“Race”-ial Profiling: Under the Radar Phiosophy Minimizes Distractions, Provides a Path to Success

Dan Pompei answers your questions:

“Does it seem to you that national media often undercovers the Bears?

“Mark Early, Arlington, Va”

“The Bears aren’t national media darlings, in part because they aren’t as media friendly as some teams. They like to keep a low profile. It’s part of their organizational philosophy, and many of the key individuals on the team don’t seek the spotlight. They would never allow a “war room cam” into their draft room. They would never even consider being the subject of “Hard Knocks,” as the Jets were last summer. But if they keep winning, you will hear more and more about them on the national level. That’s inevitable.”

First I’m going to disagree with Mark.  The Bears do get a lot of national attention.  They might not get as much as some teams which are more high profile, that’s true.  But no one knows better than the television networks that its good for football generally and for them in particular when the Bears are good.  Chicago is a great sports town and there are Bear fans all over the country which is why they set ratings records when they are on national television and which is why they are in demand for prime television slots.  The Bears have been in so many of those situations that the networks can no longer flex them into better positions because they’ve reached their limit.

Second I’m not only gong to agree with Pompei but I’m going to laud the Bears for their organizational philosophy.  I love ownership that stays out of the spotlight and out of the way and lets the football people do their jobs.  I truly believe that handling things in a steady, low profile way is the way to run a franchise from top to bottom.  I’ve never bought into the “why isn’t Lovie Smith more emotional like Mike Ditka” complaints from Bear fans.

Yes, I certainly do wish that the coaches in general and Smith in particular were more open with the media.  But even I have to admit that I’d rather they strayed too far in this direction than the opposite one.  Minimizing distractions is what’s best for the team and the Bears do as good a job of it as anyone.

Much though I love Rex Ryan and much though I believe he’s good for football, I don’t think I’d want him coaching my team.  Give me under the radar any day.  And twice on Sundays.

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The Bears Are a Good Team But Not a Super Bowl Contender. Yet.

Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times thinks that there are ten indispensable players the Bears can’t afford to lose:

“The Bears are a legitimate Super Bowl contender — more legit than the 2006 team that actually made it to the Super Bowl. But of all the contenders for the big game, none has as small a margin for error as the Bears.”

I’m sorry but you can’t say in the same article, almost in the same breath, that this team is a contender for the big game and at the same time that there are ten players they can’t afford to lose.  Injuries are going to happen.

I don’t think the Bears are a Super Bowl contender.  My assessment is more in line with that of Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune:

“At this point I don’t expect the Bears to be a Super Bowl-winning team. I never did. But I think it’s possible they could be playing in the NFC championship game if things go their way. They are a good team. Not a great one.”

To his credit, Pompei has, indeed, been saying this pretty consistently since before the season began when I was pessimistically predicting eight wins.  But even as they have surprised me by winning more games than I thought they would  I still agree that you can’t call the Bears Super Bowl contenders while the offensive line is in the state that its in.  They have to come together and perform better or the team is going to get run out of the playoffs pretty quickly.  Even then I strongly suspect that they don’t have the necessary talent as a unit to go all the way.

I expect the Jets defense to be even more aggressive than usual.  They will be an interesting test.

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Stunt Men and the Art of Flight Control

Former Dodgers manager, Tommie Lasorda once said,  “Managing is like holding a dove in your hand.  Squeeze too hard and you kill it.  Not hard enough and it flies away.”  Ask any parent how true that is of raising children.  Indeed, any competent office manager faces the same problem.  They have to delegate but how much is a problem that’s practically impossible to solve.  There are times when you are going to be wrong and you just have to hope that the damage is limited when that happens.

Fans are stating to notice the stunts that the Bears are running on the defensive line to bring pressure on the quarterback.  Its the kind of thing that’s easy to over do and allowing the players the latitude to do so is all a part of the teaching process.

In a different way, Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune teaches us about the line stunts that the Beas have been running.  First he points out when stunts should be run and be effective:

“Stunts are used primarily on passing downs because running plays can be very effective against them if a gap is created.

