Monday, September 15, 2008

Hella Mistakes Cost Bears A Sure Win

The Bears slipped to 1-1 after a very disappointing 2nd half against the Carolina Panthers. The Bears started the game off strongly by forcing the Panthers to go 3-and-out. Darrell McClover then blocked a punt which was hauled in by WR Brandon Lloyd. Now I was stuck on I-80, because of flooding, on my way home from Indiana at this point, so I shared the excitement with Jeff Joniak and AM 780. I wish I would have gotten to see it, as I still haven't even seen a replay of it.

The Bears defense had a terrific first half. They got a lot of pressure on Jake Delhomme and knocked him around a few times. Bob Babich called a pretty good game overall and by showing blitz plenty of times, the Panthers offensive line committed multiple false starts. Their performance declined significantly in the 2nd half, probably because they were getting tired. They started missing tackles and didn't seem to bring as much pressure as they brought in the 1st half.

The offense looked kind of sharp in the 1st half, but could never close. They would move the ball down field and then some crucial mistake (such as Greg Olsen's 1st fumble) would prevent them from putting the ball in the end zone. Olsen had a bad game, but it's certainly no reason to write him off yet. I think he will be one of the biggest contributors next week against Tampa because he feels he needs to redeem himself.

Orton proved on numerous occassions he's still not ready to make the big play. He missed a wide-open Marty Booker down the left side which would have been a sure TD and most likely would have put the game away. He also missed an open Rasheid Davis down the right side. Orton made some horrible decisions throughout the game that could have proved more costly than they were. He threw at least 2 balls into heavy coverage that should have been picked by the Panthers. Luckily they weren't. And, of course, there was the 3rd-and-1 play on the last play before the 2-minute warning in the 4th quarter.

Ron Turner pulled an absolute bitch-move after the game. He told the media he called a run up the middle for Forte with and option for Orton to change the play if he didn't like the defense that he was showed. I'm sure this happens a lot in the NFL, but how often does an offensive coordinator throw his QB under the bus like that? Turner knows the fans have hated him for years now, and he knows that his job should not be secure. Orton ended up changing the play to a retarded quick pass out to the right side which should have been picked off. The very next play Turner says he calls for Forte up the middle again, but the Panthers called a time-out and Turner changes his play. I thought Turner had a good game until the end. He broke out of his normal pattern of running "Bears' Draws" everytime 3rd down comes up, but his ineptness came through at the most crucial part of the game to outshine any good play calling he made earlier. How do you have 3rd-and-1 and Matt Forte doesn't touch the ball on that play or the following play? That makes no sense to me.

Jason McKie has had an increased role in the offense this year, and I'm fine with that. He punched in a 1 yd TD run early in the 2nd half so Turner decided to go back to him during crunch time. The problem with that is when he got his TD, there was no pressure on him. I believe it was 1st or 2nd down. But when they Bears NEEDED a 1st down, they decided to go back to McKie who has career high in rush attempts is 8. I like Jason McKie. He is a very good blocker and was a big part of the Bears' success running the ball in 2006, but there is a reason he doesn't get many touches. He doesn't have great speed and he's just not much of a playmaker. Even on the 4th down when the Bears turned the ball over, McKie wasn't taclked right away. He was stuck at the line with nowhere to run, but he doesn't have the type of speed to drop back and run it outside after seeing there was no lane open. Not only do I think Forte would have gotten across the line initially, even if he didn't I believe he would have been able to cut outside and convert it for the 1st down. McKie was also responsible for a couple big-runs that were called back because of holding. The Bears don't have any options behind McKie at FB (Greg Olsen is 2nd on the depth chart) but considering his limited touches, it's not a big deal if he has a bad game once in awhile.

Brandon Lloyd had, what I perceive to be, a career game. Not only did he get a TD before even taking an offensive snap, he came up with some big catches throughout the game. Overall he had 5 catches for 66 yards and he seemed to be at the right place at the right time during the entire game. Lloyd has already destroyed his 2007 season totals in yards (14) and receptions (2). Many questioned the signing of Brandon Lloyd but so far has been one of Orton's favorite targets. Hopefully they can keep up the chemistry.

Devin Hester had one good kickoff return and didn't do much else. He had one catch, and a couple punt returns that went nowhere. He left the game in the 3rd quarter which turned out to be bruised ribs. I'm not sure of the severity of the injury, but we need him to be on the field even if he doesn't get any touches. He draws a lot of attention whenever he steps on the field.

Brad Maynard had a horrible game. He didn't have one solid punt all day, and on a day when he punted 7 times, we needed him to come through to limit Carolina's field positioning. Robbie Gould showed his beefed up leg from the start of the game, forcing Carolina to down the opening kickoff in the endzone. I don't know if he's juicing or not, but his leg strength has always been his biggest downfall and it doesn't seem to be a problem anymore.

The offensive line had a decent game overall. They only allowed one sack, and did create some lanes for Forte to run through. Hopefully they will keep it up, as they're already playing MUCH better than they played last year, although Olen Kruetz is still steadily declining. He seems to fall down on top of a defender every play instead of actually blocking them. He doesn't seem to do much else anymore. The line played real well early on, but as the game went on their play declined. I don't know if it was because they were getting tired or what, but they need to stay consistent throughout the entire game.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kyle Neckbeard Is Our Quarterback

I'll admit it... I was WRONG.

I truly thought that Rex Grossman would come out on top of this QB competition. Last week Kyle Orton was deservingly named the starting QB for the Bears. While I'm pissed that it's not Grossman, I completely agree with the decision. I'm not pissed about the decision, I'm pissed that Grossman can't ever seem to play up to his ability. He has all the talent in the world, but he is a skraight mindfuck. Ron Rivera called him a "mental midget," and that's pretty much the best way to put it. Whether it's an early INT or a lost fumble, after something bad happens to Grossman it's downhill from there. Something gets in his head telling him he's going to fuck up again... and he does. He showed a lot of improvement/maturity after he was benched last year but it didn't last long. While he may be in better shape than ever, I don't see any real improvements that came during the off-season.

