Andy Reid’s Run in Philadelphia May Be Nearing an End and Other Points of View


  • I’m sure all will join me in expressing our sympathies to the McCaskey family upon the death of Tim, second son of Ed and Virginia.  He is in a better place.
  • It seemed like every week I was talking about how the Bears would have liked to have gotten more turnovers.  Despite that, according to Larry Mayer at, it turns out they did pretty well in that department.  At 35 take aways they generated the second most in Lovie Smith‘s tenure as head coach.  Not surprisingly they generated the most in 2006 at 44.


“‘As soon as [Vernon Davis] catches the touchdown,’ York said, ‘you might want to see where Vernon grew up, or hear the story of him being raised by his grandmother. Maybe you want to see his highlight reel from high school. ‘”

Or you might want to see an ad.  Odds are good you’ll get one.

  • The Titans are interviewing offensive line coach Mike Munchak for the head coaching position today.  Indications are that the Titans want to make a quick hire, possibly by the end of the week.  That would be bad news for those of us hoping to get Dom Capers out of Green Bay.  It sounds like the Titans are unlikely to wait for him to be available to interview.
  • Omar Kelly at the South Florida Sun Sentinel reviews some of the top quarterbacks in the draft that you may not know much about. The video below is of the rapidly rising Colin Kaepernick out of Nevada. I can’t help but notice that the vast majority of the throws in this video are to wide open receivers.
  • Chad Ochocinco/Johnson is doing everything he can to get out of Cincinnati. This time he’s tweeting about owner Mike Brown. Via Gregg Rosenthal at
  • Mike Florio, also at, suggests the possibility of the league declaring an impasse rather than staging a lockout on March 4.
  • Judy Batista at The New York Times does as good of a job as anyone as she reviews the current state of negotiations on the CBA.  None of it has the spice of Florio’s speculations, though.
  • Jeff McClain at the Philedelphia Enquirer makes the case that head coach Andy Reid is running out of time. I’ve been wondering about this for a while. The reversal of the decision to start Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb came a bit too suddenly for my comfort. My gut feeling was at the time that the order came from above and I’m thinking it hasn’t been the only one issued.
  • Speaking of Vick, Adam Schefter at ESPN is reporting that the Eagles will be placing the franchise tag on him while listening to offers for Kolb:

One Final Thought

Kelly also describes the bind that Steven Ross, who to my eye is on his way to becoming one of the worst owners in pro sports, has put Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland in.

“Exactly how would you approach satisfying Ross, a glorified and powerful fan (he’s really just like you, just in power), while making sure you do what’s in the best interest of the football side?


For those who manage people for a living, this is a prime example of how you don’t handle things.

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Big Game Causes Stripper Shortage and Other Points of View


  • Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune reviews his four most pressing needs for the Bears.  He emphasizes the largely under appreciated need for a good hard look at back up quarterback.
  • Bryan Dietzler at the Bleacher Report runs thorough five potential draftees for the Bears in the first round.  Not surprisingly three are offensive linemen.  He also mentions Justin Houston, a prospect we’re starting to hear a lot about.  Many think he’d be a good defensive end in a cover two type defense.
  • Drew Sharp at the Detroit Free Press makes the interesting point that those players criticizing Jay Cutler have no right to complain about the proposed 18 game seasaon.
  • Who says the Bears don’t have cheerleaders?   This video is wonderful.


What?  There’s something else going on?

Via Michael David Smith at

“Late in the third quarter against Green Bay, he watched from his private box as the Packers scored their scored fifth consecutive touchdown to take a 42-14 lead. Fans began to stream out of the Georgia Dome.

“’People said to me, ‘You must be upset about that,’’ Blank said. ‘I said no. I wasn’t upset that they were leaving, I was upset about the way we were playing. The fans were incredibly supportive all year. After that third quarter, it would’ve taken a miracle just to come back and make the game competitive. It was like the fans were getting hit on the head with a hammer, and it wouldn’t stop. The only way they could make it stop was by leaving. So they left.’”