“The Bears had seven situations Monday when the Vikings were facing a third down with between four and 10 yards to go. The Bears ran a twist on each of the seven.”

The points are well taken.  I’ve been noticing that the Bears have been running a lot of these stunts since the beginning of the year.  I’ve also been wondering when teams were going to start taking advantage of them.  The Vikings did just that.  Pompei didn’t mention it but the Vikings began running at the ends in an effort to catch the Bears stunting the defensive ends inside.  They did it and it was effective.  This will be something to keep an eye on.  The Bears may not want to as often or as consistently as they have been at what I would call intermediate distances on third down.

And who will be making the decisions regarding whether that will happen?   It turns out its the players who call the stunts on the field:

“On game day, the Bears have designated players who are responsible for deciding when to stunt just before the snap.

“‘This gives them complete ownership as pass rushers,’ (defensive coordinator, Rod) Marinelli said. ‘I’ve always found that keeps guys interested, active and alert.'”

I think this is a wonderful example of good coaching.  Marinelli isn’t just squeezing every bit of physical talent out of the players.  From the necessary film study to making the decision on the field calling the stunts, the players are involved in every step and, ultimately, they are in charge on the spot.  I’d be willing to bet that a few coaches will come out of this organization in the years to come with this kind of attitude.

There are so many benefits to doing this but you have to wonder how many coaches actually give up so much of the decision making process.  Some control has to be maintained if the players aren’t going to over do it and get caught for a long run in the wrong situation.  Its a delicate balance that has to be maintained.

Marinelli has given the Bears defensive players a lot of rope.  There’s always the chance that they will hang themselves with it.  But its a chance you have to take to achieve long-term success.

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Points of View, December 24, 2010


“Some players felt that ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ analysts Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden were too tough on Cutler during the broadcast after they likely heard about it from friends and family.

‘‘’It doesn’t make sense,’’ veteran center Olin Kreutz said. ‘’In the booth, you’ve got two guys who are supposedly quarterback experts, and they’re going to try to criticize Jay. We don’t worry about those guys. Everybody hears the criticisms, but what can you do? It doesn’t make sense.’’’

I admit that I’m only listening to the broadcast with half an ear most of the time.  But having said that, I’d suggest that if the players are really interested, they should watch it themselves before commenting.  They wouldn’t be doing their jobs if there wasn’t some criticism but I can say that both Jaworski and Gruden repeatedly gushed about Cutler’s ability and both talked about how much they loved him.  I din’t think the broadcast was particularly imbalanced.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune asks a key question:  Is Corey Wootton the real deal?  I’m on record as doubting it.  But I hope I’m wrong.  The Bears have drafted heavily on the defensive line in recent years with little to show for it.  Henry Melton‘s been showing up every once in a while, as well.  They need good, consistent play from these draft picks and they need it sooner rather than later.  I can guarantee that this great health the Bears have enjoyed won’t last forever.
  • Biggs also has this from Dave Toub, Bears special teams coach, on the possibility of his assistant, Chris Tabor, getting a job as a special teams coordinator:

“‘He is so ready,’ Toub said. ‘I’ve been in that role, same as him three years as an assistant when I was in Philly. This is his third year and I know how he feels. He’s needs to get his own spot. He has the system, he can motivate, he’s a great teacher. The guys respect him. It’s time.'”

The same could be said of Toub.  If there was any justice, he’d be a head coach somewhere soon.

“(Head coach Rex) Ryan says the Jets plan to kick away from Devin Hester. Lovie Smith said the Bears plan to kick away from Sal Alosi. Ba-bum-chuh.”


“Far be it from us to sniff out a conspiracy on the part of Ryan and the Jets to divert the flood of attention on Ryan’s “personal matter” by putting an overly dramatic spin on Sanchez’ status, but …

“From offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to the offensive players who were on the field in practice, they all thought Sanchez, who took most of the reps, looked fine.

“‘Watching him throw, I thought he looked very good,’ Schottenheimer said.”