Kyle Orton, on the other hand, looks like he's worked hard over the off-season. It may just be a little bit more confidence coming off of the end of last season. Or maybe it was the fact that Grossman wasn't named the starter before camp and Orton had a chance to win the job. Whatever it is, Orton is just so much more consistent than Grossman. Orton may not be a TD threat on every play, but he is capable of going deep with the ball. He needs to work on it still, but people give his arm much less credit than it deserves. He was a slanger in college and can still do it when he needs to. While Grossman may have more talent, Orton is much more of a complete QB. He knows how to stay in the pocket (which may or may not collapse immediately once the season starts) and check down when the 1st option isn't open. He also knows how to complete short passes, something that Grossman has yet to show. With a RB that can actually catch the ball this year, short/screen passes will be a big part of the offense. While there are still some in the locker room that were pulling for Grossman, you can tell that the majority of the team has more confidence in Orton, and for good reason. As the QB of a team, you need to be THE leader. How can you be looked at as the leader if you are the worst public speaker on the team? Now to be fair, Devin Hester is not exactly Mr. Articulate, but he's improved since his rookie year and probably gives better interviews. Grossman constantly looks like such a meathead struggling to answer questions after games. Orton, on the other hand, is poised at all times and says the right things. If you just observed the two of them for 5 minutes, you can tell who's more of a leader-type. That's what the offense needs. Someone who knows what's going on. Someone who can read a blitz coming. Someone who will throw the ball away instead of give the ball away.

While I'm still a Rex Grossman fan, he does not deserve to be the #1 QB on the Chicago Bears. Unless Orton gets hurt and Grossman steps up and performs like he's in Dan's World, this is the end for Grossman in Chicago. His contract is up after the season and I don't see him signing another contract anywhere unless it comes with a chance to be the starter. I still think he can be successful in the right situation. He needs a fresh start... one where he won't get boo'd just for stepping onto the field. One where he doesn't have to worry about the mistakes he's (repeatedly) made in the past. One where there's no expectations from him so there's not so much pressure as a big city like Chicago. All you can do now is wait Rex. Don't be pouting on the sideline everytime the you get some face-time. Don't look happy everytime Orton makes a mistake. You can hope and wish and pray all you want that Orton gets hurt, but don't let us know you're doing it... even though we already know you are.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Salute Your Shorts - Bourbonais

I went to training camp on Sunday for the second time in my life and it was another great experience. The clouds we're out for most of the day keeping everyone cool but, at times, the sun would uncomfortably beat down on us. We got there about half an hour before the practice actually began, so there was a pretty long line to get in. We decided to jump in the shorter line, and it paid off. Even though they let around 150-200 people from the long line in for every 50 or so from the shorter line, we ended up waiting only around 10 minutes before we actually got in.

As soon as we entered the bucks started flying. Spending $3 on a program and another $1 on a "fan-pack" provided me with more than enough reading material to hold me until practice began. As soon as I entered the gift shop I figured I was going to be in trouble for spending too much money. However a surprisingly small selection of jersey's kept me in check. All I wanted to get was a white Mike Brown jersey, but they didn't have any. I would have settled for a white Lance Briggs, but those were nowhere to be found. I left the jersey section without getting a new one, which was the only thing I was set on buying before I went. I did find some consolation prizes though. I copped a white mesh hat, which kept me cool the rest of the day, and an overpriced polo. I ended up spending $85 at the store, but that wasn't it for the day. As soon as we left the store we walked past a booth for signing up for the 4th Phase. I had been planning on joining for a while, but never really got around to it until yesterday. It cost me another $36 or so, but I walked out with a t-shirt (that will fit until the first time I wash/dry it) and will have more to come in the mail.

We managed to find a seat near the north(?) end-zone of the Offense's field without spending any more money. By the time we got to the seats the action was just about to begin. Throughout the day I was most impressed with Matt Forte. He is a beast of a man with huge arms. He showed his strength during some blocking drills when he dominated the other RBs, especially Garret Wolfe. He seemed to be (by far) the hardest worker out of 6 or 7 RBs, which should be the case since he's a rookie. But considering the fact that every media outlet covering the Bears has already appointed him the starter, it's refreshing to see. When the Offense and Defense clashed at the end of practice for 7-on-7s Forte stood out not only running the ball, but also catching the ball on the move. He broke away a few times eventually reaching the end zone. I wasn't very sold on the selection of Forte over Ray Rice in the draft, but I think the Bears made the right choice (even though I still think Rice has a bright future in the NFL). Forte seems to be a complete running back: he's strong, he's quick with his effortless gliding, and I've heard on numerous occasions that he's the best blocking RB from this year's draft.

Devin Hester practiced for the first time on Sunday after receiving his new contract extension. Although he dropped a few passes, overall he looked pretty good to me. He slipped behind Charles Tillman, the Bears' best CB, to grab a TD that had no business making it through the defense. The coverage was skin-tight, but Grossman managed to make a perfect throw to the delight of the fans. We didn't get to see Hester return any kicks, even though it looked like that was the first thing they were going to do when practice started, but every time a pass was thrown to him the crowd made a lot of noise (even if he went on to drop the ball). Hester certainly looks like he's progressed this off-season and will continue to get better at the WR position. Just having him on the field for more plays than they did last year will improve the offense, even if he never touches the ball. Anytime he's on the field the defense will have to pay close attention to him, and if they ever fall asleep he can easily reach the end zone. Like I've said before, look for Hester to explode this season.

Despite throwing a few ducks, and plenty of heckling from "fans," Grossman looked good overall. He especially meshed well with Mark Bradley, who has climbed up the depth charts and will likely be the most productive receiver on the team this year. Bradley showed speed and the ability to create separation from the defender. He and Grossman seemed to be on the same page just about every play they were on the field. Right now it looks like the 1st team offense will be Hester and Bradley lined up out wide, with Des Clark and Greg Olsen sharing time/sharing the field, Grossman under center and Matt Forte right behind him. With that lineup the Bears have a lot of options, assuming the O-line shows up. This lineup doesn't even include what many are considering the Bears' top 2 WRs (Marty Booker and Brandon Lloyd). Lloyd did not impress me at all on Sunday, but if he produces a little bit, I'll be happy. I didn't notice Booker more than one time during the entire practice but I think he'll contribute a decent amount this year. This still leaves us with Rashied Davis. A converted CB who has excellent speed. This will be his 3rd year working with the Offense. He has very quick feet and with more time spent on the field, he can be very dangerous for this offense.

