Chicago Bears / NFL (16)
Articles, interviews, and updates with and about the Chicago Bears and other NFL teams.
Training camp is underway. Practices have begun, scrimmages had, fights in practice already happeneing, and the Madden video game is only weeks away from coming out. Ladies and gentlemen the Chicago Bears begun preparation for the 2014-2015 season with high expectations. With their 1st pre-season game coming this Friday here's the team's 1st un-official depth chart going into the game, and some position battles to keep a close eye on this pre-season.
QB - Cutler, Palmer, Clausen, Fales
RB - Forte, Draughn, Ford, Carey
WR - Marshall, Wilson, Bellamy, Williams
WR - Jeffrey, Weems, Morgan, Spurlock
TE - Bennett, Rosario, Miller, Mulligan
FB - Fiammetta
LT - Bushrod, Leno jr.
LG - Slauson, Brown
C - Garza, de la Puente, Boggs
RG - Long, Ola
GT - Mills, Britton
LE - Houston, Young
DT - Ratliff, Sutton, Collins
NT - Paea, Furgeson
RE - Allen, Scott, Washington
WLB - Briggs, Greene, Franklin
MLB - Williams/Bostic, Lattimore
SLB - McCellin, Jones, Senn
CB - Jennings, Fuller, McMannis
SS - Mundy, McCray, Wilson
FS - Vereen, Jennings, Conte
CB - Tillman, Hayden, Frey
K - Gould
P - O'Donnell, Way
LS - Hartson, Rempel
KR - Weems, Ford, Williams
PR - Weems, Williams, Spurlock
And now the battles to watch for....
Back-up QB - Palmer vs. Clausen: Palmer has the arm and works well with the coaching staff. There is a very optimistic hope that he thrives just like last season's back-up qu did. Clausen has the experience as a starter and alot of upside. Plus his connection to the coaching staff and poise gives him an advantage if he has a good pre-season. There is also rumblins of reaching out to former Bears QB Kyle Orton.
Back-up RB - Draughn vs. Ford vs. Carey: The Bears would love for the rookie carey to emerge the overall winner of this battle, however the speed and versatility of Ford could eventually give him the edge.
3rd WR - Wilson vs every wide reciever living: You need more than just 2 wide recievers to make a great offense work, and Wilson still has to prove himself. Knowing that the job is still open, there's a ton of hungry recievers who could impress and steal Wilson's spotlight if he doesnt step up. Not even 12 hours after this article was written Wilson broke his clavicle in practice. Next Man up...is Earl Bennett still accepting our calls??
TE - Rosario vs. Miller vs. Mulligan: Who will win the bigger role behind Bennett? Who will eventually get cut. While Rosario has the edge for now, there's a lot of upside going in for Mulligan and the Bears will give him every chance to grab a bigger role and make the team.
DT, NT back-up - Furgeson, Sutton, Collins: Nate Collins was going strong playinng for the Bears, but an injury knocked him off his wagon, leaving the door open for two rookies to grab his role in the defense. Can Collins past the rooks on the depth chart or will Furegson actually emerge as the break-through player on D the Bears expect out of him.
Starting MLB - Williams vs. Bostic: Right now both are listed as starters, but only one can ultimately emerge as the starter.
Starting SS - Mundy vs. McCray vs. Wilson: Mundy has the job as starter as camp runs its course, however McCray has been playing great. A former starter in Dallas, if McCray keeps playing like this he could win the job. Wilson is a former pro-bowl saftey and shouldnt be taken for granted.
Starting FS - Vereen vs. Conte: Can the rookie keep the job or will Conte bounce back from off-season surgery and win his job back in an effort to turn around an ugly 2013 season.
Long Snapper - Hartson vs. Rempel: A who versus who battle. With Patrick Mannelly gone this job now becomes an issue. Ultimately doesn't matter, just dont screw up the snap.
Punter - O'Donnell vs. Way: New punter, and he's a rookie draft pick....don't screw up the punt!!! O'Donnell must not only prove he's worthy of the Bears using a pick on him.
Returner - Weems vs. Ford vs. Williams: With Devin Hester gone, the Bears are hoping someone emerges as a non-fumbling speeder who picks up yards. It's anyone's job right now.
Jordan Lynch vs. The World: can the former NIU star and heisman finalist find a spot on the roster?
Week one was not good to the Minnesota Vikings. Sure they can score. Sure AP got off to a great start. Unfortunately, by the end of the day the game showed more flaws than firepower, and another division loss to the Bears could drop them into dire straits.
