Many Prospects Connected to Bears “Overrated” and Other Points of View


“Wilson competes with Nevada outside linebacker Dontay Moch as this year’s most impressive workout warrior linebacker. Wilson struggles locating the football, making him significantly slower on the field than the 6-4, 250-pounder timed at the combine (4.46-second electronic time). This is particularly troublesome for Wilson considering he’s played linebacker for three seasons with the Illini, as opposed to Moch, who starred as a defensive end. Wilson might measure like a first-rounder, but his tape says he’s closer to a third-round pick.”

Amongst the other potential Bears picks that Rang thinks are overrated are Titus Young, Nate Solder and Mike Pouncey.  Not good.  Amongst the potential underrated players, Rang has Ricki Stanzi as being undervalued.  The Bears probably are looking for a developmental quarterback but Stanzi may go higher in the middle rounds than they’d like.

  • The Bears are not known to take chances on players with character issues but former NFL safety Matt Bowen at the National Football Postthinks that if Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith fell into the late first round, he might be hard to pass up.
  • On a related note, the experts at NFP take a look at the Bears draft room in a couple videos here.  For those who aren’t familiar with the staff at the Post, former Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel and Bowen, a former safety (and a Chicagoan) who played previously under head coach Love Smith with the Rams are on this panel.  Let’s just say they know the Bears pretty well.  This video is well worth watching.  Its a shame they won’t allow it to be embedded here.
  • Gabriel also breaks down offensive tackles Solder and Tyron Smith.  Some mock drafts have Solder falling to the Bears.  Gabriel has this interesting comment about him:

“Because of his narrow frame, you have to question whether or not he will get much stronger in the lower body. Over the years I have seen players like this make weight room gains but not functional strength gains.”


  • Andy Benoit at The New York Times does another one of his “What the Film Revealed” studies, this time of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Here’s an interesting take:

“Myth Buster

“3-4 defensive ends are just run anchors

“For most teams, this is true. But for the Steelers, the defensive end position is where favorable defensive mismatches in the run game are created. Brett Keisel’s agility, more than his power, makes him a force. (This is also true for Aaron Smith…when he’s healthy.) Keisel creates congestion along the line of scrimmage primarily through lateral movement and penetration. Having this kind of mobility at defensive end gives [defensive coordinator Dick] LeBeau more variations in his scheme.”

Joe Flacco, the prototype quarterback,  continued his growth, but he still wasn’t consistent between the numbers. Far too much of the passing game took place underneath and outside, where the reads tend to be simpler… The running game sputtered a bit compared with 2009, largely because the offensive line occasionally struggled to generate raw power. Michael Oher, moving to the left side, was disconcertingly average, at least given the hype around him. At this point, saying Oher is a budding star is akin to  nominating a folksy but cliché-ridden feel-good family sports movie for Best Picture simply to appease the mainstream audience.”

One Final Thought

Mike Freeman at interviews former NFL quarterback Warren Moon who believes ciriticism of Newton is “racially biased” and that he is “extremely angry” about it.  Which makes me extremely angry.  Fortunately Mike Florio at does a good job of debunking this nonsense so I don’t have to.

Teams Who Have Things Like “Quarterback Schools” and Teams Who Don’t. And Other Points of View.


“You can’t be real excited about a guy’s play that year when they’re beaten out by someone else.  Zach went into the season as the starter, and didn’t play as well as he needed to early on, which allowed Tim [Jennings] to take advantage of that opportunity. So Zach needs to come back [strong] this year, which he’s capable of doing.”

  • John Mullin at (in my opinion correctly) points out the the Bears are probably looking to improve the interior of the offensive line rather than offensive tackle.
  • is doing an interesting series of videos on the draft’s top 30 prospects.  I don’t think its likely Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith will fall to the Bears but character issues might drag him down:

  • Most Bear fans would be extremely happy if Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey fell to them:

Kicking and Screaming – Ditka’s Soccer Practice
Tags: Kicking and Screaming – Ditka’s Soccer Practice


“While Nawrocki concedes Newton’s physical skills are immense, he still considers the Auburn QB a risky gamble on greatness.

“Under ‘negatives’ for Newton, Nawrocki writes: ‘Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and will always struggle to win a locker room. … Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.’”

  • As are the Chargers:

“It would take a skilled psychologist to determine what goes through the mind of an NFL player that had the world at his fingertips and willfully let it all slip away.”

“Did the Jets know about Ainge’s problems before or after the draft?  If they didn’t know, it raises a lot of questions about drug-testing procedures in the league.”

