“Money” Does Not Equal “Respect” and Other Points of View


“[Defensive coordinator Rod] Marinelli said playing in space didn’t bring out the best in Melton at end as he had a tendency to ‘look around.’ But he quickly showed the pad level and leverage necessary to be effective inside. The switch was in the works at the start of his rookie season in 2009 before he was placed on injured reserve with a minor ankle injury. His assignment was to bulk up for the move inside and he did that.”

  • Special teams coordinator Dave Toub on how they are trying to make the best punt returner in the NFL even better.  Via Biggs:

“’We’ve been working on [Devin Hester] catching the really short punts, going up and getting those instead of letting them drop,’ Toub said. ‘That has been our emphasis. He really has done a good job. Devin has had a great camp, not only as a wide receiver but as a returner too.’”

  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has been uncharacteristically high on the current Bears team.  In a limited way, he even finds a way to talk around the fact that the Bears failed to add to the offensive line:

“But there might be a more notable reason the Bears ignored improving the unit that usually defines great teams: The Bears plan to have [quarterback Jay] Cutler run away from the bad blockers.”

Yes, that’s a good part of the game plan, I think. In fact, though I haven’t bought a single thing the Bears have actually said about this topic, this one thing that they haven’t said seems to be the one reason for optimism:  that when Jay Cutler was at his best last season, it was because he made plays on the move despite a poor offensive line.  Nothing proves that more than seeing what happened to the targets that replaced him after he was injured.  The guess here is that the Bears plan to use more designed rollouts and bootlegs the way the Broncos tailored their offense for him in Denver.  And, indeed, it might work.

“One of the areas that we wanted to improve across the board was our hands, using our hands better, keeping the players away from us. We know we have guys that can run, so that’s going to help our running game. That’s really all we can look at right now.”

Jackson (Tennessee)

“Who wins the Bears LT competition? [J’Marcus] Webb or [Chris] Williams?

Kevin Seifert

“I think they want Webb to win it. If [offensive coordinator Mike] Tice thought Williams could do the job, he wouldn’t have moved him to guard a few years ago.”


“You don’t move a productive left tackle out of that position if he is in fact productive. It’s much easier to find a guy to play guard than tackle. It was a reflection on Chris to a large extent.”

  • Hayes hypes up the Bears wide receiver corp.  I have to say that I’m not completely buying into the hype here either.  If the Bears are smart enough to play thier smaller, speedier wide receivers inside to match them up with nickle backs and allow them to get off of the line of scrimmage, that will be a plus.  But even given that, as far as I can see a lot is going to depend upon Alshon Jeffrey.  He’s a big target that could demand a double team which he won’t get as long as Brandon Marshall is on the field.  The problem is that wide receivers rarely produce in their first year.

Frankly, with all of the high expectations being generated in the media for this team, I have to wonder if they aren’t being set up for failure.  The Packers are still the class of the division and if the Lions play up to their potential, as far as I’m concerned the Bears are still the third place team in the division.

  • Joe Cowley at the Chicago Sun-Times tells us what Matt Forte thought of his teammate’s comments about him as he continues to stay away in a contract dispute.

“While [Lance] Briggs had Forte’s back, Forte didn’t appreciate quarterback Jay Cutler recently speaking for him.

“Cutler said he ‘would be shocked if [Forte] doesn’t sign his tender by July 15, or whenever it is, and show up.’

“‘I don’t know, it depends on how we’re doing in the negotiations,’ Forte said when asked if he would sign and be in camp on time. But it kind of looks bad when other people speak for you. [Cutler] doesn’t really know what’s going to happen. He’s not in the negotiations. He’s just being optimistic.’”

I thought at the time that Cutler made those comments that it was an uncharacteristically stupid thing for him to do.  Forte has now confirmed that impression.  Forte’s only leverage in negotiations is the threat of a hold out.  If his friends and teammates are saying that he’s not going to do that, it can only hurt.

  • Nathan Enderle, we hardly knew ye.  Hell, we never knew ye at all.   Via Biggs.
  • I, personally, loved it but Dan McNeil at the Chicago Tribune didn’t seem as thrilled with the blanket Bears coverage during their minicamp:

“This Bears minicamp media blitz, however, is maddening. It’s got me worried about those in my fraternity.

“In case you’ve missed the local newspapers, sports radio or the television sports magazine shows lately, you’ve been spared Bears blather of epic proportion. The kind of overkill that hasn’t been seen around here since the 1985-86 woof woofers were packing for training camp in Platteville, Wis.

“Slow down, boys. Almost all of these stories will stand up when the Bears start smacking each other around in the sweltering heat in about six weeks.”


  • I hope you all will forgive me but I’ve about had it with the Saints bounty scandal and I’m just not going to talk a lot about it.  I’d like for the thing to just get done and over with.

