Friday, December 16, 2011

I'mma Go Harder Than Baltimore

My initial reaction after hearing how Sam Hurd was arrested was that obviously he's never seen "The Wire." As someone who's well versed in the greatest show ever made, I know that it offers plenty of examples of what not to do when selling drugs. But having slept on the matter overnight, I now realize that Sam Hurd definitely has seen "The Wire," but modeled himself after the wrong characters.

After the news broke that Hurd was arrested for trying to buy huge amounts of drugs, the obvious comparisons to "The Wire" drug king Avon Barksdale were made (and made, and made, and made). But the only legitimate comparison between the two was the quantities they were looking to push. Barksdale had his flaws, but he was much smarter than Sam Hurd acted.

If Hurd wanted to live this kind of lifestyle, that's his personal choice. But with Barksdale-esque aspirations, he should have set his sights on emulating Stringer Bell, the (mostly) legitimate businessman who "got his" but could never be linked to the dope on the table.

But Sam Hurd is no Stringer Bell, and he's definitely no Avon Barksdale. So why are we still talking about "The Wire?" Because there are two characters from the show whose stories actually relate to Hurd's: Wendell "Orlando" Blocker and Chester Karol "Ziggy" Sobotka. I'll let you decide which one he's more like.

The case for Orlando

Orlando was the front-man for Orlando's, a shake-it club used for laundering money that the Barksdale Crew got from selling that brown. Although the club had Orlando's name on it, and he acted like the boss, he was actually a poorly paid, low-level employe whose sole purpose in the organization was to bear a clean name so he could hold the liquor license. But Orlando sees the money that Barksdale, Bell and the other big names are making, and he wants a piece for himself. He wants the "glamorous" lifestyle and the power that comes with being the H.N.I.C.

Sam Hurd, the Bears fifth WR on the depth chart, was predominantly a special teams player who didn't get much shine on offense. Hurd's 2011 salary is $685,000. While it may be a lot of money to you and I, it's near the lower end of the spectrum for NFL players. Although he can afford lots of nice things with that kind of paycheck, he takes a look around and his teammates pushing 600 Benzes and other cars that might put a little too much stress on his wallet. So he supplements his income by moving weight. And during a meeting (with who he thought was a drug dealer) Hurd told federal agents that he was moving 4 kilos per week; but looking to grow.

Orlando wanted the same thing that Sam Hurd wanted: to be Avon Barksdale. They both wanted to be the one with the money, power and respect, and they both fell flat on their face trying to do it. After Bell tells Orlando he wouldn't give him any of that herone, Orlando has to find his own connect. Sam Hurd's guy couldn't give him more than the 4 ki's he already was getting, so he had to find a major supplier.

It doesn't end well for Hurd or Orlando for the same reason... Neither of them do enough homework before finding a real connect and they both get bumped because of it. Orlando gets caught up by the Murdaland State Police, and Hurd deals with the FEDs in the form of Homeland Security. Right now the only difference between the two is that Orlando gets murked before he has a chance to go to prison. Sam Hurd's fate has yet to be determined.

The case for Ziggy

Ziggy is probably the most polarizing character from "The Wire." On one hand, he's a total fuck-up who loves to rub people the wrong way. On the other, he's a good kid at heart who just wanted to be accepted by the people that fuck with him every day. Typically after he comes up with a ridiculous plan that doesn't pan out, he feels remorse at the people that he hurt while trying to prove himself.

Hurd, a union guy like Ziggy, had a legitimate source of income from his day job. But he didn't get the money or attention that he truly craved. He never had the playing time (or skills) to be a big-time WR while in Dallas, and that didn't change when he came to Chicago. He made his name on special teams, which prevented him from seeing a big payday like top-flight WRs get. So Hurd decided to jump into the coke game, because he "always will want to make more" money.

Ziggy proved that he didn't have the sufficient heart-to-brains ratio needed to be a gangsta. He would often let his emotions get the best of him, and it would put him in precarious situations. We don't know whether Sam Hurd was selling that stuff back while he was in Dallas, so maybe he was and was good at it. But we do know he's been running game since the day he got to Chicago. The problem being, he wasn't smart enough to be involved in that game.

Hurd's associate got knocked off with a weed plant and $88,000 cash back in July. So Hurd decided that it was a good idea to go to the police station and claim the money that had been recently withdrawn from his bank account (creating a paper trail). This is when Sam Hurd officially popped up on the radar.

Ziggy got his car jacked by Cheese Wagstaff (cousin of Snitchin' Randy Wagstaff) when he came up short with the money. Thinking he's a big tough-guy, Ziggy tries to confront Cheese to claim his car back. Like Hurd, it doesn't work out as planned for Ziggy, as he eventually witnesses (and smells) his candy paint burnt to a crisp.

But these minor setbacks didn't stop Ziggy or Hurd from putting in more work. Hurd would go on to move four ki's per week for the next four to five months. And Ziggy would go on to do more hoodrat stuff with his friends.

Eventually the lifestyle caught up with both Ziggy and Hurd, but Ziggy's fate already has played out. He ends up blastin' two fools after being disrespected, confessing to the murders and getting sent to the pokey. Sam Hurd is going through the process now (minus the murders, hopefully), but his ultimate destination will be federal-pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

So after hearing both arguments, whose tale to you think better relates to the Sam Hurd story... Ziggy's or Orlando's?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Don't Give a Fuck

I don't understand why there is so much fuss being made about Marion Barber not talking to the media. Barber spoke to the media once at training camp and he made it clear that he has no intentions of speaking to them again -- in good or bad times. While his statement created a small uproar at the time, since then there have been very few mentions that his refusal to speak is causing some kind of issue.
Fast forward to week 14 versus the Broncos. Barber makes two huge mistakes that contributed to the Bears loss. And now that there's a story to write about Marion Barber, all of a sudden it's this huge fucking controversy that he's doing the same thing he's been doing the entire season.

I'm not giving Barber a free pass for messing up. It's clear that he messed up, and it was a huge part of the Bears losing that game. But guess what? Marion Barber does not owe the media one MF word.
While it's true that the NFL has a rule that all players must have media availability, there is no agreement between player and media. But because Barber isn't giving them the sound clip that they want, they have to cry about it and call him selfish and say that he's creating distractions.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile now, you would already know that I don't believe in off-the-field distractions. And if you're a new reader, I suggest that you go back and read that post (and the rest of them because there's plenty of good shit dating back to 2008).

So what about Marion Barber? The media wants to ask him questions but he refuses to talk to them. So the media feels (falsely) obligated to ask Khalil Bell what was going through Barber's head during the game? Bell states exactly what happened, but the media ask every person they speak to about Marion Barber. Who exactly is creating this distraction? It's the people that are asking the question when they already know they aren't going to like the answer that's coming. To me, that kinda sounds like it's the media being selfish because all they really want is a quote for their little article.

But the NFL says Marion Barber has to speak to the media or they'll fine him.

Well, guess what? That's an agreement between the NFL and its players. There's no agreement between players and the media saying the players have to speak. Marion Barber doesn't owe the media a MF word. But since the NFL has warned Barber about a fine, he has three options:
  1. He can take the $10,000 fine and tell the media "I don't give a fuck!"
  2. He can have media availability, but "no comment" every question that they ask.
  3. He can answer the questions that are asked.
Whether he chooses option 1, option 2 or option 3, it doesn't change the fact that he doesn't owe the media shit. If he chooses to answer their questions it will make their job easier, but that's up to him. They're either going to a) ask him stupid questions that they already know the answer to and then rip him in their column or b) he's going to not answer their questions and they're going to rip him in their column.

I don't really see the incentive for Barber to speak, besides the fine from the league.
And what exactly is so important that the media wants to ask Marion Barber? How would their article about him making mistakes be any different if they were to ask their questions? Let's do a little role-playing..