“If this is only about some home movies, then it is a personal matter, absolutely, it’s Rex Ryan’s business and his wife’s business and nobody else’s and please leave me out of it. But that is only if you think the videos posted themselves.”

  • With a five game suspension hanging over him starting next year, scouts have begun commenting upon Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor as an NFL prospect.  Former NFL scout Dave Razzano gives his evaluation to Pete Thamel at the The New York Times: “I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole.”

I can only agree.  I was never impressed by Pryor and I always thought that it was presumptuous of him to choose Ohio State because he thought the offense would prepare him better for being a professional.  When you are already thinking about going to the NFL coming out of high school, I have to believe that winning football games is probably too far down your list of priorities and what I’ve read since has not made me think better of him.  Bottom line, I think he’s got a lot of growing up to do.

  • Gregg Rosenthal at profootballtalk.com comments on Omar Kelly‘s report that former 49er head coach and current Miami defensive coordinator Mike Nolan regrets not replacing 49er quarterback Alex Smith with current Lion Shaun Hill sooner:

“’I always thought [Hill] was good,’ Nolan said via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.   ‘I would admit to making a mistake not making him a starter at the end. The last year I was there I should have [switched QBs] because he’s a baller.  . . . He checks it down. But he’s a guy the players trust will lead them to the end zone. That’s a huge factor.’

“(Translation: Alex Smith is not one of those guys.  Or a baller.)”

Current Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz was the 49er offensive coordinator at the time.

  • Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com comments upon the theory that the Redskins are starting former Bears Rex Grossman in an effort to tank the season and get a better draft pick.  I don’t doubt that the Redskins want to win and I don’t doubt that they want to see what Grossman can do.  But if a good quarterback fell into their laps in the draft at the same time, I’m sure it wouldn’t break their hearts.  One has to wonder if Grossman would be starting if the Redskins had 8 wins and still had a shot at the playoffs.
  • Despite getting a contract extension with $8.1 million guaranteed, former Bears quarterback Kyle Orton is less that thrilled about being benched for Tim Tebow (from Jeff Legwold at the Denver Post via benmaller.com).  He’s likely to be traded.

Despite proving repeatedly that he can perform in the league, Orton can’t seem to catch a break as team after team looks for reasons to replace him.  I’ll never quite understand it.

  • The Dolphins still run the Wildcat formation more than any other team.  But Chris McCosky at The Detroit News points out the key statistic illustrating why teams no longer fear it like they did:

“Of the 55 plays the Dolphins have run out of the Wildcat, 52 have been runs. All three passes were incomplete. None of that, however, eases Cunningham’s worries or lessens the preparation this week.”

“‘People make it more complicated than it is,’ said Lions middle linebacker DeAndre Levy. ‘All you do is take the quarterback out and it’s pretty much the same run plays. You just can’t get tripped up by all the window dressing.'”

“‘Ricky Williams, I want him to know this, if he hits one of our defensive backs in the back on a crack-back block, I am coming on the field,’ Cunningham said. ‘He’s had a couple of knockouts, but they’ve not been legal.’

“Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, when asked for a response, told the media in Miami Thursday, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.'”

Cunningham’s attitude is both a blessing and a curse in that I can actually see him doing that if provoked.

  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thinks that Matt Flynn could carry on the Green Bay tradition of developing quarterbacks by becoming a valuable commodity for the Packers after his solid start against the Patriots.
  • Silverstein covers the league “by the numbers” with this telling statistic:  “24 Difference in the amount of sacks the Minnesota Vikings defense had in 2009 (48) and this year (24).”  The Viking defensive ends in particular just aren’t what they were last year though I really can’t tell why.
  • Brian Murphy at the Pioneer Press points out that the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson hasn’t had a fumble this year.
  • Bob Sansevere, also at the Pioneer Press, gets an interesting comment from Vikings linebacker Ben Leber on whether a player can try “extra hard” in an effort to get Leslie Frazier the head coaching job (the post is short and I didn’t want to quote the whole thing).
  • Vikings defensive coordinator Darrell Bevell didn’t exactly rule out the possibility that Brett Favre could start this weak in an interview with Sansevere:

“BS: Are the chances remote that Favre will play?

