Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bears stay quiet ... that is a good thing

The combine is done, and the Bears were about the only organization without any rumors.  I like how Ryan Pace is keeping a lid on his people as they go about their business.  While we wait for the 10th of March, there has been a few interesting things happening around the league, especially as we see some cap causalities and older players getting their walking papers.

First off, the Bears did sign Demontre Hurst to a two year deal. He played some nickel corner last season, and his performance was uneven at best. Fangio must have seen something in this player to bring him back.

Today, the Eagles released G Todd Herremans. He had a positive PFF grade from 2007-2013 but struggled last year with injuries. He started 124 of 127 games in his 10 seasons with Philadelphia. Is he a fit for the Bears? Maybe a bit long in the tooth at 32 but if the Bears are thinking of moving Long to tackle, why not? Bring him on a respectful vet deal and see what happens. He plays RG and worst case good depth.

Lions cut Reggie Bush, and that was no cap release since Bush carried not that much of a contract. Sounds like Detroit was done with that experiment.  Now what is interesting is that he was a 1st round draft pick by the Saints in 2006. So there is that Pace connection again, and not suggesting whenever an ex-Saint hits the market, Ryan is going to grab him. However, Reggie as a back up to Forte along with Carey gives some nice depth there.

Other than that, it's all draft talk, which I still contend is premature until the FA situation is done and we can see the real needs the Bears will have.  One thing I have been hearing regarding the 3-4 transition is that Fangio doesn't use space eaters at NT. He often goes with 2 lineman and extra LB's so while Shelton would be a solid fit, they might look elsewhere if they feel Ego and JayRat can get it done.

Update:  Rumors are out this morning that Josh McCown is negotiating a contract with the Bills.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cutler starts ... Fales #2??

Yesterday we covered the reasons why Cutler will return and be the starter. Today let's look at the options of who backs him up.

Currently on the roster is David Fales.  When Pace was asked about Fales, he said he was being evaluated like everyone else. He was then asked how do you evaluate Fales if he never played. Ryan responded with they look at practice tape and college tape too. The way I look at Fales right now is what I said yesterday in the comment section.  If you subscribe to the Fran Tarkenton philosophy that only an ex-QB can evaluate a QB, then Jim Harbaugh view of Fales is strong. Harbaugh liked him and said he was one of the top 5 QB's in the draft. Secondly, near the end of the season, the Patriots tried to sign him off the PS. They have Brady and Jimmy G, why Fales? Look, NE is known to have a sharp crew in their pro personnel group, if they wanted Fales they saw something.  So for me that is good enough to keep him around into training camp.

Now to the backup to Cutler, here the options I see, and am sure there are a plethora of other variants.

1. Connect the dots:  You have Josh McCown, Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore that have interacted with either coaches, the Bears out right in their past. It doesn't make them the best choices but familiarity does have some level of currency.  Are any the right fit? Maybe McCown for he has a good relationship with Cutler and knows Gase from Lions days. The other two are ex-Fox guys but not sure how much that matters.

2. Traditional backups:  If you want to go old school and find an experienced QB to back up Cutler for a season, like insurance, then you look at guys like, Hill, Hasselback or Vick. They are safe for you know what you are getting, the have loads of experience and if something does happen to Jay, you can feel fairly comfortable with any of them running your offense. I would lean more to Hill but its a push either way, as they say in Vegas.

3. Take a flyer:  Here is where it could get interesting. You ask yourself is Cutler here for one and then done? If so, do you take a shot at some of the misfires of class 2011? Clausen, Ponder, Gabbert and Hoyer. The were good enough to get drafted high, were they mishandled by coaches? victims of poor schemes? or played on bad teams?  What goes for them is they are young and maybe coachable to improve. I would add Locker here too, but you could include him in Connect the dots due to his past relationship with Logganis at TENN.  I would look at Locker, yes he is injury prone but has been a starter and has shown some talent. He might be nothing more than a bridge but who knows he might be an heir apparent.

4. All in:  Ryan Mallett.  He is talented enough NE took him and HOU wants to re-sign him bad. It will be costly but if you think he could be Cutler's heir apparent then you go hard for him. It is high risk, but so is drafting one out of what is being labelled a horrific QB class. I am not sure this is where Ryan Pace wants to spend his money with Free Agents. However, if you think Cutler is one and done, the draft class is lousy and want to go with upside, then it would be hard to pass Mallett up.

So what would you do? Connect the dots, go traditional, maybe take a flyer or go all in on Mallett?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cutler or bust!

Before I dive into why Cutler is really the only option for winning, there was an interesting piece by Michael Wright regarding Cutler. Evidently, Cutler had met Gase at a wedding and wanted to work with him, but Denver would not let Gase out to be Cutler's QB coach under Martz. As we know, Gase was/is a Martz disciple. Word is Gase and Cutler have a close relationship after that meeting. Secondly, back in 2012, Cutler asked Lovie to get Logganis as his QB coach, but TEN would not let Dowell out of his contract. Supposedly, Cutler and Logganis have known each other since Vandy days. So with all these dots being connected, I doubt Cutler is going anywhere. I am not implying Jay had influence on coaching hires, but with Gase and Logganis having a close relationship with Jay, I can't imagine he is leaving.

