A Little Knee Bending for Bears Offensive Line? And Other Points of View.
- Brad Biggs, writing for The National Football Post, on the Bears most recent acquisition:
“Devin Thomas has never taken off as a wide receiver in the NFL.
“What are the odds he will with the Chicago Bears? That’s hard to say right now. But the Bears certainly don’t have the kind of depth chart Thomas was up against as a member of the New York Giants. Opportunity could come with his new team.”
- Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune reports that DT Amobi Okoye met with the Bengals last week. This may be a situation to keep an eye on. The Bears are light at DT and most people are guessing that they’d like to have Okoye back.
- Jason Smith at NFL.com thinks both Matt Forte and Michael Bush were among the big losers in free agency. Whatever.
- Dan Pompei, writing for The National Football Post, on the Brandon Marshall trade:
“Despite what Dolphins owner Stephen Ross allegedly told a fan, the Dolphins had no intention of cutting Brandon Marshall without getting anything in return for him. It is true, however, that the team was intent on purging Marshall at some point. Marshall was persona non grata in Miami for a number of reasons. He was perceived as a quarterback killer because of his complaining. New coach Joe Philbin was looking for a different style of receiver. Marshall is high maintenance off the field. And the Dolphins needed cap space. However, if the Dolphins couldn’t have traded Marshall in the offseason, it is likely they would have brought him to training camp to see if a trade market might develop for him after teams started losing players to injuries. As it turned out, they received two third round picks from the Bears.”
- As if those negatives weren’t enough, Rivers McCown at Football Outsiders and ESPN reviews the Bears “curious” off season moves by looking at the statistics. Marshall’s aren’t as good as you might think:
“Unfortunately, by our numbers, Marshall hasn’t exactly played up to that skill set. Last season, he had a 9.8 percent DVOA, good for 36th in the NFL. (DVOA is Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average metric, explained here.) That was his best career ranking in DVOA and only the second time he finished a season with a positive score. Despite his eye-popping traditional numbers, Marshall has had just one season with a catch rate above 60 percent. His statistics deserve some slack since Marshall has always been the focal point of his team’s passing game, but when you consider the opportunity cost of two third-rounders and Marshall’s fairly hefty contract, trading for Marshall wasn’t exactly the slam-dunk move many have called it.”
- Here are some potential prospects available for the Bears at 19 according to The National Football Post:
WR Michael Floyd: Notre Dame (6-3, 224)
DE Whitney Mercilus: Illinois (6-4, 265)
OT Jonathan Martin: Stanford (6-6, 304)
DE Quinton Coples: North Carolina (6-6, 285)
WR Kendall Wright: Baylor (5-10, 190)
I’m guessing that there’s no way Floyd, Mercilus or Couples falls that far. It seems to me like a fantasy but if scouts are right about Coples and he is there, you take him and start doing cart wheels.
Martin is intriguing and could fill a need but a lot would depend on how much OL coach Mike Tice thinks he can coach him. Most scouts seem to thin he has a pretty low floor and the Bears don’t need to draft a tackle who turns out to actually be an average (at best) guard (*cough* Chris Williams *cough*).
- Pompei answers a related question:
“What do you make of all the attention this week on Kendall Wright? Is it due diligence or real interest by the Bears? I’m sure he is a good football player, but don’t we have enough 5-10 wide receiver experiments? I would preferMichael Floyd and if he is not avail at 19 then Stephen Hill based on speed and frame. Do you think Phil Emery will stick to his comment, which I support 100 percent, about football being for big players? Andrew Los Angeles
“Look, Kendall Wright is a pretty good prospect. You can be 5-10 and be a lot better player than someone who is 6-3. I wouldn’t turn up my nose at him just because he isn’t big. There have been plenty of outstanding receivers who are shy of six feet. The Bears already have a big receiver in Brandon Marshall. If the Bears draft a receiver, they need to draft the best receiver they can find, regardless of how tall he is. Emery likes big players, but he likes good players more. In Kansas City, he drafted 5-foot-8, 170 pound Dexter McCluster.”
Dexter McCluster is a multi-demential player who was drafted as a slot receiver. Drafting Kendall Wright for the Bears would be like getting another Johnny Knox for the Packers to knock off the line of scrimmage and sit on. Like McCluster, he’s too small to be anything but a slot receiver and Earl Bennett has that pretty much wrapped up.