“DB: Last week was miraculous (when Favre started despite a sprained shoulder). I don’t even know how that happened. It was amazing. Concussions are different. There are all the protocols you have to pass, and I don’t think he has passed those yet.

“BS: So right now, you’re planning on Joe Webb being your starter?

“DB: Right now, yes.”

One Final Thought

More from Rosenbloom:

“Cutler said he has seen a different side of Bears coach Lovie Smith this season:  ‘(He’s) more assertive. He knows what he’s doing, he’s leading us.’ He was coaching to keep his job, hel-lo. He finally held people accountable based on play, not pay, hel-lo. Amazing how productive a win-or-go threat can be, huh?”

Posted in Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Points of View, Washington Redskins | Leave a comment

Like Most People, Mike Martz Is Getting More Flexible with Age

I’ve watched it over time in my parents.  I’ve seen it in my older friends.  Most people get better with age.

Once you’ve seen much of what life has to challenge you with on a day-to-day level over a number of years, you realize that most of it just isn’t a big deal.  You stop getting excited about things that you either can’t control or which really aren’t significant in the long run.  Age brings perspective.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune wrote a really nice article about Mike Martz, revealing this commonly over looked side of human nature:

“Mike Martz, who sometimes speaks in hyperbole, has changed his colors in his fourth stop as a play-caller. The numbers say so, anyway. Since the cosmic intervention during the off week, the play calls have been balanced. Out of the 415 plays in the last seven games, 212 have been runs. Mike Who?

“‘We all mature,’ said Martz, who’s known for his passing game. ‘I probably matured later in life than a lot of guys, maybe not there yet. … As you get older, there are things that don’t upset you or you react to as quickly as maybe you did early in your career.’

“Would he say he is more flexible?

“‘Flexible has probably never been a word that has been associated with my name,’ he said. ‘I think so though, I like to think so.'”

I know so.  In watching the Bears evolve over the course of the year, Martz has abandoned his pride and his dogmatic pass first high octane offensive philosophy and adjusted his coaching style to his personnel more than anyone would have imagined even the most flexible of coordinators doing.  Martz has come to the realization that there’s more than one way for him to skin a cat and, as long as the job gets done, it doesn’t really matter how you do it.

The shift toward the ground game after the bye week has been well documented.  Its been suggested that offensive line coach Mike Tice and Martz sat down for some very straight talk about what the unit could and couldn’t do.  As in they couldn’t protect Jay Cutler during deep, seven step drops but they could run block because that’s easier for a young unit lacking cohesiveness to learn.  I have absolutely no trouble believing this because it sounds like exactly the kind of thing that Tice would do.  I also have little doubt that everyone else from head coach Lovie Smith to team president Ted Philips reinforced the idea.

But what Mart doesn’t get enough credit for is the way that he handled Cutler.

The Martz system is one where the quarterback drops back and throws on time to a spot.  Its up to the receiver to get there and the quarterback has to trust him to get there.  And Jay Cutler wasn’t doing it.  I don’t know if its because he wasn’t capable of learning to do it or if he flat out refused.  Either way, it just wasn’t coming together.

So Martz adjusted instead.  He’s called more roll outs and allowed Cutler to scan the field looking for the open man rather than continuing to try to force him to do something that just wasn’t working.  How big this adjustment was can’t be underestimated.  It required a complete re-wiring of the way that Martz called the game and I have little doubt that it was probably the toughest thing he’s had to do since he’s been coaching.

Give Martz his due.  The 48 year old coach who refused to adjust his game plan at halftime during a loss to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl is long gone.  At the age of 59, Martz is better than he’s ever been.  And he’s gotten the Bears offense ready to win.

