Posted on: April 23, 2010 1:57 pm
We all KNOW that the Bears need to answer the FS position in this year's draft. Curently, two of the better FS are still on the board in Nate Allen and Taylor Mays. Either one of them I wouldn't "toot my nose" in the air about having on my football team. Neither of them will be on the board at the #75 pick, so the Bears will have to do something in order to get one of these sure-fire safeties.
Let's look at this in a couple different pieces, Bears fans...
... Who do the Bears have on roster that is expendable so that they can move up into the 2nd round?
>>> Greg Olsen, TE-- He doesn't fit well into a Mike Martz system. Although the Bears have said that they can make him fit and there is opportunity for him in the system, the track record of a tight end in a Martz system has been one of blocking and low receptions for even the most talented TE.
>>> Hunter Hillenmeyer, LB-- With the signing of Jamar Williams, Nick Roach and Pisa Tinamosoa, there just isn't a need for Hunter Hillenmeyer in Chicago any longer. The thing is, he really isn't attractive enough to get you back ino the 2nd round. Perhaps the 3rd or 4th.
>>> Charles Tillman, CB-- Charles Tillman has been taking it easy this offseason and has said he wants to go light in camps this year because he wants to preserve the wear and tear on his body this season. Corey Graham has been filling in for Tillman's absence and many scouts and reports have said that they have been impressed with Graham's tackling ability. And isn't that what we require out of the CB in C2? Tillman's coverage ability has never been spectacular; decent at times at best. Tillman refuses to move to safety and I think with his shoulders becoming more of a liability, coaches might be cooling down on the TIllman love fest.
That being said...
... Out of those players, who has a need for one of those players in the top-half of the 2nd round?
Right away the team that sticks out to me is the New England Patriots who hold THREE picks in the second round (44, 47, and 53).
The Patriots are in the market for a tight end and the Bears hold a former first round draft pick in Greg Olsen, who has speed and play-making ability, but has underachieved thus far in his career. However, there is still a huge amount of potential there and in the right system...
... He could blossom.
With three picks, the Patriots could be willing to move one and add a third in its place for a Greg Olsen.
What the Bears have to be aware of is that the Vikings, Broncos, and Eagles are all still in the hunt for a FS (Vikes more of a SS; Mays). Sergio Kindle is still on the board, along with Jimmy Clausen which makes an intriguing position for the Vikings on what to do with the 2nd pick in the 2nd round. Personally, I think they are content with Tarvaris Jackson and their LB unit. I do think Brett Favre will be back for one more season. That makes one of two top safties fair game for the Vikes, right?
The Bears have to wait to see what the Vikings do with their pick, then wait til the ever "mysterious" Al Davis selects with the 7th pick in the 2nd round and possibly look to see if the patriots are willing to move their 44th pick.
Posted on: March 30, 2010 4:38 pm
Currently, there have been numerous reports that Al Davis is seriously considering the Eagles offer of a pick "no later than #42" for the longtime face of the Philadelphia Eagles Donovan McNabb. The Eagles seem content with Kevin Kolb at starter and Michael Vick backing him up. To many Eagles and NFL fans alike, this deal just "makes sense"...
... However, I just don't see what's the urgency in making this move if I'm Andy Reid.
McNabb will be 34 years old in November of this year, but has played nothing less than a great QB over the course of his career. In fact, the year he was paired up with Terrell Owens he produced such a stellar year that he was considered a MVP candidate (2004). He's a strong mobile QB with a pretty nice arm. Besides that one year with Owens, he's never really played with a full cast of offensive talent until last year. Sure, Brian Westbrook will go down as one of the elite running backs of the past decade (2000-2009 seasons), but even without a oft-injured Westbrook, McNabb was able to produce some stellar performances and propel the team forward.
From Andy Reid's perspective, I understand that Kevin Kolb is the quarterback of the future and more than likely the "future face of this franchise" and you're not going to be able to move forward with McNabb holding onto the starter position. Kolb is capable of doing all of the things that McNabb can do and is considerable younger than the mid-thirties McNabb. They've finally put some offensive pieces together and now it's about "time"; not what McNabb did or didn't do.