Reporter: How come you decided to run out of bounds on that play?
MB: I didn't decide to run out of bounds. I was knocked out of bounds; it was an accident. The play was a run to the left and I saw an opening. I knew that if I could get a first down, the game would be over. I got too close to the sidelines and when I was hit, the momentum took me out of bounds. I fucked up. It was an accident, but I fucked up.

Reporter: Did you know that the clock would stop if you went out of bounds?
MB: Are you serious? I had no fucking clue. I haven't played this game for the last 20 years of my life, so thank you for letting me know. Where were you before the game so I could have known that?

Reporter: Well did anybody on the sidelines or in the huddle remind you to stay in bounds to keep the clock running?
MB: No. Nobody said it.

Reporter: If somebody had reminded you, would you have stayed in bounds?
MB: Have you listened to a fucking word I've said? I just told you I didn't run out of bounds on purpose.

Reporter: What about in overtime, what happened on the play where you fumbled?
MB: I saw an opening to the end zone. I was trying to win the game, but I fucked up and I only had one hand on the ball.

Reporter: OHHHH... now I know why you fumbled. I couldn't figure that out from watching the game. That was the missing piece to my story, I was going to write that you fumbled on purpose because you didn't know that fumbling was a bad thing.

Reporter: Let's change the topic... What happened last week when you lined up wrong and it nullified a TD?
MB: Are you seriously asking me about last week? I fucked up. I know better than that, but I just had a mental lapse and I fucked up.

Reporter: You know, you should have just told us that last week. My story would have been completely different. I could have wrote that you told us that you fucked up. Instead, I just wrote that you fucked up... not that you admitted to fucking up. It would have been way better if you had just told us that last week.

As you can see, whether a player chooses to answer the media's questions has little-to-no-effect on the article that's written about him. Basically, they're looking for two things. The first thing they want is a quote from the player that co-signs whatever's written in the article (e.g. "Marion Barber admits that he fucked up"). The second thing they want is for the player to get so annoyed with the questions that he says something bad, thus creating an entirely new story to write about the next day. But the media does whatever they want because they're "just doing their jobs."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Look What I Got

I'm not afraid to admit it... I love to pre-judge people. And even though you might be scared to say it, you probably like to do it to. But even though I have my initial thoughts on what somebody is about, that doesn't mean I'm not gonna give them a chance to show me who they really are.

When Roy Williams signed with the Bears this summer, we already had our idea of what this cat was about. Somebody who was drafted very high and never panned out to be a dominant football player. We knew about his excessive first down celebrations and the ridiculous amount of draft picks that Jerry Jones gave up to make him a Cowboy. And we also knew that he was "a Martz guy," just like Brandon Manumaleuna was before him.

Admit it... before Roy Williams ever stepped foot at Halas Hall you did not like him.

You might have even hated him. I didn't really like him either, but I still saw it as a low risk -- high reward addition to the Bears roster. I knew he wasn't the elite receiver that he was projected to be out of college, so my expectations were tempered. And most people didn't have huge expectations for him either.

It wasn't until Martz told the media that Roy Will could catch 70-80 passes this season, that expectations like that came out of anybody's mouth.

Now please read that sentence again... It was Mike Martz, and only Mike Martz, that put that ridiculous number into conversation. And yet everybody held it against Roy Williams when he didn't even say shit. This is when everybody really started hating him because we knew he had no chance to reach those numbers.

And when everybody that you know starting talking mad shit about Roy Williams, before he ever put on a Bears jersey, that's when I started paying attention to him. I always get drawn to the athletes that most people don't like (Grossman), because I can't stand when everybody has the same generic opinion about someone. It's called groupthink and it's fucking annoying.

I know Roy Williams is not a special player, but the fact that people won't admit that he has contributed to the Bears success this season shows that you can't put your feelings aside and talk real football. He has definitely struggled with drops, with 5 on the season, and his drop against KC was one of the biggest factors in that that loss. But because he has a history of drops, our reactions are magnified anytime that he drops one.

So how about a stat for you...

A stat that shows, more than anything, what he has contributed to the Bears this season. When the Bears are in 3rd down situations, Roy Williams has 10 catches for 1st downs, which leads the team. Second in that category is Johnny Knox with 7, then Matt Forte with 6, Earl Bennett with 6 and Dane Sanzenbacher with 6. When the Bears are only converting on 32% of 3rd downs this season, that's a significant impact on the offense in terms of sustaining drives.

On 8 of those 9 first down conversions, the Bears ended up scoring on that same drive. Without any of these conversions, the Bears are either punting or they're taking a FG instead of a TD that came after the drive was extended. These catches came over the course of 5 games, 4 of which were wins:
  1. win vs ATL
  2. win vs TB
  3. win VS PHI
  4. win vs SD
  5. loss vs DEN
I'm not saying that Roy Williams has been the Bears best receiver this season. I'm not denying the fact that he's frustrating to watch or that he drops too many passes. All that I'm saying is that the people who have been calling for the Bears to cut Roy Williams are completely off-base and are blatantly ignoring the fact that he's been an important part of the team. Roy Will has contributed just as much as the other WRs on this team have. Of all the Bears WRs, he's second on the team with 33 catches and second on the team with 447 yards. Most importantly, he leads the team with 15 FDCs on the season.

So the next time that Roy Will comes up with a big catch this season, don't just run to Twitter and RT the 40 people on your timeline that say "OMG Roy Williams actually caught the ball?!" Maybe you can appreciate the fact that he's making plays for the team you love so much.

Roy Williams 2011 3rd down conversions that lead to scores:

vs ATL 3rd-6, CHI26 - J. Cutler passed to R. Williams to the left for 23 yard gain, leads to FG
vs ATL 3rd-6, ATL32 - J. Cutler passed to R. Williams to the left for 15 yard gain, leads to FG

vs TB 3rd-7, TB25 - J. Cutler passed to R. Williams to the left for 25 yard touchdown
vs TB 3rd-11, TB33 - J. Cutler passed to R. Williams to the left for 12 yard gain, leads to TD

vs PHI 3rd-2, PHI37 - J. Cutler passed to R. Williams down the middle for 14 yard gain, leads to FG

vs SD 3rd-8, CHI16 - J. Cutler passed to R. Williams to the right for 15 yard gain, leads to FG
vs SD 3rd-4, CHI23 - J. Cutler passed to R. Williams to the left for 11 yard gain, leads to TD

vs DEN 3rd-2, CHI45 - C. Hanie passed to R. Williams to the left for 17 yard gain, leads to FG



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ho Sit Down! Week 14 - Lovie Smith

While it would be easy to give Marion Barber the Ho Sit Down! treatment this week after he made a terrible mental mistake with 1:55 left in the game and then fumbled the ball in overtime, this game was lost on the sidelines. The shit that Barber did was inexcusable; but the Bears lost this game because of a philosophy that they've followed for as long as Lovie Smith has been in charge... go limp when you have the lead.

I've seen it too many times in the past to overlook the fact that it happened again versus the Broncos. When the Bears have the lead in the 4th quarter, they drop the safeties back deep and leave the middle of the field wide open for easy completions. The idea is that if you prevent the big play, it makes it harder for the other team to score. The problem with this philosophy is that even though they are forced to burn clock, the offense can easily march the entire field by dumping the ball over the middle. Then once they get in the red zone it only takes one defensive breakdown to allow an easy touchdown.

Remember last year how the Bears dominated the Eagles for three quarters and then give up 13 points in the 4th and almost lost? The Eagles couldn't do shit against the Bears all game, averaging just over 23 yards per drive through the first three quarters. Then the Eagles last three possessions go for 65, 58 and 68 yards and three scores. It's not that the Eagles suddenly remembered how to run an offense, it's that the Bears defense got the orders from The Top to bend over and expose their middle parts.