While Adrian Peterson is still probably the best running back in the NFL, he's missing a key ingredient from last season, as his All Pro fullback Jerome Felton will be sitting on the sidelines instead of blocking. While he did tear out the gate for a 78 yard run his first time out, AP only finished with 98 yards. This should help the Bears contain AP somewhat, but they still need to contain! As for the passing game, well you'd think if you had one stud receiver you'd throw to him more, and they did, except it wasn’t their big money free agent pick-up Greg Jennings. Jennings caught 3 passes last week, which could mean he's looking for a break-out game. Unfortunately chances are he'll be matched up against Peanut Tillman, who only had two interceptions last week.
The Lions used running back Reggie Bush much like the Bears use Matt Forte, keeping the Vikings off-guard with passes and runs. The difference is Forte is a much more dominant runner, and with DT Kevin Williams still banged up that could open up some big holes for Forte. Linebackers Greenway and Henderson are staples from the past, nothing too exciting, just steady players. The Bears line gave up no sacks last week, plus KEY STAT HERE: Vikings lineman Jared Allen has never gotten a sack on Bears lineman Jerrod Bushmond. Never. The Vikings also have no cornerbacks. What does that mean? It means call tomorrow and you might get a try-out. It also means that that if the Bears offensive line gives Jay Cutler the same time they did last week then it could be a very big day for Bears receivers.
It's been yet to be proven if Christian Ponder is indeed a quality NFL starting quarterback. It didn't help that the Lions offensive line was garbage last week. Ponder went 18 for 28 with 3 sacks and 2 interceptions for only 248 yards against the Lions. Ponder spent most of the game on his back or running for his life, although he did find receiver Jerome Simpson for over 140 yards, yet no TD’s. Matt Cassell was signed just in case the Ponder experiment goes bad, and Julius Peppers matching up with a weak offensive line could make things go bad really quick. Many are expecting bigger things this week from peppers and inside tackle Henry Melton, so don’t be surprised to see an extra pep in their step.
Everything is in place for another Bears home victory on Sunday. Let’s just hope and Coach Trestman crew read the signs . And wouldn’t it be nice to see J’Marcus Webb make an appearance?
Ah, the miracles of televison. It's televison that can make the great look weak, the good look evil, and the mediocre look magnificent. Many feel thats what HBO's "Hard Knocks" tv show has done for the Cincinnati Bengals, albeit they have appeared in the play-offs the past two years. While it's great for exposure and story-telling, it also gives you an impression that they are better than they appear. The truth will come out when they open up against the Chicago Bears. Will the Bengals look as mighty as they appear on tv, or will this emperor appear without thou clothes.
As they prepare for their opening day battle against the Chicago Bears, here's how veteran coach Marvin Lewis' team stacks up against rookie coach Marc Trestman's Bears. It's a new era for the Bears...new coach, a new offensive line, and new team leader. As the face of the franchise, Brian Urlacher, now shows off that face in a broadcast booth, and for a a guy who barked at and despised the media for his entire career that will be some great tv in itself. With Urlacher's retirement it will be very interesting to see who steps up as the man on the Bears "D".
Anyways, HBO's "Hard Knocks" would have you believe that the Bengals offense is just a mish-mosh of speeders, led by the lively young arm of Andy Dalton. Dalton is a big, tough qb who can hit targets anywhere on the field, which is great if your recievers are just above average. Speedy, but just average. The Bengals are loaded with the same type of speedy receivers in Brandon Tate, Marvin Jones, and starter Mohamed Sanu - all putting up average numbers of 200 yards or less. They brought in the sure hands of former Bear Dane Sanzenbacher to sure up the recieving core, but he's more specialty than big time reciever. But the reason no one frets over these average receivers is because of All Pro A.J. Green. Green is a monster, he's Dalton's favorite target, and has game-changing speed. For Bears fans to understand, he's their Brandon Marshall.
Runningback-wise the Bengals will call on Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis to carry the load. Green-Ellis is a bulldozier, with two 1,000 seasons to his name, including one in pass-happy New England. He won't be much of threat in the pass game, plus he put the ball on the ground three times last season. Look for "Hard Knock's" star rookie Giovani Benard to get a lot of looks. Benard has quite the motor for a little guy, as he's as fast as some of the recievers on the team, and can also return kicks. The Bengals also feature two fast-striking tight ends in Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert, both big boys who can eat up yards in a hurry.
You history buffs know that the last time the Bears played the Bengals back in 2009 they ended up getting smashed 45-10. Things have changed since then, as the once laughed at defense of the Bengals is now one of the more feared "D's" in football. While left-end veterans Carlos Dunlap and Robert Geathers are big guys, they dont really make a huge impact defensively, just hold the fort, which is fine if the right side of your line features the 6'7 "Sharknado" Michael Johnson and his 12 sacks. The inside gets scarier with big rookie Margus Hunt, Devon Still, and Domata Pera stopping the run, made even better with the league's best interior defensive lineman, Geno Atkins. Believe the hype when it comes Atkins, he's the real deal.
