounds like the Titans are unlikely to wait for him to be available to interview.
  • Omar Kelly at the South Florida Sun Sentinel reviews some of the top quarterbacks in the draft that you may not know much about. The video below is of the rapidly rising Colin Kaepernick out of Nevada. I can’t help but notice that the vast majority of the throws in this video are to wide open receivers.
  • Chad Ochocinco/Johnson is doing everything he can to get out of Cincinnati. This time he’s tweeting about owner Mike Brown. Via Gregg Rosenthal at profootballtalk.com.
  • Mike Florio, also at profootballtalk.com, suggests the possibility of the league declaring an impasse rather than staging a lockout on March 4.
  • Judy Batista at The New York Times does as good of a job as anyone as she reviews the current state of negotiations on the CBA.  None of it has the spice of Florio’s speculations, though.
  • Jeff McClain at the Philedelphia Enquirer makes the case that head coach Andy Reid is running out of time. I’ve been wondering about this for a while. The reversal of the decision to start Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb came a bit too suddenly for my comfort. My gut feeling was at the time that the order came from above and I’m thinking it hasn’t been the only one issued.
  • Speaking of Vick, Adam Schefter at ESPN is reporting that the Eagles will be placing the franchise tag on him while listening to offers for Kolb:

One Final Thought

Kelly also describes the bind that Steven Ross, who to my eye is on his way to becoming one of the worst owners in pro sports, has put Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland in.

“Exactly how would you approach satisfying Ross, a glorified and powerful fan (he’s really just like you, just in power), while making sure you do what’s in the best interest of the football side?

“Deuces.”

For those who manage people for a living, this is a prime example of how you don’t handle things.

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Twitter, Twitter and More Twitter and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Fred Mitchell and David Kaplan at the Chicago Tribune overheard this:

“‘Times have changed since I played. … Abe Gibron (former coach) and I used to argue when I was nearing the end of my career and I was playing on one leg,’ former Bear Dick Butkus told us. ‘He’d say, ‘Dick, you are better on one leg than the backup is on two.’ That was silly though.'”

Maybe.

“I’d welcome some conversation about how the Bears are going to make him better because the Cutler who now has played five NFL seasons isn’t good enough.”

How about they schedule surgery at Northwestern.  They can install a brain and heart that has the desire to do the tough things necessary to correct those problems.  Oops.  I said “tough” didn’t I?  Sorry, Dan.

  • And yet the Cutler talk still continues.  This time its John Madden on Sirius NFL Radio via Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com.  Like Cutler, Madden’s grandson has Type I diabetes:

“In defending Cutler, Madden was passionate, emotional, and as angry as we’ve ever heard him.

“’I’ve been in football for over 50 years,’ Madden said, prefacing his remarks.  ‘I’ve never questioned a player’s toughness.  I never have.  Whether it was in coaching, broadcasting, whatever.’”

Which is, of course, the most disturbing point.  Only Cutler seems to be receiving this kind of abuse from his peers and it may reflect the deeper problems that he has as a player.

Which means its tough to just set aside the Cutler talk when that talk and the poor play are likely connected.  Again, sorry, Dan.

Here is a recording of the interview:

  • Michael Wilbon agrees with McNeil and Tony Kornheiser calls Twitter a “plague” as PTI debates:

“When the season is over and they don’t have to gear so much of their focus toward game planning, Mike Martz and Jay Cutler could devote significant time to working on mechanics, particularly when it comes to Cutler’s footwork. Martz recently said Cutler has improved in that area since the start of the season, but he admitted that he’s not where his quarterback needs to be yet. ‘I think some of the footwork (criticism) — and (Cutler) knows that — is fair. You can’t go through a lifetime with those kinds of habits and just fix them in one season,’ Martz said.”

Elsewhere

  • Jeff Fisher is out as coach of the Titans.  This is surprising after owner Bud Adams appeared to have chosen to keep Fisher of quarterback Vince Young, who Fisher has problems with.

It would not surprise me if we learned in the coming days that Fisher forced his way out.  Adams is generally believed to be one of the worst owners in the NFL.

“New Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on how he feels about Steven Jackson as the Rams’ primary back: ‘I know from competing against him that he’s very unique and multitalented. He can create long plays, takes great care of the offense. … I can’t wait to get started to work with him.'”

Cynics will recall that he said the same thing about Cutler when he came to Denver.

“Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver has said that he plans to sell the team eventually but he is not thinking about doing so right now. Some of the Jaguars’ offseason moves, however, hint at the possibility that Weaver is planning to sell after a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached. We’re hearing that Weaver’s reluctance to fire head coach Jack Del Rio and his refusal to extend the contracts of the coaching staff could be a sign that the owner is trying to clear the decks before a potential sale.”

I might add that a move to Los Angeles is always a possibility after any sale of th team.

One Final Thought

On a note related to the last item above this comes via Florio.  Packer linebacker Nick Barnett says he wishes he hadn’t popped off via Twitter about not being initially scheduled to be in the team’s Super Bowl photo.  Coach Mike McCarthy called it a “poor decision”.  Via Florio.

I’m constantly amazed by the people in all walks of life who believe that Facebook is “personal” and don’t think that they are “on the record” when they post things to the Internet.  Even people who put things in emails and are shocked when you pull them out and remind them of what was said.

Bottom line, when you put things in writing, you have to assume that the world is going to see it.  And that means you’d better think about it and you’d better mean what you say at the time.  Otherwise regret is sure to follow.

Albert Haynesworth Vs. the Bears’ Locker Room. Which Would Win?

Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune also answers this intriguing question:

“With O-Line and D-Line being the Bears’ biggest areas of need this offseason, what are the chances, CBA issues aside, they try to acquire Albert Haynesworth?… What are your thoughts on him Rick, Springfield, Mo.

“I don’t think that’s a bad idea. But in order for it to work, the trade compensation for Haynesworth would have to be reasonable. You wouldn’t want to pay a premium for a player with a history like Haynesworth’s. And the Bears need their draft picks. So far, the Redskins have wanted too much for Haynesworth. There wasn’t a team in the entire league willing to meet their asking price, which was rumored to be a second-round pick. But I could see a scenario in which Rod Marinelli revives Haynesworth’s career and makes him a great player again. If Haynesworth plays like he is capable, and [Julius] Peppers plays like he did this year, they could form a lethal combination.”

My first reaction when I read this question was “absolutely not”.  But as I thought about it more I have to admit that the idea is intriguing.

Haynesworth got along OK in Tennessee before signing with Washington.  The Bears are a high character team and it is possible that they could lift him up rather than have him drag them down.  Factor in the idea that this is exactly the kind of defense that Haynesworth wants to play in – one where he can rush the passer and accumulate statistics – and he would certainly be motivated.  He would make an excellent three technique tackle.

It really all depends upon the gut feeling that coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo have about how Haynesworth would affect the locker room.  And the other way around.