Sure, there is a considerable amount of cap space that McNabb takes next season. With $10 million plus needed to keep McNabb on the roster in 2010, McNabb's contract is certainly a heavy burden on the Eagles salary cap. However, looking at McNabb's stats I would say with limited resources he produced well. In 13 games, McNabb threw for 3300 yds, 22 passing TDs (2 rushing TDs), and a passing percentage of 60%, I can't say he didn't give you solid numbers as a starting QB. Isn't that the bottomline stats you want from your starting QB?
Where the Eagles problem lied in 2009 was on the defensive side where the Eagles didn't create many turnovers, nor were they able to defend the pass. Their secondary was severely banged up and their linebackers were worn, but that defense was not the reason that the team went to the playoffs in 2009.
In fact, it wasn't Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, or DeSean Jackson all of which were huge contributors to the team as-a-whole.
Listen, if I'm the Raiders, I'm doing everything possible to get McNabb over to my team. If they are able to get a deal done without losing Nnamdi Asomugha, then this team is playoff calibur in the AFC.
The Broncos, Chargers, and Chiefs are all rebuilding/reloading in some way and have concerns that could swing momentum either way in 2010. The Broncos will have a QB competition this year between the rarely-used Brady Quinn and Chicago's Very Own Kyle Orton. The Chargers have some serious starter concerns at running back, conerback, and offensive line. The Chiefs are rebuilidng on both sides of the ball, but have shown that the pieces are coming together.
Ultimately, when you look at the Raiders with McNabb and the Eagles with Kolb as the starter, neither team gets that much better. However, the Raiders do become a legitimate challenger for the AFC West and the Eagles just save cap space.
Posted on: March 18, 2010 12:34 pm
Tim Tebow's college career has been one that directors dream about producing on film. He's a modest, humble kid who just loves the game of football. Whether you like his game or not-- Tim Tebow is a winner. He has been since his first collegiate start in 2006. Now, after a storybook collegiate career, he is taking his game and fanfare to the NFL and looking to be selected in this year's NFL Draft.
Posted on: March 17, 2010 12:32 pm
According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears have changed starting safeties 41 times since Lovie Smith arrived in 2004, with a near-even split between the two positions.
Twenty-one times the starting free safety has changed from one game to the next, and 20 times the starting strong safety has changed. That either means that you are compensating one talent for another position or you don't have the talent to "successfully" man that position.
Lovie Smith cites injuries and the difficulty of keeping players healthy at the position for much of the turnover. One can not argue the impact that Mike Brown's health had on that statistic. A good portion of the change occurred when the Bears were forced to go to the bench each year once-- like clockwork-- Mike Brown would go down.
Angelo's answer was to bring in Danieal Manning in 2006 to be the future at the position. Manning had all of the physical talents you would want in a FS. He was strong, very quick, and a good tackler coming out of Abilene-Christian. What happened between his draft and today has been a miriade of positional moves, public benchings (mid game pulls), and a lack of guidance. Mike Brown called Manning the most "athletic player" on the football team in 2008. THis might be true, but his understanding of the C2 system and lack of coverage skills have left many Bears fans with something to be desired.
There has been speculation the team could make a run at O.J. Atogwe. Atogwe is sitting out the Rams' voluntary offseason workout program after being slapped with the low tender offer by the club.
But the Bears making a run at Atogwe is only speculation at this point. Personally, I think the Bears believe that they can get one of the many talented safeties in the 3rd round of this year's draft. Providing not only a better, younger, CHEAPER option at the position, but competition at the position for the former 2006 2nd round draft pick.
I emphasize Manning's role with the team because I STILL think he is Jerry Angelo's choice to fill the role of FS for the Chicago Bears. I think commitment and motivation to be better than "his better" has been his downfall. An analysis of the playing time statistics from 2009 shows that Lovie was trying to get Manning snaps, but at the expense of learning his natural position. Danieal Manning played both free safety and nickel cornerback, but a chunk of his overall playing time actually was as a nickel corner and not at safety.
To make matters worse, Manning has been told he will be moved to SS in the 2010 season, which might play to his athleticism and lack of coverage skills (at the present time). He would be brought more in to the box to stop the run, smack the receivers over the middle, and cover the blindside receiver over the top. However...
... That moves Al Afalava, who showed a glimpse of competancy at the position in 2009, to FS or behind a a Josh Bullocks or new FS via draft. Not to mention what do you do with Kevin Payne? Craig Stelz?