“In that division, you have to build a team that can play in the elements and play outside.  I didn’t realize that right away. My first year there, we took Terrell Buckley in the first round. After seeing what it’s like in November and December in Green Bay, I figured out you need to get a bigger person. So we eliminated the smaller stature guys. It helps to get people from the Big Ten and that area that it doesn’t affect. You need bigger people.”

Anyone else wondering if Bears general manager Jerry Angelo still hasn’t learned this lesson?

“One of the reasons four teams have yet to name their defensive coordinator is the Packers still are playing.”

Too bad its only the assistants that look to be raided.  Let’s all hope the Tennessee Titans have their eye on Dom Capers.  He’s certainly deserving and he’d be out of the division.

  • Its Dan Pompei Day here on a slow time for NFL news.  Pompei’s long column at The National Football Post is well worth reading in its entirety and the good news is that we’ve got the time to do it.  Here he elaborates upon opinions that Jake Locker had a bad Senior Bowl week:

“The reason for so many different opinions on Jake Locker’s performance is the quarterback was very inconsistent. You could make a highlight reel of Locker’s best plays that would have been very impressive. And you could have made a lowlight reel of Locker’s worst plays that probably would result in him being undrafted. If a team is looking for a player with great athleticism and ability and the potential to wow you, they will be able to overlook some of Locker’s deficiencies. If a team is looking for a polished performer who gets the job done, it probably won’t be interested in the Washington QB.”

“What’s your favorite thing about Super Bowl week?

A) Hearing about all the times the Packers and Steelers have won.
B) Seeing what Joe Montana is promoting this year.
C) Stories about Jerry Jones and his big ol’ stadium.
D) The game’s on Fox, one of the few football networks that doesn’t employ Matt Millen.”

“Don’t dwell on the dead hooker incident at the team party

“Remember even though they’re mostly all mediocre alternates replacing good players who thought of excuses not to come, they still don’t completely suck.”

One Final Thought

One more Pompei item:

“Whether the meatball in us likes it or not, the game we love is changing, as this story eloquently points out.  We don’t like change—that’s in our DNA. And we like violence in football—that’s in our DNA too. But once we accept we can’t change what’s going to happen, we’ll all probably agree this is a good thing. With Super Bowl week kicking off Sunday, we can expect a lot more stories about head injuries.”

Bears Don’t Have The Pieces. Must Rebuild Offensive Line

Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune wrote a nice long column today about what the Bears need to do to compete in the already good and rapidly improving NFC North.  Not surprisingly, Pompei starts with the offensive line:

“If the team was starting to convince itself the starting five offensive linemen could continue to improve and become a solid unit next year, the Packers pass rush gave them some sobriety. The problem the Bears are facing is the three defensive lines in their division may be the best three in the NFL.”

Dead on.  But what should be done is another problem altogether.  Pompei has some specific solutions in mind:

1.  Move Chis Williams from guard to tackle

I hope things are not as bad here as Pompei thinks they are.  I didn’t think Williams did all that badly at guard.  If they move him back to tackle, they might as well just call him a bust and make him a back up.  I’m going to mildly disagree and say Williams should be left to further acclimate and compete at guard.

2.  Move J’Marcus Webb to left tackle

I wouldn’t do this either.  Webb does seem to have a lot of talent but moving him to left tackle where he’d have to more consistently take on the best pass rush in the league seems to be stretching it.  He needs to pass protect, of course, but I see no reason to take him out of his comfort zone by moving him to the left.

I realize that I’m being a nay-sayer here and its always easiest to say “no”.   But I’ll say this.  The only thing worse than doing the wrong thing would be to do nothing at all.  The Bears need an influx of talent on the offensive line to compete.  Many Bear fans like to criticize Mike Martz but he did a good job of getting some favorable match ups on the field last Sunday.  Jay Cutler left at least four touchdowns on the field with bad passes.  Not all of that was the line’s fault.  But all three quarterbacks were under pressure all game.  Asking anyone to run or perform in an offense without the big boys up front is asking the impossible.

