Martellus Marshall?

Former Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (top) and Bears tight end (for now) Martellus Bennett (bottom)

Former Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (top) and Bears tight end (for now) Martellus Bennett (bottom)

Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times on the Bears rebuilding project:

“Nobody is more bullish than Pro Bowl tight end Martellus Bennett. The same guy who boycotted the Bears’ offseason program — strength-and-conditioning and the voluntary organized-team-activity workouts — to try to get his contract renegotiated is ‘all-in.’ “

“‘That’s kind of like what it is right now. There’s a lot of construction going on — a lot of guys trying to get where they need to be. I’m all-in. I really love what [head coach John] Fox and [general manager Ryan] Pace [are] doing. Everything Goose [offensive coordinator Adam Gase] is doing. And I’m excited about the future of the Chicago Bears.”

Bennett might be all in on the Bears but are they all in on him?

When I read Bennett’s statement above, the first thought that came to mind was, “That’s exactly the kind of thing that former Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall would have said.” And, like Bennett, I’m convinced that Marshall would have meant it. But almost everyone agrees that Marshall was a bad locker room presence and he was moved to the New York Jets in the offseason.

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the Bears also were rumored to be trying to trade Bennett in the offseason. I’m guessing that they’re not done trying. When Bennett threw cornerback and first round pick Kyle Fuller to the ground in training camp in 2014, the stories about who he is and how he acts started to come out. Bennett is extremely immature and has a serious problem with authority. That doesn’t make him the same kind of disruptive force that Marshall was. But it’s almost certainly not the kind of veteran influence the Bears want hanging around a young team.

Like Marshall was, Bennett is very productive and if the Bears eventually do trade him, they’re going to miss him badly. But make no mistake about it. The Bears aren’t just rebuilding on the field. They’re building a culture around the team and the organization. Despite the fact that Bennett appears to be “all in”, you have to wonder if he has a place in it.

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Bears Quarterback a Question that Just Keeps Coming and Coming

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“Looking forward to the quarterback situation in 2016, it appears to me Jay Cutler will be back with the team next year even though his guaranteed money has expired… Obviously they will pick up a free agent quarterback but what is your opinion at this point regarding the probability Cutler is back in 2016? — Patrick B., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.”

“For starters, Cutler currently has $10 million of his $16 million base salary for 2016 fully guaranteed. If he is on the roster on March 11, the remaining $6 million becomes guaranteed.”

“It’s way too early to start predicting precisely who they will have but it could be Cutler and a draft pick at the position or the Bears could go with another veteran and a draft pick. Or it could be some combination of the current collection of quarterbacks. I would guess the Bears take a long and hard look at quarterbacks in the 2016 draft class but we’re getting way ahead of ourselves right now.”

It drives me insane that the Bears didn’t draft a quarterback in the 2015 draft. Garrett Grayson was there in the third round when they chose an undersized center in Hroniss Grasu. Bears general manager Ryan Pace doomed the franchise to once again go with Cutler in 2016 by failing to address the position and use 2015 to develop a prospect.

It’s true that the Bears could draft a prospect in the first round and deal with the growing pains that come with starting him out of the gate.  But a much better plan would have been to draft in a later round and develop, as his old team the Saints did.  Worse, yet, a preliminary look at the draft prospects for 2016 has left me less than impressed.  If there’s one that’s worth a high first round pick, I haven’t seen him, yet.

As it stands the odds are very good that we’ll hear the same thing in March 2016 that we heard in March 2015: “Who are you going to replace him with?”  And that question is going to continue to echo as the Bears drift in mediocrity until someone finally implements a plan for the future at the position.

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Bostic, Vereen Exits as Much About Special Teams as Anything Else

Bears special teams coordinator Jeff Rogers

Bears special teams coordinator Jeff Rogers

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune reviews the history of safety Chris Prosinski and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, replacements on the roster for Jon Bostic and Brock Vereen, respectively.