One person I was disappointed in was Greg Olsen. I saw him drop at least a couple passes, possibly more. I know what he's capable of and I'm not worried, but he didn't look very sharp on Sunday. One thing that I did like about what I saw from him was he lined up out wide on a few different plays. With his speed, they can use him as a receiver to create mismatches with smaller CBs. Hopefully Grossman will look Olsen's way more than he did last year. Grossman doesn't use the TEs as well as he needs to, and with 2 solid TEs, once he starts using them his numbers will improve greatly.

The defense seemed to be having their usual fun that they like to have a practice. Joking around with each other while still getting in their daily allotment of DW. During 7-on-7s the defense looked in control. The receivers weren't getting too much separation and the defense came up with a couple of INTs. It was great to see Mike Brown running around on the field. He didn't show any signs of previous injury and I truly hope he can stay healthy this season. He is too valuable to this team. He makes big plays and provides great leadership when he's out on the field. While injuries hampered the defense last year, they are very deep this year at all positions. The D-line should dominate this year by using a big rotation and keeping everyone fresh. I'm excited to see how much time Marcus Harrison gets and what he can do. He would have been a 1st round pick had he not gotten in trouble or gotten injured. The coaching staff speaks very highly of him and I expect him to get some quality tick this year. Another rookie who can possibly compete for a starting job (or at least significant playing time) is safety Craig Steltz. The coaches really like what he's done so far and if there are injuries to the secondary he can fill in (if he doesn't end up winning a starting job).

Overall I had a great time at training camp and didn't end up spending as much money as I thought I would. It has only made me more excited for the upcoming season and more optomistic about what the Bears are capable of this year.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ceddy B Seein Ya

Well... it took a combination of 2 OWIs/DWIs in a 5 week span, but the Bears finally released Cedric Benson. The majority of Bears fans have been calling for this move, even before the incident on the boat. I however, was glad they didn't cut Benson immediately after his first publicized run-in with the law. I am one of the few non-jokes still around, who realize the Bears' major weakness last year was the offensive line. Without an offensive line, nobody can run (or pass, for you Grossman haters) the ball. Not Adrian Peterson. Not LT. Not even Steve Oliver.

I was hoping that this would be the year that Benson finally shut up the critics. With an improved line, Benson could finally show his worth. Apparently he has. After being charged with an OWI not too long ago, you think that a 25 year-old man (who still claims innocence) would have enough sense to not put himself in another situation like that. Now we still don't know if Benson was legally drunk at the time of the arrest, or how he did on his sobriety tests (the video has yet to surface), but what we've heard is that the Bears told him at least to stop drinking for a little while. For whatever reason, he couldn't do that. People have been throwing around the idea that he has a drinking problem. I don't necessarily agree with that, but I don't know this cat at all, so there's only a few people that probably do know if he has a problem. Rather than classify Benson as an alcoholic, I'd rather just call him one stupid motherfucker.

Benson's legacy in Chicago certainly won't be a positive one with most people. I don't think that he was ad bad as people think. People cried over the fact that Benson was the franchise back and the Bears gave up the "great" Thomas Jones to make Benson happy. The thing about that when given the chance, Benson showed he was as good as Thomas Jones. Benson just never had the opportunity as the feature back (until 2007 with a joke of an offensive line). In 2005 Benson averaged 4.1 yards per carry while Jones averaged a slightly higher 4.3 YPC. In the Super Bowl season of 2006, Benson and Jones each averaged an identical 4.1 YPC. Now tell me, how is Thomas Jones so much better? Because he had the break away speed? No. Jones' longest run of the regular season (30 yds) was the same as Benson's longest run. Is it because he was the #1 RB when the veteran offensive line performed up to their capabilities before they instantly became ancient? Get the fuck out of here. Thomas Jones is a good back, but he didn't out perform anybody on the team. He simply did what he was supposed to do when given the opportunity to be a #1 RB. Benson almost got a chance last year, but like I said, nobody can run without anyone opening holes.

I truly believe that Benson would have shown what he is capable of as a #1 RB this year. He showed up to mini-camp lighter and in better shape than he ever had before. I think he realized that the Bears were serious about creating competition at the RB position this year, and Benson possibly felt threatened by the Matt Forte selection. Or maybe Benson was just sick of all the talk about how he's not living up to the #4 overall pick standard. Now it's too late. Benson can officially be labeled the "bust" that people have been calling him for years. I still think if he's somehow given another opportunity with a new team, that he can be a good RB. It's too bad for Benson that the "everybody deserves a 3rd or 4th chance" Cowboys are loaded with RBs and won't have any room for Benson to rejoin former teammate Tank Johnstoooooooooooooooooooooooooooon.

You've been calling for it. I've been hoping it wouldn't come. But Benson's days in Chicago are over with. While I wish it didn't happen, I can definitely say the Bears had no other choice but to get rid of him. Hopefully Goodell will suspend him for a long enough period where it wouldn't of mattered if the Bears kept him and he wouldn't have been able to contribute in 2008.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Racial Draft '08 Good For Da Bears

So the draft finally came. Overall I think the Bears drafted well this year. This was my first year actually watching the draft, and I pretty much watched the entire thing. Saturday started off well. I anxiously waited for the 14th pick of the 2008 NFL Draft from my couch. As team-after-team that was expected to take an OT with their first round pick decided to fill other needs, I knew the Bears would have their choice of Jeff Otah, Branden Albert, and Chris Williams. They made a great choice with Williams. While Albert was still on the board at the Bears' slot, he is not ready to play left tackle in the NFL. He does have a bright future, but he will be a multi-year project and the Bears needed someone to step in and play left tackle IMMEDIATELY. Chris Williams is a very good pass-protector and that's exactly what we need for Grossman to be successful. Williams is known for having very good technique with his hands and his coach at Vandy called him the smartest football player he ever coached. His one downside is that he needs to get stronger to become a better run-blocker. Some say he's also lacking a mean-streak, but I disagree. Apparently during a Senior Bowl practice one of his teammates shoved him in a way that would justify a retaliation. Instead he kept his cool and did nothing about it. I believe this says more about his character than his lack of a "mean-streak". He wasn't about to fight a TEAMMATE during a practice for a game that could vastly improve his draft stock. He's a smart kid who knew it was in his best interest to just let it go. With Williams stepping in and starting on the left side of the line, John Tait can slide back over to the right side, which is his natural position. With this pick, the Bears improved 2 spots on their offensive line.