This just goes to show you how LONG this position has been a concern of the team. Combine that with the inconsistent play of the corners and you have a real mess in teh secondary, which can not be corrected with increased pressure from the front four. In a day and age where teams are using more spread formations with BIG athletic receivers, its NECESSARY to have athletic ball-hawking corners on your team.
The Bears have none.
And have had "none" since 2007.
Its a problem and the Bears have to look at how to fix it with a LONG-TERM solution.
With a number of good-to-great safeties in the draft this year, I am hoping that THIS is the emphasis for the Chicago Bears in 2010 Draft. If not, I just don't think a Julius Peppers or him and 3 clones could make a difference in making the pass defense any better.
Posted on: March 12, 2010 2:07 pm
I certainly believe that the improvements that the Packers and Vikings need to make are far less than the Chicago Bears needed to make at the beginning of FA...
... However, I think with the addition of Mike Martz at offensive coordinator, Julius Peppers on the defensive line, Chester Taylor as a combo back with Forte, and a blocking TE (which was SEVERELY missing in 3rd-and-short situations; for you fans who thought John Gilmore was an afterthought a couple years ago-- think again!) I think the Bears have closed the gap quite significantly with the draft and OTA cuts still left in the offseason.
I think the biggest obstacle for the Chicago Bears last year was the 1.) offensive gameplan (R. Turner's deficiencies) 2.) weak pass defense and 3.) the offensive line.
The offensive line corrected itself with the "addition by subtraction method" as Orlando Pace just didn't have the juice that many was anticipating. i thought that he might have one year in him and that he would probably be a roster cut in 2010, but he was horrible last year and STILL was a roster cut in 2010. I liked the idea of Pace being brought in, but I wanted him to have a young backup that he could give instruction to throughout practice. Frank Omiyale and Chris Williams might have been those tackles taking instruction all along and perhaps that was managements idea all along. Nevertheless, I think the line came together better when Williams was moved to the LT and Schaffer was on the right. As I said early in the offseason, I expect Omiyale to be the RT and Chris Williams start the OTAs as the starting LT for the team. The Bears will need a solid left OG in 2010 as I'm certain that Beekman is not the man for that position. Ideally, I think the Bears see him as Olin Kruetz's replacement and I think he will start getting reps at Center in this year's OTAs. If not, I think we have to question "what is Beekman's place" as I asked in 2009.
Also, there are still some good veteran FAs available at the guard position. Football Outsiders ranked Bobbie Williams as one of the highest rated guards in the NFL last year with the Bengals in pass and rush protection. He has never missed a game due to a football injury in his time in the NFL and is around 32 or 33 years old (not exactly sure). Is he the long term solution at the position? No, but neither was John Tait, Rueben Brown, or Fred Miller. What happened with thos e additions was that ANgelo was suppose to work on finding their replacement and mentee over the course of the next one-to-two years as he stated at their press conferences in 2004 and 2005, but Angelo focused more of his attention to the defense and the offense got worse as the o-line aged. Williams could come in and be serviceable this season and the Bears could then look for a guard or two in 2011, which might make sense since Roberto Garza (who a lot of fans underrate, but consistently is high among statisticians assessment of NFL guards production) will be near 32 and need a mentee/backup.
Offensive gameplan was totally rearranged with the hire of Mike Martz and an injection of a completely new offense. Martz's offense is complex, but if executed properly can be quite successful as seen in St. Louis and in Detroit with Jon Kitna. What concerns me is the number of 7-step drops in the system and the WRs needing to recgnize the coverage and get open. I think Jay Cutler is a good QB who moves well in the pocket and avoids taking hits, but that is contingent upon getting steady play from the OL as we seen at the end of last year. I think he will get that next year and the run game should improve with Chester Taylor, who will drive Forte to get better and get in shape (which some experts say was the cause of his lack of production in 2009). A left guard is necessary for that transition, but I think its feasible for the offense to gel fairly quickly. Here's a question though: "How will a HIGH passing offense produce in Chicago December and January?"