Much like their receiving corp the Bengals have a bunch of average linebackers with speed, and then one gem of the bunch. Luckily for them that gem is one of the baddest men in football in James Harrison. While he's gotten up there in age, he's still healthy, bigger ansd stronger than most linebackers, and the look in his eyes to destroy any and every quarterback he sees. With his change of scenery he's ready to make a big impact this season for the Bengals.
The secondary is a steady bunch, with physical cornerbacks like Leon Hall and Terrance Newsome starting, along with Pacman Jones. All fast, all ballhawks, all very physical. Add to them with theeven more physical play of safties George Ilora, Reggie Nelson, and future star Taylor Mays, and it may be very difficult completing any long plays downfield.
As for game-planning, look for Bears QB Jay Cutler to attack the Bengals corners with their bigger recievers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffreys. While marshall is one of the biggest and more physical receivers in football, it's jeffreys that has been tearing it up in training camp. Both big guys could over-power a defender in one on one coverage.That should take some pressure off the line and give Matt Forte some room to operate. The Bears did a lot to re-vamp their line in protecting Cutler, and seeing how well the rookies hold up will be important. The key here is Forte, as the Bengals are not a team you want to attempt to spend the day passing on. Leaving your quarterback back there as target practice for Johnson and Harrison is not a good idea. The Bears also have a huge advantage defensively, as the offensive line of the Bengals is already battered, as both starting tackles have knee issues, while the guards are big but still young. Plus the Bears "D" should be able to bully the Bengals receivers all day. Look for Julius Peppers and even 2nd year man Shea McCellan to have a good opening day.
I have been gone entirely too long, and I apologize kids....it's been one crazy ride the past few months. Let's just right in shall we? The Chicago Bears went into the 2013 NFL draft looking to fill the two biggest weaknesses on their roster, and the did just that. As draft weekend ended, there will be no more questions about the depth of the linebacking corp, nor will anyone doubt GM Phil Emery meant business when he said an upgrade on the offensive line was necessary.
Let's start with the overall health and safety of Jay Cutler, shall we? See everything starts with the quarterback, and the Bears have had so much trouble keeping Cutler on his feet that change was not only necessary, but mandatory. This is Jay's last season under contract, and the Bears will need to decide if he's the franchise QB they've been looking for, or is it time to start looking for the next best thing. Giving him a season on his feet with viable weapons will help that decision. The start came in free agency with the arrival of Jerom Bushrod, who will immediately start at tackle at protect Cutler's right side, something J'Marcus Webb couldn't seem to do if his job depended on it. The Bears then went out and drafted Kyle Long, a huge 6'7 tackle from Oregon and the son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long.
Depending on who you ask this was either a good pick by the Bears or a monumental mistake. Long has suspect talent according to some, as he was kicked out of Florida State and doesn't have alot of actual playing time beyond the past season at Duck U. Many also question his character, while the other side of the coin will tell you how versatile and athletic he is. One of the more athletically-gifted linemen in the draft, Long can play either tackle or guard, and at 6'7 311lbs he's big enough to the on some of the NFL's biggest threats. Plus he's been a beast in preparation for the draft, along with the upcoming season, which had trainer/UFC expert calling him "one of the meanest SOB's I've ever trained!" He's expected to be a started once training camp opens. The Bears also drafted tackle Jordan Mills in the 5th round to add depth to the line. He will push Webb for minutes while developing, while also making Gabe Carimi's spot very questionable. The Bears also brought in long snapper PJ Lonergan to develop in case Patrick Mannelly goes down again.
Did you know after the Urlacher fiasco went down the Bears only had two legitimate linebackers on their roster? With Brian Urlacher searching for a new home and Nick Roach relocating to Oakland, the Bears were left with All Pro Lance Briggs and super sub Blake Costanzo (Dom DiCicco we see you - we need more production!). Then they hit the free agent market, signing veteran James Anderson and oft-troubled DJ Williams, both good, solid pick-ups. The Bears spent their 2nd round pick on the beast known as Jon Bostic from Florida. Many feel in the next three years Bostic will be considered the best linebacker to come out of this draft. Bostic is an inside linebacker with great foot speed and ballhawk skills when it comes to finding the football. The Bears also drafted Khaseem Greene who plays in the same mold as Bostic, only on the outside position. Greene will easily field playing time this season.
Need more upgrades? The Bears drafted defensive end Corneilius Washington. A big, physical lineman with exceptional foot-speed, Washington could push for playing time, adding more depth to an already good, young DL unit. Along with veteran Corey Wooten, what these two do this year could mean a huge difference in the future contract situation of Julius peppers, who's paper deal is up next summer. Washington's development also makes last year's 1st round pick Shea McCellin's development even more interesting. He has lineman and linebacker ability, meaning you can put McCellin just about anywhere on the field. What this means for free agent Isreal Idonije remains to be seen.