Sticking to the same old script versus the Broncos, the Bears held Denver to just under 20 yards per drive for their first 12 drives. Then when the clock starting running low in the 4th quarter, the Bears go soft on a 63 yard TD drive before a 39 yard drive that ends in a FG to force overtime.

They've been running this end-of-game defense for years, even before Rod M starting calling the plays, so it's not like he was the one that decided to pull back the defensive reins. Lovie is the only person that makes these kinds of strategic decisions.

So while Tim Jennings allowed a huge completion to let the Broncos tie the game in the 4th, and although Marion Barber coughed the ball up in OT which gave Zack Bowman a chance to do his best "Johnny Knox falling down" impression, there was a much Higher Power to blame for this big letdown... Lovie Smith calling the shots From Above.

Lovie, drink your cough syrup and sit your ho ass down!




Monday, December 5, 2011

Ho Sit Down! Week 13 - Roy E Williams

When you give the general public an opportunity to voice their opinion, you need to be prepared to hear some pretty stupid shit. Maybe I'm just saying that because I think that most people I come in contact with on any given day are, in fact, stupid. It's not because I think I have a superior level of intelligence... it's just that I like to take a step back, apply common sense, and make rational choices in my everyday life. But after 26+ years on this Earth, I'm slowly coming to the grips that most people don't actually do this. Whether it's the oblivious MF driving 60 MPH in the left lane while you lay on your horn behind them or the grimey MF who refuses to wash his hands before spreading his dick germs all on the bathroom door handle, a lot of people just don't use the thinking part of their brains.

So what did I do?

I went straight to them for their opinions.

I decided to let the people vote for who deserves the Ho Sit Down! treatment for week 13. We polled eight NFL experts -- seven are Bears fans and one is an unbiased 49ers fan living in Chicago -- to see how they answer the following question:

"If you could pick one person who fucked it more than anyone else in the Bears loss to the Chiefs, who you got?"

After such a poor offensive display against KC, I'm not surprised at the variety of the answers. What was surprising is the fact that the only person to vote for Jerry Angelo was the only person that's not even a Bears fan. And while he's definitely right about this whole thing being JA's fault, we're not gonna talk about how Angelo failed to recruit a legitamate backup QB, in case Cutler went down.

I was (almost) shocked to learn that only two people voted for Caleb Hanie. Hanie was the first response I received, as well as my vote (had I registered to vote), so I figured he might run away with this poll. Hanie missed badly on throws to open receivers when he wasn't busy making poor decisions (like holding on to the ball too long instead of throwing it away). But since Hanie only received two countable votes this week, he'll have to try a lot harder to get the HSD! treatment next week.

The runner up in this week's poll was Mike Martz. Although he only came one vote shy of defending his HSD! belt, he just couldn't do enough to come out with this week's award. But with the incredible perseverance that we know him for, we can all expect Martz to be in the running again next week and beyond.

That brings us to this week's scapegoat (and first time recipient of the HSD! honors)... Roy E Williams.

Williams struggled throughout the game to get off the line of scrimmage while being jammed. He lost his footing a few times and was a general non-factor. It wasn't until the most crucial drive of the game that Roy E made his presence felt, dropping a potentially game-tying TD with 4:01 left on the clock. Not only did he not catch the big brown thing flying at this head, he decided it would be smart to play popcorn with it in a sea of KC defenders, allowing the ball to be legally up-for-grabs. When the Chiefs came down with the interception, that pretty much wrapped it up.

Personally, I think Hanie fucked it way worse than anybody else with his poor play, but since my vote doesn't count this week (and only this week), I'll bring it full circle with the most important theme of the 2011-2012 Bears season... Roy Will did not have one MF first down celebration for the second straight week. Now, it's kinda hard to celebrate a first down when you don't have any catches and it's hard to catch the ball when it's only thrown in your direction one time all game, Caleb Hanie. But this is the NFL, and we can't blame anybody but Roy E Williams for a ho-ass-zero-FDC performance against the Chiefs. So Roy E, this one's for you...



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ho Sit Down! Week 12 - Mike Martz

If you're going to be anywhere near Greensboro, NC this winter you need to check out a basketball game at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Although I've never seen a game at NC A&T personally, it was brought to my attention a couple years ago that this is officially the Crunkest Gym In America. You see, when a player on the opposing team fouls out, the Dawg Pound goes HAM Newton on them and emphatically helps them off the floor with Maceo's "Go Sit Down" as the soundtrack. While the song might not be anything special on it's own, I love the fact that the Aggies fans have adopted this tradition when somebody fouls out against them. So much so, that I decided to bring you a new weekly feature to Bear Down Chicago Bears called Ho Sit Down. Each week we will highlight one person that fucked up so bad that they deserve the Ho Sit Down treatment.

And what better person to get this thing rolling than Mike Martz?

I think it's pretty safe to assume that Martz reads BDCB because after we gassed him up last week for his play calling against the Chargers, his head returned to its normal, over-inflated levels and his creative juices squirted all over the place.

We could single out the fact that he didn't tone down his play calling for Caleb Hanie, who was making his first career start. We could focus on the Bears RB's only getting 22 rushing attempts when they averaged over 5.5 yards per carry. We could bury him for calling a trick play on 2nd and 1 at the OAK 7 yard line.

But what made me want to tell that ho to sit down more than anything on Sunday, was that when the Bears needed to march the entire field at the end of the game, Devin Hester was on the sidelines. From what I noticed, he didn't get a single snap on offense the entire game, which is stupid in its own right; but it really pissed me off that they didn't have him out there on the final drive of the game.

The Bears got the ball back with 56 seconds left in the game and down by five points. With the drive starting at their own 4 yard line, the Bears needed to go 96 yards without any timeouts. So instead of putting their best homerun threat on the field (or second best, if you're one of those Johnny Knox D-riders), they put slow ass Sam Hurd out there.

Now, I like Sam Hurd and I think he needs more offensive snaps. Even though he's not fastest WR or the best route runner, he's a big target that catches the ball when it's thrown his way. But in this scenario, his lack of speed warrants keeping him on the sidelines since you're going up against the clock and don't have time to change personnel between plays.

Obviously, Hester has his own shortcomings as a receiver and has struggled with drops this season, but he is still capable of reaching the end zone from anywhere on the field. He could slip one tackle and take it to the house on any play.

So for the simple fact that the Bears had to race down the field but chose not to line up their fastest player, we are telling Mike Martz' ho ass to sit down!



Monday, November 21, 2011

When They Talk 'Bout Me

It's been a wild ass year for the Bears in 2011. After opening strong in week one, they played inconsistently the next four games, leaving us scratching our heads while trying to figure out who these Bears were. They lost their starting RT for the season after 2 games and also cut their starting SS during the bye week. But I think they most shocking aspect to the 2011 season is the way that the national perception of Jay Cutler has completely flipped from what it used to be.

For some bizarre reason, the national media has had something against Jay Cutler for as long as he's been a Chicago Bear. He was a rising star in Denver before being traded by the short-lived Josh McDaniels regime, even making the Pro Bowl in his final year there. At the time, it was being reported that he demanded a trade and forced his way out of Denver, so the media started calling him petulant. At that point in my life, and after 23+ years on this Earth, I had never even heard the word "petulant" come out of anybody's mouth. But all of a sudden, it was the hottest buzzword in all of sports, so everybody was saying it, trying to act smart. Some of you had never heard of it either and, to this day, would struggle to use it in a sentence.

Cutler didn't have the hottest start to his Chicago Bears career. His first appearance was a nationally televised game against the Packers where Cutler did not play well and was deservedly ripped for it. The very same week, the local media starting criticizing Cutler's body language on the sideline. Now this didn't come out of nowhere... the Denver media attacked his body language near the end of his time in Denver, however the Chicago papers ran with it -- and ran hard. They kept talking about it and talking about it, and with the Bears playing in five prime time games in 2009, the national media took their cue from the local rags and pushed this angle too.

