Will the Bears Show More Zone Blitz with New Defensive End McClellin? And Other Points of View.
- Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times on newly drafted tight end Evan Rodriguez:
“‘Has he been charged with anything?’
“It’s rarely a good sign when the first question for the general manager after announcing a draft pick is about a felony assault charge.”
- Sean Jenson at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes Emery on Rodriguez:
“They envision him as what [GM Phil] Emery called a ‘move tight end,’ a player who can line up in multiple positions, competently block defensive ends and stretch the field for the Bears’ offense.
“‘What that does to a defense is it forces them to stay in more of their base [defense] instead of bringing in a nickel or sub-package personnel and match up with a straight-seam tight end,’ Emery said. ‘We really believe that Evan provides that for us.’”
This almost certainly is a pick for Mike Tice. Many Bear fans have bemoaned the loss of former TE Greg Olsen but have failed to realize that Olsen was a glorified WR. Mike Tice would have never started a TE who couldn’t block any more than former OC Mike Martz would have.
“Say an offensive tackle was trying to reach to my outside,” Emery said. “He instantly has a feel for feeling that block, getting his body in the right leverage position and working off that block to the ball; taking as natural and as quick a path from blocker to ball as possible. Some people possess that at a high level. Some don’t. They get stuck on blocks.”
Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune continues:
“If there is one area that stand out for me as an evaluator and our coaches and our scouts, we all came away from looking at him as having high-level football instincts,” Emery said. “This is a very natural football player. He plays with very low pad level. He finds the ball quickly through blocks, which is a skill in itself, he reads pressure well. He can feel where the ball is going. He has very natural ability to find the right path to the ball.”
- Lovie Smith debunks the idea that McClellin will play linebacker but does note that they feel he can “drop into coverage”. Perhaps we’ll see more zone blitz this year. Smith also mentions that weight is “overrated” when it comes to players like McClellin in schemes like the one the Bears run.
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune on the McClellin pick:
“McClellin will keep the accountability level high at Halas Hall. Players like Quinton Coples or Bruce Irvin might have lowered it.”
- New Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery on concerns about his work ethic. Via Potash:
‘‘I would say I have a great work ethic,’’ Jeffery said. ‘‘I mean, I’m fast. When I get to Chicago, hopefully you can see for yourself first-hand and the team as well. I’m just ready.’’
I think the fact that Jeffery defines “great work ethic” as being “fast” tells us all we need to know.
- You can conclude what you will from this interesting factoid from the Northwest Herald:
“Bears Insider (@bears_insider)
“4/27/12 7:11 PM
“New #Bears WR Alshon Jeffery bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times, which was one fewer than Shea McClellin.”
- Bears western regional scout Marty Barrett talks about new Bear Brandon Hardin:
Note that Hardin worked out at East-West Shrine game as a corner and played an aggressive press style defense at Oregon. This would make him similar in some respects to seventh round pick Isaiah Frey. From Biggs:
“Downside: Late-round picks face an uphill battle, and the Bears have a host of veterans in the mix here. Still, this could be a blessing for Frey as they need to develop young players at the position. He needs to transition to playing zone defense as he played almost exclusively man in college.”
The guess here is that one reason the Bears liked Hardin was his ability to play man coverage and match up with tight ends and slot receivers when necessary. Similarly, Frey maight have to learn to play zone but he’s already got man coverage skills, something whcih the indications are the Bears may covet more now than they did in the past.
Lovie Smith has played a lot more man coverage over the last year or two than he did before that. Its possible that he was on board with these picks. On the other hand, as Pompei notes, Phil Emery’s picks this year seem to be more scheme independent. So if there’s a new head coach next year, he will find at least some personnel who aren’t strictly cover two zone-type players.
- Former Bears personnel man Greg Gabriel evaluates Phil Emery‘s draft for The National Football Post:
“Having lived and worked in Chicago the last 11 years, I know one thing: the media can be very tough.
What makes it hard for Phil Emery in conducting his first draft is that the local media didn’t trust previous GM Jerry Angelo and because of that there is a carryover effect to Emery. They want to believe but aren’t sure if they can.”
- Biggs on new Bear A.J. Green:
“The Bears announced Sunday that they agreed to terms with offensive tackle A.J. Greene of Auburn. Greene turned down an invitation to the NFL scouting combine in February and last month he showed up for his school’s pro day merely as an observer. Greene said he was preparing for a career in the music industry despite teammates and coaches urging him to give the NFL a try.
“‘Some people have criticized me for this, but most of those guys — all they understand is football,’ Greene told the Montgomery Advertiser at the pro day. ‘They can’t grasp the idea of not wanting a life in the NFL. A lot of kids grow up thinking the NFL is the ultimate dream. I just want to make music. I’m not going to pretend I want to play football when I really don’t.’
“Perhaps Greene had a change of heart.”