  • Michael Silver at Yahoo Sports correctly points out the powerlessness of the NFL fan to do anything about the NFL lockout.  The only substantial thing you can do is to stop allowing the NFL owners and players from making money from you.  That is, to stop being a fan.  Which kind of defeats the purpose.
  • Now that AFLAC has fired Gilbert Gottfried, Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones wants to be the new mascot:

One Final Thought

Seifert, ESPN‘s NFC North blogger, quotes Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy in a nice entry about the team’s quarterback school, something McCarthy runs every March:

“…it’s to give those young quarterbacks that chance to go back to square one every year. You learn the base protections, all the adjustments, I’ve been in the same offense since 1989, and I still learn something new each year. You’re never too experienced or been in it long enough to not find a better way this year.

“Because today’s game, it’s just a big circle. The NFL is just a circle of adjustments, whether it’s the 3-4, or whether it’s the 4-3, whether you’re spreading them out or running the ball. You really don’t run new plays. There are so many great coaches and players that have come before us and you’re just reinventing the stuff that have been done over history. You try to stay one step ahead of your opponents.”

Its not hard to figure out why the Packers won the Super Bowl last year.  The players are expected to go the extra mile in preparation and they do it.

I’d suggest that the Bears should run on one of these “quarterback schools”, too.  But you’d need a coach who could teach something to quarterbacks who will listen.  I’ve seen little evidence that the Bears have either.  That tells you something.

Five Apps Every Sports Fan Needs and Other Points of View


“Asked if [Jay] Cutler would still be a Bronco if he were in charge at the time, Elway said, ‘There’s a good possibility, yeah.

“’I would say that. But I don’t know. I wasn’t in the middle of that. I didn’t know Jay real well.

“’But I would have done everything I can, especially when you have a talent like you have in Jay. Those guys don’t come around very often.’”

  • ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert answers your questions: including this one about whether the Bears need for a receiver:

“melliott74 writes: I remember a few years ago the Steelers were looking for a bigger receiver, and they drafted a ‘steal’ in the 2nd round named Limas Sweed. You’re welcome to take him.

“Kevin Seifert: Well, to be fair, Sweed’s career has been derailed for reasons other than being a big receiver who didn’t play that way. Most notably, he ruptured an Achilles tendon last spring.

But I understand what you’re saying. As they prepare for the draft and free agency, I don’t think the Bears should over-prioritize height for receivers. All I’m saying is that coach Lovie Smith is right to note that he doesn’t have a big receiving threat.

Tight end Greg Olsen could fill that role sometimes, but it’s not the same as having a speed-based threat who can ‘go up and get it.'”


“Scouts say as many as nine outside linebackers are getting no worse than third-round grades from most teams, which is astounding.”

“I would say that one thing you definitely miss is that team camaraderie.  There’s a few guys that come out here daily, so we get a little bit of it. But it’s not the same as a traditional offseason, where it’s 50 guys out there and you’re all working towards one purpose. For the most part, though, we’ve been pushing each other very well.”

“The Jerry 2.0 years started with seemingly effectiveness, as he has retained many of the player templates installed in the [Bill] Parcells years.  Every player from Dallas ’08 draft remains in the league and the one player Dallas cut, 6th rounder Erik Walden, just earned a Super Bowl ring with the Packers.

“That said, the high-round gambling which dogged Jerry 1.0 [between Jimmy Johnson and Parcells] appears to be creeping back into the Cowboys drafts.  Martellus Bennett is a physically imposing, but equally immature tight end, a fact the ’08 Hard Knocks made plain.  Bennett continues to progress slowly, but thus far represents a poor return for a 2nd round pick.”

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock at ESPN:

  • Of interest to Bears fans is this entry in the Whispers feature at Pro Football Weekly:

“Not many people expect the Patriots to keep both their first-round picks (Nos. 17 and 28). The Pats also start the second round with the 33rd overall selection. The 28th appears to be the one for sale, and a report surfaced from the owners meeting in New Orleans that the Chargers could be a suitor. The Patriots have more holes to fill than you would think for a team coming off a 14-2 record, with a young defense and an aging offensive line. However, that shouldn’t end the Draft Day tradition of Bill Belichick making a deal and trading an early pick for a future pick.”

The Bears have the 29th pick, the one immediately after the relevant Patriots spot.

One Final Thought

This time of year the news in the press (and subsequently much of what you find referenced in this blog) is dominated by what people say about the draft.  So these statements by Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel in the National Football Post have particular relevance, especially to the teams fans:

“I used to tell people in the last few weeks leading up to the draft that the first thing I have to do when the draft is over is go to confession and beg for forgiveness for all the lies I told the previous two months.”