During the 2010 season, the focus didn't change much. With the Bears playing in four prime time games, ESPN and NBC ran through the same, tired storylines that they used the year before. With the Bears being an up-and-down team, it was easy for the national media to continue to negatively portray Jay Cutler. It wasn't until after Cutler got hurt in the NFC Championship game that the Chicago papers really started to support him. The national coverage was absolutely destroying Cutler, but the local writers did a good job of defending him and refuting any claims that he wasn't tough.

And then this year, something funny happened when the Bears went to DET to play on Monday Night Football. No, the offensive line didn't finally read their job descriptions which all begin with, "Protect your fucking QB." They actually did the opposite. Cutler was almost bludgeoned to death, but still managed to throw for 249 yds and a TD without throwing an INT. All of a sudden, people recognized that Cutler was behind the worst offensive line in the NFL every week, and he started getting sympathy for it.

Was it suddenly becoming the cool thing do to stand behind Jay Cutler?

It sure seemed like it. One by one, the national analysts would step up and mention how Cutler never had a chance and that he did everything he could do against the Lions. Where were those idiots the two years before that?! They were finally saying what plenty of knowledgeable Bears fans and many bloggers had been saying the whole time, "It's not Cutler. It's the offensive line."

After that game, the offensive line decided to make their 2011 debut and kept Cutler relatively clean. He finished with 267 yds, 2 TDs and no INTs and showed what he can do when he's not running for his life. More and more analysts lined up behind Cutler, waiting for their turn to say something nice.

The next week Cutler had a pretty bad game in London versus the Buccaneers. But the Bears came out with a win and they were scheduled to play on MNF the next week. Throughout the week on ESPN Radio, Row Jaworski had a commercial where he previewed the matchup, specifically talking about how great Cutler had been playing recently. So Cutler had just come off a poor outing, yet he was being praised nationally.

And that's when I realized something had changed.

This was the complete opposite of what we'd seen and heard the prior two years. During those seasons, even when Cutler played well, people like Trent Dilfer continued to bash Cutler. But now, in 2011, Cutler was being overly praised when he didn't even have a good game. He went on to have a good game versus the Eagles, but then another poor outing against the Lions in week 10. But since the Bears kept winning, all of the analysts were talking up Jay Cutler like he was carrying them to victory every single week, when it was should have been more attributed to the defense and run game.

Of course, I have no problem with the love that Cutler's been getting nationally; it's just something I'm not used to. I almost don't trust the national guys, as if they're just waiting for Cutler to slip up so they can jump off his bandwagon before everyone else does. But now that he's out for at least the next six weeks, there's a ton of media attention finally recognizing how important Jay Cutler is to to this team. And while we know that Cutler is never going to publicly admit that he notices a difference with the way he's been covered lately, I hope that, privately, he can take these next few weeks and enjoy what it's like to finally get the benefit of the doubt.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

He's on Fire!

Roy Williams bounced back this week after a zero catch, zero FDC game last week against the Lions. Although he dropped the first pass thrown his way, he made up for it by finishing with 5 catches for 62 yards. He was 75% efficient when you take his total number of first down celebrations (3) divided by his total number of first down catches (4). 75% is a respectable bounce back game, however as professional athletes the goal is always 100% efficiency. Regardless, Roy Will had a impact game, finishing second in targets (8) while leading the Bears in catches (5).

After making a first down catch in the 1st quarter, the camera jumped away from Williams after he picked himself off the ground, so we weren't able to record an FDC on this play. But in the 3rd quarter, Roy E exploded. On a 3rd and 4, he caught a quick pass for an 11 yard first down. This is when he finally recorded his 10th FDC on the season, triggering the double digit celebration bonus in his contract. According to sources, this escalator could be worth up to $7.5 million.

Williams was pretty hype at this point and signaled for his offense to hurry up and feed him the ball again. Martz, calling the great game that he did, went right back to Roy Will. Another quick pass for a 12 yard first down. He then immediately picked up his 11th FDC, right then and there.

If you've ever played NBA Jam before, you know that hitting two in a row means you're "heating up." And with Roy E feeling it, he controlled the tempo once more, hurrying the offense and demanding the ball. Three straight plays, three straight first downs. This time Roy Will picks up his 3rd FDC of the game (and 12th of the season) on an 11 yard catch from Cutler. He's on fire!

Bear Down Roy Will

Roy E Williams Career FDC count: 12

Week 12 vs OAK over/under: 2.5 FDCs



Straight Killa, No Filla

The Bears put on an impressive offensive display in their week 11 win over the San Diego Chargers. Jay Cutler made some incredible throws and three different receivers each had big games. Cutler was the clear player of the game, but I want to give some well deserved credit to Mike Martz for calling a brilliant game vs SD.

The Bears tried running the ball early, but were faced with 8 man fronts which prevented them from finding success. So Martz opened the passing game to take advantage of the defense that was keying on Forte. It was clear that the Chargers didn't want Forte to beat them, so Martz called on his receiving corps to step up and make some plays. Still, he never fully abandoned the run, making sure to control the clock after gaining first down after first down.

Martz also did a good job of mixing in short passes with the deep ones to keep the coverage honest, and put Cutler in a position to make plays downfield. He was able to spot a weakness in defense when the Bears threw for first downs on three consecutive plays in the 1st quarter. And then again in the 3rd quarter, the Bears went for three consecutive 1st downs through the air (all to Roy Williams). Martz saw the advantage his offense had at this point and went for a bomb to Johnny Knox who was tackled near the goal line.

Even though the Bears were having a lot of success, Martz stuck with that straight killa and didn't filter it out with some bullshit trick plays. This is two weeks in a row where he didn't call the wildcat at a critically bad point in the game. The Bears were able to do anything they wanted on offense versus the Chargers and Mike Martz was a big part of that.  He called a brilliant game today, so we'll see if it goes to his head. It likely will.



Friday, November 18, 2011

We Got It For Cheap

With the improved play of the offensive line over the past four games, there's an impressive side note to the way they're constructed. The two tackles that they've been running with during their win streak, J'Marcus Webb and Lance Louis, are both seventh round draft picks, making relatively low salaries for their positions. Now this could say as much good as it does bad about the way Jerry Angelo drafts. One on hand, he's gotten great value out of two late round draft picks who ended up being starters at important positions. But on the other hand, the Bears are starting two seventh rounders because of their failure to adequately address the issue sooner. But as much as I dislike the way Angelo runs this organization, I will certainly give him due credit for hitting on two draft picks that are usually throwaways that never make the 53 man roster.

J'Marcus Webb has quietly improved since the beginning of the season. While the 2010 seventh round pick struggled early with false starts, holds and flat-out whiffs against speedy pass rushers, he's improved in all of three of these areas over the past four games. He had one illegal formation penalty vs MIN, but no penalties in the next three games. He gave up a sack vs DET on a play where Cutler held on to the ball too long.

There were times earlier in the season where he looked like he didn't know which rusher he was supposed to block, leading to open season on Jay Cutler. And while he's still prone to the occasional fuck up, he seems to have a much better understanding of his assignment on every snap. Now he needs to prove that he can continue these improvements going forward before anyone will believe what the Bears have been telling us... that he could be the starting left tackle for the foreseeable future. Whether or not he can do that remains to be seen, but a starting left tackle that only is only costing you $405,000 when the average salary for a starting offensive lineman is about $1.27 million is a great bargain.

Lance Louis has been the Bears best offensive linemen in 2011. After starting the season at right guard, he's performed admirably filling in at right tackle for the injured Gabe Carimi. The 2009 seventh round draft pick has been pivotal to the Bears running success this season. Louis has very quick feet and decent size to get out in front of Matt Forte and occupy blockers. His athleticism also helps him prevent edge rushers from getting around and creating pressure on Cutler. With Carimi now on Injured Reserve, Louis will need to hold down the right tackle position for the remainder of the season.