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Free Agency at the Right Spots the Route to Success… For Now

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune writes an interesting column about how the Bears got to the top of the NFC North division:

“Becoming the first team to win a division championship this season dispels two commonly accepted myths:

“1. The McCaskeys are cheap. (Not when it comes to saving their football franchise.)

“2. Free-agency often is the wrong path to take to the playoffs. (Not if the road winds from North Carolina to Chicago.)

“As we begin debating playoff scenarios, it cannot be overstated how one signature from Julius Peppers changed everything we thought we knew about the Bears. It was as if the McCaskeys adopted overspending Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. When (Julius) Peppers signed a 6-year, $91.5 million contract last March it reflected fiscal urgency to which Bears ownership previously seemed immune.”

I’m not entirely sure why the Bears ownership has decided to spend money now.  I have my theories but those will wait for another entry someday, perhaps in the off season.  But what is clear is that their willingness to spend money this year has helped them win now.  But don’t think that general manager Jerry Angelo just  spent this money willy nilly on bad investments the way that Snyder has.  They spent it at specific spots.

The three most important positions on any football team are left offensive tackle, quarterback and pass rusher (defensive end in the 4-3).  These are represented by Frank Omiyale, Jay Cutler and Peppers on the Bears.  They have invested heavily in the last two and the first came through free agency as well.

But, even recognizing the importance of the positions, to his credit Angelo didn’t just spend it on anyone.  Defensive end Julius Peppers is a quality person and a team player who reflects well upon the franchise.  Contrast with Albert Haynesworth, signed by the Redskins, and you see that the Bears did it right.

But as worth of praise as these acquisitions are, Haugh’s characterization of the method as a success isn’t completely warranted in the long view:

“Given the emphasis on the draft and salary cap complexity, conventional wisdom says you can’t buy a winner in the NFL. The Bears just did.”

Yes, but for how long?  Angelo has been justifiably castigated because not a single one of these three players at the three most important positions came to the Bears through the draft.  In fact, the Bears have generally been a failure in the draft overall and as a result they have a very old, very veteran starting lineup.

Much though we all laud the McCaskeys for their willingness to spend money to bring a winner to Chicago in the short term, they don’t have the deep pockets that Snyder does.  For the health of the franchise, Angelo needs to find success in the only proven path to long-term competitiveness.  The Bears have to start drafting players at the positions that count the most.

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Ryan Fetish Flap Just Part of the Entertainment

When I came across the Deadspin Rex Ryan news story via Kissing Suzy Kolber a couple days ago, I pretty much ignored it.  I should have known better.  Given the way people react to such things I guess its no surprise in retrospect that Ryan is being dogged with questions about it.  Ryan has been accused of making foot fetish films with his wife, Michelle, for a web site (I’ll leave you guys to follow the link to Deadspin).  He hasn’t denied it.

Other than thinking the whole thing is pretty funny, I really didn’t give this much of a second thought.  Like everything else about Ryan, I find it to be very entertaining.  But not offensive.  By modern standards, this barely rates as a sex scandal in my book.  Heck, it barely rates as a scandal at all.

One thing is certain in my mind and its in complete agreement with what former Bear defensive tackle Dan Hampton told Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times regrading Rex and his brother Rob Ryan, defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns:

“(Hampton) thinks the Ryan twins are good for the league.

‘‘’They coach the right way,’ Hampton said. ‘The NFL is the No Fun League. But not these guys. They still like to have fun.’’’

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It’s Often the Little Things That Count the Most

Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.”

Gary D’Amato at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel indirectly points to the difference between winners and losers in the NFL by writing a critique of the Packers loss to the Patriots:

“One glance at the box score from the Green Bay Packers-New England Patriots game confirms the adage about statistics being meaningless.

“Going strictly by the numbers, the Packers outplayed the Patriots.”

“So how in the world did the Packers lose, 31-27, at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night?

“The same way they lost their other five games this season: by failing to convert in critical short-yardage situations, by committing costly penalties and by making game-changing blunders on special teams.”

You could really sum it up in two sentences:  The Patriots know how to win.  The Packers don’t (yet).