The signing of veterans safeties Tom Nelson, hometown boy Tom Zbikowski and the return of a healthy Brandon Hardin, the Bears spent more time finding cornerbacks on the undrafted free agent market. They also added some size to the wide receiver position all in the mold of star all-pro Brandon Marshall. The Bears signed a bunch of wide-outs 6'2 or taller, including the 6'5 Terrance Tolliver, 6'3 Marquess Wilson, and Mark Harrison, who at 6'3 may be the best of the bunch. Harrison is a big receiver who doesn't have the greatest speed however is one of the more physical receivers on the field. He will be a good target for Cutler if he sticks. They also signed running back Michael Ford.
The Bears definitely got younger, bigger, and more athletic this off season, but let's see how that all translate with a new regime in place. Will the addition of new faces bring the Bears back to the top of the NFC, or will the subtraction of some of their key leaders have them spiraling to rebuilding mode?
Sometimes you have games like the one the Bears had against the Indianapolis Colts. And then there’s other days, well there’s days when the Empire Strikes back. Last Thursday the Green Bay Packers went Darth Vader all over the Bears. But have hope dear readers, the Jedi did return!
Who will play the role of Luke Skywalker this Sunday against the St. Louis Rams? Will Jay Cutler recover from his Lando Calrisian ways of throwing footballs to more Packers receivers than his own? Or more importantly shoving and pushing teammate J’Marcus Webb under the bus? Not that JWebb didn’t deserve it, however, there’s better ways of doing business, and one of those things is not being a tool to a teammate. Maybe it’s Webb’s turn to dawn the black glove and save the Ewoks. Or is it Brian Urlacher we’ve been waiting for. While Urlacher did play the entire game against the Packers, he played more like Nick Roach of old than the Urlacher we know. His impact wasn’t there, and that’s what the Bears need if they are to truly become a great defense.
It’s easy to point out what went wrong against the Packers, probably half of its mental considering Cutler seems to play his absolute worst when he gets to Green Bay. Plus exploiting Webb isn’t hard these days. To generally be the biggest player on the field almost every down, he also seems to be the worst player on the field on every down. Replace him you say? Well what does it say about the Bears past drafting when 2010 first round pick Chris Williams, who actually plays the left tackle position, can’t beat out JWebb!!! Yikes!
So here we are, week 3 against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams are in love with passing the ball, especially now that starting runningback Steven Jackson is injured. The Rams beat the Washington Redskins last week, totaling over 450 yards of offense. Sam Bradford had over 300 yards, with many of his passes going to receiver Danny Almendola, who set a franchise record for passes caught. Bradford also had 3 touchdowns, and isn’t too picky about which receiver to throw to.
Defensively, The Rams can’t stop traffic. In two weeks the rams have given up 23 points to Detroit and 28 to the Redskins. On the line Chris Long is a monster. Long had over 13 sacks last season and just hitting his stride. At linebacker James Lauranaitis is playing so well his uncle” Big Johhny” can’t help but be proud! James is the son of former pro wrestler “Road Warrioir Animal” and nephew to current WWE villain John Lauranaitis. James led the team in tackles for the 3rd consecutive season, while also leading the team in snaps played. The secondary features notorious bad guy Courtland Finnegan playing cornerback. Known as one of the roughest and dirtiest players in football, the small in stature Finnegan should match up interestingly against Brandon Marshall. If the line gives Cutler any kind of protection, and Jay doesn’t hold the ball longer than 6 seconds, the Bears could indeed torch the Rams secondary. Michael Bush will start in place of the injured matt Forte, and expect the bull-dozing back to punish the “soft as a Kenny G song” Rams defense.
Its redemption week for the Bears in general. Hopefully is less Jar Jar Binks and more Darth Maul (ok Im done with all the Star Wars talk. I don’t even like the last few movies, but the Lego video game is pretty cool…highly recommended by me!).
The Chicago Bears get set to start an all or nothing march to the Super Bowl. Expectations are very high, as the team comes in mostly healthy with an offense that has caught the eye of many NFL experts. The tandem of quarterback Jay Cutler and wide out Brandon Marshall have had great history together, and the numbers to back up the so-called experts beliefs. The Bears offer several other offensive weapons, including Matt Forte, Devin Hester, and back-up running back Michael Bush.
The offensive line is so hit or miss each week it will be interesting to find out who shows up to start each week. The Bears made a very interesting move in trading fullback Tyler Clutts, leaving no true fullback on the roster, but giving the team a bevy of big, burly, blocking tight ends. Look for Kellen Davis to be a huge red zone target because of his size. Also look for rookie wide out Alshon Jeffery to get a lot of looks. Jeffery is in the same mode as Marshall, a lanky receiver who attacks the middle.