That leaves just the defensive secondary and that has been my major concern the past three years as I just see the secondary (from a personnel perspective) being the major concern for lack of defensive ineptitude rather than any other area on the field. The loss of Brian Urlacher early on in the year CERTAINLY contributed to poor play and lack of motivation as well. Combine that with the loss of another on-the-field emotional leader in safety Mike Brown and its easy to say that the Bears of 2009 were a totally different team from a emotional and skill standpoint as Urlacher and Brown were the smartest players on that defense. Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs have always been the most athletic and aggressive players on the defense, but-- in the case of Tillman-- he has NEVER been a great cover guy but used intimidation and his aggressive tackling to make receivers "blink" at the thought of catching the ball in front of him. His shoulders are seeming to be giving out on him as Jerry Azumah's did 7-8 years ago and it seems as though he doesn't have much football in him. Briggs is a great football player, but doesn't have the on-field leadership that Brian Urlacher has. Briggs will give you 100 tackles each year, but he just doesn't make anyone else on the team better. Doesn't make him any less of player (still one of the top linebackers in the NFL), just not a great leader for a defense.
One of my first threads this offseason was listing that the Bears needs should start in the secondary-- in particular; the safety position. Over the course of the past 6 years when you look at the impact of Mike Brown on this football team it shows time and time again that in a C2/T2 system, having great safety play makes it easier on the CBs on either side of the field. Charles Tillman is a poor coverage defender, but in the games that Mike Brown was backing him up, he was able to keep things in front of him and KNOW-that-he-KNOWS that a intelligent and athletic Mike Brown had his back. 2004-2006 were some of Tillman's best years and its not easy to see that a smart, healthy, and young FS in the backfield made the game easier for him.
Good safeties are needed in a C2 and I hope that this is now clear to the Bears manageent.
I believe they will reconcentrate on the position via draft if they can't get a quality one in FA for a good price. Many speak of Atogwe and I think that's a valid request, but at the 6-7 million that he wants per year, that might be unreasonable for the quality of defender he is. Troy Polamalu is by FAR the best FS in the NFL. His contract?
7/23/2007: Signed a five-year, $33 million contract. The deal contains $15.375 million guaranteed, including a $10.975 million signing bonus. 2009: $2.9 million, 2010: $6.1 million, 2011: $6.4 million, 2012: Free AgentAtogwe is not at that level given that Polamalu plays for that much now and has not renegotiated his contract again, nor has a safety been drafted in a spot where the bar for a player with his [Polamalu] potential can be thought to garner that type of money. USC's Mays might get there this year, but that has yet to be determined as he would need to crack the top 8 or 9 draft picks to get the money that Polamlu receives now (signing and roster bonuses not included).
Atogwe will be available after the draft, but the demand will certainly go up as teams will have to address needs BEFORE camp. Can the Bears move before other teams and is this a place that Atogwe would want to play in? That remains to be determined.
Two things are certain about the safety position: 1.) the Bears need to adress it with a quality long-term solution and 2.) they are NOT going to pay any of the safeties currently on the market 6-7 million dollars.
Posted on: March 11, 2010 4:50 pm
Torry Holt has been a frequent face on the NFL Network of late and has made it known on several occasions that he would like to play in Chicago for Mike Martz.
On ESPN Radio Los Angeles, Holt spoke with their afternoon crew about his desire to reunite with Martz and mentor the young receivers in Chicago.
"It sounds like that would be the obvious choice and that would be a quick pick-up. But again, they have to do their evaluations, they've got to see if I can even fit with what they're trying to do. [They've] got a lot of young receivers there. They're trying to groom those young receivers and trying to get those young receivers an opportunity to play.
"If I come in as a vet, I'm going to challenge those guys for a starting spot, and probably more than likely, beat quite a few of them out for a position to play on that football team. So I guess that's something that they would have to evaluate.
"But if you think of it, it would be a natural fit with coach Martz being there. I know the system, I was in the system for many years and had a lot of success within that system. So it sounds quite natural, but coach Martz doesn't make the final decision. Some of the other people in the organization are going to make the final decision.
"It's going to have to come from the head coach and [general manager Jerry] Angelo and that staff on pulling the trigger to bring me in. So I'm just kind of waiting to see, but I did express to them early on -- the week that I got released from Jacksonville -- that I do have some interest in playing there in Chicago. I feel I could go there and help and contribute to that football team to trying to get things turned around and be a playoff contender. So we'll see how it goes."
There are a couple interesting things about this statement.