- Pompei, this time writing for the Chicago Tribune, quotes Bears head coach Lovie Smith on Wright:
“‘When I watch video, I don’t want to see all these bad plays,’ he said. ‘If we’re coaching a guy up to his max, OK, what can he be? It’s about the ceiling, always. This is what he’s capable of doing.’”
I found this to be interesting because it clicks together with another quote from Smith via Pompei, this time about his relationship with GM Phil Emery:
“We watched a little tape together. It’s on video what type of guys we like. And it’s constant communication, normal flow of day, going over everything we want at every position. It’s continuing still.”
Hard not to notice that Emery’s emphasis on evidence-based evaluation and watching tape is catching on with Smith. I like that.
- On a related not, from Mark Eckle at the Times of Trenton we have this comment on DT Dontari Poe:
“He’ll be overdrafted,” one personnel man said. “He did all of that at the Combine, so some team will take him way higher than he should go. I mean watch him play, just watch. He didn’t do anything. And he wasn’t playing at a very high level, either.
“All I know is he had one sack last year and it came against Austin Peay. You probably didn’t even know Austin Peay had a football team.”
Poe might be available for the Bears at 19. If he is it sounds like a good test of GM Phil Emery’s philosophy to judge prospects primarily by seeing what show up on tape.
- Pompei answers another question that’s weighing on a lot of fans’ minds, I think:
“Are you as sold as Mike Tice is on J’Marcus Webb as our left tackle? I like him as a person but I think he’s a swing tackle at best in the league. Also, Tice and Lovie Smith need to remember that Webb was a seventh-round pick from a tiny school that nobody had ever heard of. He was never meant to be a starting left tackle in the NFL. I think the Bears should trade up in the early teens of the first round to secure Jonathan Martin, who I’m sure would eliminate the only question mark on our offense now. Jim Lee, Platteville, Wis.
“It’s possible Webb could develop into a starting left tackle you can win with. He has done enough good things for the coaching staff to have faith in him, it’s just that he hasn’t done them consistently enough. He clearly still is a work in progress, as you might expect someone with his background to be going into his third season. There have been Hall of Famers who have come from “tiny schools that nobody ever heard of,” so that is not an issue. What is an issue is Webb allowed 14 sacks, tied for most in the NFL according to Stats, and that he was flagged an NFL-high eight times for false starts and five times for holding. It’s important that everybody, especially his offensive coordinator, understands this isn’t Anthony Munoz. Don’t expect him to be able to handle the best pass rushers in the game one-on-one, and he’ll have a chance. But there is no question he has some serious improving to do in order to be the Bears’ long-term left tackle.”
- K.C. Joiner at ESPN has a plan for the Bears on draft day that I think a lot of fans would like.
- Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com lists the amount of cap room each team has left as of March 30. The Bears have $3.5 million left.
- Former Bears Director of College Scouting, Gabriel Gabriel, on QB Ryan Tannehill for The National Football Post:
“Yes, Tannehill will get drafted high and I know of at least three clubs that are praying that it actually does happen because that drops a good football player to them. It has been my opinion all along that some evaluators and people in the media are ‘creating’ a player just as they did Blaine Gabbert last year and others like him in previous years. Don’t forget, J’Marcus Russell was the first pick of the draft the year he came out.”
- And, as if to prove Gabriel right, from Pro Football Weekly’s Whispers column:
“The Vikings continue to hope that the Ryan Tannehill buzz keeps flowing. After his strong pro-day effort, there is more buzz about teams having to trade up ahead of the Browns at No. 4 to get the athletic-but-green quarterback. The Vikings will be all ears — they would love to slide down a handful of spots, pick up additional picks and still get a top-rated player. It would be the ideal situation in their minds.”
- As if that weren’t enough, Gil Brandt at NFL.com also thinks that Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler may be getting first round consideration after his pro day. Tannehill started a grand total of 19 games at Texas A&M and Osweiller started an even fewer 15 games.
- Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com on the bind the union is in with the Saints bounty situation. The league is waiting for input from the union before dealing out punishment to the players:
“The union possibly has deferred comment on the situation until it has a chance to obtain more information. The NFLPA is in a tight situation on this one, balancing its obligation to protect both the alleged participants in the bounty system and the targets of the bounty system. It’s possible that the union will eventually contend that the players who participated were coerced by their coaches, making both the player-participants and the player-targets the victims.