Olin Kreutz is a warrior and a leader but they need a succession plan for him.  Frank Omiyale isn’t a left tackle.  Williams may not be a guard.  There isn’t a single elite lineman on the roster to stabilize the unit.  The Bears need a complete overhaul from top to bottom, attacking the problem aggressively in free agency and the draft or the next season may be as bad as this one was good.

Only Guarantee in CBA Battle is That Everyone Loses

Dan Pompei once again comes through with a nice article as things slowly shift into the offseason.  This time he addresses what teams can and can’t do during a lockout, which will likely start when the current CBA expires March 3.

Pompei ends his piece with this thought:

“The best guess is there will be a lockout, and many harsh words. But eventually, maybe in August, the players will buckle at the thought of losing $4.4 billion in salary and benefits. A new CBA will be agreed upon, and the NFL will have a very short period to sign free agents and get teams prepared for a season that could be shorter than usual.”

Don’t count on it.  The degree of stupidity which men in these situations can exhibit is awesome in its scope.  One only need look at baseball in the early nineties to know how stubborn people who are full of pride can ruin a good thing.  The players may well hold out longer than people think.  If the lockout lasts through August, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see regular season games lost.

The best hope for the fans, who are, of course, paying the bills for both sides, is the scenario which Mike Florio at has repeatedly emphasized as a possibility.  The union has prepared to de-certify and if they do that, the owners will be forced to impose common work rules.  An anti-trust suit filed by the union would follow and we’d have football in 2011.

But absent that, everyone from the fans who lose games to the owners and players who will lose billions of dollars, comes out the worse.  Lets hope it doesn’t’ come to that.

Aaron Rogers Creates an Unnecessary Distraction, Needs to Watch Comments

One of the things about the Bears that you have to like is that they stick together as a unit.  For instance, you know there are guys on that team who don’t 100% approve of Jay Cutler and the way he choses to conduct himself.  But they’d never dream of commenting on it publicly because nothing good can come from it.  We therefore hear about nothing but the good things from Cutler’s teammates.

Contrast with Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers.  Last week, Nick Barnett and Jermichael Finley expressed some hurt feelings over the plan to leave them out of the team’s Super Bowl photo.  The team re-scheduled the date of the photo – partly at Rogers’ request – and we all thought the issue was over.

But apparently not.  Rogers couldn’t help himself as he commented further yesterday via Pete Dougherty at the Green Bay Press Gazette:

“Rodgers suggested that players shouldn’t complain about not being in the photo if they conducted most of their rehabilitation away from the team.

“’I’ll say this, I was on IR back in 2006, and I chose to stick around and finish out the season with my guys and be here every game,’ Rodgers said. ‘Some of those guys didn’t.

“’So we love ’em, we care about ’em, we don’t wish injury on anybody. But this is a group of guys that’s really come together, and it’s been great to work with the guys we brought in, midseason some of them, and the young guys. Some of the guys who were injured, they’re still a part of this team, but some of them didn’t choose to stick around.’”

Not surprisingly, Barnett and Finley took exception via Twitter.  Barnett started the ball rolling by this amongst other things:

“Doubt you get the full attention needed.. It’s easy to speak about others when you are not in their position.. Talk about ‘union’ ha.”

Finely responded to Barnett:


Before Barnett deleted his comments, he finally tweeted this:

“Before I delete this page just wanted to say I was never trying to be a distration”

Too late.

Once the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put it back in.  It’s lesson that the veteran Rogers needs to learn fast as he enters the spotlight on the big stage.

Ron Rivera Get the Ultimate Revenge Against the Bears

The Bears may have former Bear Ron Rivera to thank for their playoff loss.  Think I’m stretching it?  Read on, McDuff.