“Prosinski, a fourth-round pick out of Wyoming in 2011, is known for his ability to run. He left the Jaguars last year on an injury settlement related to a biceps issue. He finishes 2014 with the Eagles and was cut after the preseason. He has played 56 games with nine starts and has 27 special teams tackles.

“The Jaguars waived Reynolds on Saturday to clear a roster spot. He had 18 special teams tackles, along with three starts over the last three seasons with the team. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia.”

Most people are focusing upon the fact that Ryan Pace is moving on from the Phil Emery regime. And rightfully so.

But you will note that both of these players are veteran special teams contributors. Most people have identified poor special teams play as a major contributor to the Bears 0-3 start. And I would concur. Kick return coverage has been poor as the Bears allowed a 105 yard return for a touchdown to open the second half of what was a very close game at that time. It set a tone for the rest of the contest.

These moves are likely Pace’s response to requests from special teams coordinator Jeff Rogers and head coach John Fox for better players. You could take it as a sign that the front office and the coaching staff are on the same page with the former trying hard to fulfill the needs of the latter. In any case, we can hope that these additions will help prevent the debacle we saw on Sunday.

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The Future of Matt Forte with the Bears in Doubt

Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Tribune aaddresses the claims by fans and some media that Matt Forte will be traded in the Bears fire sale:

“The problem with trading Forte is that you would never receive proper value in return. Set aside the sentimentality of trading away your most productive offensive player and effectively betraying every other guy on the team. As a practical matter, the team that trades for Forte would have to pay him $414,705 every week along with another $66,625 roster bonus in every game check.

“In other words, a team trading for Forte would have to have nearly $7 million in salary-cap space available.”

The Bears aren’t trading Forte but the facts won’t keep Bears fans from suggesting that they should, as they have for years now.

But the current situation is relevant to Forte in one respect – it calls to mind the question of whether they will re-sign him in the offseason. Forte is in the last year of his contract and the Bears appear to have a very good running back waiting in the wings in Jeremy Langford. Can the Bears afford to pay a 30 something year old Forte what he’s worth in the midst of a prolonged rebuilding effort? Doubtful.

Whoever signs Forte next year is going to get a heck of a football player. I’m sorry to say that I can’t see it being the Bears.

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Jon Bostic Didn’t Fit the “Bear Player Profile”

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune comments upon the trade of Jon Bostic to the New England Patriots:

“In a season that’s all about finding building blocks, the Bears discarded the 50th overall pick from 2013. That’s a strong statement about Bostic’s inability to get on the field this season. Yes, he can chase down ball carriers and showed upside in pass coverage. But a combination of shin, hip, back and ankle injuries kept him out for the offseason program and through the first three games.

“Coach John Fox says he wants ‘smart and tough’ players. Here’s thinking Bostic didn’t meet that second criteria in the Bears’ eyes.”

I don’t question Bostic’s toughness and, as Campbell points out, I don’t think anyone questions his athletic ability. But to my eye Bostic lacked instincts. It will be interesting to see what the Patriots can extract from his physical potential.

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With Jared Allen Gone One Way or the Other Willie Young Is the Next Man Up

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune gives 10 thoughts on Seattle’s win over the Bears. He addresses the fact that linebacker Willie Young was a healthy scratch for the game:

“Young was on the field for 19 of the defense’s 57 snaps in Week 2 against the Cardinals and got 21 of 60 in the opener vs. Green Bay, so he had been on the field for 34.2 percent of the snaps. Given the success of the pass rush against the Seahawks, it will be interesting to see how the Bears play the numbers game building the 46-man game-day roster for the Raiders. Clearly some decisions need to be based on special teams.”

This article was written before the Bears sold Jared Allen to the Carolina Panthers. The pass rush was, indeed, improved but Allen didn’t have much of a part in that.