1.) The fact that Holt's is openly lobbying to be apart of the Chicago organization and seemingly has no interest in any other team makes me wonder why haven't the Bears reached out to him just yet considering the inexperience (not depth) at WR and why haven't any other team inquired about Holt and his services.
The Bears seem fairly confident in their receivers as they are "right now" and have held constant about their delight in the talent that they have on roster. The Bears receivers, in my opinion, were one of the better units on the team in 2009. Of course that's like comparing a "fart" to a "poot", but I don't think the WR unit was the downfall of the 2009 Chicago Bears offense. Let's remeber that the receivers began to come around in the final 3 games of the season with some spectacular performances by Devin Aromoshadu. However, one can not discount the fact that these young receivers are learning one of the more complicated playbooks (for an offense) in the NFL. Holt's experience could benefit them greatly, but would come at the cost of one of the receivers losing playing time and development. Earl Bennett seems to be one of two starting receivers with Devin Hester in the slot. D. Aro and Johnny Knox fighting for playing time and lets not forget about 3rd round pick Jaunqin Iglesias needing to get out on the field as well. Adding a Torry Holt would put you at 6 receivers and would mean some tough decisions on SP/T.
Also with no other teams reportedly inquiring about Holt, it's not a dumb idea to think that Holt might be the 2010 version of Orlando Pace.
2.) I like the strong words he used about being able to contribute to this team, possibly beat one of the young players out of starting position, and get them in the playoffs. That's the type of fire that this team needs on offense-- POSITIVE competitive energy that is not "blaming" or pessimistic. I think 2009 was a reality check for this Bears team from top to bottom-- GM to 53rd- man on roster. I think starting from the perspective of "let's get better" and play the "player that gives us the best chance to win" rather than be led by contracts and "preferences" of GM and Coaches.
Holt certainly knows Martz's system and excelled in it. If he has anything left in the tank (because he certainly has been noted as one of the smartest receivers in the league) he should be able to make the offense better. My concern is that he lacked explosiveness in St. Louis and was extinct in Jacksonville, what's to say that he isn't "gas'd out"?
Can the Bears IGNORE the fact that a HOF receiver like Torry Holt (at 33 years of age) is wanting to "compete" for a starting position on this football team? Would he play for a veteran contract and not an exhorbant amount with bonuses and incentives?
Posted on: February 26, 2010 11:09 am
I was doing my daily peruse of the papers, blogs, fansites, etc. and came across an interesting article on talks between Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders and Darrelle Revis of the Jets during the all-pro weekend for the NFL. Apparently they were fantasizing what it would be like to have the both of them on the same team in the secondary. Asomugha's contract is so high that I don't think that is a possibility, but you never know in the NFL. We've all seen crazier things.
However, that got me wondering just what Asomugha's contract looked like...
... So, I google'd!
Signed a three-year, $45.3 million contract. The first two years, totaling $28.6 million, are fully guaranteed. Another $4.7 million is available through incentives. To keep Asomugha through 2011, the Raiders must pay him either the franchise number for quarterbacks that year OR $16.875 million, whichever number is greater. If the club fails to exercise the option, Asomugha cannot be franchise tagged and will become an unrestricted free agent. 2010: $755,000 (+ $8 million roster bonus due 3/5 + $7.83 million option bonus due 3/19), 2011: $2.105 million (Club Option), 2012: $3.455 million (Voidable Years), 2013: $4.805 million, 2014: $6.155 million, 2015: Free AgentThat is an INSANE amount of money, but worth EVERY penny in my opinion!
Asomugha has been on top of the pass defense as a secondary player for the pass two years. Sometimes he doesn't see one pass thrown to his side of the field in a game! In 2007, only 35 balls were thrown his way all season, and he allowed only 10 completions that season. That was an average of only 2.1 passes thrown to his side a game.
By comparison, Champ Bailey was thrown to 63 times that season and 37 of those balls were completed. That means about 59 percent of the balls thrown his way are completed, compared to Asomugha's 29 percent.
Now, a Revis-Asomugha backfield would just be unfair, but if the Raiders were serious about trading Asomugha...
... I think he is worth his weight in gold!
THE QUESTION I ASK...
... DO YOU THINK Asomugha is worth the $14 million plus (and incentives) in 2010 not to mention...