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

“Q: Why was Todd Collins the No. 2 quarterback. Sean [Jensen] gave me a “he has experience” answer back when I originally asked the question so if you can give me an answer without using the “e word” I would be most appreciative. — Mike

A. I don’t know if I can. This was Mike Martz’s decision. The offensive coordinator has always preferred a veteran backup. Based on his comments made during the offseason and in training camp, I don’t know if he ever trusted [Bears quarterback Caleb] Hanie, who hasn’t always been the most accurate passer, which is something Martz covets. I have been told that Collins was the more consistent in practice. For whatever reason, what was obvious to everybody after watching the Collins throw four picks against the Carolina Panthers wasn’t obvious to Martz, who stubbornly stuck with Collins. I do know the competition was close enough that the staff was considering moving Hanie back to No. 2 late in the season and only gave Collins two possessions before putting Hanie in versus Packers.”

Yes, but those two possessions were critical.  Many have made the argument that had Hanie been the second string quarterback, the Bears might have gotten another score and tied or even won the game.

Its not that surprising that Collins underperformed.  He is a veteran but he was retired and was signed in desperation.  That need was made acute in part when Hanie was injured in the first preseason game against the San Diego Chargers and then defensive coordinator Rivera.  San Diego blitzed continually against all convention in such a game and it was obvious that Rivera did it because he was still upset by the way he was let go by Bears head coach Lovie Smith when he was here.

Setting aside the obvious – that this was a misevaluation of the veteran Collins, there are a couple curious things about this situation.

First, I’m going to ask a question that maybe is anathema to Hanie-mania Bear fans.  Is Hanie really a number 2 quarterback?  Logically, just because Collins was misevaluated, that doesn’t mean that Hanie wasn’t, too.  Yes, he moved the offense late in the third and in the fourth quarter.  But he also threw two interceptions.  It was evident even to the fans watching on television that Hanie was dejected over his performance.  He, at least expected more.

Though I’m willing to chalk up the negative aspects of Hanie’s game to lack of practice with the offense, I’m also not willing to necessarily assume he’ll is or should be the back up next year.

Speaking of the practices, the other question I have about this response regards them.  Hayes states that “the competition was close enough that the staff was considering moving Hanie back to No. 2 late in the season”.  What competition?  I was told that Hanie hadn’t taken a snap in practice since the bye week.  If it was simply chucking the ball around in drills, its no wonder that Hanie didn’t move ahead of Collins.  There was nothing to judge him by after he got hurt in the preseason.

And there’s the irony.  In a season where the Bears were so extremely healthy, it is possible that it was the third string quarterback’s preseason injury in the August that doomed them in January.  Thank you, Ron Rivera.

Key Obama Aid Betrays Country and Other Points of View


  • Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times answers your questions.  This dead on response came to a fan who wanted offensive coordinator Mike Martz to be fired.   Here’s part of it:

“The other key is continuity. I can’t stress this enough. Talk to quarterbacks who have had multiple offensive coordinators and they will tell you how much of a disadvantage it is. At this point of his career, Cutler needs to continue to learn and mature in one offense rather than switching to another.”

“Hell no I’m not rooting for the Packers in the Super Bowl. I have a ton of respect for that organization and the head coach, but I don’t want them to win the Super Bowl. They’re in our division, I want them to lose.”

Couldn’t agree more.

Summary: The Bears nailed one of the top sleepers in the whole draft, when seventh-round pick J’Marcus Webb was thrown into action and performed pretty well. Suddenly, a draft that didn’t see any picks until No. 75 overall (Major Wright) found some decent value. Corey Wootton also looks like a keeper as a defensive end out of Northwestern. The Bears saw value in him as a local guy who wasn’t at 100 percent during his final season in Evanston, and it should pan out for them. There wasn’t major impact, but given where they were forced to pick, Chicago did well.

Draft grade: B | Current Grade: B

  • Don Banks at has released the first of many mock drafts he will put together in the coming weeks.  He has the Bears taking Derek Sherrod, an offensive tackle out of Mississippi State:

“The Bears have decent options when their turn comes around. They can get help for the offensive line that caused them so many headaches, particularly early in the season, or address their needs at either defensive tackle, receiver or cornerback. Sherrod is the highest-rated remaining tackle, but Texas cornerback Aaron Williams and LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis would also make sense.”