“While I was with the Bears, I would change things every year so the media could not be certain as to why we were doing things. One year I may bring in for visits many of the players we were interested in and the next year not bring in any and then the next year only guys we may want as potential free agents. Of course then there were some years when you would bring in the big “smoke screen” candidate only to let other clubs “think” we were interested in that player. I felt you could never have a pattern on how you did business; you have to change from year to year especially when dealing with the draft. If I was ever asked about a certain player’s injury, I would always say that it was a concern even if it wasn’t. If that answer would throw off what a few clubs thought we may want to do then it was the right answer.

“The bottom line is the only things that you can really believe is what you know to be true.”

Bears Mock Draft Round Up

I’ve promised an occasional update on who various mock drafts around the Internet say the Bears will be taking.  Today seemed like a good day for it.

There are lots of names to consider as the experts are all over the board with this pick.  Most rightly have the Bears looking at offensive and defensive linemen.  But as I’ve said before, general manager Jerry Angelo is most likely to take the best player available at any one of a variety of positions.  The Bears have two linebackers on the entire roster. Its unlikely that there are any safeties worthy of the pick but cornerback and even wide receiver are not out of the realm of possibility in the first round if the right guy falls.

What matters most is that this pick be an impact player if at all possible.

Peter Schrager, FOX Sports

Rodney Hudson, G/C, Florida State: The Bears have needs across the offensive line and would be more than pleased to snag Hudson, a fast-rising prospect who impressed during his workouts and interviews at the Combine. Though he played guard in college, Hudson — who weighed in at 299 pounds in Indy — could be a center in the NFL. Versatile, smart and sound, Hudson would be an immediate upgrade for Chicago’s shaky front five.

John Crist,

Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State:  The release of [Tommie] Harris means three-technique tackle just shot up the list of priorities, and Paea can do more than just bench 225 pounds 49 times.

Don Banks,

Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State:  The Bears offensive line needs attention and Sherrod is the highest-rated remaining tackle available. Though his play has drawn some comparisons to underachieving 2008 Bears first-round pick Chris Williams — not what Chicago fans want to hear — Sherrod is considered NFL-ready and would offer the Bears immediate help.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN

Nate Solder, OT, Colorado:

Chicago should be thrilled if Solder is available here. He has added bulk to a 6-foot-8 frame, making him a guy who could help in a run game that really fell off in 2010. All the questions about his toughness aside, Chicago let Jay Cutler take far too many hits over the last two seasons and Mike Martz isn’t reluctant to run the ball if he has an offensive line he can run behind with consistency.

[Author’s note:  Kiper often seems to have a good handle on what the Bears are thinking.  I’m expecting him to update this mock draft any day and I’ll probably do a separate post on it.]


Pat Kirwan,


Aaron Williams, CB, Texas:  The Bears know there is some depth late in the first round at corner and get a shot at a smooth athlete. Williams ran a slow 40 at the combine and needs to run faster at some point. He’ll have a chance at Texas’ pro day on March 28.

Todd McShay, ESPN

Sherrod:  This is a tough spot for the Bears and I struggled with who to project here. Chicago won’t find a solid answer when it comes to upgrading at left offensive tackle or 3-technique on defense, and Sherrod is a bit of a reach here but he is the best available tackle and does offer the versatility to move inside to guard if needed. I can see the Bears sensing problems at No. 29 and trading up in an effort to get [Mike] Pouncey, or they could offer this pick to a team targeting a specific player and looking to trade back into the end of the first round. If they’re stuck, though, needs could go out the window and Chicago could simply take the top player on its board.

Wes Bunting, National Football Post

Pouncey, C/OG, Florida:  I think the Bears would like to add a tackle here, but with a value like Pouncey still on the board — who can come in and fill a number of holes inside early in his NFL career — he might be too good to pass up.

Rob Rang,

Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois: Liuget has the talent to warrant consideration in the top 20, but could see a slip on draft day through no fault of his own. The 6-2, 298-pounder is a classic three-technique defensive tackle for the 4-3 alignment and with only half of the teams operating out of this scheme, he could take a tumble as clubs focus on bigger needs. His strength, surprising quickness and low center of gravity could make him an ideal fit for the Bears, especially with Chicago’s recent release of Tommie Harris.

Chad Reuter,

Liuget: Tommie Harris is gone and Anthony Adams is a free agent.

Pete Prisco,

Liuget: They let Tommie Harris go, which means they need help inside. They take the local kid to take a step in that direction.

Brian Galliford,

Sherrod: For whatever reason, Sherrod isn’t highly valued amongst the draftniks out there. He’s an instant starter at left tackle in Chicago.