Although he projects to move back to RG for 2012 and beyond, Lance Lou is going to need to continue his high level of play for the Bears to sustain the moderate success they've had on the offensive line. And making just $480,000 this year and $565,000 next season, he provides another good value for a starting offensive lineman. Hopefully Louis can continue to improve and be one of the o-linemen that the Bears can build with going forward.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Let's Double Up

Since we last checked in with Roy E Williams, he's picked up another 2 first down celebrations. Week 7 saw Roy Will make his biggest impact so far this year, picking up 4 catches for 59 yards and his first TD for the Bears. Even though he had three first down catches vs TB, I'm disappointed that he only celebrated one of them.

He had a bad drop early in the game but made up for it with a score. On his TD, where we saw first hand that having a big target makes it so much easier for Cutler to hit his guy, you couldn't even tell that Roy scored by his celebration. But he was feeling good after that, so when caught another ball, he picked up his 8th FDC of the year.

Last week vs the Eagles, Williams stayed hot by grabbing three first downs (including two 3rd down conversions) and earning his 9th FDC of the season. Once again, the director of the TV broadcast chose not to show the celebration but we were able to catch a quick glimpse of it. His next two catches are where we're not so sure. It looked like he casually left-handed an FDC on his 2nd catch, but it wasn't enough for the official scorekeeper to credit him. And on his third catch, the cameraman cut away from him way too quickly for us to know if he celebrated or not.

So what should we expect this week versus DET? Johnny Knox is expected to see a higher number of snaps than he has lately, so we'll see if those will be taken away from Williams or Hester. But look for Roy Will to do what he's been doing on a consistent basis and coming out with 3 or 4 catches for 50-60 yards. But the important thing to watch is how many drops he has, because he usually doesn't celebrate on catches immediately following a drop. Williams is in a prime position to reach double digit FDCs on the year, which is probably an escalator in his contract.

Bear Down Roy Will

Roy E Williams Career FDC count: 9

Week 10 vs DET over/under: 1.5 FDCs



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Who Run It?

The gameplan to beat the Lions is simple... run the fucking ball. In the Bears three losses this season, they're averaging an underwhelming 14.7 rush attempts per game. That number is even exaggerated because they ran 24 times vs Detroit, bringing that average up. In the loss against the Packers, we all remember Martz only giving Forte 9 rush attempts and the New Orleans game was no better with the Bears only attempting 11 rushes all game.
In the Bears 5 wins this season, they are averaging 29.6 rushes for their RBs. The higher the total number of rushes, the better chance they have to win. Of course when you have the lead you have more freedom to run the ball; but the primary reason the Bears won each one of those games is their commitment to the run early. It opens their entire offense, especially play-action.
This offensive line is built to run block much better than it is to pass protect. They have good collection of size with enough quickness to get out in front of Forte and clear it out before he throws it in. When they're able to get the ground game going, it makes it so much easier for them to protect Cutler and give these WRs time to get open. But when Martz goes away from Forte and starts chucking it all over the place, that's when the offensive line gets in trouble. They need to run it early and often to keep this offense playing well. I think it's important that the Bears reach the 25 rush attempts milestone in order to win.
We have to give Martz some credit, though. It seems like he finally gets it... at least for now he does. During this three game win streak, the RBs have averaged 30.7 attempts per game. The question is, 'Will they stick with the run or will Martz get bored and start chucking?' Martz has been very creative with the run plays he's drawn up this season. He still gets to put in his motions that he loves so much and try to confuse the defense. Hopefully that will keep him interested because the only thing that can stop Matt Forte is Mike Martz.

Bears RBs combined rush attempts per game:
vs ATL - 26
vs NO - 11
vs GB - 9
vs CAR - 30
vs DET - 24
vs MIN - 28
vs TB - 31
vs PHI - 33
vs DET - 31
vs SD - 27
vs OAK - 22

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Underground Kingz

You know that feeling when you've been a die-hard fan of an underground band before they blow up and everyone jumps on their bandwagon? Even though these people are appreciating something that you really like, for some strange reason you feel resentment because this exclusive club was just taken away from you. Like you're a bigger fan than everybody else be cause you've been down from day one. I'm not really sure why it happens, we just can't help it. My absolute favorite rap group -- favorite musical act of any kind -- is UGK, or the Underground Kingz. When I tell people that, they usually don't know who I'm talking about and even though I love putting new people on to them, I get this selfish feeling like I appreciate UGK more than anybody else possibly could. It doesn't make sense.

And the same thing happens with sports. Of course the general public loves Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers and, very recently, Jay Cutler. Those are the big names so it's easy to just say "that's my favorite player." But me personally, I've always been drawn to the players who don't get the shine that I think they deserve. When I'm at the bar watching the Bears or tailgating at a road game in Cincinnati I like to be wearing a jersey that nobody else in the place has on.

The first Bears jersey I ever got was a blue Nate Vasher and boy, did I rock the shit out of that jersey the year that he went All Pro. The next season comes around and a lot of people had gone out and bought Vasher jerseys during training camp, so my beloved #31 jersey was starting to fall out of favor with me. I couldn't really help it, Vasher was still one of my favorite players at the time, but it just didn't feel the same when everyone else had the same jersey. So I moved on.

The next jersey I copped was even hotter than the first one. I got a blue Devin Hester jersey for Christmas his rookie year, before the Bears got to the Super Bowl. We went to an incredible Super Bowl party in the Gold Coast with 100+ people at this condo. I was literally the only person in the place with a Devin Hester jersey, so you could imagine how buck I was going while he was watching himself make history. The next season? Everybody and their kid was wearing a Devin Hester jersey. So I got an Olsen. Of course the same thing eventually happened, which brings us to today.

Ever since the Bears drafted Earl Bennett, he's been one of my favorite players on the team. Even though the analysts claimed he didn't have a ton of speed, this dude was the all time leader in receptions in SEC history, so I figured he could bring a lot to the table. Even though he didn't see the field on offense his rookie year, I was looking for him to break out in 2009. I even named one of my fantasy football teams "Earl Bennett" that year. And since then, I realized how good of a WR he could become so I've liked him even more. I even get a huge kick out of the Bears playing on Sunday Night Football when he gets to introduce himself with that country ass twang, "Ear' Bennett." Listen for it the next time the Bears play on NBC.

For 2 years now I've been wanting a blue #80 jersey, especially since I can't wear my Olsen anymore, but up to this point, you couldn't find an Earl B jersey anywhere unless you custom made one. Now that Earl had what many are calling a "breakout game" (even though he was really just doing what he does) I will never get a chance to buy one because he's now become this overnight sensation. He was doing his weekly hour with Jeff Dickerson on ESPN 1000 the other night talking about how he's blowing up on Twitter, since he was trending all throughout Monday night and the followers came rushing.

And I'm happy for him; of course I'm happy for him. He's by far the Bears best WR and he deserves all of the attention he's getting, and hopefully this buzz will help him get a little bit extra on the contract extension that's imminent. But now the selfish side in me is bitter that he's gonna be another one of those Bears who even the most ignorant fan talks about. Mostly I'm pissed because this means it's way too late to grab that Earl Bennett jersey, because I guarantee it's gonna be the hot new jersey when training camp 2012 opens. But Earl deserves it because he's a hard worker, a down to earth guy and most importantly, a good ass football player. I hope you enjoy the limelight, Earl, because the Earl Bennett Fan Club just became a movement.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Turn My Swag On

Here at Bear Down Chicago Bears it's widely believed that if you don't have anything to write about Roy E Will, you probably don't have a story worth writing. That's why it's been almost an entire month since the last post. But after Roy's brilliant game against the Vikings this past Sunday, I had no other choice but to get it rolling again. You're probably asking, "What the hell was so brilliant about Roy Will's performance this week?".