A lot of people (or jackasses) are calling for Jerry Angelo's head because they didn't select Rashard Mendenhall. While I would've liked to see Mendenhall in a Bears uniform, it would have been an incredibly stupid pick. Anyone who actually understands football and watched the Bears play last year knows that the offensive line was the biggest problem for them all season. It wasn't the QB position and it wasn't the RB position. Although neither of those were consistent the least common denominator is the offensive line. If you don't have pass-protection your QB will spend half the game on his back, and if you don't have any push up front, your RB will be stuck behind the line of scrimmage every time he touches the ball.

So with one of the Bears' needs already filled, the next obvious choice is to select a RB to compete for the starting job this season. I am one of the few people that thinks Cedric Benson has yet to have a true shot to show what he's worth. He performed well when Thomas Jones was still on the team, but was never the featured back because Jones performed very nicely. Last year was Benson's first year as the featured back and the Bears obviously didn't have an O-line to create any lanes. While I do agree that he hasn't performed up to his capabilities as a 4th overall pick, I'm not one who wants to run him out of town quite yet. With the lack of quality QBs in this year's draft, I do think it was necessary for the Bears to pick a RB with their 2nd round choice.

By the time the Bears' 2nd pick we were at a bar on the Westside grabbing some dranks before the Jay-Z (and Mary J. Blige) concert. "With the 44th pick of the 2008 NFL draft, the Chicago Bears select Matt Forte." WHO?!? Are you kidding me? I was expecting to hear the name Ray Rice called. This threw me the fuck off. I had never heard of this kid. I know there are some concerns with Ray Rice being banged up after carrying such a heavy load at Rutgers, but the guy impressed me a lot in the International Bowl dominating Ball State (sorry AK). I think B-More got a GREAT pick with Ray Rice. Now back to Matt Forte. While I was upset with this pick when it happened, I've come to like the pick. He's considered the best pass-protecting RB in the entire draft, and like I said earlier, the more protection you give Grossman, the better he will perform. From what it sounds like Matt Forte has a very good chance of winning the starting RB job before the season starts or shortly into it. I think that whatever combination of Forte/Benson/Garrett Wolfe (plus Adrian Peterson on 3rd down) we use this year, there will be a lot of success running the ball with this improved O-line.

On a side note the Jay-Z show was GREAT. We stayed at the bar until 8:30 (the show was scheduled to start at 7:30) hoping to completely miss the opening act (The Dream). By the time we got to our seats there was a countdown clock on the screen with about 4 or 5 minutes on it. We were sincerely hoping that when that counter reached zero that The Dream was not going to appear on stage. We planned it perfectly. The lights dimmed and Mary J Blige and Jay-Z took the stage to perform "Can't Knock The Hustle." After that MJB performed by herself, with the exception of a couple verses from Jay. Although I only knew (the hooks of) about 4 or 5 of her songs, she gave a really, really good performance. She showed a lot of emotion and a great vocal range throughout the entire performance and didn't seem to lose any energy throughout the 80-minute set. Then Jay came back out and shut shit down. He went through a good majority of his catalog, including a lot of songs from American Gangster. Other than him only doing his first verse from "Big Pimpin'" (and not Bun or Pimp's verses), Jay did not disappoint me at all. He did a "freestyle" about Bush that I had been hearing about from people that went to this tour in other cities. All-in-all it was a great finish to a great draft day.

Sunday was intense. I woke up around 10:45, so I did not miss the Bears first selection in the 3rd round. However, most of the day was spent arguing on the ESPN Bears' Draft Conversation page with some joke from ASU. This kid spent the entire draft talking about how the Bears made a horrible choice drafting Matt Forte because he went to a small school. On multiple occasions he let us know how stupid the Bears were for not drafting Ryan Torain "who is a GREAT running back" according to him. Throughout the draft he also took the time to stroke Rudy Carpenter and talk about how he's the best QB in the country and will be the #1 pick in next year's draft. As the draft went on he was crying for the Bears to select a QB. Even during the 7th round after the shallow, shallow talent pool of QBs dried up he was still begging for a QB. What good is taking a 7th rd QB going to do? Not shit.

Anyways, back to the Bears' actual picks. They chose WR Earl Bennett with their 1st pick in the 3rd rd. I like this pick. Never really saw him play, but he holds the SEC record for career receptions (after only 3 years), so he knows how to catch the ball. He supposedly can catch the ball in traffic and isn't afraid to go over the middle. Hopefully he'll continue to have success in the NFL.

The Bears then chose DT Marcus Harrison from Arkansas. I think this is another good pick. He has had some injury problems throughout his career, but he made 2nd team All-SEC this last year after coming back from a torn ACL. He had a run-in with the law in August which caused his stock to drop significantly. He is supposedly a 1st rd talent who's had some bad luck with injuries and of course that incident with the law. If he stays healthy he can improve the depth of this Bears defensive line. With the way that they rotate the D-line, he can become a valuable asset right away.

In the 4th rd the Bears chose LSU All-American safety Craig Steltz. While Steltz is not the fastest guy in the world, he often makes the big play. He had 6 INTs last year and is known as a defensive leader on the team. If the Bears keep him at strong safety, it puts another person in front of garbage-ass Adam Archuleta (who hopefully will be cut from the team by the end of training camp) on the depth chart.