Scott Wright,

Liuget:  The general consensus is that the Bears most glaring need is along the offensive line and that they are a mortal lock to go in that direction with this pick. There is no denying that Chicago has issues up front and they might very well opt for a blocker in round one. However, USC’s Tyron Smith, Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi and Colorado’s Nate Solder could all be gone by this point and the next best option would be Derek Sherrod of Mississippi St, who is considered to be a borderline first round talent. If that’s the case the Bears may choose to look elsewhere. One alternative may be defensive tackle, where Tommie Harris was recently sent packing and they lack the type of disruptive playmaker  at the position that is so crucial in Lovie Smith’s system. Local product Corey Liuget of Illinois is an athletic, quick, penetrating three-technique who’d be an ideal replacement for Harris. Liuget still doesn’t get much ink but make no mistake about it, he’s a legit (pun intended) first rounder who could even be selected much earlier than this. It probably wouldn’t hurt to add a top-flight cornerback such as Jimmy Smith of Colorado or Aaron Williams of Texas either since there  isn’t  much  to  speak  of  beyond  Charles Tillman.

Muhammad Wilkerson, DT,Temple:  By releasing Tommie Harris the Bears opened up a gaping hole on their defensive line. If the season started today they would probably be forced to start Matt Toeaina and Henry Melton at tackle. The Bears defense has been great for a number of years now, but the system only works if the defensive line does its job. Wilkerson didn’t get attention playing at Temple, but he’s established himself as a legitimate 1st-round pick in his offseason workouts.

Liuget:  The poor Bears can’t upgrade their offensive front because all the first-round prospects are off the board. They could reach for Ben Ijalana or Stefen Wisniewski, but they might as well just wait until Round 2 to upgrade the line.

Corey Liuget is the best player available, and he makes a ton of sense for Chicago. Tommie Harris lost his starting job due to performance and was ultimately released. The Bears will be seeking an upgrade at defensive tackle.

Other 2011 NFL Draft Possibilities:

1. Derek Sherrod, OT or Mike Pouncey, G – The Bears have to improve Jay Cutler’s protection.

2. Brandon Harris, CB – The Bears will look to upgrade the cornerback position this offseason. Brandon Harris is the top cornerback on the board.

Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pitt:  Jay Cutler has had some good games this year and of late has had some really really bad games. I think he has some good receiving weapons but he doesn’t have any big targets. So I have them taking a top tier WR in Jonathan Baldwin from Pitt. Baldwin showed that he has very good physical skills at the combine but I am still not sure that he is a first round prospect….

Nolan Nawrocki,

Liuget:  Julius Peppers worked wonders for Chicago’s defensive line last season, and if Rod Marinelli could find an interior rusher capable of upgrading the inside, the Bears would be in business. Liuget has the initial quickness to thrive in gaps and could help replace Tommie Harris, who was cut.


Liuget:  Despite a 1st-round offensive line talent remaining, the Bears address a secondary need along the interior d-line, especially after the departure of Tommie Harris.  Ending what could be a very undeserving slide, I have the Bears staying in-state with Liuget…

Roemer Recommendation – Allen Bailey, DT, University of Miami:  With Liuget rightly off the board in the top 10 of my recommended mock, Allen Bailey should sneak into the back of the 1st round.  He quietly had two very productive upper-class campaigns to close out his college career, including impact penetration plays.

NFL Considering Scab Owners and Other Points of View


“There’s not many perfect fits for that three-technique for Chicago but you could see maybe a Corey Liuget out of Illinois. I’ve got him going 14th to the Rams but after the Rams, there’s not many teams looking for a true defensive tackle. I personally think he’d be a better fit as a nose tackle in a 4-3…[but] if he’s there at 29 you’d have to think long and hard about passing on a guy like Liuget.”

“Most of our guys … they are smaller receivers, so to have a little bit of a different flavor wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

  • Omar Kelly at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has posted this interesting video of Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano talking about finding an NFL center.  He’s talking about moving guard Richie Incognito to the position.  Many believe that the Bears are looking for someone to either replace or groom behind Olin Kreutz:

  • Bob Sturm at the Dallas Morning News points to this video which demonstrates why he thinks offensive tackle Nick Solder is overrated.  Most experts believe that the Bears would take Solder if he fell to them.  This is not a flattering picture of a guy who was flat out dominated by a smaller, quicker man.


  • Tom Pelissero at in Minnesota adds up the clues and comes to the conclusion that the Vikings may be looking to trade up and take a run at Blaine Gabbert.
  • Elizabeth Merrill at ESPN profiles Gabbert.  I know that there are no character concerns for him but there’s something off when a guy has had a personal trainer simce the eighth grade.  I don’t want to make too big a deal of it but it hardly sounds like a normal upbringing.  I hope we aren’t talking about  Todd Marinovich.
  • Drew Sharp at the Detroit Free Press tries to convince us that the lockout will hurt the Lions “far worse” than most teams.  The Lions have a stable coaching staff with no scheme changes.
  • Chris McCosky at The Detroit News quotes Lions head coach Jim Schwartz on Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith:

“I learned a long time ago that you can’t judge a guy on a quote, on what a guy said or what you heard that he said.  If you don’t know the guy, you can’t judge him.”