Sure, he only had 3 catches for 50 yards and did not find the end zone. But with each one of those catches, he was able to pick up a first down. More importantly, with each one of those first downs he was able to accumulate another FDC, bringing his season total to 7.

Ok, so I'm not 100% sure that he did, in fact, officially celebrate each one of those first downs. The geniuses at NBC decided to change cameras at the exact moment when he was getting ready to swag it out, leaving us wondering whether or not he did his thing. However, knowing Roy Will as well as I do, I can guarantee you he not only managed to pick up his 5th FDC of the year on his first catch, but he went 3-for-3 on the day by celebrating each and every first down that he caught against Minnesota. It was nice to see Roy get some facetime after being somewhat invisible the previous few weeks.

After missing week 2 against the Saints with an injury and being held without a catch in week 3 against the packers, Williams was able to pick up his fourth FDC of the year in a week 4 win against the Panthers. Although he caught another first down against the Lions on Monday Night Football, being the class act that he is, he decided against the celebration as the Bears were well on their way to losing the game.

If you can read trends, you can see that in games where Roy Will has a major impact (ie: celebrates one first down catch) the Bears are undefeated (3-0). Not only are the Bears unbeatable when he picks one up, but when he has 3 or more the Bears are averaging 34.5 points per game and look to be a dominant force. Somebody needs to get word to Mike Martz that Roy E Williams is the impact player that we were expecting, you just gotta put him in a position where he can turn his swag on.

Bear Down Roy Will

Roy E Williams Career FDCs: 7

Week 7 vs TB over/under: 2.5 FDCs


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Draped Up and Dripped Out

Roy Will is coming back from his week 1 injury at a time that the Bears really need him. The WRs created absolutely no separation last week against the Saints. Hester led the Bears with 9 targets but almost all of those passes were forced while he was draped up by the defense. Earl Bennett went down with an injury early as Cutler led him into a big hit from a defender for the second straight week. Johnny Knox was on TV maybe twice all day which shows what kind of impact he had on Sunday. And that's why Roy Williams needs to come back and hopefully step up.

The packers are going to play a lot of press coverage against the Bears and that's not a good thing. Hester and Knox both struggle when they're jammed at the line. Roy E is obviously the Bears' biggest receiver and he needs to prove that he can win battles at the line of scrimmage. I can't say I've ever seen Roy Will beat a jam at the line but since he's adequate at run blocking, hopefully it's something he can do relatively well.

Even if he's draped up by the secondary like the other WRs were last week, he at least provides a bigger target for Cutler. The assumption is that Roy E can win a an up-for-grabs contest with a cornerback who is guaranteed to be smaller than him. If Cutler is forced to throw to a WR that is covered tightly, he would be better off throwing to Williams instead of Hester, Knox or Dane Sanzenbacher because of his size advantage.

With Earl Bennett out, this is Williams' chance to step up and make plays for this team. We already know that Jay Cutler trusts Bennett but the question is whether he trusts Roy E Will enough to throw it to him repeatedly throughout the entire game. He's going to need to earn that trust quickly and he can't leave Cutler hanging like he did in the preseason when a dropped pass resulted in an easy interception. Over the course of the season, if he can turn into a receiver that Cutler trusts he stands to become the beneficiary of a high number of targets.

Whether Roy E Williams is going to step up or not remains to be seen, but he will get his first chance against the packers. With Earl Bennett's impending absence and the likely ineffectiveness of Hester and Knox, Williams' ability to produce against the Bears' rivals can mean the difference between a win and a loss.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Trill Playas Don't Die

There is absolutely no question what the highlight of Sunday's game was. I'm not talking about Jim Cornelison's incredible rendition of The National Anthem, because that happened before kickoff. The kickoff wasn't the highlight either, even though it officially began BEARS season. And it wasn't when the clock hit 0:00 and the Bears had their first win of the year. Nope. The single greatest moment of the game on Sunday was what we've been waiting for since July 29... Roy E. Williams' first ever 1st down celebration in a Bears uniform.

On his very first catch as Chicago Bear, Williams consummated it with his signature move. Coming into the season, I was curious whether he would give up the first down celebrations. I'll even admit that I was hoping he would give them up after coming to the Bears. But my opinion has completely changed. I am being 100 when I say there was not a single moment on Sunday that we got more buck for at this house than when he celebrated his first 1st down.

It was also an important catch, as it was good for a 3rd down conversion that kept a drive going and resulted in a field goal. Roy Will definitely had an impactful game as his second career first down celebration, or FDC, came on another 3rd down on a different scoring drive. Unfortunately for him, on the third snap of the 4th quarter, he tweaked his groin and exited for the remainder of the game. Fortunately for us, he still managed to pick up his 3rd FDC of the game as he treaded lightly to the bench, wrapping up an impressive display of celebration in his first game with the Bears.

Bear Down Roy Will.

Roy E Williams Career FDC Count: 3


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brown Down Cleveland Browns

Editors Note: With the Bears wrapping up the 2011 preseason against the Cleveland Browns this week, we highlight a guest post from our sister distant cousin blog, The Ohio River Fire.

“If it’s brown, flush it down.” “The Mistake by the Lake.” “The Cleveland Frowns.”

Go on, run your mouths, Chi City. Jay Cutler wants Kristin Cavallari Back… Your team.

Going into this season, I’m about as excited as ever—aka since our grand return to the NFL in 1999—about the Browns’ evolving squad, coaching and front office. It’s a new year with a lot of new faces and strategies. It won’t be our year (again), but I think we’re moving forward and that our near future looks bright.

Best case scenario? My beloved boys in orange and brown jell and rack up more than five Ws this season. Worst case? It’s a publicly awkward, déjà vu kinda year in which everyone struggles to get on the same page and we end up banking on the first- and fourth-round 2012 draft picks we scooped up from Atlanta this time around.

The eternally hopeful Clevelander in me says it will be the former—that the Brownies will emerge as AFC North contenders, giving grown men reason to sing the Baha Men and putting Christmas Ale-fueled “Suuuper Bowl” chants in a whole new context. Twenty-some years of unfulfilled fandom says it will be the latter—that I’ll be freezing my ass off roaming the mean streets of Cleveland wondering why I thought the Browns could score 21 points with five minutes on the clock, thus ruining my chances of beating the other drunkards to Panini’s for pizza and increasing my wait time exponentially. So let’s just say somewhere in between—an unexpected big win or two, some nail-biters and a strong finish—would be A-OK with me during this time of transition.

Some Cleve highlights to look for in Thursday’s game:

Pat Shurmur. Out with Eric Mangin[a], in with the new. The Rams-offensive-
coordinator-turned-Browns-head-coach is shrouded in question marks, but he earned a few character points in my book with these opening remarks at a post-practice press conference on Monday: “I guess it’s still morning, so good morning. Today in the Browns’ world, it’s Thursday. I realize it’s Monday, but it’s Thursday as we prepare our team for a game on Thursday, which is Sunday.”

Colt McCoy. This young QB from Texas is showing signs of promise. Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace injuries gave him an in last year. And thankfully so. Performance and decent stats rightly earned him this season’s starting position.

Peyton Hillis. Dude ain’t showing no signs of the Madden curse. This Browns sophomore, surprise superstar and hunky hulk of man is fun to watch and should prove to be McCoy’s go-to runningback.

Dick Jauron’s 4-3 defense. The veteran NFL coach brings in a new scheme, and it seems from the first few weeks of preseason play that enormous rookie tackle Phil Taylor, much-smaller-and-swifter second-round draft pick right end Jabaal Sheard and company are climbing the learning curve.

That said, may the best (preseason) team win. And join me, won’t you, in crossing your fingers for a real-deal Browns-v-Bears matchup on next year’s sched.

