A Christmas Miracle and Other News

Bears

Elsewhere

“’That’s really been a big part of the problem around here,’ Portis said. ‘People start playing for safety. So it’s like, ‘I gotta play safe and sound, instead of going out on the limb and making plays.’ . . . If a guy scared in the locker room, he gonna always play scared.’”

  • Andrew Brandt at the National Football Post takes a look at the current state of the collective bargaining negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA.  His prediction is not good news for those fans and players who don’t like the thought of an 18 game season as much as I do:

“Despite the apparent contradiction to the player safety initiatives, the 18-game season will happen as the complaints will be drowned out by the pronouncements of labor peace for the foreseeable future.”

“I called Donovan on the phone, mentioned I wanted to have a conversation with him to find out what this was all about,” Kyle Shanahan said Friday, according to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.   “And when I talked to Donovan [on Thursday], he said he didn’t say any of that.

“I’m like, ‘Well yeah, your agent did, which to me is you.’ And he said he didn’t agree with any of that, those words didn’t come out of his mouth, he didn’t tell his agent that stuff.  So all I can go off is what Donovan tells me. And we’ve never had a confrontation all year, never had an argument, everything’s been good.”

This is pretty much just cowardice on McNabb’s part.  I’m glad Shanahan is calling him out.

“It was a Christmas Eve miracle!”

Perhaps he was being a tad sarcastic.

The shoulder was a welcome distraction from head coach Rex Ryan‘s personal difficulties.

“Rex Ryan is a believer in “Homecoming Heroes,” a term he uses for players returning to their home cities or college towns performing above their standard level, but he will not allow himself to think of the Chicago area, where he spent his high school years.

“‘The teacher had it in for me,’ Ryan said. ‘Lots of C’s and D’s.'”

One Final Thought

Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com highlights the dichotomy in performing well enough to be considered for head coaching positions in the NFL.

“It’s unclear how hot of a candidate (Bears offensive coordinator, Mike) Martz is or will be.  Much of it depends on how his offense will perform in the 2010 postseason — and whether the available jobs will be filled before Chicago’s run has ended.”

Posted in Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Points of View, Washington Redskins | Leave a comment

Football Still King of Television

Bill Carter at The New York Times highlights the NFL’s performance for the on television networks:

    “Of the 20 highest-rated telecasts of any kind so far this television season, 18 have been N.F.L. games on CBS, NBC or Fox. In terms of the best of 2010, nothing else comes close. Of the 50 highest-rated programs during the calendar year, 27 have been N.F.L. games, including 8 of the top 10.”

    But for all of that I find it interesting that football is nothing more than a loss leader:

    “None of that means the networks make money from the games. Rights fees are huge (the league takes in about $4 billion a year in television money) and losses for the networks are routine. But no network is complaining. The games provide audience circulation like nothing else the networks can buy, and they use the once-a-week mass assemblage to promote their other programs.”

    Scott Miller at the National Football Post thinks that the high ratings are driven by fantasy football and gambling.  He cites some interesting statistics from CNN and CNBC:

    Approximately 29 million Americans play fantasy football, and in 2009, the industry was estimated at $800 million.

    Plus, the NFL alone sees $80-100 billion in illegal wagering per year, according to a CNBC investigation entitled “The Big Business of Illegal Gambling.” That doesn’t include every bet that’s placed legally in Las Vegas sportsbooks.

    Regardless, I think the networks would do better to keep the NFL but at the same time to takes some chances and invest in some original programming.  No sport of any kind is going to help ratings if your new programs amount to another doctor/cop/lawyer show.  I can see the executives in their meeting rooms now:  “I know!  How about CSI Mauritania?”

    Blah.

    Posted in Chicago Bears | Leave a comment

    “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.

    Posted in Chicago Bears | Leave a comment

    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.

    Posted in Chicago Bears | Leave a comment

    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.

    Posted in Chicago Bears | Leave a comment

    Points of View, December 24, 2010

    Bears

    “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.”

    Elsewhere

    “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.

    Posted in Chicago Bears | Leave a comment

    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.

    Posted in Chicago Bears | Leave a comment

    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.’’’

    Posted in New York Jets | Leave a comment

    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