Smith has four failed drug tests.  I don’t think this is a case of “he said, she said”.

  • Schwartz and Tom Kowalski at are still trying to find a way to twist poor coaching and Calvin Johnson‘s error into a catch.  These guys need to get together with Bob Costas and get it all out by throwing a pity party and having a good group cry.  I was at Missouri during the fifth down controversy and even we didn’t whine this much for this long with a lot more justification.
  • Vic Carucci at has Bear fans weeping over the idea that the lockout as put a wet blanket on the Green Bay victory celebration.
  • Seifert makes the case that the Packers  might have a need at wide receiver.  Could be but I would still put it no higher than fourth on the list.
  • Kendrick Ellis appears to be the latest beneficiary of the constant need to nose tackles for the 3-4.  Via Aaron Wilson at The National Football Post.
  • Johnny Jolly we hardly knew ye.
  • Armando Salguero at the Miami Herald writes that Dolphins owner Steven Ross has told Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland that they don’t have to win now and that they have guaranteed job security.  So basically they’re dead men walking.
  • Former NFL safety Matt Bowen at The National Football Postcomes out strongly against HGH testing because it requires drawing blood.  But I’m pretty sure players have to give blood already for AIDS testing.  Fear is almost certainly what is stopping testing for growth hormone.   But I doubt its fear of a needle.
  • Bowen also points out that rookies will be behind due to the lockout for a number of reasons including lack of a playbook.  Though he has a point, most rookies will almost certainly find a veteran to help them out with these issues.
  • The Charlotte Observer got beat writers for the top 5 teams in the draft to do a mock draft.  Its a neat concept that I’d like to see done for the entire first round.
  • Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer does a comparison of the top two wide receivers in the draft.  A.J. Green is a possibility for the Bengals but that fourth pick would be awfully high for Julio Jones.
  • I’m way behind on my videos. The Seattle Seahawks are on the clock at ESPN:

  • So are the Saints:

  • and the Eagles:

  • and the Colts:

  • and finally the Chiefs:

“If you polled the entire league, I would guess the opinions are split on (Auburn QB) Cam Newton. Anyone that really knows the kid and did their homework will have him down on their board. We had him at the very top of our board before the Combine. He’s got talent — you have to give it to him. But I wouldn’t think about him until the end of the first (round), and even there, I’m not sure I’d want him. Now it’s a little different when you’re in the hunt for a quarterback. We got a good one. … I just think you’re asking for too much trouble with a guy like him. It’s just like Vince Young — all the warning signs were there. The lower (Newton) goes, the better his chances will be.”

and on a related note:

“What do you think the hit ratio is on one-year wonders in the first round. We did the study over five years. It’s not very good. What’s scary is how many of them there are in this year’s draft. I would not touch either of the two at Auburn that everyone is talking about. I hope they go early so that some good players fall to us.”

I’m on the fence about Nick Fairley but I’ll say out right that Newton in the top ten is a boat load of bust waiting to happen.  Both of these guys seem to me to have potential football character issues.

“Trading down is an option that I am sure they would love. I also here of several other teams that would love to move down, too – Washington for sure. So, you need a partner. That is why we look at 2 particular positions – QB and WR. Here is why you want those guys taken at 1-8 (Gabbart, Newton, Green, and Jones) – so that the good DE/OL/DT prospects get to you at #9. Here is why you DONT want them to be taken at 1-8 – so you have teams calling you to move up and snag them. This is the draft day chess game that the Cowboys have to play and have to play right.”

“(Georgia OLB) Justin Houston is very talented, but he could be the next Vernon Gholston. It’s scary, but he shuts it down way too much. He’s one of the draft’s great magicians. He can disappear with the best of them.”

  • Shocking news from the The Onion which is reporting that NFL is considering hiring replacement owners for the 2011 season.
  • And The Sports Pickle has obtained an official proposal for rules changes from the NFL Kickers Association.  Amongst the suggestions is the elimination of tackling on kickoffs to avoid injuries (i.e. humiliation, embarrassment and emasculation).
  • After paying a 16 year old girl for sex, former New York Giant Lawrence Taylor got sentenced to 6 years probation and to a lifetime of humiliating jokes and laughter from this blogger a total stranger who occasionally breaks in and hijacks my keyboard.  In Lithuania.

One Final Thought

The fifth Season of Mad Men looks like it will be delayed to 2012 as executives from AMC and Lionsgate Studio can’t agree on who gets more of the lucrative amounts of money that the show brings in.  Suddenly I have the urge to show DeMaurice Smith a picture of January Jones, wait about 30 seconds and then kick him in the balloons…

    Quo Vadis Chris Williams

    Bob LeGere at the Daily Herald asks the key question as the NFL Draft and (hopefully) free agency approaches:  “Where will Chris Williams play?”