That does not mean Cutler is a lock, like I want to believe, for Pace and Fox have said nothing. So let's take a look at some scenarios regarding Cutler and the QB position.

Right off I will drive a stake in the ground and say Cutler is the only option at starting QB for the Bears. Done. Conversation over. Look, Cutler is not elite but he is a top 15 QB and they don't fall off trees everyday. He had a bad year, so did every one on the Bears including Forte (a different topic for a different day). Other than Brady and maybe Peyton Manning, show me a QB that hasn't had a bad season or two in their careers.  The Bears in hiring Fox and Pace are to rebuild quickly and win, not a major fire sale and start over. Pace said, Cutler was talented and the QB was important, so you really believe they are going to cut loose their best option to win and for what?

Trade? What do you think the Bears would get? Not anything above a 3rd rounder. Last season, there were 18 trades and a couple decent names were in that. The highest pick given was a 4th rounder.   Think on this, statistically speaking, a pick beyond the third round has less than a 10% of seeing the field and they last on average three years in the NFL. It is like less than 3% they ever start. So you are going to trade a top 15 QB for a couple of middling picks that have less than 10% chance of playing and that includes ST? No way.

Release him! No return value, wash our hands and be done with it. Okay, a bit over the top but anything is possible. So now what? Draft? Good luck! Every draftnik has said this is the worst QB class in a long time. Mayock even said the Bears are better off going with Cutler than drafting any of these mutts.  Not saying the Bears won't draft one but not as a starter, that would ensure at least three seasons of 3-13 or worse. Free Agents? There is only one QB you can sign that is barely close to Cutler's ability and that is Mark Sanchez. That is it. Not Hill, Hasselbeck or Vick, they are done. The others are too young and not experienced to get it done.  Why would you do that? You know what you have in Jay. He can win and has, so coach to his strengths and get on with it.

So who would you chose? Cutler or Sanchez? I would take Cutler!

Tomorrow we will look at the back up role.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fox/Pace press conference ... much ado about nothing!

I wanted to wait till John Fox and Ryan Pace held their first press conferences since coming on board. That happened yesterday at the combine and while it was interesting to hear what they didn't say, it was more amusing what the press thought they said.  Regardless, here are some of the points I gathered after listening to both speak.

1. They have spent the better part of the month building a coaching staff.  It has been only over the last ten days they have looked at the roster, in an evaluation process.

2. They confirmed the met with Josh McCown, as are seven other teams will. They stated interest and why not? I have said before, I think Josh was more the QB whisperer for Jay than Trestman.  I know some worry over a QB controversy the first time Cutler has a bad game. The reality is who do you want starting, a 61-58 QB or a 17-32 QB? The answer is easy.

3. The Bears media has made hay over a lack of commitment to Jay Cutler and to a degree Brandon Marshall. Funny the Bears committed to no one, they never said the word "decision" that was inside the media's questions. They again and again reinforced they were evaluating everyone and were only 10 days into the process.

4. Both stated a 3-4 defense was in the mix along with other various schemes and sets. Meaning what we all expected of Fangio. The reality it will be a 3-4 base with a wide range of different schemes. So again no surprises.

What I do like is how Fox/Pace hold their cards close to the vest. I know it drives the media crazy so they are left to their own devices to manufacture something that is not there. That is funny to watch.

Now to the combine. This season I have little interest in what is going on. It doesn't really matter right now for we have pro days, private workouts etc. My attention will soon turn to what is important and that is UDFA. I get the sense Pace will be active for this is where he made his bones with the Saints. So over the coming days I will spend time on that and finishing reviewing the team. D and ST.

So the question for the day is, should the Bears sign Josh McCown?    

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bears hibernation about over

It has been a quiet over the last weeks regarding any news out of Halas Hall. No doubt Ryan Pace has shut down the rumor mill. So today will be a quick recap of last weeks news, most have read or heard but just put it all together as a summary.

Bears hired Ben Wilkerson as the assistant offense line coach. This will be his first NFL job after working in the collegiate and high school level. He played 32 games in the NFL at center for the Bengals and Falcons.  With this hiring all the coaches are now set.

The combine starts next week and as Chuck Canning mentioned both Ryan Pace and John Fox will hold press conferences.  John Fox will meet the media on Wednesday at 10 CST and Ryan Pace follows at 11:30 CST.

Because Fox is a new head coach, the Bears are permitted to have extra time. First up will be a voluntary veteran mini camp right before the draft, April 28-30. Then the schedule is as follows: Rookie mini camp May 8-10, 10 OTA's and then full squad mini camp June 16-18.

The other news that hit last week was the Buc's release of Josh McGown.  Even though Josh struggled last season I am surprised they let him go and now will probably draft a rookie QB.  This is unlike Lovie for he favors more experienced QB's.  I am surprised there hasn't been more hollering by the fans for the Bears to go get Josh and bring him back.  Is it plausible?  Probably not now that there is a new regime in place, but Cutler liked McGown, there was a closeness between them. I wrote about how Josh was good for Cutler's psyche, so who knows, may Jay reaches out through Logganis and Gase and suggest they sign him.  Bottom line Josh's big payday and a shot at starting are over no matter where he ends up.

