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.


Posted in Chicago Bears, Game Comments, Seattle Seahawks | Leave a comment

Fales or Clausen? The Debate Continues.

Adam Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times doesn’t have a problem with starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen this week but believes that the Bears eventually should get a good look at back up David Fales.

“The difference is that Clausen, who’s 28 and in his sixth season, isn’t a long-term solution for when the Bears finally move on from Cutler. If Clausen flounders in Seattle and Cutler remains out, the Bears should start Fales in Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders at Soldier Field.

“The Bears could be looking at another top-10 pick, possibly in the top five, and there will be quarterbacks to consider, namely Cal’s Jared Goff and Michigan State’s Connor Cook. They need to know what Fales can do.”

Clausen might very well struggle against the Seahawks. Jay Cutler probably would have too, for that matter. In fact, in his case I’d call it highly likely. It’s exactly the kind of game he saves his worst performances for. But that wouldn’t necessarily make either of them a worse option than Fales against the Raiders.

Do the Bears start David Fales (left) or Jimmy Clausen (right)?

Do the Bears start David Fales (left) or Jimmy Clausen (right)?

I think it’s worth re-iterating that a lot depends upon what the organization thinks of Fales. Former general manager Phil Emery drafted Fales as someone he thought would develop into “a good back up”. If the current regime thinks the same, there’s no reason to throw in the towel on the season by playing him this early. It’s pretty hard to develop good talent elsewhere when you don’t have a solid starting quarterback.

On the other hand, if the current staff thinks Fales has the potential to be a starter, it’s a totally different story. Then you put him in, not just in game four, but in game three today. That looks unlikely to happen.

In any case, this is definitely a situation to keep an eye on. As long as Fales sits the bench with Cutler out, the conclusion has to be that the staff doesn’t have the confidence in him that should be there for a player in his second year with a high ceiling.

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Connor Cook Is a Draft Prospect You Should Know

Most Bears fans will be looking for the team to draft a potential starting quarterback next year, potentially with a pretty high draft pick. Recent discussions amongst friends left me in the mood to seek out and give some preliminary evaluation on a couple of good quarterback prospects. We’ll start with Connor Cook (below).  This particular evaluation is based upon his game against Central Michigan only so take it with a grain of salt.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Connor Cook

Connor Cook is currently rated the second best quarterback in the 2016 NFL draft class and the ninth best prospect overall by He’s got good size at 6 ft 4 in, 220 lb.

Though it’s not exactly a pro style offense, Cook’s Michigan State team does at least huddle up and Cook does call plays. Most of the passing down snaps are taken from the shotgun but he does occasionally get under center, usually in running situations. Given that Michigan St. felt that they could run on their opponent Saturday, Central Michigan, that mean he was under center a lot. His footwork was fine and he’s definitely a pocket passer.

Cook has a reasonably quick release and he’s got at least average to above average professional grade arm strength. His ball placement isn’t a strength and his accuracy left a lot to be desired in this game. He missed some open throws over 12 yards or so. Nevertheless he can and did hit receivers on the run. Not surprisingly, he’s particularly prone to be inaccurate under pressure.

Other than that it was hard to evaluate how Cook handled the pass rush just because the Michigan State offensive line is so good that he rarely saw pressure. When he did, he stood well in the pocket and does step up. Otherwise he didn’t move around much within the pocket. His mechanics definitely seemed to break down when the pocket got muddy. Further evaluation will have to wait until the second ranked Spartans play a better team.

Finally, Cook isn’t being asked to throw with anticipation much but he did hit tight end Josiah Price for a touchdown midway through the second quarter right as he came out of his break which offers some hope in this area.

Its only one game but based upon what I saw on Saturday, I wouldn’t rate Cook as no more than a late second round prospect. He’s got some physical tools and a nice, quick release but his accuracy and his movement in the pocket left me kind of cold on him. Nevertheless it will be worth keeping a closer eye on him as the year goes by.

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Detroit Lions Are Down but Far From Out

Eric-EbronDave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press comments upon the improvement of tight end Eric Ebron this year:

“Ebron has been a revelation in the Lions’ offense through two games, leading the team with two touchdowns and ranking third behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate with nine catches for 96 yards.”

“‘(He’s) improved,’ Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. ‘The last two weeks, he’s caught the ball pretty well and made some plays for us. So I think he’s — his arrow of improvement is heading in the right direction.'”

Ebron is looking to improve the numbers he put up in last year’s disappointing rookie season — 25 catches for 248 yards.  He’s well on his way to doing that and his emergence is just one reason why the Lions offense should be better than last year’s version.

The Lions are 0-2 and a lot of people are jumping ship on them after a very encouraging preseason. But I’m not. The Lions have four big weapons on offense in Ebron, Johnson, Tate and Ameer Abdullah. The Lion defense certainly misses Ndamukong Suh and they’ve under-performed without him.  But they’ve been without linebacker DeAndrey Levy, who is doubtful again this week but his return will eventually give that defense a boost..

The Lions lost to the Vikings last week but the game was in Minnesota. I don’t think that they should be counted out yet and I can’t get past the feeling that they are going to make some noise in the NFC North before it’s all over.

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