... He would need to be franchised tagged like a QUARTERBACK in 2011 or paid nearly $17 million (whichever is greater).
Is a shutdown CB worth the same amount of money as a franchise quarterback?
Posted on: February 23, 2010 5:26 pm
... The entire league knows we have some issues on this team and its going to take some serious effort to correct it. The task looks overly daunting, but I don't think its impossible. I'm a firm believer in the phrase: When life gives you LEMONS...
... Make LEMON DROP MARTINIS!
Since we've already discussed coaches on several different threads and we've also discussed discussed free agents for the Bears as well as what's available, I thought it would be interesting to look at what would be available for the Bears in round 3 of this year's draft. The Bears wilkl more than likely have the 10th slot in this year's draft, so they will be fairly early in the third round.
Like you, I would have preferred to have kept that 2nd round pick we used for Gaines Adam midway through this season, but to our benefit this happens to be one of the deepest draft classes since the 2004 season. There is an enormous amount of talent at every position and that talent could very well be there all the way up until the 5th round at some positions.
I think the Bears have to address the "major issues" that have plagued this team for years. I know many fans will be screaming for WRs and DEs and they CERTAINLY have more than enough reasons to believe that BETTER talent needs to be brought in at that position. However, I have been a long time advocate for change at the secondary position. There is where the most "change" and NEED is at this present time.
As many of you know, I am not a big fan of "peanut" Charles Tillman. Even before he loss the extra weight two years ago, I thought he was better suited for the safety position and a much better run support player than a cover guy. In 2009, he was the "tallest midget" in terms of "skilled" cornerbacks on this team, so there weren't too many options, but with ever growing concerns of his health (shoulders seem to be blowing out like Jerry Azumah's) and his coverage skills becoming more evidently "lacking" the Bears need to really address the secondary position in this draft. In particular, a position that has eluded them for a very long time and is ESSENTIAL to the success of the Cover 2, the safety position .
Safety is often referred to as the quarterback of the defense. The safety position is arguably the most challenging position on the defensive side in football. The safety has to have the speed of wide receiver combined with the aggressiveness of a linebacker. The number one rule of the FS is to NEVER... EVER... Allow the receiver to get behind you all while reading the play going on in front of you and being able to help the underneath receiver/LB in coverage or come up and provide a hit in run support. Its a tough position and the Bears were hurt by their lack of skill at the position time and time again this past season.
Mike Brown was such a big factor in the success of the Bears defense. Even in his limited time on the field in any season, once his services were no longer available, the Bears defense would slip a few notches. He has a tremendous football IQ and in his earlier days had the physicality to make plays and tackles. Whether the offense ran the ball or threw it, Mike Brown was able to contribute and make something happen for the defense. This strengthened one side of the football field and forced QBs to "think twice" before throwing in that area of the field. It also gave that underneath corner some assurance knowing that Brown was behind them in support. That element has never "consistently" been there-- even when Brown WAS here.
Nate Allen of University of South Florida fits that billet.
Allen is a bit unknown right now, but that could easily change once the combine opens and he works out for a few teams. This guy has the size, strength, movement, and understanding to be a great playmaking FS in the NFL. Part of his understanding comes from being an all-state QB in HS and being able to transition that to the position of FS. He simply makes plays and has a good nose for where the ball will be.
I like Al Alfalava, as I called him a "hidden gem" for the Bears in last year's draft, but I think he would be much better served at the SS position. He is a hard hitter and makes pretty good tackles. I do think he needs to bulk up a bit in the offseason, but I think he is a good football player and with Allen to his left could form a great safety tandem.
I also think Demetrice Morley would be a good choice to consider if Allen is not available in the third. I say that because I think Allen provides good value at the 3rd round and most other FSs at his skill set will be gone around the same time or before. Morley is a good player with speed and good hands. However, he was involved in that incident earlier in the year with the 4 players from Tennessee who got in trouble with the law, so he will be a supplemental draft choice. Given the Bears abysmal season and the amount of talent they gave up to acquire Jay Cutler, they should have a pretty decent seating in that portion of the draft and--perhaps-- Morley would be available there. Morley would certainly need a bit of work, but the tools are all there.
Thoughts on SECONDARY NEEDS, 3rd ROUND SELECTION, or Nate Allen of USF?