Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Perloffs of Wisdom

CNNSI is doing their best to keep their finger on the pulse of the Lance Briggs situation, or at least pump some pulse into an otherwise dormant story. As expected, Briggs is nowhere near Bear training confines.

Over the weekend, the Tribune's David Haugh updated us on Briggs's replacement, 2nd-year man, 4th-round draft pick Jamar Williams, whose season was very short last year due to injury. Williams has taken Briggs's place on the depth chart, joined by 2007 third-rounder Michael Okwo.

"I spoke with [Briggs] a couple of weeks ago," Williams said Sunday. "I told him, 'You've got to do what you've got to do.' He said, 'Go and show them I'm replaceable.' "

Haugh also noted that Williams made a better impression on teammates than last year's Briggs-holdout stand-in, Leon Joe. Haugh says some "irreverent" teammates called Joe "Not-Lance," to hurtfully express that he'd never be starting material.

Brian Urlacher, although on record as wanting to see Briggs get paid, has adopted the Lovie Smith philosophy of talking and worrying about only those who are in uniform. Urlacher stated that Williams has looked good, all he's missing is the field experience.

Back to CNNSI now, Peter King brought unqualified hope in his Monday Morning QB column. With no prior or further ado, King wrote as thing he thinks he thinks #9:

I think the Bears will have Lance Briggs playing for them by opening day. Just a hunch.

But the real reason I called you three readers here today is another link on CNNSI that swings the opposite direction: Exploring possible trade scenarios for Lance Briggs. How could I resist clicking that link?

Disappointed!

It seems to me that the author, Andrew Perloff (pictured above), should have knocked on his editor's door after two minutes of thinking about this and asked for a different assignment, rather than apologizing through 5 "scenarios" that make little sense for anyone.

To summarize the scenarios:

1. Briggs for McNabb - Creative way to blow some more on two overblown storylines, the McNabb one stemming from the Eagles' audacity in drafting a QB and the resulting outrage. Perloff writes: "Chicago would probably love to have McNabb even if he wasn't 100 percent, no matter how many positive reports you read about Rex Grossman at minicamp." You think so? Probably?

2. Briggs for Larry Johnson - Herm Edwards handed LJ the ball 4000 times in 2006 and LJ's a free agent after 2007. KC may not plan to pay the big $ for his new contract, but the Bears certainly wouldn't either. Contrary to popular opinion, the Bears are all set with Benson and the original Adrian Peterson. RB isn't an immediate need.

3. Briggs for Clinton Portis - Again, RB's not an immediate need. The colorful Portis just went off-color to get Mike Vick's back. "You want to hunt down Mike Vick over fighting some dogs? I think people should mind their own business. I know a lot of back roads that have the dog fighting if you want to go see it." Uh, yeah, no thanks. Better start working on some new wacky characters, Clint, because this one's downright scary. Where Dolemite Jenkins at? That was a better one.

4. Briggs for Mike Vick - Andrew, Andrew. There's no trade scenario that involves any team being interested in Mike Vick. Just terrible work.

5. Briggs for Chris Simms - Oooh, THE Chris Simms with the bony girl arms and no spleen? The Bears have had a team of monkeys working around the clock trying to figure out how to get him. Problem solved. But not so fast, Perloff confuses matters with other Tampa wares: "Obviously, they'd love to ship Jake Plummer to Chicago." Oh, WOULD they? Listen up, the Bears haven't gotten much return from the Brian Griese investment yet, but what they did buy is dignity enough to not pay for the right to sift through the turd pile in Gruden's stable.

So those are the scenarios. The Bears can trade for dogfighters, fans of dogfighters, the injured, the indigent, and the weakest of the huddled masses. But only at QB or RB, which doesn't make any sense.

The immediate hole is LB. We weren't looking for an answer, but Perloff gave us one anyway and it's not even close. I'd even have accepted WR. With Chris Henry failing another drug test and Brian Finneran blowing out his last ACL, they've got to be on the short list of trade options for the Pro Bowl LB.

Andrew, you get rewrite on the blower, I'll give my barber Tony a call, and together we'll get the worst bits cleaned up before next Picture Day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Are we holding you back, Alex?

Jesus H Christ, now it's Alex Brown running to ESPN and NFL Radio to tell everyone that he'd like to test the open market rather than play out his contract.

Oh, he didn't say it that way. He's making it all sound copacetic, but it's still ridiculous to be doing this. Alex, 99% of the league would like to "see what else is out there" instead of honoring the contract they signed. Once the signing bonus is safely tucked away out of sight, the mind can start playing tricks on you.

Brown signed his 5-year, $15 million contract extension in December 2004 and it came with a $5.5 million bonus. The contract locks him up through 2009.

2009! And he's already raising the first little stink, three years in advance. Humility may be the only thing keeping it low-key at this point. For chrissakes, I was annoyed when Briggs started his holdout a year early.

I don't think it's just the Bears players who not only hold out, but don't even follow the rules of that, starting their strike a year or three early. But it's becoming an unwelcome epidemic, to the point that these guys make me take the unfamiliar stance of agreeing with The Man(agement). Just stawp yourself, Alex.