Go Browns.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Adrenaline Rush

For the Bears to make another serious run this year the defense is going to need to stay in top form. While I expect the offense to be vastly improved from last season, they're clearly not ready to carry a team to the playoffs. So the defense is once again going to need to be the best unit on the team for the Bears to have a shot this season. With the defensive system staying the same, the Bears are not especially hurt by the shortened offseason. They are mostly a veteran group who have been in this system but there are a few new faces as well. Since the defense relies so heavily on creating turnovers to stop the opponent, the pressure from the defensive line is the key to success.

The obvious star of the line is Julius Peppers. At age 31, Peppers is another year older but he takes good care of himself and still holds the upper hand athletically in every match up he will face this season. Peppers was a force for most of the season although he only registered 8 sacks. He often commanded double and triple teams which allowed his line mates to exploit one on one match ups. Peppers also has a very strong presence in defending the run. He follows the ball until the play is dead and can span the entire field to make a play on the ball carrier. There were some games when Peppers was shut down last year, specifically against Russell Okung and the Seahawks, but for the most part he was one of the two best players on defense every game. I expect Peppers to return to putting up double digit sacks this year, especially with the improvement in his line mates.

The player I'm most excited to see play this year is Henry Melton. H Melt is a solid mass of muscle with above average speed. As a former running back, Melton likes contact and to put a charge into blockers. He has a very good initial burst which will help him beat offensive linemen off the snap. He created a lot of pressure on the QB in limited chances last year and with his number of snaps expecting to rise this season, I also expect his productivity to go way up. Melton needs to show that he can continue to make plays and keep pressuring the QB when given a high volume of snaps. If the Bears are able to get pressure from the inside linemen that will force opponents to divert attention away from Peppers and the other DEs.

At the NT position the Bears have a solid veteran in Anthony Adams. When they didn't immediately address his contract at the beginning of free agency, I was worried that they undervalued him. But thankfully they brought him back for at least another couple years. Anthony is the Bears best overall run defender. He often occupies multiple blockers and is still able to shed them and make a play on the ball carrier. Although not a special athlete, Double A has great strength and is surprisingly agile, considering his build. Although he has been injured during the preseason, he should be a large contributor the entire season and remain a starter on the line.

Israel Idonije had a career year in 2010. The two biggest factors in that were his increased playing time as well as the presence of Julius Peppers. Izzy has been moved back and forth bewteen DE and DT his entire career. Last year was the first year that they decided to give him a shot as one of the starting DEs. Idonije took advantage of seeing one on one match ups the whole season and was able to get good pressure on the QB. He is also a capable player in the run game with his size and strength. I expect Idonije to produce at about the same rate as last year when he recorded 8 sacks and 49 tackles. However some of the younger DEs may push him for playing time.

Corey Wootton is a another young player that I'm excited to see get extended playing time. Although his preseason has gotten of to a rough start, getting hurt on the first play of the first game, if he's able to come back healthy I expect him to have a big impact on the defense. At 6'6", 270 lbs Wootton is an imposing figure in the Julius Peppers vein. Corey Wootton is already a Bears legend for ending the career of brett favre, but he has the size and the upside for that to only be a small note is his overall career. Before getting injured, Wootton was in line to be the first DE off the bench, and assuming he's able to return to full healthy, he is expected to fill that role and see plenty of snaps.

The Bears took a flyer on Vernon Gholston this offseason and the way that he's been praised at times by Rod Marinelli, I wouldn't be surprised if he makes the team. He would be the 4th DE and in this defense that means he would be rotated in for his share of snaps. Gholston has proven to be ineffective so far during his NFL career, but the hope is that the switch back to a 4-3 DE as well as input from Marinelli could help Gholston find success that he has yet to find in the NFL. With Wootton expected to be out the rest of the preseason, Gholston will get plenty of looks and the opportunity to show whether or not he's got anything in him.

Gholston's biggest competition for a roster spot is Mario Addison. Addison is an undrafted free agent out of Troy University, which is a well known school thanks to DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora. Addison has come on strongly towards the end of camp and showed some good things on film during the first preseason game. Barring any setbacks to Wootton's recovery, I don't expect Gholston and Addison to make the team, but whichever one wins the jobs will have opportunities to contribute this season.

With the Bears defense being such a vital component to their success, they'll need consistent play from their defensive line. They need to put constant pressure on QBs while still defending against the run properly. The return of Peppers, Idonije and Adams should provide stability along the front four and allow some of the younger players the opportunity to step up and and contribute. I fully expect the defensive line to be the biggest story on defense all year, and hopefully it's because they are getting the job done.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Watch The Thrown

Despite the fact that the Bears' biggest name WR acquisition this off season was Roy E Williams, they have improved their WR corps considerably. Even though Williams is very inconsistent with his game, he has the size that Jay Cutler likes in his receivers. Williams will likely lead the team in targets because he'll usually be the biggest option on the field and that's exactly what Cutler needs. That's exactly what Greg Olsen was before he was Martzed from the game plan last year. Williams is the kind of receiver that can help make up for a poorly thrown ball.

But he's certainly not without his faults. The worst characteristic of a Roy E Williams is his excessive celebration on first down catches. It doesn't matter what the game situation is, if he's catching a first down he's letting the crowd know it. Hopefully with him being on his third team trying to salvage his NFL career, he will save the celebrating for clutch first downs... Unlikely. Williams has been known for not being a hard worker on the practice field in his career. We saw glimpses of it down in training camp earlier this summer, while he was wearing a Crocodile Dundee hat and not running hard. He's very experienced at coasting on his talent, which shows when he disappears in games. But on a one-year contract, I do expect Williams to lose some of the antics and to be one of the biggest contributing factors in whether the Bears succeed or fail this year. Being a Martz guy like Brandon Manumaleuna, expect Williams to get every shot at staying on the field and having his number called this season.

Devin Hester will be the second most important receiver on this team. When Williams was brought in, many expected him to take snaps away from Hester, but instead it will take snaps away from Johnny Knox. I am one hundred percent on board with this decision to bump Knox instead of Hester. Hester is a better receiver in my opinion. I know that Knox has put up much better numbers than Hester has, but Knox'impact on the game is minimal. Devin Hester has been overly criticized the last few years since he has made the transition to WR. He has good hands with the ability to catch bad throws, especially low ones. He does have lapses where he will drop an easy pass, including blown TD opportunities, but he has improved his hands every offseason since becoming a full time receiver and reports out of camp are that the trend has continued. What Hester needs to improve most is his route running. He's had problems in the past where he tips his routes at the line of scrimmage and he also doesn't run crisp routes which affect timing with Cutler. After a year of the Martz offense under his belt, Hester has shown an improved confidence in his overall game. He is a full year familiar with the playbook and it should show in his number of targets and overall production. I fully expect Hester to have the best year of his career statistically as well as impactfully as an offensive weapon.

Earl Bennett should continue to be the steady factor that he is. While he's the least gifted athletically, Bennett is still the Bears' best overall WR and often gets overlooked. He is a great safety valve for Cutler when he needs to dump the ball over the middle. He has very sure hands and an already established chemistry with Cutler. Bennett does not have very good speed but he has good understanding of the WR position. He knows how to get open enough and provide a good target for his QB. Bennett may not lead the Bears is any statistical categories this year, but it's very possible that he makes the biggest plays every week.

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Johnny Knox. I think he is ridiculously overloved by the fans and is a liability when he's on the field too much. Even after gaining some solid weight in the offseason, there is still not very much mass to Knox. He is easily knocked around and overpowered and he avoids contact because of it. When jammed at the line of scrimmage, Knox has trouble starting his routes and is eliminated as an option for Cutler. But his biggest flaw is still his unwillingness to go after the ball in traffic. This has led to interceptions and plenty of incompletions when Knox is asked to run towards the middle of the field. If he doesn't improve this aspect of his game, he will never reach the potential that his speed implies. Knox has very poor hands actually does not use them when he catches the ball. Knox likes to catch the ball with his stomach or chest, choosing to corral the ball with his arms. And even though I'm very glad that Knox was bumped to the #4 WR, I do expect him to play a big role in the offense. With Olsen gone, the Bears will often line up 4 WRs this year. Knox's speed automatically makes him a threat down the field, so hopefully he can continue to convert on long completions. If Knox can sustain his high yards per reception average and big play ability, it won't matter that he's not capable of being a high volume receiver.