The Bears hope that Young will continue to get better as he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon injury from last season. Getting him and Lamarr Houston, who is gradually coming back from his own injury, playing time was an issue that they obviously wanted to solve. Like Young, Allen didn’t play special teams and its now evident that one reason the Bears made this trade was to get him onto the active roster.

Allen’s trade was obviously the beginning of a fire sale for the Bears and there is a lot of speculation that Young, who also doesn’t appear to fit the base 3-4 scheme that the team runs, will be next on the trading block. But for now at least one alternative is that the Allen trade was an effort to get Young more involved. Assuming Young is still here to see the Raiders come to town, the odds are good that we will at least see him in place of Allen as a defensive end in the 4-3 nickel defense that the Bears run. Whether he stays or not might largely depend upon his performance.

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The Truth Behind the Lies

Benjamin Disraeli once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Bearing that in mind, Ian Rapoport at tweets this little “statistical” tidbit:

A later tweet from Rapoport corrected the mistake. Rogers had actually graded at -0.8.  OK, noted.

Many people wonder why, given ridiculous statistics like this, fans and media continue to quote Pro Football Focus. The reason is pretty obvious – they’re the only game in town.

Anyone who writes an opinon about anything knows that opinion will be stronger if they can back it up with something that is, theoretically, objective. Quoting statistics from PFF seems to be one way to do that. The reality is, of course, that PFF’s grades are just as subjective as anything you or I might say based upon our own observations. PFF’s observations are, of course, one more factor to consider. But they shouldn’t carry too much weight. Certainly not as much as fans and media tend to give them.

Nevertheless, don’t expect a decrease in the number of people quoting ridiculous player ratings from them any time soon. Until someone comes along who can offer and alternative, PFF is what you get.

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The Once and Future Offense

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune quotes head coach John Fox on the conservative approach that the Bears took on offense on Sunday:

“‘We need to generate more than zero points to win games,’ Fox said Monday.”

“Asked Monday whether [Jimmy] Clausen earned another start, Fox would not address him specifically.

“‘I didn’t think our whole football team played well enough, obviously, to win the football game,’ he said. ‘I think in a pass-fail system, nobody’s totally pleased. But I don’t think it came down to one guy in that game.'”

The Bears took a ball control, run-first approach to the Seahawks game, one that’s been heavily criticized in some places the media. Many feel that it expressed a “Let’s not lose by too much” attitude rather than “Let’s go out and win”. Clausen has also taken a lot of criticism and most seem to feel that quarterback Jay Cutler would have done significantly better.

The truth is that offensive coordinator Adam Gase put together the only possible game plan that he could under the circumstances. And it probably wouldn’t have changed much even if Cutler had been able to play. This isn’t a defense of Clausen – he missed some throws that he absolutely had to make to give the Bears a better chance on Sunday. But the truth is that he was under siege every time he dropped back to throw and his only real receiver was Eddie Royal, a slot receiver stuck in a misfit role on the outside. Josh Bellamy isn’t talented enough and Marquess Wilson has been worse than a mediocrity who simply can’t get open. No quarterback on the Bears roster was going to succeed throwing the ball under those conditions. There just wasn’t anyone to throw the ball to.

The Bears game plan was to run the ball. Yes, with no points in the first half, you could argue that it wasn’t working. But the benefits of sticking to the run often come in the second half as you wear the defense down. The Bears never got a chance to show that could happen. Poor special teams play put them down by 13 points one play into the second half, a huge deficit in a game like this. Then poor discipline resulted in too many penalties that put the offense into a hole that you can’t run out of. The offense couldn’t hold the ball and the Bears defense was the one to wear down.

The Bears had to play a nearly perfect game to have a chance to win Sunday. They are going to have to do so for good parts of the rest of the season. They’ll get Alshon Jeffery back soon and perhaps Cutler will be back to give them an extra run threat. You might seen more passes to tight ends and the Bears might line up Matt Forte more as a receiver to do more through the air. But what you saw on Sunday is basically what you get with this team. – a heavy, heavy dose of Forte on the ground and a cloud of dust. And under the circumstances I just can’t find it in myself to be too critical of that plan. The team is what it is.