    The Beas will almost certainly pick up at least one good offensive lineman who they will be expected to compete to start right away.  If the Bears pick up a good tackle, Williams will be at guard.  If its a good interior lineman, he will be at tackle.

    Williams is probably a better right tackle than a guard but where ever he ends up, here’s hoping the Bears put him there and keep him there.  He’ll never develop if they continue to shuffle him around.

    About Looking for Offensive Tackles Over Guards in Early Rounds

    According to Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice worked out Arkansas offensive tackle DeMarcus Love.  Love is expected to go anywhere from rounds three to five.  The article also had this nugget in it:

    “[Bears general manager JerryAngelo mentioned [earlier this week] how teams typically have to invest a higher pick in a tackle while finding help at guard or center in later rounds.”

    I’m not a big fan of this attitude.  I understand the tendency to take tackles earlier in part because they can become interior linemen if they don’t workout.  But if the help that Steve Hutchinson brought to the Vikings offensive line taught us anything its that general managers need to stop under appreciating the position.  Though many still subscribe to it, that old saw about finding good guards later in the draft is out dated.

    If a good tackle that Angelo really likes falls to them, then they should take him, of course.  But at the end of the first round I think you are more likely to see an undervalued guard like Danny Watkins out of Baylor and generally speaking I’d rather have that than an overrated tackle.

    NFL Sends Inconsistent Signals with Recent Rule Change and Other Points of View


    “One thing Phillips said on the issue [of the grass playing surface at Soldier Field], however, sounds like an utter crock: ‘The players know how to play on it, and frankly, it’s been part of our home-field advantage.’ The Bears players rip it as much or more than opponents do. They don’t like it and don’t sound confident on that kitty-litter. And I wouldn’t be talking home-field advantage if I just lost the NFC Championship Game at home.”

    • Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times points out the the NFL chose what head coach Lovie Smith considered to be the worst possible option for the kickoff rules:

    “’The part that we’re not OK with is moving the ball up to the 35-yard line,’ Smith said. ‘The rest of it, we could live with.’

    “Much to Smith’s chagrin, the NFL voted to move the kickoff yard line from the 30 to the 35 and opted to keep two-man wedges and touchbacks at the 20-yard line.”

    “Other owners and their representatives crowed about McCaskey’s speech, which is what you do when you want to keep the sucker at the poker table — praise his play. But if McCaskey wasn’t so worried about his speech, then maybe he would’ve shown some clout to round up enough votes to block the new kickoff rule.

    But no. The Bears were unable to prevent the NFL from minimizing the league’s most dangerous return game. The Steelers, meanwhile, with one of the hardest-hitting defense, made sure that proposals regarding hits on defenseless players didn’t pass. Some teams have clout, apparently. Some teams have Fredo McCaskey.”

    • Jensen also writes of Bears president Phillips’ confidence that the team is in good shape headed into a lockout:

    “I think it’s huge,” Phillips said when asked about his team’s continuity, “and with the labor uncertainty we have now, that’s why we’ve preached, internally, to cover all bases and be ready because you never know when the deal is going to get done.

    “We’re going to have a competitive edge.”

    • Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune quoting Smith on the criticism of the Bears for announcing quarterback Jay Cutler‘s return as “questionable” after his injury in the NFC Championship game:

    “We can’t worry about the criticism.  We’re trying to win a football game. … What were we supposed to do? We’re behind, trying to win the biggest game in the history of our franchise. Let’s worry about what everybody is thinking about our quarterback? That’s the last thing.”

    • It also sounds like Pompei has a suspicion the Bears might be drafting interior offensive linemen rather than tackles as he answers questions from fans:

    Are the Bears really considering Florida’s center Mike Pouncey with their first pick in the draft? I think it’s more than time to bring on Olin Kreutz successor, don’t you? And, would the Bears trade up to draft him? — Walter Brzeski, Chicago

    If they aren’t, they should be. The Bears might need help on their interior offensive line more than they need help at the tackle position. Within two years, they might need three new starters at left guard, right guard and center. Pouncey could start out this year as the left guard, and then move inside to center when Kreutz moves on (assuming Kreutz is re-signed). The problem is Pouncey probably won’t be on the board when the Bears pick at No. 29. Trading up is a possibility, but it would come with drawbacks. The Bears have had a deficit of high draft picks over the last two years because of trades. Giving away two high draft picks for one good prospect in this scenario might not make good sense.