Having said that, I did find one comment from Browns linebacker Scott Fugita regarding the players appeal hearing interesting.  From Dave Zirin at SI.com:

“‘People said I was stupid for confessing to paying for big plays.  I didn’t think of that as a big deal,’ Fujita said.  ‘Is it against the rules?  Technically, yeah, it’s against the rules, but that’s the way it was done when I was a young player and I’m not ashamed of that.  If that’s what I’m going down for, let’s call it for what it is.  The problem is that the league has billed this thing as being this super-organized pay-to-injure scheme, which it never was.’”

What caught my attention was the first sentence.  Many players and union representatives have questioned why commissioner Roger Goodell has not shown the players all of the evidence against them.  This comment is probably why.

As I see it, the process of gathering information in the NFL is like going before a federal grand jury.  Prosecuting attorneys in this situation don’t have to show you the evidence against you before you testify and they frequently don’t.  The reason is simple – they want you to tell the whole truth, not just confess to what you know they have you nailed on.  They don’t want you to tailor your confession to the evidence.

If the “people” who are telling Fujita he’s stupid for telling the truth are other players, particularly other players implicated in the scandal, then I think we all know that the NFL is handling this situation the right way.  They’re going to have to force these players to tell them the truth or they’ll never get it.


  • Also from The Sports Pickle haters finally have the proof they need of Tim Tebow’s hypocrisy:


One Final Thought

Cowley quotes Forte further:

“Even if Forte and the Bears reach a deal, Forte said the process has left some ‘scars.’

“‘That’s what happens when you get into the business side of sports,’ he said. ‘There’s an easy way to get over those scars, but we’ll see. Everyone looks at it and says, ‘Oh, it’s only about money.’ It’s not only about money. It’s about you going out there and putting your heart and soul on the field, being respected for what you do, and then being rewarded for it.’”

If I had to point to one problem across all sports, especially professional sports, it is the idea that athletes get into their heads that “money equals respect”.  Many if not most of the greatest men and women in history were not rich.  Indeed, I would say that most of the very best were poor.

What Matt Forte is really saying is that this negotiation is about pride, the greatest of the seven deadly sins and the one that is the root of them all.  I’m all for using every point of leverage to negotiate a contract and Forte is well within his rights to do as he has done so far.  But if the negotiation gets to the point where it really hurts himself or the team, I’m going to be very disappointed.

Cutler’s Success Will Be Determined by His Receivers More than Ever and Other Points of View


  • Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com thinks the Bears offense might look a lot like the Viking’s offense a decade ago.  He makes and interesting point:

“While all of this may be good news for the fantasy football crowd, the reality is that, under [Bears offensive coordinator, MikeTice, the Vikings went to the playoffs only once in four seasons.  If that pattern repeats itself in Chicago, he won’t be the offensive coordinator for long — because there will be a new head coach.”

“[Gabe] Carimi’s return is critical. While [Phil] Emery has shored up key positions, he has left himself open to criticism by leaving an average offensive line virtually untouched. The line is better than critics think. With a makeshift lineup, the Bears were ninth in the NFL in rushing, and Jay Cutler was sacked nine times in is final seven games last season. But disastrous games with Cutler running for his life against the New York Giants in 2010 and the Detroit Lions in 2011 still define our image of the line.”

As well they should.

  • Former Bears left tackle Jim Covert has some suggestions to improve Chicago Bears’ pass blocking.  From Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune:

“’The technique nowadays is dreadful,’ said Covert, now president and CEO of The Institute for Transfusion Medicine. ‘You very rarely see guys punch(-block) people with their hands, get separation.

“’In these days of the three-step drop … the short passing game … you can essentially shock the guy at the line of scrimmage and almost fall down and (the defender) won’t get to the passer. Yet these (offensive linemen) continually back up and catch people and it is just frustrating to watch.

“’You can’t catch people, you have to shock people at the line of scrimmage. You have to stop them. Pass blocking is controlled aggression.’”

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the challenges Bears guard Chilo Rachal faces with a new offense in Chicago:

“The 6-foot-5 Rachal is listed at 323 pounds but says he is about 310 right now, the weight he reported to camp at last summer after dropping “30 some pounds.”  He possesses the size and athleticism to do some of the pulling offensive coordinator Mike Tice likes in the running game.

“‘I’m in real good shape,” he said. “I feel explosive. I can move good.’”

“Mike Ditka was among those honored with a Ring Lardner Award on Wednesday night.

“‘I am honored, but for me to get any kind of broadcast award, you guys have got to be nuts,’ joked Ditka during the organization’s annual dinner at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago. ‘You must have (gone) to the bottom of the barrel and turned it upside down.’”

“If Chicago wanted to be host to a Super Bowl, it should have done two things differently in 2001 when the city decided to rebuild Soldier Field.

“It should have made the capacity significantly larger, and it should have put a dome over it.

“And MetLife Stadium, where the Super Bowl will be played, has FieldTurf. Soldier Field has grass. In February, Soldier Field has a mixture of dead grass, mud and sand.”

“So the chances of Chicago having a Super Bowl are roughly the same as the chances of Jupiter having one.”

“This is by far the largest scouting staff the Bears ever have had. The 2012 Bears personnel staff will have 18 scouts, six more than the 2011 staff.”