Didn't blog it at the time, but Brown could be reacting in part to a Washington Post report I read earlier in the month that the Bears were openly listening to offers for him. The report says the asking price is a 2nd-round draft pick.

I won't belabor my annoyance, because it's fairly mild at this point. Grumpy old man Max Goldman might suggest someone (agent) has a fart in their brain.

However, I will add that back in my day when contract gripes were contract gripes, it was customary for the player to OUTPLAY HIS CONTRACT before announcing it's not good enough anymore. Let's try that out and then take it from there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hellos and Goodbyes?

Hester Moved to Offense

The biggest news for the Bears this week was obviously that would-be Super Bowl hero return man Devin Hester will be working with the offense full time from here on out. This is the other cleat dropping following all the quotes from last season about how, sure, they'd love to give the offense some punch by getting him a few touches.

But that was the same as: sure, we'd consider looking into that shotgun formation, a cleat which has also dropped this offseason, with Ron Turner saying Rex should be plenty comfortable with it from his experience at Florida.

Makes sense to just put Hester on offense now. They got a look at him at cornerback during last season's dead period when the games didn't mean a whole lot. Peanut and Vasher were resting up, so Hester got reps at his advertised position.

It would be more exciting if he were being handed to Ken Whisenhunt, who designed some nice trickery for the Steelers, before being crowned Denny Green's successor for 2007. We'll see what Ron can do with it, but I have to look at it as a sensible experiment. After all, Miami U did their best to use Hester on offense -- stats are sketchy, but it only took to the tune of a handful of touches and 1 or 2 TDs, depending on who I asked. Expectations tempered, but I know better than to bet against the kid.

When first asked about the possibility last year, Hester said he wanted to stay in good buddy Deion Sanders's footsteps and remain a CB.

Garrett Wolfe Inked

The 3rd rounder has signed on for 4 years. Hester's move to offense made me a little more dubious about the value of drafting Wolfe, who in most circles was viewed as a slight hometown reach by the beloved. Hester certainly won't be a fully capable 3rd down back any time soon, probably ever, but there's a lot of crossover in their skill sets. I still wonder if they couldn't have used the 3rd rounder on a player who'd have contributed reps at an area of greater need.

Draft guru moving on?

According to the Sun-Times, college scouting director Greg Gabriel's contract with the Bears expires at the end of May, and he will be the top candidate for the same position when he interviews with the Giants, with whom he previously worked for 16 years.

I'm always writing Angelo drafted this guy, and that's simplistic. Gabriel and his guys provided the scouting intelligence Angelo has worked from since 2001, and it's obviously been intelligent intelligence, which is hard to come by these days.

Mike Brown cap issue?

It's a slam dunk that the Bears will have a talk with Mike Brown about restructuring his contract into something more incentive-based, to give the team some relief in the event that Brown is out of commission as often as in recent seasons. Brown should be amenable given that his ledger for the last 3 years shows 2, 12, and 6 games. The Bears had no choice but to fortify the depth chart at safety already.

Many depth charts are going to show Manning and Archuleta at safety, with Brown on the outside. That would be a shame for the cat who gave us and Coach Jauron so many thrills, but if he doesn't start, it might be his best chance to finish and be on the field for the important stuff this time around.

Bearss.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Old Man Moon

I can think of a few reasons in Randy Moss's trunk why the Packers would have no interest in caving in to whatever Brett Favre's demands may or may not be. Doesn't he remember how DISGUSTED little Joe Buck was?

The way these front office guys like to claim they take the high road, I'm surprised the Packers' brass hasn't come out and patted themselves on the back for taking a stand against giving Randy Moss his next chance, despite Favre (by his own account) taking care of all the particulars on his own.

Anyways, our buddy Jay Glazer filed the report that had Favre requesting a trade 2 or 3 days after the draft, through his agent. As mentioned previously, it was raining "Woe is Brett Favre" stories after the draft, including Peter King's rendition that Favre probably threw a shoe through his television machine for the lack of help they gave him. I call bullshit. Even if they had shoes down there, he'd have badly overthrown the set.

On the other hand, anything Jay Glazer says is completely accurate:

The trade request was relayed to head coach Mike McCarthy, who immediately phoned the Super Bowl-winning quarterback. However, the quarterback ignored all his calls for a week, letting the request fester and perhaps showing the team how upset he was this time.

Nice, so he phoned a threat in and then refused to pick up the phone for a week. What a fun-loving, stand-up guy.

Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and also call bullshit on the notion that the Packers are doing nothing to help Favre.

I did some snooping on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel site and the Favre supporters believe GM Ted Thompson equals former Bulls GM Jerry Krause (who expressed that front offices win championships and shut down the Bulls after their last championship, even though signing a couple lines would have almost ensure one more).

It's a silly comparison. The Bulls had another championship in hand, it's been many years now since the Packers were a threat, even though Esteemed Reader Freen tells me that at the opener in 2007, they're still announcing them as the World Champion Green Bay Packers. That's sad and desperate clinging they're doing up there.

But the implication is clear that Thompson is sabotaging Favre so the GM will get credit for building a non-Favre-related title team to come.