    I agree 100% both because I think the guard and center positions are a need and because the draft probably will fall such that it will make the most sense for the Bears to go that way.  But what they do will probably depend mostly upon how they feel about the fourth or fifth tackle prospects as opposed to their second guard prospect, though.  And the defensive linemen available will factor in as well.

    • Smith’s comments about the backup situation at guard would seem to validate Pompei’s opinion.  Smith doesn’t sound happy about their play last year.  Via Michael C. Wright at

    “If you just be a team player, eventually, you’re gonna really get a chance to prove whether you can play or not, and you need to take advantage of your opportunity.  Lance [Louis] hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunity. Edwin [Williams] did not take advantage of his opportunity, or hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunity yet. We still like those guys. They’re young players that are in the system.”

    “Overall, Sherrod will eventually become a winning left tackle in the league. Some teams may start him off on the right side while he gains experience but he has the traits to play on the left side. The more tape I watched of this player the more I liked him. He has range and athleticism to go along with long arms…all traits needed to become an effective left tackle in the league.”

    “There isn’t a prejudiced bone in our bodies or my dad’s body,” Ryan said, including twin brother and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. “That’s why I know it’s crazy.”

    “‘We didn’t come out and check the body or nothing like that, but he’s fine,’ Smith said. ‘I talked to Jay just before he went on his trip to Africa. His spirits are high, in a good mood, you know. [He’s] excited about everything.”

    Cutler’s had a rough month or two and its nice to know they were talking to him.

    • There aren’t many matchups Julius Peppers can’t win but this is one of them.
    • The Bears website is featuring a quick 4 minute feature on general manager Jerry Angelo and the NFL draft.  Most of the footage appears to be from last year but its still pretty good:


    • To no one’s surprise, Bengals owner Mike Brown isn’t backing down on his refusal of quarterback Carson Palmer‘s request for a trade.  Palmer is threatening to retire. Via Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

    “I haven’t talked to any other team about him and I have no plans to trade him.”

    Brown’s problem goes well beyond the quarterback.  If he gives in on Palmer there might be a line of players behind him.

    • Most Bear fans have one hope as regards the future prospects of the very young and talented Green Bay Packer team.    That is that they handle success in the same way that the Bears handled it after their Super Bowl run in 2006 – poorly.  However it seems that head coach Mike McCarthy is more aware of the problem that Lovie Smith apparently was.  Via Rob Demovsky at the Green Bay Press Gazzette:

    “’We’ve achieved team success at the highest level, and I’m a big believer that every level you hit brings new devils,’ McCarthy said. ‘Definitely, there will be some new challenges that come with winning the Super Bowl. We’re anticipating it. It’s something we’ll talk about and keep in the forefront as a football team because to me, that’s where I’ve seen failure.'”

    “I think our division is extremely competitive … It’s very competitive. We were 4-2 in our division games, and we strive to do better than that, and we’re going to need to do better than that. I think our division, we spend a lot of time on division games, I’d put our division up against anybody’s. It’s competitive as hell.”

    • NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert at ESPN quotes Lions head coach  Jim Schwartz on how they are monitoring the rehab of quarterback Matthew Stafford during the lockout.  There isn’t supposed to be any contact between the organization and the players during this time:

    “Our trainers are in communication not with the players but the people who are doing their rehab… We can’t supervise, but we can communicate with the people who supervise. So you have an idea. And you know they’re at professional places.”

    “It’s hard to say (it was a wasted year).  I think sometimes setbacks are set-ups for better things in the future. Sometimes your best lessons come from tough times. I think I’m a better coach today with that experience. Not the record, but I think it made me better as a coach.”

    “From my vantage point I couldn’t quite see whether Pete Carroll wore a cat-ate-the-canary look on his face when he heard the question. But when a Philadelphia-based reporter inquired whether his Seahawks have had conversations with the Eagles regarding a trade for quarterback Kevin Kolb, you could almost hear Carroll’s brain whirling as he very carefully chose his words.

    “‘There’s no conversations going on,’ said Carroll, perhaps notably dropping into present tense. ‘Not what you want. I talk to [Eagles head coach] Andy [Reid] a lot. I like Andy a lot.”’

    Translation:  Carroll is determined to overpay for Kolb and make the Eagles an even better team for years to come by giving them multiple high round draft picks.

    • Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant ejected from mall in Dallas for the high crime of wearing droopy pants.  He didn’t take it well.

    One Final Thought

    Jensen again on the kickoff rule change:

    “Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, insisted player safety superseded any other points.”

    Except that it didn’t.  All NFL plays are dangerous.  This one might or might not exceed the standard of what’s too risky and what isn’t.  But one thing is clear.  If – and its a big “if” – the play actually is too dangerous and if player safety really does supersede all other points, it should have been eliminated.