While many believe once again the offensive line will be the biggest concern, it’s the other side of the ball that has brought the most attention this pre-season. Brian Urlacher’s knee injury last season has been a huge concern all summer long, with him making the decision not to have surgery immediately. Several other techniques have been tried, and Urlacher ended up with a sore knee and sitting out all pre-season games and most practices. Not good for a guy considered the franchise player AND a player going into his final year of his contract.
Make no mistake, whether young, old, injured, or healthy Brian Urlacher is the best player on the Bears defense. He’s the vocal quarterback of the defense, not to mention plays at an unbelievable level. He’s a game-changer, and as shown in many games before, the entire defense changes when Urlacher is out of the game. The linebacker corp becomes pretty thin with Urlacher out, and that’s just the beginning of their issues.
The Bears have a ton of potential on the defensive line that needs to be realized. Julius Peppers needs help, and that is suppose to come in the form of rookie Shea McClellin. McClellin has a high motor and a fierce reputation out of Boise St. Stephen Paea showed signs of being a break-out performer on the middle, but he’s a little banged up at the moment. Getting the double-team off Peppers and pressuring the QB has become the name of the game, while closing the middle and stopping the run is also a huge priority. This is where Melton and Idonje will need to be that anchor that Peppers needs game in and game out. The Bears had trouble with stopping the run the pre-season, then again the absence of Urlacher does change a few gameplans.
With the safety position in shambles due to injuries look to see more cornerbacks on the field come Sunday. Major Wright still has his up’s and down’s, while Brandon Harden is already out for a few weeks. Chris Conte, a starting safety is also banged up but will try to play. Luckily the Bears have a quantity of quality and capable db’s, including DJ Moore, Kelvyn Hayden. Craig Steltz has also had a great summer so far.
So let’s get into it, shall we? The season starts Sunday for Bears fans!!!
The Indianapolis Colts begin the era of Andrew Luck and say goodbye to future hall of famer Peyton manning. It will be hard not to be better than last season’s 2-14 team. Luck has a lot of potential but very few weapons. Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, and Donald Brown are all potential home-run hitters, but that’s. They are super thin on offense. There’s also major issues defensively. Running on the Colts should not be a problem, as they have shown they can’t stop anyone. Their linebackers could either be very good or terribly horrific with Feeney and Mathis on the ends, and Angerer in the middle. Bad news, Angerer is out for a few weeks, and Feeney at linebacker is still something to see rather than believe. The secondary is a little more stable with Powers and Bethea being proven solid veterans at the safety and corner spots, while their partners have names more familiar to Bears fans – Vontae Davis and Tom Zbikowski will be taking over for the Colts in full time starting positions. But have unlimited potential and could provide this defense with the spark they’ve been missing.
In the end the Bears should make mince meat out of the still-rebuilding Colts. But if the line doesn’t protect Cutler and the defense takes this team for granted it could be a very rude awakening to a team dreaming of going to the Super Bowl.
With both the Bulls and the Hawks both sitting out the next few months, and the Cubs and Sox both twirling in mid-card hell, its time to start giving our attention to the rightful champions of the city, The Bears. Is May too early to be excited about football? Nah...
So here's the good: You should be excited about the offensive depth this team has. Jay Cutler has had time to heal, get his mind and personal life in order, and has a weapon and a quarterback's coach he's familiar with. Plus there's an actual veteran NFL quarterback right Cutler on the depth chart (Jason Campbell), with a veteran and a rookie not so far in the background. Running back-wise the Bears added Michael Bush, who is a huge upgrade from the disaster that was....well, let's not speak his name. Let's just put that whole Denver/Tebow fiasco behind us, shall we? Bush is a 6'2 bruising 1st string runningback. Khalil Bell also showed promise last season and comes back at 3rd string, which gives the Bears some good depth.
Oh right, anyone seen Matt Forte? I think he still wants a new contract, asap.
The really good news comes at the wide reciever position. First off, let's forget about Johnny Knox. I love Johnny, he's a staple on my fantasy teams, however he's gonna need a lot of time to recover from that injury. If he comes back, tremendous, but for now let's move with what we got. The Bears have hit the media blitz hard in the different ways they can use Devin Hester on offense. I think we've heard this for the past four years and you know what, great. He's fast...he's really fast, but is he a number one reciever? No. But he is a weapon. Having the solid Earl Bennett to put along side gamebreaker Brandon Marshall is a huge bonus. Marshall and Cutler should vibe well together, much like Cutler and Bennett do. Their success in Denver wasn't a fluke, plus Marshall is a huge target with cougar speed. Marshall played well on bad teams with bad quarterbacks, so imagine how he could do with someone he's already hyad success with.Throw in reliable "Waddle-like" Dane Sanzenbacher and surprising rookie Alshon Jeffrey and things look promising. The Bears also signed veteran reciever Devin Thomas who has always shown potential. There's a new offensive coordinator in Mike Tice, who's schemes and plans are more conservative than the fly or die method of the former Mike Martz. This means less time on the ground for Cutler!!