The Bears then chose CB Zackary Bowman out of Nebraska. Don't know much about this kid except that he has had a lot of injury problems over the year. I don't really mind this pick because it gives them a little more depth at CB.

The next pick is one I don't understand. They chose TE Kellen Davis out of the great MSU. From what I can gather he is mostly a pass-catching TE. I hope he knows how to block, because the Bears already have 2 TE that are more pass-oriented than they are run-blockers. Davis also has gotten some time as a DE but I'm not sure if that figured in to the pick at all. The Bears are very deep at DE so I don't really think they have any desire to work him in at that spot. Perhaps they are just looking to him for the future as Desmond Clark's contract will end after the 2010 season.

The rest of the Bears' picks didn't necessarily fill any needs, but hopefully add some depth to other positions. However, the Bears' final pick of Arkansas WR Marcus Monk is supposed to be a great pick this late in the draft. He is a big target who should be very effective in the red zone. Monk was projected as a possible 2nd rd pick if he left for the NFL after his junior year, but he chose not to. He suffered a knee injury before his senior year which he never fully recovered from. If he can get healthy, he can become a valuable asset for this WR corps that a lot of people are down on. I think that even though there really aren't any big name receivers on the team that this group can really do some big things this upcoming year. It all starts with the O-line giving the QB enough time to get the ball out, and I think the bears did a very good job of addressing their needs this year.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

So Far So Good

I can safely say that this year is the first year that I have really followed the Bears off-season activities. And as of now I have no complaints. I agree with D The Dude when he said that a lot of analysts who say that Da Bears have made some bad off-season moves don't really know the Bears.

First off, I agree with signing Rex to a 1-year deal. Whats the worst that can happen? He sucks and he don't come back ever again. I have respected Lovie enough to stick to his guns with Rex , and if we have brought him along this far, why not give him a shot at 1 more year. Not only that, Rex has actually shown some talent over his stint with the Bears. More than Cade McNown or Shane Matthews, to name a couple. I think it is pretty clear that the O-Line is the problem for the Bears. Not only will a solid line give Rex more time to waste in the pocket, but it will also help the struggling running game which will in turn open up the passing game some more. Olin is getting old and can hold the line by himself. It is an obvious issue and I don't think upper management will waste any draft picks.

A lot of analysts are saying that not resigning Bernard was a big mistake for the Bears. I disagree. If it meant saving money not signing him to keep Briggs, I'm all for it. Then loosing Moose to me was also not a big deal. He never really embedded his place as a Bear to me. He did alright, but we all knew he wasn't going to be here forever, so adios. Those two moves left a pretty empty WR core. Yeah we have D the Dude, but honestly, can he be a #1 WR. Look at the other #1s in the league and its clear he just doesn't match up. He is definitely a threat and a challenge for most any DBs, but there were still some issues to address as far as WRs.

Then the Bears decide to make me real happy with the 2 WRs acquired. I am a little biased with these two choices, 1 because I was a huge Book Book fan, and 2 B Lloyd went to the U of Illinois. I had mentioned that the bears needed a big target to go to as a safety on 3rd downs; run a quick out, or a quick slant and not drop the ball. Booker will fill that role nicely. Plus he loves Chicago, likes playing with Rex and is happy to be back overall. B Lloyd will give Rex a good 2nd or 3rd target pending on how much Hester will be a part of the offense. Lloyd was coached by the ever-so-stupid Ron Turner at the U, so this should make his transition a lot smoother than most newbies. This will give Rex options which is what he needs.

I can't wait to see what they do with the draft. Should be a fun year. Lets go Da Bears.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bears Make Two More Great Moves

First I'd like to welcome our newest contributor Eddie Basden (the rest of you aren't contributors until you actually contribute something).

The Bears continue to make big moves this off-season. While many may see the Bears off-season as a disappointment, since they haven't acquired any big name free agents, they have accomplished almost everything that they wanted to. The Bears weren't interested in spending a lot of money bringing free agents in, but rather locking down the free agents that have been a part of the Bears and getting rid of the ones that were just wasting space. They will assess the rest of their pressing needs (OT, WR) during the draft. QB is NOT a pressing need. I do think they need to draft a QB in the later rounds, but once again, you can't say the Bears have a QB problem just because of last year (which is what most people do). The offensive line didn't provide any protection and the lack of QB production can be attributed to them.

Speaking of wastes of space, the Bears pulled off an unthinkable feat today. They traded Brian Griese to the the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for something of value (an undisclosed 2009 draft pick). Now I have absolutely no idea why the Bucs would want Griese back, let alone give something up to get him back, but they did. If they had anything more than shit-for-brains they would have realized that they would have been able to sign him tomorrow, as the Bears were expected to drop him tonight if they weren't able to move him. He was due a $300,000 roster bonus tomorrow, and he certainly didn't deserve it (as he would have been the 3rd or possibly even 4th string QB this year for the Bears). We can sum this transaction up with one letter, a big W!

Not only did the Bears get rid of another aging joke, but they re-signed the free agent that was already written off by most Bears fans. Everybody thought they would be able to close a deal with Benard Berrian and not Lance Briggs, but the opposite has happened. On Saturday the Bears signed Briggs to a 6-year $36 million contract and he is well deserving of it. Even though Brian Urlacher has been the face of the Bears franchise for years, he would not have been so effective if Briggs wasn't alongside him. The tandem of Urlacher and Briggs is the best in the league and will continue to be for years to come. Briggs is the Bears hardest hitter and is great at stopping the run. Last year he had 83 solo tackles and 19 assists, good for second on the team in total tackles. He most likely would have finished first in tackles, but missed two games due to injury. Briggs has been through a lot with the Bears over the years. He was a crucial part of the defense that carried them to the Super Bowl. He threatened to sit-out the entire season last year after being franchised. He escaped a DUI by leaving his Lambo at the scene of a crash. But most importantly he's been able to put aside all of the media distractions and continue to be one of the Bears most consistent performers over the last few years.