At 6'3" Sam Hurd is also a player to watch. If he sees any time on the field, I would expect Cutler to like him as a target. Even though it's just practice, he did stand out when we saw him at training camp this year. He is a big body who hasn't seen much playing time in his career, but has shown the ability to make plays in limited opportunities. His greatest impact will most likely be on special teams, but I hope that he gets a fair shake on offense because in a pass happy system, you want the type of WR that your QB is comfortable with, so size is good.

There are two young receivers that have the ability to make a good impression this season. The first is Dane Sanzenbacher. Sanzenbacher has been the biggest surprise in camp so far this year, but failed to do anything in the first pre-season game. There have been many camp legends in the Bears' past that go on to do nothing once the games start. Hopefully Sanzenbacher doesn't turn out to be one of those players, but I do expect the Bears to give him some opportunities to step up.

The second rookie WR to keep an eye on is Kris Adams. Adams made a big impression against the 2's and 3's of the Buffalo Bills, but I wouldn't put too much stock in that. What I do like about Adams is his size. At 6'4" Kris Adams definitely stands out on the field. I don't know how well he runs his routes or how consistent he is with his hands, but with limited exposure to him I am intrigued. I think that if he were able to find a roster spot and a shot at playing time, Cutler would like to throw his way.

With the departure of Rasheid Davis, the veteran free agent WR acquisitions the Bears made and the signing of undrafted free agents, I absolutely believe the position has been improved. There is competition for playing time and that simply means the players who step up should be able to get on the field. Hopefully the addition of size to the WR corps will allow Jay Cutler to be more comfortable throwing the ball in tight coverage. While the Bears will still need to add a Larry Fitzgerald type true #1 in the future, they have at least pretended to address the position this year.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Bury Me A G

So the Greg Olsen Era has come and gone. After taking a step back and reflecting on how I feel overall about his time in a Bears uniform, there's one word that sticks out in my mind... unspectacular. Olsen came into the league with a lot of hype and just never lived up to it. But it's not really his fault and it's not really fair to constantly compare him to what we thought he was gonna be coming out of college. We should really just look at what he actually did, because that's all that matters in the end.

Greg Olsen was an above average pass catcher during his time with the Bears. His second year in the league, he finished tenth in total catches for all TEs and twelfth in receiving yards. In his third year he finished tenth again in total catches for TEs and eleventh in receiving yards. So he put up very respectable numbers for a TE in a poorly ran offense under Ron Turner. Last year with a coordinator who recommended a ridiculous contract for Brandon Manamaleuna, Olsen was often overlooked and used as a blocker.

Olsen was never known for his blocking, as he was more of a finesse TE than a power TE. He had some speed for the position, but his blocking left something to be desired. However last year, under Martz, he improved this aspect of his game as the season went on even if it was never covered by the local media. The Bears opted to trade him to the Carolina Panthers, either because they never intended to re-sign him next season or because Martz was never really an Olsen fan. Whatever the reason, Olsen should return to his 2008-2009 form if used properly by his new offense. He will also be a more complete TE than he was back then since he can handle some light blocking duties at this point in his career.

Olsen was a fan favorite in Chicago. The fans loved him since day one when we thought he was an absolute steal in the 2007 draft. Olsen was also very active in giving back to the community with his time as well as money. He founded Receptions For Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation in 2009 and has been very active with the foundation ever since. Olsen was always a hard work and a good person so, in some aspects, it's tough to see him go. But from a strictly football standpoint, he didn't fit the system that's currently in place here and I guess the Bears didn't want to adapt the system to fit its better players. Good luck G-Reg and thanks for officially making my #82 jersey a throwback.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

What? Huh, oil!? Who says something about oil, bitch, you cookin?

There were a few news stories this season that ESPN shoved down your throat every single week. Photographic evidence surfaced to prove brett favre has an LBP... not exactly breaking news,we already knew that. Rex Ryan's weird, yet entertaining foot fetish was made public. We were constantly reminded that Ben R R'd a college kid and got away with it unscathed, minus a 4 game suspension. But what do all of these stories have in common? They were wrongfully labeled "distractions in the locker room."

Who exactly is being distracted by these stories? I'm pretty sure brett favre isn't in the locker room asking Joe Webb "are you bigger than me? Come on, just show me." I don't believe R'n Ben R is in the huddle telling Flozell how to beat a charge before it's even filed. And I'm fairly confident that Rex Ryan doesn't practice his police officer impersonation on Jim Leonard to keep his wife convinced.

You know why? Because members of the media are the only ones who bring this garbage up. The only time players talk about this stuff is when they're (excessively) asked "how big of a distraction is this?" Are you people asking these questions stupid? You are the only one who cares. You are the only one who can't stop talking about it. The only reason the fans talk about it is because ESPN, Fox, and NBC blast it in your eyes before you even ask to see it.

It doesn't eat into practice time, taking away valuable reps. It doesn't get discussed on the sidelines, keeping players from focusing on the game. It is only talked about during press conferences when you want to prove you know nothing about the sport you're covering, so you ask these TMZ questions to fill the time. Stop calling these events distractions when you're the only ones dwelling on the subject.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'ma Throw This Money While You Do It With No Hands

It needs to stop.

The idea that Greg Olsen ever was or ever will be an elite TE in the NFL needs to get shot down permanently. Everyone seemed to have fallen in love with Olsen as soon as he slipped to the Bears in the 2007 draft. He showed great speed for a man his size at the combine running a 4.51 in the 40 in a controlled indoor environment.

But how many times in his 4 year career have you been astonished by Olsen’s speed on the field? I can remember one play against the Cowboys in 2010 where he showed enough burst to break a long TD. Any other plays come to mind? I got nothing. That’s because Olsen has gotten bigger and stronger since the combine, which also contributes to his decline in speed.

How many times have you been amazed by a difficult catch Olsen has made? I will admit that this has definitely happened more times than my being impressed with his speed. The ability to make difficult catches, though, doesn’t necessarily make up for the dropping of easy ones. Olsen reminds me a lot of Braylon Edwards and Roy E Williams in that regard. While each one of them has shown flashes of playmaking at times, more often than not you are disappointed at their lack of consistency and production. Olsen has shown he’s capable of making big plays and having great games, but he doesn’t do it on any kind of regular basis and he drops balls that are just inexcusable.

It’s true; Mike Martz didn’t do Olsen any favors by mostly ignoring him this season. And Olsen showed a lot of improvement when it comes to blocking. But Mike Martz will be the Bears offensive coordinator in 2011, and while I expect him to look Olsen’s way more than he did in 2010, I don’t see him having some profound change of philosophy where Olsen becomes Cutler’s number 1 option again. Olsen has the potential to be a good-to-very-good TE in the league, but I don’t see him ever being considered elite.

Olsen is still in my five favorite players on the Bears. He’s a good interview and he supports good causes around Chicago (plus he’s a supremely talented lyricist). I just can’t defend his “tremendous upside” anymore. Whenever you hear someone talking about the strengths of Olsen’s game, it’s always the same thing… He has blazing speed and great hands. In his 4 seasons in the NFL, he’s proved that he doesn’t possess either of these attributes. It doesn’t mean the Bears need to trade him, cut him, or give up on him in any way. It simply means that we need to stop referencing his draft hype when we talk about his skill set today.

Let’s stop that noise already.