Tyler Clutts is a block-first runningback, while tight end Kellen Davis seems to get better each year - hopefully this is a breakout year for him. It doesnt't hurt he's huge (6'7 300lbs), which plays along well with the also 6'7 Matt Spaeth. Big, blocking ends to add more protection and become big weapons in the red zone...another plus.
Need another big plus? Well how about on defense, where 1st round pick Shea McClellin seems to be the real deal. McClellin will be opposite Julius Peppers, moving Israel Idonije to the inside where he can be more effective. McClellin having any kind of impact creates problems for opposing offenses, as Idonije is big enough to cause a double-team, while Peppers automatically causes mis-matches. Corey Wootten will also be fighting for a spot, and if he shows any of the potential he did early on last seaons, then McClellin's assertion to starter won't come easy. Henry Melton and Stephen Paea both should tremendous upsides last season, and both have potential to make big strides inside next to Idonije. Plus McClellin can also play at linebacker, and a solid 3rd next to Urlacher and Briggs is a necessity. The Bears would love it if Nick Roach finally asserted himself and became that stud 3rd backer, however it's yet to happen. Bringing in Dom DiCicco and Geno Hayes only adds depth, yet McClellin is an actual threat to the position.
The Bears also upgraded on special teams. Despite losing Corey Graham, the Bears picked up solid former pro-bowler Eric Weems, and the consistant specialist Blake Costanzo. Plus in the 3rd round the Bears drafted Brandon Hardin, who was a gunner in college (first one down on punts and kick-offs making tackles). Hardin also fills a need at safety, which is still looking for a standout player betweent Major Wright, Craig Steltz, and Chris Conte. The Bears safety position is as frightening as the 1st row of a Joss Whedon signing, could the 6'3 Hardin be the answer? It didnt hurt that the Bears signed corner Kelvyn Hayden. Hayden, a solid veteran who spent many years in Indy, is not the dwarf 5'8 starting corner Tim Jennings is. Infact, all the cornerbacks the Bears brought in this year are all 5'10 and taller.
And here comes the bad, are you ready for this...did I ask you where Matt Forte was? Oh yeah...contract issues.
So there's that whole Forte issue. Plus realize the Bears have a brand new offensive coordinator (again), a new starting wide reciever (again), and there biggest name players (Urlacher, Cutler, Forte) are all returning from season-ending injuries. And let's just put it out there, the best chance the Bears have for a formidable offensive line features the names Spencer, Garza, Carimi, Williams, and Louis. That's a good, solid line...it becomes a grerat line if Ja'Marcus Webb gets his sh*t together.
Webb led the league in "oh crap the guy I was just guarding has just thrown my quarterback into the stands" moments, along with more false start calls than a high school boy at his prom after-party. Webb has the athletic ability and size to dominate at his position. However, he's led to the downfall of many offensive drives, and led to Cutler spending more time on the ground than Roger Baird (yup an inside Cubs reference, eat it up, folks!) It's almost safe to say that it all falls on Webb how well the offense does, as the Bears have to start him, talent-wise and potential-wise you just can't leave him on the side. But he's a drive killer. This is your time, Webb. Step up.
My main issue with the Bears comes with the new addition of quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. Did you know Bates was once a top candidate for the offensive coordinator position? He decided to go to Seattle, which to put it nicely "didn't work out". Bates spent the last year out of football (wtf is up with the Bears hiring guys just sitting at home...Mike Martz anyone?) after being fired by Pete Carroll as his offensive coordinator. It's funny, because Carroll also had Bates as his OC at USC the year before. Bates is being brought in for the success he had with Cutler and Marshall when they were in Denver together. Ironically enough before that success gets mentions its the disagreements and shouting matches between the three that gets talked about. Plus when a nice guy like Pete Carroll doesn't like you, doesnt speak well of your character. The Seattle offense sucked under Bates, as players noticed he had the potential for short passes and mis-handling the running game. Plus Carroll never thought of Bates as long-term potential, and in this Lovie era, stability somewhere on offense would be great. Bates, who has the tendency to rub people the wrong way, was reportedly let go because he didnt see eye to eye with Carroll or the offensive line coach, plus I'm sure having an offense ranked 31st in the league and not producing a 100 yard game by a running back all season long didnt help his cause, either.