Even as a Bears fan, I have to confess that I love the Packers and their aggressive style.  The team has guts.  But the Bears have been better this year because, like the Patriots, the Bears avoid many of these issues.  Admittedly they haven’t done well in short yardage.  But that aside, they don’t commit that many penalties, they don’t drop many balls, they usually win the turnover battle, and their special teams excel.  Ask the Vikings how important that last one is.

There isn’t that much difference in talent between teams in the NFL.  The margin between winning and losing is often discipline and doing the little things.  Success in these small areas add up to victories on days when you don’t play well, sometimes against a better team.

I’m not exactly ready to canonize anyone.  But in a week when the Bears clinched their division, it seems appropriate to give the Bears and their coaches, especially Lovie Smith, kudos for recognizing this and consistently getting the best out of their players in these areas.  Along with their amazingly good health, this success is the major reason they are headed to the playoffs this year.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots | Leave a comment

Points of View, December 22, 2010


  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune mentions that Virginia McCaskey was at the game in Minnesota and was apparently quite lively.   Kudos to her.  My grandfather is 89 and let me tell you, there’s no way I’d be able to get him out in that kind of weather to watch a football game.
  • I’m not one to criticize referees but I thought the officiating was uneven to say the least in the Vikings game.  It didn’t cause anyone to win or lose the game but the guess here is that the film won’t look good on review at the league office.
  • After Brett Favre came back to start on Monday, most people attributed it to his miraculous healing powers.  I doubt that his shoulder got better quite as fast as his desire to try to play through it did.  With the Bears getting ready to take the field I’m guessing that the old blood got flowing and Favre decided to try one more time to prove to himself that he could or couldn’t play.  In the end, he couldn’t survive it.

I wouldn’t have a problem with this is it weren’t for the fact that it sets a dangerous precedent.  “Out” really should mean “out”.  I couldn’t prove that Favre was better physically than he appeared Saturday.  But given his history, I think its safe to say that he got the benefit of the doubt because he is who he is.

“The Bears won’t acknowledge it, but there is a direct correllation between Devin Hester’s reemergence as a lethal kick returner and his diminished role on offense.”

“Take it for what it’s worth that ESPN analyst Matt Millen enthusiastically endorsed the Bears as Super Bowl contenders, saying they could beat the Saints or the Falcons on the road in a playoff game. Millen was one of the best analysts in the game in his first stint on TV, but his credibility took a hit with the disastrous run as president of the Lions.”

Say what you want about Millen but his credibility can’t possibly be any worse than Bill Cowher‘s.  Last week Cowher not only predicted that the Bears would miss the playoffs but said that they wouldn’t win another game all season.

  • The Bears attracted the usual large TV audience (via the Chicago Tribune) we’ve come to expect for their national games.  I always take pride in this but at the same time it does nothing to help the cause of keeping Bear games on Sunday afternoon and out of prime time.

“Not much in the way of a Bernard Berrian sighting, was there? Look for the ex-Bear to potentially become an ex-Viking in the offseason. He has fallen way out of favor there.”

I’m not sure what Berrian’s problem has been.  Its possible he could become a Bear again if he came at the right price.  But if he does he’s going to have to be more physical.  Ask Devin Aromashodu.


  • Biggs also mentions some of the political talk that went on this week as the Vikings seek a new stadium:

“Certainly NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was on hand trying to get support lined up.

“‘I think there’s a recognition that we need to find a long-term solution for the Vikings here to get a new stadium built,’ Goodell said. ‘We met with the business community. We met with the legislators. And we met with the governor-elect. So we’re all going to be working hard to try to find the best solution to keep the Vikings here in Minnesota.’

“Keeping the Vikings in Minnesota would be good for the rivalries in the division, that is for certain.”

I would agree.  But I’m not holding my breath that a deal will be made unless the Vikings and the NFL kick in a substantial portion of the money needed to build a stadium.  It’s a bad time to be asking for money at any level of government, let alone from the Minnesota legislature with their impending $6 billion deficit.  The state isn’t going to put money in unless they are absolutely convinced that they will break even in terms of job creation and tax revenue.  Its a tough sell.