On a sidenote, the Bears are expected to start negotiations with Devin Hester for an extension this week.

LB's Back In It

This has me excited. Briggs running sideline to sideline on the Midway during the prime of his career? Hopefully his body can hold up until age 33, but this is the right move, in my humble opinion.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Most Bears Fans Don't Actually Watch Bears Games

I don't like watching Bears games in public. One reason is because I have a tendency to cuss a lot during the games. But the main reason is that these "fans" don't even understand what the fuck is going on during the game. I've actually known this for a couple years now, but it's pretty obvious when reading the comments they leave on articles about the Bears. I figure it's because they just started watching in 2006. These are the kinds of "fans" that see a QB get sacked and always blame the QB. Now I'm not saying Rex Grossman has any pocket presence. I'm not saying he hasn't turned normal 3-5 yard sacks into ones that lose 10+ yards. All I'm saying is that these idiots are too brainwashed by journalists on ESPN who don't watch the Bears. Just because Grossman constantly gets bashed by people who are supposed to know the game. Now these writers might know the game, but when they don't live in Chicago they don't watch enough Bears games to actually understand what's going on.

I was blown away by the lack of blame the offensive line got for the Bears misery last year. It was obvious how bad they were from the very start of the season. I'm not going to say the o-line was 100% to blame, but I wouldn't say it was any less than 75%. This leaves 15% for Adam Archuleta and 10% for Ron Turner (these last 2 numbers can be swapped on a game-by-game basis). Archuleta is a skraight bum who doesn't know how to tackle. I doubt he would even be able to make the Duke football team if given the chance. Ron Turner is a joke who doesn't know enough about football to keep the most dangerous player in the league on the field. I understand that Devin Hester didn't know very many plays last year, but you think if you practice ONE play a week with him, you wouldn't have to keep running end-arounds and fake end-arounds (that didn't work a single time all year) every fucking game. Even if they couldn't teach him any new plays, they could have let him go deep on every play and it would have been more effective than the stupid Bears screens they always tried.

But back to my original point: these Bears "fans" just repeat whatever they see on TV without actually letting it get processed by their brains. These are the same people who are still calling for the Bears to trade for McNabb or draft and start a rookie QB and then think that will solve the "problem." NO! The motherfucking problem is the offensive line. It was all of last year, and it would have been this year if they kept the same personnel. Once the o-line gets taken care of (and it will at the draft) then you'll realize that they have been the problem the whole time. Stop repeating everything that you see/hear on ESPN and watch the fucking games!

One last note... what happened to all these people who said they would stop being Bears "fans" if they re-signed Rex? It happened, yet all you people are still doing is bitching. Go root for the packers or something.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Loyalty Rewarded With Securrity

No that's not a typo, you just have to know how to say it. While the Bears have yet to get anything accomplished with their three most coveted upcoming free agents (see Where Do We Go From Here? which, yes, is named after a Yung Berg song that does NOT feature Tony Loco), they have shown their gratitude to Desmond Clark on Sunday in the form of a two-year contract extension. This means that Des will be around at least until 2010. He deserves it for a couple of reasons. First, he has been one of the Bears' more productive receivers over the last few years. Secondly, and more importantly he has been loyal. When the Bears used their first round draft pick on tight end Greg Olsen last year, Des could have seen it as an insult. He could have seen Olsen as a threat to take his position. Instead, he noted the work ethic that Olsen brought to the table and became a mentor to him. Clark has been pivotal to the development of Olsen, and signing this extension means that he will continue to be. Another reason why he wasn't threatened by Olsen is because they are two different kinds of tight ends. Olsen does not have the size that Clark does, but has incredible speed. Because of this, he's not expected to be the greatest blocking tight end. Clark on the other hand, has more size and less speed. While he's not the best blocking tight end in the league, he does a better job clearing some lanes out front for the RB. The combination of Clark and Olsen worked well last year. They were one of only two pairs of TEs to each have over 350 yards receiving. This year they may be one the field together, as the Bears should use some two TE sets. Whether they will both be lining up in on the line, or Olsen is brought out wide to the slot, these two will cause some mismatches. when they're on the field together. With Grossman most likely going to be taking the snaps next year, he will look to get the ball to Clark a decent amount. He has yet to really click with Olsen, but with the Bears returning a solid pair of TEs this year, he should be looking over the middle more often than he has in the past.

The Bears also rewarded the loyalty of Kyle Orton today by signing the neckbearded QB to a one-year extension. Orton could have bitched and moaned by being replaced after going 10-5 as a rookie, but he kept relatively quiet about it. My guess is he realized he didn't actually earn those wins, but rather was along for the ride. Now while I'm not a Kyle Orton fan by any means (I mean he did go to lame ass Purdue), and I'm certainly a big Rex Grossman lobbyist, I think this extension is a good move by the Bears. It lets him know that Bears are serious enough about giving him a chance to be the QB of this team without locking him down in a long-term contract. If Grossman has the year I expect him to, he will be rewarded with the long-term deal, and Orton won't be stuck being a backup past 2009 (unless he's moved into another backup job on a different team). PAB-it-up-arm Brian Greasy is due a decent-sized salary bonus in March, which he doesn't deserve, and will likely be cut by the Bears within the next few days. So if Orton somehow outshines Grossman during camp (fat chance) and goes on to have a solid year, then he will likely be offered a longer extension. Regardless, if Grossman ends up injured again this year, I'd much rather have Neckbeard come in than a guy who looks and acts like Bill Lumbergh.

Where Do We Go From Here?

With free-agency starting this week and the NFL combine coming to a close this past weekend, what are the Bears plans? With Lance Briggs, Bernard Berrian and Brendan Ayanbadejo, all major contributors, facing free agency what are the Bears options? Word is that Jerry Angelo has made all three of them offers, not offers they couldn't refuse and will let them test the market. This doesn't sit too well with me, as Jerry Angelo isn't one to get into a bidding war and all three players are in line to receive more lucrative offers elsewhere. Angelo continues to say the right things, claiming the Bears are still in the mix with all three players. Call it a hunch but I don't see any of the three back next season, I hope I'm mistaken. If these three core players leave, where does it leave the Bears?