Last issue is  the ongoing what are we going to do with Brandon Marshall.  Even Brandon has said he hopes to stay with the Bears but understands its a business.  This is probably more of a media thing since Halas Hall is giving them nothing. Time will tell.

Monday, February 9, 2015

No internet service

I apologize for now post over the last few days. I lost my internet service and it now is restored. I need to deal with a few things in my personal life and will be posting soon. Thanks!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Bears O line, Marshall and Ravens=Tampering and Drayton

Yesterday it was announced that Stan Drayton will join the Bears as running back coach. Stan spent the last four season with Ohio State and before that he was the running back coach at Florida. Drayton is considered one of the up and coming coaches and now has gotten his first NFL gig.  The reason it took so long was due to Drayton recruiting of Mike Weber out of Detroit.  Word is that Weber was deciding between Michigan and Ohio State and Drayton was critical in getting this young man to commit to the Buckeyes.  Once NLI passed and Weber signed with OSU, that released Drayton to join the Bears.  The only coaching spot left open is assistant offensive line coach.  It is not a critical coaching position so for all in tense and purposes, Fox's staff is now set.

The noise surrounding Brandon Marshall continues and most of it is just that, noise.  I still expect BMarsh to return to the Bears for at least one year, but honestly, his off field antics are wearing thin with me.  When I heard about Marshall chatting with Harbaugh during the Super Bowl,  it crossed my mind that tampering might be in play. I didn't give it too much thought until I heard it come up this morning on the radio.  The context was that Marshall's conversation with Harbaugh is now on the Ravens web site, and does that construe tampering?  The NFL has said no.  However, when I looked at the NFL tampering rules it is clear that  a player (or his representative) under contract with one team can not communicate with another team and its representatives. Now you can argue, Brandon was representing Showtime at the Super Bowl and that would be correct.  But, Marshall changed that relationship when he asked Harbaugh a question in the context as a player (who is under contract) about playing for the Ravens.  The question may seem benign, but under the rules that is direct communication and implied interest.  I am sure the Bears legal folks are all over it, regardless if it is or not, Marshall continues to bring a light to himself that is less than team orientated.

Today I will review the offensive line ...

Offensive Line:

Current roster:  Bushrod, Slauson, Garza, Long and Mills

Fighting for roster spots:  Groy, Leno, Ola, Boggs, McClain, Weaver and Boffeli

Free Agents:  Britton and BDLP

Last season the line struggled mainly due to injuries and never reached that same level of play we saw in 2013.  The left side should be solid with Bushrod and Slauson fully healed. Long will anchor the RG spot. That leaves C and RT the question marks.  For me C is the big one.  Like most I was surprised that Garza got a contract, Emery's last gift to an old Bear player. The good news is that Roberto's deal is not guaranteed and he can be cut.  The problem is there is no one else at C.  Boggs doesn't fit the bill, there has been talk Groy can play C but in truth the Bears need to find a solid C. Most thought it would BDLP and when he did step in at C for Garza he played well (not so great at G) but his re-signing is uncertain for Pace was the head of player personnel at the Saints when they let BDLP walk. Not sure what the story is but if Pace doesn't re-sign BDLP then we have to look at FA and the draft.

The interesting FA at C, is Montgomery who played last season with the Broncos.  He is fairly consistent and was with Fox back in 2006 with the Panthers.  He would be a short term answer and open the door for the Bears to draft a C in 2015.  Currently there are no C's listed for the first round, but there are six that are ranked from the second through sixth rounds. So the Bears can wait till later rounds to find that prospect.

Looking at RT, Mills has not shown he is the answer. Granted he struggled with a sore foot last season so the verdict is still out. Ola was okay, actually he graded out as the Bears best tackle last season.  It is possible that Leno might get a look at RT even though many feel he will play G.  So that means FA and/or draft.  An interesting Free Agent would be Doug Free out of DAL. He is 31, so he would not be a long term solution but he is a known leader, plays tough and the Cowboys have a lot of re-signing issues so Free could leave no matter how much the 'Pokes want him to stay.  When you look at the draft, it is deep at tackle with about seven prospects that are listed to go in the first round (or potential first round selections). The Bears could wait till the second round and find a good one or grab Schreff, Collins or Flowers and be done with it.

So while many believe Pace needs to focus on defense, it has been and will be my contention that you can never have enough offensive lineman, and this group is in transition and it starts at C. So it would not surprise me to see the Bears active in the Free Agent market and/or draft.

Last thing I want to touch on, is fans talking about trading a player (doesn't matter if its Cutler or Marshall).  What fans have to understand, that trading in the NFL is not a primary way of moving players like hockey or baseball.  Last season, there were 16 trades in the NFL and the highest compensation was a fourth round pick, most were fifth/six rounders or conditional picks.  The fact is, when you trade a player do not expect much in return.