New York Giants Stuck in Kansas City. Game at Vikings Could Be Delayed

BREAKING:  The New York Giants team flight to Minneapolis has been diverted by a snowstorm to Kansas City (via  The Giants were forced to conduct their Saturday walkthrough and pre-game meetings in Kansas City’s MCI airport.  Now according to Giants vice-president of communications Pat Hanlon says the team will be spending the night in Missouri.

Its being speculated that the noon game could be delayed until 3:15 PM or even until Monday.  WFLD, the local FOX affiliate in Chicago, is currently scheduled to show the Packers at the Lions, which should be unaffected.

UPDATE:  The games has been postponed to Monday night at 7 PM.  The game will only be shown in Minnesota and New York.

Damage to Albert Haynesworth’s Reputation May Be Worse Than Potentially Considerable Financial Loss

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, GM Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shannahan all refused to say whether they would seek to get a part of suspended defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth‘s bonus money back.  But defensive coordinator Jim Haslett had much more to say and if half of it turns out to be true, it sounds like they might have a shot (from the Washington Post via

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a player just tell me he didn’t want to play ‘Okie’ defense [the team’s base 3-4 alignment] and then later say he didn’t want to play nickel versus the run, ‘Just play me on third downs,’ ” Haslett said. “No, I’ve never had that before.

“And we tried to accommodate him. It’s a shame because he’s athletic enough. He can do almost anything he wants. Obviously, he didn’t want to do it. Good athletes can do a lot of different things. Basketball players – guards can play forwards, they can play different positions. I watch throughout the league; I see wide receivers do the ‘Wildcat.’ I think to myself, ‘If you’re a good enough athlete, you can do almost anything you want. You’ve just got to want to do it.'”

I’ve never been a big fan of taking a player’s signing bonus money back unless they clearly signed it wit the idea of breaking the terms going in.  But to flat out refuse to do your job seems like a pretty good justification to me.

One thing is clear.  The Redskins made a huge mistake in dealing with Hanesworth.  They say that there’s always a team out there willing to take a chance but Hayensworth is going to have to practically play for free if any team is going to do it again.  Even then I wonder if the damage done by having this kind of cancer on the team wouldn’t offset the advantage.

Mental Strength Brings “Bear Weather” Back to Chicago

They say that 90% of life is showing up.  I’d add that the key to at least half of what’s left is doing it with a positive mental attitude.  No matter what we do, if we approach it in the right frame of mind, with the proper motivation and with faith in ourselves and our abilities, the task becomes easier to accomplish.

It used to be that people would comment about “Bear Weather” and I’d have a good laugh.  The Bears under Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron always seemed like they were absolutely miserable in cold weather.  Certainly they were no better than their opponents.

That’s all changed now under Lovie Smith (via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune):

“The Bears are acting like it’s business as usual. In terms of just the temperature three of the eight coldest games at Soldier Field have been played during the Lovie Smith era.

“‘For us it’s the typical Chicago game in December,’ Smith said. ‘Do we game plan for it? Yes. This is our home-field advantage. Or I shouldn’t say advantage. It’s at least our home field we play on. You prepare for all situations that come up each week. Again, it’s not like we’re going to start doing anything differently than we normally do at this time of the year.'”

The Bears seem to play better in cold weather under Smith for a variety of reasons.

First, the Bears practice outside, particularly when they are preparing for cold weather games like the one on Sunday promises to be.  This allows them to get used to the idea and to adapt to the cold.  Dick Jauron, in particular, believed in practicing inside in an effort to save his players and keep them healthy.  But if you don’t practice under game conditions, you don’t play well under game conditions and that was born out time after time during his tenure.

The other factor that is worth highlighting is the presence of veterans like Olin Kruetz, who leads the way by encouraging players, particularly the linemen, to wear shorts with no sleeves during practice and in the games.

This might seem like useless bravado but it’s not.  Kreutz understands that much of success in life comes simply from knowing that obstacles can be overcome.  That includes the problem of playing in cold weather where it is at least half mental.

Yes, a player who wears shorts to practice in cold weather or who doesn’t wear sleeves during the game is going to be a little colder.  But he’s also going to realize that even with little buffer from it, the cold isn’t that bad – certainly nothing that’s going to keep him from getting through it and playing well in the process.  He knows that he can play better without sleeves than his opponent who is bundled up on the other sideline can with whatever protection against the cold such things provide.

All of this gives Bears players a mental edge over both the weather and the opponent.  And, as with the rest of us, its that edge which can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Looking Ahead, Bears Probably Will Be Targeting the Tackle Position in the Draft (Again)

Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times answers your questions:

Q: Despite a recently revitalized offense, the o-line is an obvious weakness and will surely be addressed either through the draft or free agency. The question is which of the five players is targeted for replacement? We know that (GM Jerry) Angelo loves his draft picks so Chris Williams and J’Marcus Webb could be safe. We know that Lovie loves his veterans so Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza could be safe. And we know the Bears love their money so Frank Omiyale could be safe because they won’t want to pay him a starters’ salary to ride the pine. So who do you think will be replaced and who do you think should be? — Big Bear

“A: I don’t think of it as who gets replaced. They need to continue to collect offensive line talent and let performance dictate who plays. That said, the careers of Kreutz and Garza are winding down. They need to start developing their eventual replacements. With Garza also serving as the backup center, that’s a position that absolutely must be addressed. Omiyale has done a decent job at left tackle, especially since he spent all of the preseason on the right side, but they shouldn’t pass up a tackle prospect, either. Left tackle is a critical position in every offense but especially so in Martz’s scheme.”

I would generally agree with the answer if not with all of the sarcasm in the question.  But I’m going to guess that barring yet another expensive dip into the free agent market, Frank Omiyale is your left tackle next year.  The Bears are probably going to be drafting low in the first round and that’s not where you find left tackles.

Much more likely, they’ll draft a big, athletic right tackle to replace J’Marcus Webb who has struggled mightily on that side and who, to me, just doesn’t look like he’s got the physical ability to block pass rushing defensive ends.  Webb was only a seventh round pick and I don’t think its going to break Jerry Angelo’s heart if he’s relegated to a back up role.  Here’s hoping he does a better job of evaluating whoever they pick up than he did with Chris Williams.