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Charles Leno Could Yet Be a Bears Building Block

charles-leno-nfl-detroit-lions-chicago-bears-850x560A day after a 26-0 wipe out of the Bears by the Seattle Seahawks, the fashionable thing is to bash the team for a conservative offensive effort and poor special teams play. So, of course, I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’ll be taking a look at the bright side of this loss. Kind of.

The Bears waited until the first week of the season to move right guard Kyle Long to right tackle. He hasn’t played well there in three games but he’s getting better. He’s certainly athletic enough to play the position. Nevertheless, more and more, I’m questioning that move.

As pointed out multiple times in this space and in others, moving Long to tackle only moved the problem along the offensive line to a new spot. Enter Vlad Ducasse as the right guard. Ducasse has been miserable with multiple pre-snap penalties and mediocre play. You might say that it’s high time that Patrick Omameh got some snaps but I wouldn’t hold my breath that he’ll be much better. Recall that Omameh wasn’t good enough to make the Tampa Bay roster and the Buccaneers have a miserable offensive line.

If that were the only factor in this situation, I’d say that the Bears broke even on the move – or will eventually break even when Long develops and is up to snuff. But in moving Long to tackle, the Bears gave up on Charles Leno as a potential starter. Leno blew his short chance with the Bears at right tackle in the preseason, playing every bit as bad as Ducasse. But the second year player is still relatively young and he’s got the athletic gifts to play the position. You had to wonder whether the Bears pulled the plug on him a bit too quickly.

That thought came back forcibly yesterday in the fourth quarter when Leno entered the game at left tackle in place of an ailing Jermon Bushrod, who had sustained a concussion. Leno was a bright spot in the loss to the Seahawks, seeing some quality snaps and coming out looking good in admittedly limited action.

If the Bushrod concussion lingers, it’s likely that Leno will see extended playing time. If he continues to play as well as he did yesterday, it’s worth wondering whether moving Long to guard right before the season started was a panic move that’s not going to serve the team well in the end. That is further exacerbated by the thought that Tayo Fabuluje, though very raw, is also very talented with excellent feet for such an enormous man at 6’6″, 342 pounds. If he develops, suddenly the Bears have a glut at offensive tackle.

That’s a nice problem to have. But I’d rather have solid offensive line across the board with a good right guard. That’s not likely to happen with the roster currently configured the way that it is.

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Quick Game Comments: Chicago at Seattle 9/27/15


  1. The Bears came out ready to run with triple tight ends on the first possession. They packed into tight formations and made no secret of what they were doing. Of course, the Seahawks were expecting that and were ready for it. This game was always going to be about keeping the Seattle offense off the field and resting the Bears defense as much as possible.
  2. Matt Forte ran well with very good vision. He was slipping well through small cracks in the offensive line.
  3. The Seahawks rushed the passer well this game. Something that, once again, wasn’t unexpected with the crowd noise and given that the Bears were only passing in obvious situations. The Seahawks were pinning their ears back and going after Jimmy Clausen. The Bears offensive line had a lot of trouble with the blitz.
  4. Clausen didn’t respond well to the pressure today. He took a lot of hits and didn’t make the throws that he had to when he did. They needed him at his best and he wasn’t accurate enough. Of course, once they fell behind too far in the fourth quarter and had to throw, it was a disaster.
  5. I was darned impressed with the blocking of Martellus Bennett at tight end. Truth be told there were some good demonstrations of some good fundamentals up front all game.
  6. The Bears ask their linemen to make some tough blocks on the back side in the run game. Seattle was really taking advantage of that with their quickness as guys occasionally came through the line unblocked.
  7. Jaquizz Rogers got the carries instead of Jeremy Langford in the first half this game. trying to keep everyone happy, I guess.