“Frankly, any other argument would make it hard for the NFLPA to aggressively and properly represent the interests of both ends of the bounty spectrum.”
- Pompei asked four NFL sources what they thought the New York Jets should do with newly acquired QB Tim Tebow. I liked one of Packers head coach Mike McCarthy’s suggestions:
“Line him up as an H-back. The players who have been most successful as package quarterbacks have been the ones who are on the field in other roles. If a player comes off the sideline only when he’s part of a package, it’s a red flag for defenses.
“And Tebow can play H-back. ‘Look the way he’s built,’ McCarthy said. ‘He’s an athletic, powerful man. He’s bigger than people realize.’”
I don’t know that Tebow will ever be a good QB. But I’m reasonably certain he’s a player. He can do a lot of things on the football field.
- McCarthy on being part of an organization that typically doesn’t take much part in free agency. Via Pompei:
“You can improve in the offseason not just through free agency. We’ve improved every year with our offseason program and I believe that’s going to be the case again this year.”
Want to know why the Packers are successful as an organization? Notice that McCarthy concentrates on what he does best when commenting on how to improve the organization. Its fairly evident that he never stops coaching while letting GM Ted Thompson do what he does best in evaluating players.
- Former NFL safety Matt Bowen at The National Football Post provides some coaching points while reviewing tape of North Alabama’s Jenoris Jenkins.
- Bowen also talks about the importance of adjusting to the ball using Appalachian State’s Brian Quick as an example.
- Jon Gruden gives QB prospect Andrew Luck a hard time about this play. It’s really just guess work but watching the film and judging from the way that Luck goes right to the receiver without a glance to the left, I’m guessing that he’s being a good soldier and covering for a poor play call. Its even posible that Gruden is baiting him in an effort to get him to call the coach out. To his credit, Luck doesn’t give in to the temptation.
- Gabriel tells lots of Bear fans what they’d like to hear as he describes the big wide receivers available in the draft.
- I actually laughed out loud when I read this headline from profootballtalk.com before I even read the article. Glad to know Donovan McNabb is still good for something.
- Like most people who have been in this situation, I don’t know whether to laugh at this or cry. From A Factory of Sadness.
- The Sports Pickle wonders what might have been had Internet commenters been around to ruin great moments in sports history. Here’s a good example:
One Final Thought
If anyone needs any further evidence as to why Jerry Angelo deserved to be fired, this excerpt from Pro Football Weekly’s Whispers column provides some:
“Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said at the annual NFL meeting that 2011 third-round RB Alex Green is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from the torn ACL that cut his rookie campaign short in Week Seven. McCarthy also said that 2011 first-round OT Derek Sherrod, who also suffered a season-ending injury (broken right leg), has been conscientiously rehabbing on a daily basis at the Packers’ facilities.”
This is the kind of thing that drives Bears fans insane. The Packers lose thier first round offensive tackle to jury and they nearly go undefeated. The Bears lose theirs and the whole right side of the line falls apart.
One look at the statistics, as reviewed in this very good article by McCown, tells you what you need to know. Also taking into account his analysis of Brandon Marshall above, he sums up the Bears offseason moves:
“The Bears did upgrade another area of weakness by signing QB Jason Campbell to back up [Jay] Cutler. But unless they start working to improve their offensive line, the Bears are in for a season much like the past two: one in which good defense and solid quarterback play are undone by an inability to punch the ball into the end zone and in which goal-line sweeps are buried in the backfield due to missed blocks.
But at least there will be one key difference: This time [Michael] Bush gets to be the scapegoat instead of [Matt] Forte.”
But Bears head coach Lovie Smith and, presumably, GM Phil Emery continue to bury thier heads in the sand and state that the Bears are happy with the status quo on the offensive line (Via Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times). Florio comments:
“‘There are some things you have to do to help [J’Marcus Webb] out a little bit more at times, which we plan to do,’ Smith said, per Jensen. ‘So you can make a case and throw out stats on what he did.’
“You can, but not many Bears fans will be willing to do it. Instead, Bears fans will hope, and perhaps pray, that the stated faith in the team’s offensive line is part of a broader plan to dupe other teams into thinking the Bears won’t be targeting guards and tackles in the draft.”