Briggs would seem to leave the biggest gap, and its hard to argue that given his production the last few seasons. The Bears may have the best replacement lined up for Briggs in Jamar Williams who showed he can be a very good player in this league when filling in for Briggs and Brian Urlacher at various points last season. Williams is a speedy linebacker that has no problem dropping back into coverage and going sideline to sideline. After replacing the injured Briggs in the Cowboys game last season, Williams recorded 10 tackles.

Ayanbadejo is a menace on special teams and seems to get off on blowing a wedge up or drilling a kick returner. He wants his chance to play linebacker in the NFL but the linebacker position is the biggest logjam on the roster, and he has yet to receive an extended opportunity with the Bears. If the Bears are unable to re-sign Ayanbadejo, I view the loss nearly as large as the potiential loss of Briggs. The special teams unit has been the most consistant, and losing an all-pro player like Brendan Ayanbadejo would be a huge hit.

Berrian is a homerun threat each time he touches the ball and has a very good chemistry with Rex Grossman. As I stated in my last post, losing Berrian would be a hit to the Bears offense but I believe the organization is very confident in Devin Hester and Mark Bradley and may not look to match a larger offer from another team.

The Bears have more pressing needs then what they may loose in free agency. The number one concern for the Bears is the offensive line. Its no secret that the o-line was the biggest reason the Bears couldnt match the success from the '06 campaign. The line got really old, really quickly. Pass rushers could run circles around John Tait and Fred Miller. Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza couldnt knock their mothers off the ball and while Olin Kreutz was his own mean self, he did not perform like in years past. Brown and Miller are out of next years plans and there are immediate holes to fill. G Alan Faneca will be a hot commodity in free agency and the Bears must look his direction. While he is a 10 year vet, he knows how to play the game and seems to have at least a couple more productive seasons infront of him. I believe the organization must select a cornerstone tackle in the first round of this years draft. While the number 1 tackle, Jake Long - Mich, will surely be gone when the Bears are on the clock, the pool of tackles is deep and talented. Jeff Otah - Pitt, Ryan Clady - Boise St, along with G/T Branden Albert - UVA would all make sense for the Bears. The hope is the Bears find a way to get younger and more talented up front. If not, better hope Olin Kreutz starts breaking more jaws.

What Can Brown Do For You?

Last Monday the Bears extended the contract of defensive end Alex Brown through 2010. Brown, who unfairly lost his starting job to Mark Anderson before training camp last year, is such an important part to the Bears run defense. Anderson was named the starter because of his breakout rookie year with 12 sacks in limited time. He also finished 2nd in voting for NFL rookie of the year honors. But there's a reason why he was so successful that year. Alex Brown would be in to stop the run on early downs, and the opponents would be forced to try to move the ball through the air. Anderson is a great pass rusher, because of his speed, but he does not contribute to stopping the run. He is always too deep into the opponents backfield to be effective against the run.

Now Alex Brown could have just gotten salty about being replaced in the starting lineup last year, but instead he took advantage of his opportunities. When Anderson got hurt near the end of the season Brown stepped up and contributed greatly to the defense and proved his worth. This is why Brown needs to be the starter this year since the Bears defense is known for shutting down the run, and he's a big reason why. Now Anderson is a good, young DE but is not on the same level as Alex Brown. The Bears need to have Brown in on the majority of the downs, and rotate Anderson in on passing downs to bring pressure. If Alex Brown is moved back up in the depth charts this year, the Bears defensive line can get back to where they were in 2006. Adewale Ogunleye had a great year in 2007 and with a healthy Tommie Harris this year there is no way the Bears can get embarrassed on the ground like they did by Adrian Peterson and the Vikings last year (AT HOME!). But they just need to make sure that they have Alex Brown as their main guy on the right side and get Anderson in the mix on passing downs.

Lovie Smith told the media on Thursday that he expects safety Mike Brown to be apart of the team in 2008. This is great news! While Brown has been injury plagued the last 4 years, he really is the heart and soul of the defense. When he is on the field, the defense is at the top of their game. He is a true leader on the field, even more so than Urlacher. Not only is he valuable as an on-field coach, but he's also one hell of a player. Last year in the opening game against San Diego, he recorded 4 tackles and an INT before a season ending ACL rupture (when he was tackled while returning the INT). Not only does he put up big numbers, but he plays the game the way it's supposed to be played: with heart. He fought back from an achilles injury in 2004, a calf injury in 2005, a foot injury in 2006, and now this knee injury. Maybe he has bad luck, maybe he's made of glass, but you can never question his heart. When being interviewed last year after the knee injury, you could feel his devastation knowing that he might have played his last game as a Chicago Bear (or even his last career NFL game). You can't help but feel sorry for the guy when he gives his all but just can't seem to have things go his way. Especially when he means so much for the team.

Hopefully he'll be able to bounce back from the injury and return to form. They say you're never the same after blowing out your knee, but even if he's a fraction of what he used to be, he will be extremely valuable to the Bears defense. He brings so much to the table, and I just hope he can stay healthy throughout the season. Not just so the Bears defense will be a dominant force again, but because he deserves it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nothing About BB Screams Franchise