“Despite making exorbitant salaries, 60 percent of NBA players are broke within five years of retirement, according to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article. And 78 percent of NFL players are broke within three years.”

So what would former Bears tell the current Bears?  I thought former tight end Dez Clark has the best advise:

“You play football and you let people who manage money manage your money, but you always know what’s going on with your money. And if you think it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

 “I am a Matt Forte fan, but if he is going to be more of a distraction and not be in the Bears’ long-term future, is there any thought to trading him for a first- or second-round pick?  Michael Bush is a solid running back and when given the chance has performed at a high level. Mr. L, Woodstock

“I highly doubt any team would give the Bears a first-round pick for Forte, and I wonder if a team would even give up a second-round pick. It’s possible that a desperate team that loses its runner to injury could part with a second-rounder. But Forte is worth much more than that to the Bears.”

Two points:

1)  I am constantly amazed at the insistence of fans that current players are worth as much as they are in trade.  Teams hang on to first and second round draft picks like gold.

2)  I’ve heard words like “expendable” thrown around when referring to Mat Forte.  But I can tell you truly that Michael Bush cannot perform at a level anywhere close to Forte.  He’s a big back who runs and blocks like one and I like him.  But he can’t catch passes like Forte nor can he run with Forte’s vision.  Believe me, the Bears would miss Forte badly if they went into the season without him.

“Does Shea McClellan look big enough to compete at defensive end? He looks undersized and less than intimidating. He also seems to lack strength, only doing 18 reps of the bench press. How does he look up close? Eric Johnson, Las Vegas

“He certainly does not look like Julius Peppers or Israel Idonije. But that in and of itself does not mean McClellin cannot compete and excel at the position. McClellin, at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, would look plenty big next to Dwight Freeney (6-foot-1, 268), Robert Mathis (6-foot-2, 245) or Elvis Dumervil (5-foot-11, 260). Some of how he copes with not being the biggest defensive end depends how the Bears use him. If the Bears line up McClellin squarely over the tackle on every snap, they may be disappointed. But put him on an edge and let him use his instincts quickness and speed, and they should be very pleased. Some smaller defensive ends believe their lack of size is an advantage because it enables them to get underneath the pads of bigger blockers. McClellin, not surprisingly, has been pretty good at playing the leverage game during his college career.”

I would only add that Phil Emery, being a former strength and conditioning coach, undoubtedly took McClellin as much because of the potential he saw in his body as anything else.  I’ve got a suspicion McClellin’s going to get a lot bigger.


“I can’t believe Roger Goodell would risk having scab officials ruin games.  The NFL might be better off cancelling games than having every game called into question because of the perception of inferior officiating.”

I don’t think I’d go that far but I do see a lot of trouble on the horizon.  For instance, here’s what rookie Bears defensive end Shea McClellin said about adjusting to the NFL game: (via Mitchell)

“Everybody says speed (in the NFL) … is probably the biggest difference.”

He’s not wrong.

I remember going to see my first NFL game live like it was yesterday.  I’d seen many college games before and figured, based on what I’d seen on television all of my life, that what I was about to see wasn’t that much different.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The speed of the NFL game is just incredible.  The first think I remember thinking was that even if I had the physical traits, there was no way I’d be able to play linebacker in the NFL because the speed of the game requires that you react by instinct.  The second thing I thought was how tough it would be a referee.

  • If only it were this easy…  From The Sports Pickle.
  • “Rodgers” is Apparently Harder to Spell Than “Favre”.  Also from The Sports Pickle:


One Final Thought

Greg Cosell at NFL Films provides insight into quarterback Jay Cutler:

“You may recall one issue raised in the evaluation process was Cutler’s tendency to force throws into coverage. Those who said that were wrong. Cutler was throwing to wide receivers matched one-on-one on the outside. Here’s the way it works in the passing game: The best you can get is man coverage. When that happens, the quarterback expects his receivers to get open. If your receivers do not win, it’s not the quarterback’s fault. At Vanderbilt, Cutler threw a lot of passes to receivers that could not win against more talented SEC corners. That was viewed erroneously as a troubling indication of poor judgment and decision making.”

“Cutler is often what I call a ‘see it, throw it’ passer. By that I mean he must see his receiver break open before he pulls the trigger. His powerful arm allows him to do that. He’s not a true anticipation passer, throwing the ball before receivers begin their breaks. He’s capable of it, and there are instances in which he has done it, but that’s not the signature of his play.”

These are good points.  They explain why Mike Martz’s offense was never a good fit for Cutler.  Martz requires his quarterbacks to throw to a spot and trust the receiver to get there to catch it.  It failed on both fronts with Cutler both because he’s not mentally wired to throw with that kind of anticipation and he (rightfully) did not trust his wide receivers.

It’s possible that Cutler will do better with Tice.  But it will be more important than ever that he have wide receivers that can battle for the ball one-on-one in coverage.  Earl Bennett and Brandon Marshall have shown they can do that.  Alshon Jeffery was drafted because the Bears think he can do that.  The rest of the Bears receivers…  well, we’ll see.