  1. The Seahawks wasted no time throwing the ball to Jimmy Graham on the first play. Things haven’t been going well for Graham and by that standard he had a decent game.
  2. The Bears got plenty of pressure on Russell Wilson. The Seahawks have struggled all season on the offensive line and the Bears took advantage. Jarvis Jenkins really came alive. Pernell McPhee was worth every penny. The team got their first sacks of the season.
  3. The run defense wasn’t bad until the offense started leaving them out on the field in the second half. then they simply wore down.
  4. The inside linebackers once again had a poor game. They weren’t making plays, were fooled by play action far too often and did a poor job in coverage. Frankly, I was surprised that they weren’t burned more than they were. Probably teams are so busy taking advantage of the lack of speed in the defensive backfield that they haven’t had to pick on them. Something has to be done there.
  5. I was impressed by the way that the Bears tackled today. They showed some good fundamentals.
  6. The Bears did a good job of keeping Wilson from burning them too badly with his mobility. It was a good pass rush and though there were holes, there was some discipline to it.
  7. Marshawn Lynch ran like his usual physical self once he got himself on to the field after having some hamstring trouble. However, he didn’t come back for the second half so it must have been pretty problematic.
  8. I don’t really understand the Seattle game plan. Arizona killed the Bears with deep passing last week as the burned the Bears defensive backs continually. Yet the Seahawks went to a ball control game that never called for a deep pass on first down. Did the Seahawks not watch any film last week? Eventually they started to take advantage of the mismatches but it took them almost a half to adjust.
  9. I was totally baffled by the defense at the end of the first half that put eight men in the end zone. It was obvious that there was time for at least three plays. I think that someone forgot that Seattle still had two timeouts.


  1. Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, and Tracy Wolfson did a nice job. You could almost feel Simms willing the Bears to make this a good game and he was pretty kind to them. I think he, like the rest of us, recognized that the Bears were out classed and he wanted to see a good effort by the underdogs rewarded.
  2. Clever fake on a punt return in the first quarter by the Seattle return team. Richard Sherman took the ball all by himself on the left as returner Tyler Lockett ran to the right. Shouldn’t the punt coverage team know what direction the kick is supposed to go? There was also more trouble on kick coverage as Lockett opened the second half with a 108 yard touchdown return.
  3. The Bears had to be virtually penalty free to have a chance in this game. They were far from it. Every penalty took away an opportunity to concentrate on the run game and put the game into the hands of Jimmy Clausen and a helpless offensive line protecting him. Vlad Ducasse had yet another pre-snap penalty. Right guard is a serious issue. If the Bears were going to put up with this kind of play, more and more I’m wondering whether they wouldn’t have been better off developing Charles Leno – who saw time at left tackle with Jermon Bushrod out with a concussion.
  4. Horrible call by the referee on a Bears punt in the second quarter. The ball was absolutely touched by a Seattle player and recovered in bounds.
  5. Drops weren’t really a factor. Josh Bellamy dropped one in the second quarter on a third down that probably would have been short of the marker anyway.
  6. Turnovers weren’t an issue today.
  7. I was a little surprised by the decision not to go for it on 4th and less than a yard near mid-field late in the third quarter and down by 20 point. John Fox is a defensive head coach and I guess he’d always rather put the game in the hands of his defense.
  8. To all of you who have been calling for the Bears to trade Matt Forte for the last three years, you can kiss my [donkey].
  9. Every fan, Chicago or not, knew that the Bears had zero chance in this game. It was just a question of whether they could keep it respectable. To their credit, the Bears looked like a professional defense most of the time and I was encouraged by the play of several defenders, especially Pernell McPhee, and by the run blocking along the offensive line when the whole stadium knew that was what the Bears had to do. It was a good, if somewhat obvious, ball control game plan offensively. The team simply had to be more disciplined to execute it.


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