70 catches, 948 yards, 5 tds. A very solid 2007 campaign for Bernard Berrian. Does that put him in the class of Steve Smith, Randy Moss, T.O., Marvin Harrison or TJ Whosyourmomma? Most definitely not. But if the Bears would of placed the Franchise Tag on Berrian for the '08 season he would of been paid nearly 8 million dollars taking up about 13% of the Bears cap space. I commend the Bears front office for not slapping the tag on a receiver that doesn't catch passes across the middle and seems to lack focus from time to time. BB is an explosive receiver who's a threat to take it to paydirt whenever he gets his hands on the ball, and the Bears offense would suffer without him. The reality is the Bears will make him a very fair offer (maybe lower because Angelo loves to lowball players) but will be outbid by a team willing to overpay for a receiver who in my opinion has yet to really prove himself to be more than a number 2 option on the outside. With the departure of Moose and possibly BB, it leaves the Bears receiving core thin. Devin Hester needs to be on the field every offensive snap because of the threat we all know he is and these moves clears the path for him to develop into a number 1 receiver. I'm excited to see Mark Bradley develop further into the playmaker the Bears envisioned when he was selected in the second round of the '05 draft. Bradley has shown flashes of ability to be a playmaker in the league but his development has been stunted due to injuries earlier in his career. A fully healthy Bradley will give the Bears a possession type receiver with playmaking ability that will nicely compliment Hester. Rasheed Davis has a knack for making the big catches over the middle in crunch time and will once again occupy the slot when the Bears go 3 wide. I anticipate Ron Turner to find more ways to get Greg Olsen the ball. Lining him up in the slot would give Olsen a free release and better show off his freakish athletic ability. Its no secret the more the Bears get their TE's involved, the better this offense looks, especially when Grossman is in the game. Mental Midget Grossman doesn't have to make a difficult read when hes looking directly into the middle of the field where the TE's occupy. Overall I believe the Bears have a talented group of pass catchers but experience is the question mark. Oh that and the shitty O-Line, lets not forget about that.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Devin The Dude Should Shine On Offense This Year

Devin Hester should be the main focal point of the offense this upcoming season. He can only get better as he'll have game experience as a receiver going into training camp this year. It also gives him another year to learn the playbook. Obviously he struggled to grasp the playbook last year, and the Bears were forced to run the same 3 or 4 plays with him whenever he was on the field. Even with a limited amount of plays to work with, Ron Turner should have done a better job utilizing him. It seemed like every game the first two plays the Bears ran with Hester on the field were the end around and the fake end around. It NEVER worked because it was so predictable. The play could be effective if they didn’t try it every game. Ron Turner is a jackass! He had the most dangerous weapon in the entire league, but didn’t know how to use it.

With another year under his belt learning the playbook, Devin Hester has a chance to become one of the premier receivers in the league. His ability to cut on a dime can get him separation from even the best cornerbacks in the league and his breakaway speed lets him easily outrun anybody on the field. The only question mark that still remains is his hands. He dropped some easy touchdowns this past season, but I’m sure his number one focus on the off-season (aside from learning the playbook) is improving his catching ability. Once his hands become more reliable and Turner realizes that Devin Hester needs to STAY on the field, he could easily be an all-pro receiver.

The only two other things that Hester needs to do this off-season are pick a new get-hype song, and a new touchdown dance (which will probably match up with whatever song he picks). If he continues to have Soulja Boy play before his kick returns I don’t think I would be willing to go to any Bears games this year. That is the most annoying song of 2007 and it continues to annoy in 2008. Now I don’t actually think he would want to have that played-out song as his anthem this year, but you never know because it was such a tradition during last season. I mean it did have thousands of old white people doing a dance and rapping along to a song that they didn’t actually understand, which is funny, but still I can not stand hearing that shit anymore. Devin, if you do use “Crank Dat” as your song again, at least let it be the Travis Barker remix which is actually bearable. But better than that I suggest using whatever this summer’s anthem will be (hopefully something by Bun B).

Rex Grossman Is Our Quarterback

The Bears made another good off-season move today by signing Grossman to a one-year, $3 million contract with up to $2 million in incentives. Most Bears fans aren't going to be happy with this move, but it NEEDED to be done. Brian Griese proved last year that he is nothing more than a career backup. He simply doesn't have what it takes. While he was better at staying in the pocket than Rex, he couldn't throw the ball more than 5 yards past the line of scrimmage. I'd much rather have someone who is a threat to go deep, even if it means more INTs. Kyle Orton showed some signs of life last year, but there's a reason why he's been buried in the Bears depth chart since going 10-5 as a rookie. We all know the only reason he got those wins is because the Bears defense was ridiculous. The only thing he really succeeded at that season was not turning the ball over too often. Orton proved himself enough last year to become the backup QB, whether or not the Bears decide to let Griese go. But the only reason he got the chance to prove himself was because Grossman got hurt. I'm all for having competition at the QB spot during camp this year, but obviously when it's all said and done, Grossman will be the starter.

There's still people who are calling for a trade for McNabb, but there's no way that could have happened (even if the Bears hadn't signed Grossman). The Eagles are not willing to give him up, and if they somehow were, it would cost WAY too much. And let's not forget the facts that he'll turn 32 during this upcoming season, and he hasn't been healthy in a while. I still think he's a good quarterback, and he'll continue to become successful when he's finally healthy this year, but it's not worth the gamble for what we would have to give up to get him. So get over it.

Of course people are going to complain about how Rex throws too many INTs. But after being benched last season, he grew up. He only threw 1 interception after returning, and even managed to run across the line of scrimmage a few times. Sure he still had a couple lost fumbles, but we can credit those the the miserable offensive line. Somehow all year people overlooked the horrible performance of the o-line and blamed the lack of offense on the QBs/RBs. It's impossible to throw the ball if you don't have any protection, and you sure as hell can't run the ball if there aren't any holes to cut through. The only holes the line managed to create were the ones that let the defense right in for easy tackles. Once the line gets taken care of, the running game will start moving, which will open up the passing game.

The signing of Grossman will also make it a lot easier to re-sign Bernard Berrian. Grossman and Berrian work really well together, and we need him back. He would be able to get open a lot this year, as we know Devin Hester is going to be a bigger focus on the offense. Having Berrian and Hester on the field gives the Bears two legit threats to go deep at any time. With Grossman's ability to throw the deep ball and the combination of having Berrian, Hester, and Greg Olsen on the field, the Bears have to chance to put up big offensive numbers this season.

Sure Rex has had some god-awful games. But when he's on, he is better than most QBs in the league (do you not remember the beginning of the '06 season?). With an improved offensive line, he won't have to worry about getting rocked every other time he drops back to pass, and he'll be able to use all of the weapons the Bears will have this year. As long as he can stay healthy this year, the Bears are looking good. When Rex Grossman plays the full season, the Bears go to the Super Bowl, CASE CLOSED.