  • NFL Live’s Trey Wingo, Tom Jackson, and Trent Dilfer at ESPN give the Bears their season report card:

  • This fan has obviously recovered from the loss:

  • Barak Obama‘s special assistant and personal aide Reggie Love has betrayed his country:


  • James Walsh at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports the facts behind former Bear and current Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian‘s law suit against a California couple who found his Blackberry.  The couple say they were “negotiating a reward”.  Berrian’s lawyers and apparently the FBI have called it “extortion”.  I would simply call it “unethical” regardless of what the law says.
  • Guard Logan Mankins told Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald that its highly unlikely that he will be back with the Patriots unless they use the franchise tag on him.  He will be the best guard available to the Bears in free agency.
  • Ray Lewis comments upon the honor of playing in the Pro Bowl as players around the league, including the Bears’ Brian Urlacher, back out due to “injury”:

“When you look at a guy like Peyton [Manning], when you look at a guy like Tony Gonzales, they appreciate it.  When you get over, there’s a certain brotherhood. The guys you went to war against, now you come here and it’s all about family and sharing and understanding.”

  • The NFL players union says the average number of injuries has risen during the 2010 season.
  • ESPN‘s Outside the Lines reveals the results of a scientific study, that for the first time reveals the level of prescription painkiller use and misuse by retired NFL players.

  • Scouts Inc. ranks every single player on both Super Bowl rosters for ESPN.
  • It seems that green Bay nose tackle B.J. Raji has taught the world a new dance.  This new step was inspired by his now famous belly dance in the end zone:

One Final Thought

Rachel Cohen writes about the NFL’s soaring television ratings for the Associated Press.  Fox Sports chairman David Hill had this to say about a work stoppage:

“With the sport reaching heights that Pete Rozelle would never dreamed of, we want to keep it that way.  We know what happens to sports after a strike or a lockout; people turn away and it takes a while for them to come back.  It would be a great tragedy if both sides weren’t able to reach an agreement.”

In the case of baseball, some of us never went back.  And the game has never been the same.

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Packers-Steelers Couldn’t Be Simpler

Sam Farmer, writing for the Chicago Tribune, previews the Steelers-Packers game by pointing out the keys for Pittsburgh.  Unlike the complex issues involved in the Packers-Bears game last week, this one couldn’t be simpler.  Green Bay’s run defense against Pittsburgh’s run-oriented offense:

“If the Packers are poised to stop the run in a 3-4 formation — as opposed to bracing for the pass with a 2-4-5 — the Steelers will look to throw.”

Though this is a good point, I’m going to disagree.

Certainly the key for the Steelers is to run and hold the ball, keeping Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers off the field and wearing the defense down at the same time.

But unlike Farmer, I think the Steelers are going to be able to run on Green Bay in that 3-4.  And I think Green Bay knows it.  Look for them to put at least 8 in the box and play a four man line.  They did this a few times against the Bears and I think we’ll see it a lot more next week.

Twitter, Twitter and More Twitter and Other Points of View


  • Fred Mitchell and David Kaplan at the Chicago Tribune overheard this:

“‘Times have changed since I played. … Abe Gibron (former coach) and I used to argue when I was nearing the end of my career and I was playing on one leg,’ former Bear Dick Butkus told us. ‘He’d say, ‘Dick, you are better on one leg than the backup is on two.’ That was silly though.'”


“I’d welcome some conversation about how the Bears are going to make him better because the Cutler who now has played five NFL seasons isn’t good enough.”

How about they schedule surgery at Northwestern.  They can install a brain and heart that has the desire to do the tough things necessary to correct those problems.  Oops.  I said “tough” didn’t I?  Sorry, Dan.

  • And yet the Cutler talk still continues.  This time its John Madden on Sirius NFL Radio via Mike Florio at  Like Cutler, Madden’s grandson has Type I diabetes:

“In defending Cutler, Madden was passionate, emotional, and as angry as we’ve ever heard him.