    The truth of the matter is that this was a war between player safety and the money that comes from highlights of exciting kickoff returns.  So we are left with half measures as fans are sent a mixed message.  As a result the whole thing sounds more like an effort to make it look like the league is protecting the players than one to actually go all out and do it.

    This was a poor decision all around.

    Smith’s Comments Lead to Speculation about the Look of the Bears Offensive Line in 2011

    Dan Pompei summarized Bears head coach Lovie Smith‘s comments on the plan for the offensive line this coming year for the Chicago Tribune:

    “He said he has an idea of how he would like the offensive line to set up, but how it shakes out is dependent on additions. Smith said he believes [J’MarcusWebb, who played right tackle as a rookie, has the physical ability to play left tackle. He was noncommittal about where Chris Williams would play, but he would like the former first-round pick, who has played three positions, to lock into one.”

    This isn’t much to go on but its March.  That makes it speculation season.  If Smith really likes Webb at left tackle then the situation on the outside becomes a bit clearer and we might be able to make some guesses about what’s going to happen here.

    The Bears will likely have a guard available to them in the draft.  Guards tend to be undervalued in the top rounds because teams still figure they can pick them up later.  In the first round they’d probably ideally Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey to fall to them.  Baylor guard Danny Watkins is more likely to be there and he’s a good possibility.

    If the Bears take an interior lineman they probably either put him at center (Pouncey) or put him at guard to compete.  Sadly, this may mean letting center Olin Kreutz leave via free agency, particularly if Pouncey is their guy.  If a really good offensive tackle were to fall to them (unlikely) then Kreutz stays.  But an interior offensive lineman might spell the end for him with the Bears.

    This would be a blow as Kreutz is a leader who brings an attitude which the team reflects.  But Kreutz’s play has been deteriorating and he’s never been good at handling big men over center.  The Bears have had to make adjustments in the way the line plays, often pulling him, to accommodate his deficiencies.  I’m afraid his days with the team have been numbered for a few years now.

    This leaves us to speculate about Chris Williams.  The fact that the Bears haven’t settled on a position for him probably means its going to depend upon who they draft.  If the Bears draft a tackle, he probably competes at guard.  If its an interior lineman then he’s at right tackle.  Probably they would prefer the latter with Frank Omiyale also competing to start at tackle on either side.

    Let’s assume that the Bears pick up an interior lineman.  We are left with:

    Webb, Williams, Omiyale competing at tackle
    Lance Louis, Edwin WilliamsRoberto Garza/possible draftee competing at guard
    Garza/possible draftee at center

    If its a tackle we have:

    Webb, Omiyale, draftee competing at tackle
    C. Williams, Louis, E. Williams, Garza competing at guard
    Kreutz or Garza at center

    If the draft doesn’t yield a good offensive lineman somewhere at the top of the draft then the Bears sign at least one (hopefully high quality) free agent and the above situations still apply.  Indeed, they may do that regardless of who they draft.

    Still not very specific but a plan and there are certainly potential variations but, nevertheless, something similar to this leaves the team flexible with numerous possibilities to keep in the back of our heads going into the NFL draft.

    The Challenge for George McCaskey

    Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune writes about the succession of leadership at Halas Hall.  Michael McCaskey is stepping down and being replaced as chairmen of the board by his brother George McCaskey.  Here’s the quote that caught my eye:

    “George is expected to have a somewhat different style from Michael, but he is not expected to be dabbling in football decisions.

    “‘I’ve given a lot of thought to how to do the job,’ George said. ‘I’ve got three chairmen as predecessors with vastly different styles. One of the things I’m thinking a lot about is how to be informed and involved without interfering.'”

    That’s certainly the right attitude.  But it won’t be easy.

    Fans piss and moan and magazines like Forbes pick at the Bears finances.  But as far as I’m concerned, Bears ownership has been generally good for the fans since the 90s when Michael was kicked up stairs from team president to chairman by his mother Virginia McCaskey.

    The McCaskeys supply the necessary support, monetary and otherwise.  And they have spent money.  But generally speaking, I’m convinced that they’ve left the football operations to football people.  No matter what anyone says about general manager Jerry Angelo, every reasonable person can agree that they’d rather have him making those decisions.

    George McCaskey has a challenge on his hands.  Until now Bears ownership has been very low key, staying as far behind the scenes as possible.  That has its good points but it leaves the impression that they are hiding from the fans rather than working for their benefit.  So the guess here is that when Pompei says that “George is expected to have a somewhat different style from Michael”, I think it may mean that he will be more of a public face of the franchise.  I would speculate that he’ll do more interviews and generally be more visible.  But how do you do that without exerting undue influence on football matters through your public comments?

    Whether McCaskey successfully achieves the proper balance or not, one thing is certain.  At least he has the right idea going in.