Oh well, you take the good with the bad sometimes...
Could the bears end up with Peyton Manning? Is Randy Moss the big receiver the bears have been looking for? What about Tebow, and how does he fit into all of this? Oh NFL free agency, help bring our team back to the promised land!!
The Chicago Bears are looking for position upgrades that would help them tremendously get back to being truly competitive in NFC. They need depth, but they also have their eyes set on two of the big names on the free agent list list, DE Mario Williams and WR Vincent Jackson. They have over 22 million to spend, so where should it go?
Well, Williams is a monster at the end spot, and the only reason he's a free agent is because Houston didn't want to spend 22 million just to franchise him. Well he did miss 11 games with a torn pectoral, but not resigning him is a huge mistake. Williams is a game changer, the top prize of the 2012 market, and can play end or linebacker. Paired up with Julius Peppers on the other end, this gives the Bears a huge advantage on the line.
Jackson has been wanting to get out of San Diego for a while now....so much that he didnt play the first half of the season in 2011. At 6'5, he's one of the biggest receivers in football, and has the speed of a track star. ask your fantasy football buddies just how good Jackson was last year, even after only playing a partial season. The addition of Jacko makes the Bears average receiving corp a very dangerous one. The Bears made a major upgrade at the position by trading for Brandon marshall, who was Jay Cutler's favorite target in Denver. Marshall has reacjed the 1,000 mark in receiving yards for 5 consecutive seasons, and Cutler's best seasons come with Marshall as his top target. Another perk: Marshall is 2 years younger than Jackson.
So what else do the Bears need? Well here we go:
Back up quarterback - The Caleb Hanie is officially over, and there will be an honest attempt at bringing in a veteran quarterback who can complete multiple passes to receivers on his team. Sorry, there will be no tebowing here. Rex Grossman is available, as is Kyle Orton, Chad Henne, Brady Quinn, and Vince Young. The Bears should show some attention to Jason campbell, the former raiders starter. He was 4-2 before losing his job via injury, and while sitting at home recovering oakland signed Carson Palmer. Ouch.
Offensive lineman - Carl Nicks is the odd man out in New Orleans, as the Saints can't pay Drew Brees and lineman Jahri Evans and still have money for Nicks...which is unfortunate because he is one of the league's best.
Linebacker - The tandem of Briggs and Urlacher have been missing that something extra ever since Hunter Hillenmeyer retired. Finding a steady, consistant 3rd outside linebacker would be a huge boost. Jeremy mincey, much like Williams, can play end and linebacker is a great way to go, as is Dan Connor. Mike Peterson, and Bobby carpenter are amongst the best of the best on the market.
Defensive backs/Safety - Ugh...ugly. The Bears can do all true bears fans justice and bring Tom Zibikowski home. Also on the market are Sean Considine, Jon McGraw, and LaRon Landry. Re-signing Craig Steltz couldn't hurt. Either way, there's no way the Bears can't upgrade with the number of names out there at this position. At DB Cortland Finnegan and Domonique Foxworth are two of the biggest names on the market and could really improve play at the nickle. They are shutdown corners, with Finnegan being the best, that could change the secondary.
The ball's in your court, Bears....the names are there, so let's make it happen!
Remember that awful WB Tv show Unhappily Ever After? Of course you don't, it was awful, it was worse than awful, and even more it knew it was bad, kept getting worse, and never seemed to end. It just fell off network television. You only had reason to watch because well you were A. male and Nikki Cox was at her all-time hottest moment in life, or you were B. male and liked the comic stylings of Bobcat Goldthwait and a puppet bunny. You probably also lived in your parents basement and collected X-men comic books. I only bring up this pathetic display of a show because for the past 10 years that's how Bears fans have been living, unhappily ever after, thanks to general manager Jerry Angelo...or should I say former general manager. Yes people, someone has finally cancelled this show!
It went on entirely too long if you ask me. A barrage of bad choices and horrible drafting, added with bad roster management and what you got yourself is a recipe for disaster. Actually what you have is the San Diego Chargers, a mediocre team going nowhere with high expectations of themselves that only they believe...and generally fall flat on their faces without ever changing their god-awful team management. Yet year in and year out we put our faith behind Angelo, head coach Lovie Smith, and money man Ted Philips, and almost every season they brought us weeks upon weeks of confusion. Outside of a Super Bowl victory there was no way Angelo was surviving another season as GM. Remember his confidence in the offensive line this summer, and not wanting to get another experienced lineman? That worked out well, didnt it? Remember him drafting another broken offensive lineman from college with more injury problems? Did you not get the memo on Chris Williams? Did you really think this offensive line, the same offensive line that watched Jay Culter get tossed all around the field the previous season resulting in leading the NFL in an embarassing stats of giving up the most sacks, would be better be better somehow and would remain healthy all year long? As for picking up a back-up veteran quarterback...totally overrated. Sure everyone loved Caleb Hanie after that play-off game against Green Bay, but we didnt love him after a very awkward pre-seaon. You couldn't find one veteran quarterback? We'd have taken McNabb, Kerry Collins, maybe even Fav...maybe not. But hell, Bubby Brister is available. Check the Score 670 am, they seem to have a ton of ex Bears there, a few qb's to spare.