- It appears that the Bears have big plans for Devin Hester. From Biggs:
“‘Devin’s role has not changed,’ Emery said. ‘We see him as a guy that is going to help our receiving corps in a big way. I know that Coach Tice has done a lot of planning. We want to make sure that we have a special plan for Devin, we have the Devin Package, a package of plays as a receiver. You never know where he is going to line up and I don’t want to get too far ahead of that in terms of telling other people what we’re going to do with him.’”
Sounds exciting. But I’ll be happy if they just line him up in the slot where he belongs every once in a while.
- Potash reviews the current state of the Bears roster. Here’s what they have at WR:
“Wide Receivers (11): Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Alshon Jeffery, Devin Thomas, Eric Weems, Johnny Knox, Dane Sanzenbacher, Terriun Crump, Brittan Golden, Chris Summers”
The Bears will keep five or six wider receivers. Marshall, Hester, Bennett and Jeffery are locks and Weems probably is, too. That leaves Thomas, Knox, and Sanzenbacher competing for the last slot. That’s if they keep six.
This will be a position to keep an eye on in camp.
Potash also goes through the defensive linemen. Right now they have 3 reliable DTs in Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, and Matt Toeaina. They’re fools if they go into the season without at least one more. The same goes for the linebacker position where they have no reliable personnel outside of starters Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Nick Roach.
- Pompei answers your questions:
“The Bears have five games indoors this year, with three of the last four games on the road in domes (Vikings, Lions, and Cardinals). What is the Bears’ record indoors under Lovie Smith? Brian Helser, Thornville, Ohio”
“The Bears are 12-11 in domes since Smith became head coach in 2004.”
When you look back at last season you find that the Bears offensive line was particularly miserable in domes where you can’t hear the snap count. That’s because those are the situations when you find out how much talent you really have.
All three of those dome teams above are in the NFC and two are in the Bears division. Assuming nothing else significant gets done about the offensive line, if the Bears aren’t 9-3 going into the last four games, they’ll have an up hill battle making the playoffs.
- Pompei, writing for The National Football Post, relates an evaluation of this draft similar to what I’ve heard multiple times in other places:
“In many draft rooms, there wasn’t the same kind of enthusiasm over who was chose as there normally is. ‘There were a lot of reaches on the first two days,’ one personnel director said. ‘A lot of teams were not feeling comfortable with their picks, based on my conversations with other personnel people. It wasn’t’ a great year. There are a lot of guys with holes.’”
- Holy smokes! Via Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com.
- The NFL is considering eliminating the Pro Bowl. They’ll still be voting and calling players Pro Bowlers. But because no one will be backing out of the game, there will be a lot fewer of them than in the past. The NFLPA can’t be happy.
- Janoris Jenkins via Mike Florio: at profootballtalk.com:
“In the same SiriusXM Radio interview in which Jenkins said teams who passed on him are ‘gonna pay,’ Jenkins addressed the immediate comparisons that were made between him and the last troubled defensive back drafted by Jeff Fisher, Adam “Pacman” Jones.
“Asked by Adam Schein if Fisher possibly was interested in Jenkins because of similarities to Pacman, Jenkins scoffed.
“‘I mean, no, because I never shot up a strip club or nothing like that,’ Jenkins said.
“This guy is gonna be great for business.”
- Pompei reviews the Packers draft with this astute observation:
“What is most interesting about the Packers’ draft is they chose four defensive players who some perceive as better fits for a four-man front than a three-man front. Could the Packers be considering a defensive conversion? Or at least a shift to more 4-3?”
“Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is known as a 3-4 guru, but he did preside over a four-man front with the Jaguars.”
- Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune quotes former Bear Rashaan Salaam on where his NFL career went off the rails:
“‘I had no discipline. I had all the talent in the world,’ he said. ‘You know, great body, great genes. But I had no work ethic and I had no discipline. The better you get, the harder you have to work. The better I got, the lazier I got.'”
- NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert points out that Monday would appear to be a big day for the MInnesota stadium bill and, consequently, for the chances that the Vikings stay there.
- Lost Letterman takes us down memory lane with the top five booed NFL draft picks. I love number 3, Roger Vick. Listen closely to the scream of anguish right before Pete Rozelle reads the name.
- The Sports Pickle asks “Which NFL 1st Round pick was the most puzzling?” Here’s one answer:
“Brandon Weeden to Cleveland — Miami or Arizona would have been a better fit for him, as those are places old people move.”
One Final Thought
Tony Perry and Sam Farmer, writing for the Tribune newspapers, relate this interesting anecdote of deceased linebacker Junior Seau:
“Leaving USC after an All-American junior season, the Chargers made Seau the No. 5 pick in the 1990 draft.
“But Seau did not feel immediately embraced by his teammates. He experienced an attitude shift in the seventh game of his rookie season when he successfully called a defensive huddle. His team was not victorious on that day, but, in a way, Seau was.
“’My dad called me and said, ‘Oh, sorry you didn’t win,’ Seau recalled years later in an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I said, ‘Don’t worry, I won. They huddled for me.’ That is what I would call a turning point in my career.’”