Points of View, December 19, 2010


  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reports that Charles Tillman returned to practice Friday.  Tillman had an awful game last week ad he needs to bounce back with a good performance against the Vikings.
  • Biggs also points out that the Bears have among the fewest drops in the league.  This is a very under-rated stat in my opinion.  After penalties and sacks, dropped balls do more to eliminate big plays and put teams in third and long than any other factor.
  • Vaughn McClure at the Tribune reports that Brett Favre has been ruled out for Monday nights’ game against the Vikings.  Joe Webb will officially start.  No surprise.
  • Former NFL safety Matt Bowen reviews some classic cover-two for the Tribune.  Its tough to play defensive back in this scheme, especially safety.  Here’s hoping the Bears do a better job of playing it than they have the last couple weeks when they’ve given up some big plays.


  • Aaron Rogers failed to receive medical clearance and will not be starting against the Patriots today.  That’s good news because Flynn is much less likely to beat them (the Bears clinch the division if the Packers lose and they win).  But more importantly it was undoubtedly the right thing to do for a player who sustained his second concussion of the season.  Here’s hoping Jay Cutler avoids a similar incident.
  • McClure also has this quote from Bryant McKinney on his poor performance against Julius Peppers last season:

“Nobody talked about the injuries I had in that game,” McKinnie said. “I had an ankle injury and I had plantar fasciitis. I couldn’t plant with my left ankle. I didn’t make a big deal about it. I just went out there and played. You catch me healthy and it’s a different story.”

I sympathize but no one is going to accept that as an excuse.  Few players remain totally healthy through out an NFL season.

  • Mike Kaszuba and Steve Brandt at the Minneapolis Star Tribune report that the Vikings are trying to make hay out of the collapse of the roof at the Metrodome.  They are trying to use it as evidence that a new stadium is in order.  But the political situation is complicated and with a six billion dollar state deficit looming, not everyone is buying in:

“‘A lot of people want things,’ said Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, an incoming assistant Senate majority leader. He said the Metrodome’s roof collapse ‘doesn’t elevate this to a crisis.'”

I disagree.  Its fairly clear that there are real safety concerns when you have a building in Minnesota that can’t handle snow.

The Vikings really should be playing Monday nights’ game in Los Angeles so they can get a feel for the place.  They may be seeing a lot of it in the near future.

One Final Thought

McClure also provided a somewhat humorous look at what its like to be shoveling at TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota for the Tribune:

“‘You work for the Chicago Tribune? Man, I’m from Chicago,’ says [fellow shoveler, Keith] Ward, 47, who is in between jobs and came to suburban Minneapolis four months ago to spend time with his daughter.

“‘Hey, do me a favor? If Jay Cutler plays Monday, tell him that I said stop being so scared in the pocket and release it. … Get rid of it.’

“Memo to self: Don’t tell Cutler anything, because you know how he’ll react.”

Yes.  Indeed, based upon what we see on the field, one wonders if he sometimes doesn’t react the same way when offensive coordinator Mike Martz tries to tell him similar things.

McNabb Vs. the Shanahans in a Classic Conflict

Mike Florio at expresses an intriguing theory on what’s behind Donovan McNabb‘s problems with the Washington Redskins.  McNabb finds himself as the number three quarterback on the roster today.

The team has until the day after the regular season opener to make a decision on an option bonus on McNabb.  That would be too late for McNabb to find a good starting job if the team decided not to pick it up:

“As one league source explained it, McNabb realizes that the team has the power to trade him whenever the Redskins see fit.  And so the thinking is that he’s trying to force the issue by persuading the team either to trade him or to dump him sooner rather than later.

“The source suggested that McNabb is ‘pulling a Haynesworth,’ but that McNabb has been more subtle in his approach that the suspended defensive tackle.”

Its an interesting theory but I really don’t think this sounds like McNabb.  He’s not that subtle and I’d be willing to bet that the story is more about football and much more straight forward.

Rumor has it McNabb isn’t accepting coaching from offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan and head coach Mike Shanahan. That rings true.  Its easy to believe that, as a veteran, McNabb is used to a certain amount of latitude in how he handles his business, latitude which doesn’t fit with the very controlling Shanahan way of doing things.  Eagle’s head coach Andy Reid probably allowed this though I doubt he liked it much, which is possibly one reason why McNabb ended up in Washington in the first place.

So its really a power struggle.  McNabb is playing it NBA-style, saying, “I’m the talent.  I’ll do what I think is right or you can try to do it without me,” and the Shanahans are saying, “Coaching is more important.  We make good quarterbacks.”.  In other words, they want to prove that they can make a better quarterback out of today’s starter, Rex Grossman, a mediocre player who does what he’s told, than McNabb is now.

Talent Vs. coaching.  Its an age-old classic debate.  Of course, its also a waste of energy.  Both are necessary and the best can only be brought out of all parties involved are cooperating with each other while working together toward the same goal.  But that’s not likely to happen here where egos have gotten in the way of what’s best for the team.  In that respect I could care less about which individuals “win” this struggle.  Neither deserves it.  But on a broader scale, it should be of interest to see how it plays out.

Dez Clark Disappearing From Bears Landscape

Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune enumerates the reasons: why tight end Dez Clark has been inactive so often lately.  This one caught my eye:

    “The Bears have three tight ends with distinct roles. [Greg] Olsen is the route runner.  [Kellen] Davis is the short yardage guy. And Brandon Manumaleuna is the pass protector/run blocker from both the tight end and fullback positions.”

    I see the point and in combination with the others mentioned in the article is does draw a good picture of the current situation.

    But having said that, I would argue that Clark is far and away the most versatile of the three being competent in all of these aspects of the job.  Put him on the field and you never know what he’s going to be doing.  I’m going to guess that offensive coordinator Mike Martz doesn’t think that “competent” is good enough to make him dangerous in any one aspect.  But Clark does create mismatches.

    Looks Like Tomorrow WIll Be a Snow Day for the Bears

    Larry Mayer at chicagobears.com answers you questions:

      “The thing that surprised me the most about Sunday’s game was that the Bears and Patriots looked like they were playing under different field conditions. The Bears looked like they were playing in the snow while the Patriots looked like they had a dry field. Can you explain that?  –Jim, Seattle, Washington

      “Everyone talks about “Bear weather,” and while the Bears have had a lot of success in cold and windy conditions, they really aren’t accustomed to playing in the snow. I’ve covered them since 1992 and watched them long before that, and I don’t remember a “snow game” at Soldier Field like the one Sunday since the 1979 finale against the St. Louis Cardinals. The only recent “snow game” on the road that I recall was a 2005 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. On the other hand, the Patriots have played extremely well in snow games, most notably a 59-0 rout of the Tennessee Titans last season. I’m not making excuses—the Bears got dominated in all phases and likely would have lost to the Patriots wherever the game was played—but the above information may explain a little why New England seemed more at home in the conditions.”

      Though I agree with this statement, Mayer didn’t answer the question.  The Patriots looked like they had much better traction.  What did they do differently?  I guess we may never know.

      On a related note Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Bears are practicing at Northwestern to “simulate conditions”.  Here’s hoping that they left some snow on the ground.  There’s an 80% chance of it falling tomorrow in the area with a 60% chance of it being there at game time.