The end also came for offensive coordinator Mike Martz, which is two years too late. Martz' system works...well it did for the Rams in the early 2000's. Unfortunately we are a decade late with nothing close to the same level of recievers. Sure I love Johnny Knox (not as a fantasy football coach I don't) but if he's your fastest reciever (sorry Devin Hester is not a reciever) then you've got issues, because he got benched for Roy Williams. Let that tell you something about putting together a roster. In pre-season before he was even in shape and making any type of impact on the practice field, the bears annouced Roy Williams as the starting wide reciever over knox. Hmmm. Now look at the stats...go ahead, I'll wait. Now did you see the part where Knox has 200 more yards in one less game than Williams? Did you also see the part where rookie Dane Sanezbacher from the bench led all wide recievers in touchdowns? It's at this point you're remembering that Earl Bennett is Cutler's favorite target, just like last seson when Greg Olsen (540 yds with 5 touchdowns this season) was his favorite. What happened to Olsen you ask? Oh yeah, Mike Martz didnt like him, and Angelo probably traded him for a pack of black bic pens.
Martz' offense was oh so confusing for a team that works best with simplicities. Martz was determined to make lemonade with oranges, all the while having one of the best oranges in the league (Matt Forte) at his disposal. Eventually Lovie Smith realized the error of Martz's ways, and his own in handing over the reigns to a 90's madman. In turn Lovie showed Martz who Forte was since they seemingly needed an introduction, (its not good when you have one the leagues best runningbacks and you never run the ball) and then showed him the door afterwards.
Oh do we even need to go into more players formerly of the Dallas Cowboys we picked up?
So now the entire mess falls back on Lovie. Its his damn team, his mess, his offensive coordinator. Somehow he gained more power out of all of this! Most expect offensive line coach Mike Tice to get the gig. Um...sure. I understand that he wasnt really given the right horses to run with, however he was the coach of the offensive line, the same offensive line that nearly broke Jay Cutler in half on several occassions each season. Lets just get a second opinion, that's all I'm saying...A much better option would be current Jets offensive coordinator Brian Shottenheimer.
The Bears also did something that most "insiders" consider a no-no in not firing Lovie Smith, which means whatever GM that gets hired is stuck with Lovie and his offensive coordinator for the year. Its an interesting corner to put the man running your football program in, since they usually like to have their own people, right Theo Epstein??? Some of the more talked about options for the GM job are Ed DeCosta from Baltimore, Les Snead from the Falcolns, both directors of personel, John Dorsey, a scouting guru from Green bay, and Bill Polian. Polian ran Indianapolis' team until being fired recently, and considering the Colts went to two SuperBowls in the Lovie/Angelo era, thats a good place to start. Polian has a tremendous track record with the Colts, Buffalo, and Carolina, and definitely knows talent (yes he did draft Peyton Manning, which is like drafting Jordan in his prime I suppose..a no brainer) which should make him the Bears' first option. However here what one Colt insider said about Polian:
"Bill Polian is a fine football architect. He’s a smart man, who knows he’s a smart man and who tends to talk down to people he doesn’t respect or doesn't believe are as smart. Those qualities could make him somewhat of a tyrant -- especially to some branches of the media, but not to them exclusively -- which is hardly the worst thing you can say about a football executive."
And you thought talking to Mike Martz was fun. what will n ot be fun is keeping up with Green Bay and the up and coming Detroit Lions. Plus can you guess the number of offensive coordinators Jay Cutler has had in Chicago since becoming a Bear? This will be number 4 in 5 seasons....that could be a record, folks.
Next season will definitely be interesting. Who's going to play wide reciever for this team? Will there be anymore ex Cowboys on the roster? Will Lance Briggs still be in a Bears uniform? Will Brian Urlacher be healthy? Who's going to be on the line? Will Matt Forte have a contract by then? Will the defense still suck to high heaven some games? What will become of Brock Lesner? Who's going to be on Dancing with the Stars? Will Snooki and The Situation finally hook up? Will Jay Cutler be married or break off another proposal before the seaon start??
Either way addition by subtraction is sometimes the best possible answer, right Theo Epstein (Goodbye Carlos)! No matter what happens from this point on we know the Bears are headed in a new direction, and hopefully a much better direction..