“’I’ve been in football for over 50 years,’ Madden said, prefacing his remarks.  ‘I’ve never questioned a player’s toughness.  I never have.  Whether it was in coaching, broadcasting, whatever.’”

Which is, of course, the most disturbing point.  Only Cutler seems to be receiving this kind of abuse from his peers and it may reflect the deeper problems that he has as a player.

Which means its tough to just set aside the Cutler talk when that talk and the poor play are likely connected.  Again, sorry, Dan.

Here is a recording of the interview:

  • Michael Wilbon agrees with McNeil and Tony Kornheiser calls Twitter a “plague” as PTI debates:

“When the season is over and they don’t have to gear so much of their focus toward game planning, Mike Martz and Jay Cutler could devote significant time to working on mechanics, particularly when it comes to Cutler’s footwork. Martz recently said Cutler has improved in that area since the start of the season, but he admitted that he’s not where his quarterback needs to be yet. ‘I think some of the footwork (criticism) — and (Cutler) knows that — is fair. You can’t go through a lifetime with those kinds of habits and just fix them in one season,’ Martz said.”


  • Jeff Fisher is out as coach of the Titans.  This is surprising after owner Bud Adams appeared to have chosen to keep Fisher of quarterback Vince Young, who Fisher has problems with.

It would not surprise me if we learned in the coming days that Fisher forced his way out.  Adams is generally believed to be one of the worst owners in the NFL.

“New Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on how he feels about Steven Jackson as the Rams’ primary back: ‘I know from competing against him that he’s very unique and multitalented. He can create long plays, takes great care of the offense. … I can’t wait to get started to work with him.'”

Cynics will recall that he said the same thing about Cutler when he came to Denver.

“Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver has said that he plans to sell the team eventually but he is not thinking about doing so right now. Some of the Jaguars’ offseason moves, however, hint at the possibility that Weaver is planning to sell after a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached. We’re hearing that Weaver’s reluctance to fire head coach Jack Del Rio and his refusal to extend the contracts of the coaching staff could be a sign that the owner is trying to clear the decks before a potential sale.”

I might add that a move to Los Angeles is always a possibility after any sale of th team.

One Final Thought

On a note related to the last item above this comes via Florio.  Packer linebacker Nick Barnett says he wishes he hadn’t popped off via Twitter about not being initially scheduled to be in the team’s Super Bowl photo.  Coach Mike McCarthy called it a “poor decision”.  Via Florio.

I’m constantly amazed by the people in all walks of life who believe that Facebook is “personal” and don’t think that they are “on the record” when they post things to the Internet.  Even people who put things in emails and are shocked when you pull them out and remind them of what was said.

Bottom line, when you put things in writing, you have to assume that the world is going to see it.  And that means you’d better think about it and you’d better mean what you say at the time.  Otherwise regret is sure to follow.

Plan for the Offseason May Be Different This Year

It may be a bit of a non-story but with the Bears spending so much in free agency last year, it was fair to wonder if they would avoid it this year.  That won’t be the case.  Jerry Angelo as related by Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“We’ll have a plan for free agency, and I’m sure we’ll be able to get a few players in free agency.”

Angleo calls it “business as usual” but the its unlikely to be that.  The time table may stay the same but that’s unlikely with the collective bargaining agreement unsettled.

The draft will take place as usual but no free agents can be signed until the new collective bargaining agreement is in place.  That reverses the usual order for Angelo, who likes to strike fast in free agency to fill as many holes as possible.  That leaves him free to draft the best player available in most cases.

Angelo may just assume that he’ll be able to do that this year as well.  But it leaves him without leverage when it comes to negotiating with free agents who will see a clear need that wasn’t filled in the draft.

In any case drafting offensive linemen will undoubtedly be at the top of his list.  But it will be interesting to see if he changes his approach overall, drafting with a bit more of an eye towards the needs of the team than usual.