“‘Football should be played outdoors,’ Wilf said before the 40-14 loss to the Bears, ‘and for the Vikings in the past, the weather has given the Vikings a big advantage.'”

  • Aaron Rogers has passed all of th necessary test and will be back for the Giants game according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com via Greg Rosenthal at profootballtalk.com.  They’re going to need him.  They need to win their last two game sot make the playoffs, starting with the Giants this week.  The Giants will certainly have sufficient motivation themselves.  They are in the playoffs with a win.
  • Kevin Goheen at the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via benmaller.com) head coach Marvin Lewis‘ response to a profootballtalk.com report that the Bengals were considering making Terrell Owens inactive for the last three games because of his attitude and performance:

“Lewis denied the report, which was attributed to an anonymous league source.

“‘Pro Football Talk? Enough said. I don’t need to address it,’ said Lewis. ‘Have I ever addressed anything in here from Pro Football Talk? No. I don’t even know where it is.'”

Lewis has apparently been taking lessons from Lovie Smith on how to answer reporter’s questions.  This could have easily come from him.

In any case, even though the reporter called it one (twice), those of you who are paying attention might note that failing to address the report is not a denial.  Just sayin’.

  • Donovan McNabb feels “disrespected”.  But presumably not enough to quit and give up any money he might have coming to him.  Mike Shanahan waited until Thursday evening to tell him he wouldn’t be starting last weekend.  Maybe McNabb should get on board and do what the offensive coordinator asks him to do.
  • The Lions won a road game last weekend and, though the significance of it went by most of us, Jamie Samuelson at the Detroit Free Press points out that they did it with their third string quarterback.  With three quarterbacks who can play ball, the Lions enjoy a luxury most teams would love to have.

The Lions are a team worth keeping an eye on the last two games.  If they finish strong it could be taken as an indication that they will be ready to turn the corner next year.

One Final Thought

Its Potash day here.  He got this interesting comment from Rashied Davis regarding Devin Hester after he set the record for career returns for a touch down:

“Asked the best thing he could say about Hester, Rashied Davis had an interesting answer:

‘‘’He’s a good dude,’ Davis said. ‘He respects what we do, which makes us play harder, because he doesn’t think it’s all him. He knows we have a huge part of it and gives us credit. So we definitely. appreciate his attutude toward what he does.'”

Posted in Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Points of View | Leave a comment

Bears Must Continue to Work to Improve

Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Sun-Times makes a debatable point about what the Bears should do with their last two games:

“The battle cry might be that winning the division title is just one step, but you can’t help but wonder if you might be able to find a shortcut to the Super Bowl by settling on the No. 3 seed and calling it a day on the 2010 regular season.

“Yes, it is a great betrayal of the integrity of the league and might leave an indelible stain on the franchise. It also might work out just fine.”

I know that there are always health concerns when it comes to playing football games.  Most coaches believe that you keep your guys healthy and rest them before the playoffs whenever you can.  I understand that.  But I think Mulligan might be taking it a bit far in this case.

Before the season began I said that this year was going to be one where self-improvement was going to be the theme.  At the time I thought the Bears would have eight wins.  But the fact that they’ve got more than that and are on their way to the playoffs doesn’t change my opinion.  They need to continue to improve if they are going to make a deep playoff run.

New England taught us that the defensive backs need to get better, particularly in man coverage.  There are young defensive linemen that need to improve if they are going to take maximum advantage of Julius Pepper‘s presence.  And more than anything else the offensive line has to continue to develop technique and work toward attaining better cohesiveness.  Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune did his weekly film review and also found a number of aspects of the Bears play against the Vikings that need to be cleaned up.

Three weeks is forever in the NFL.  All of these things and more need to continue to improve and they can do so dramatically if the team continues to put the correct amount of effort into the games they have left.  If they are going to be able to look in the mirror after the year is over and be able to say that did everything they could and played their best when it counted, that’s what they have to do.

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