As Inspector Sidney Wong once said: "Interesting theory, but forget one thing. Is stupid! Is stupidest thing I ever heard!"

The Packers used 5 of their top 7 draft picks on offense last month. In 2006, they used 5 of their top 7 draft picks on offense. If that's sabotage, at least they're consistent about it. Among last year's draftees were 2 offensive linemen and WR Greg Jennings, all of whom played well next to Favre, not at some future time that Favre has no use for.

They got old trying to keep everyone together for the rest of Favre's career. Except perhaps for Javon Walker, who Favre ripped publicly for making long-term contract demands. Favre called him out and told him to have some respect by honoring his contract, and then Walker blew out a knee shortly after, proving why he wanted some security.

Now Favre's out there negotiating trades and contracts for Randy Moss and then crying when it turns out that there are more particulars than he realizes.

If he wanted to do his team a favor, he wouldn't be undecided about retiring for several years in a row. We know he loves the drama and his face on television, but it's not a service to the front office to keep them in the dark until just before the draft, as he did last season.

This is all about to finish coming full circle, gang. Me and my kind are going to be the only ones who love having Favre around. The Packers front office has quickly watched him become The Thing That Wouldn't Leave, while also being the thing they can't upset. No one questions that Packer brass has to keep Favre as long as he wants to play and treat him well, but they hoped he'd be honest and forthcoming instead of secretive and critical.

The writers are showing signs of tiring of Favre's act. First sign of that I saw was last year when Favre was still undecided, called a press conference, and then mocked those who showed up as ambulance-chasers, because he's got nothing to say except about his golf tournament. There are some opinions out there now about Favre outlasting his welcome.

This is a long way from just earlier this decade when, a few years in a row, Favre's INTs were part of playoff debacles, he ducked out the back door of the locker room and left his teammates to talk to the media, yet Favre was still hailed as the same fun-loving stand-up guy.

I remember him standing up one of the times, ending his offseason silence to come out during Super Bowl week, saying he's thrown that pass many times in his career, Javon just didn't go get it this time, so there was a miscommunication to say the least. Uh huh.

Even if everyone else is getting sick of it, I'll be glad to see you back out there, Brett. Last year you were mediocre, which was a huge improvement, and you went out on a Costanza-style high note, thanks in part to Rex Grossman being caught up in his party planning. I'd like to see it end more abruptly than that, perhaps on a Peanut Tillman hit like that one up there.

It took all these years, but I'm finally on board with the loving of the fun. When you run 4 yards past the line of scrimmage, throw a forward pass underhanded to avoid a hit, and then laugh about it, unlike the Randy Moss trou-drop, I enjoy it as much as Joe Buck.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Crowning Some New Asses

With the 31st pick in the NFL draft, the Chicago Bears select Burger King, from THE Rosenhaus University.

The King's got good size for a cornerback at 7'6", but the Bears will want him to get into the weight room and work on filling out his frame. Most of his weight is in his head right now.

On Saturday, the Bears stayed in business with Rosenhaus by defiantly keeping Lance Briggs, despite the agent's 11th hour media rush in which he claimed at least 5 teams were lining up with deals to reinforce Jerry Angelo's genius as a GM.

The Bears stayed put at #31 and drafted yet another Rosenhaus client. As they say, it is what it is. The Bears are wise enough to realize you can't run a team by running away from an agent.

TE Greg Olsen, Miami, HT: 6-4 WT: 252

Last year, Bear Nation was begging Jerry Angelo to draft a tight end early, from the Marcedes Lewis, Joe Klopfenstein, and Anthony Fasano group.

He did not and Desmond Clark had a fine season at the age of 30. A year later, Angelo agreed with many mock drafts and felt the best available player at pick 31 was a Tight End. If there was any disagreement about the pick, it was that Zach Miller -- who went to the Raiders at pick #38 -- was the best Tight End in this draft.

I'm pleased that the Bears went offense, period. Olsen's been compared to fellow Miami alum Shockey, and that's a pretty exciting comparison.

Rosenhaus found a way to put the Bears to the test again. Before the Bears were even on the clock, cameras trolling the ultra-secretive draft proceeedings captured Olsen wearing a Bears cap and being congratulated by Rosenhaus.

Some speculated that if the Chargers didn't already have Antonio Gates, they might have proved Rosenhaus an ass once again and prompted a hasty hat change. The premature celebration proved harmless, but Jerry Angelo was not amused by the hijinks, shaking his head when asked about Rosenhaus and cracking off one of my favorite insults:

"That guy could screw up a one-car funeral."

Attaboy, Jerry.

As largely anticipated, Angelo then spun off the #37 pick, the Thomas Jones pick, to move back down in the 2nd round in a trade with San Diego. Included in the package was a 2008 3rd-rounder.

DE Dan Bazuin, C Michigan, HT: 6-3 WT: 265

Angelo's selection of pass-rushing demon Mark Anderson in last year's 5th round removes some room to question drafting a defensive end. If you cringe when you hear "undersized," then it's just not a good decade for you to be a Bears fan. It's what we do now. We fly around and loafers need not apply.

With 10.5 sacks last year in the mighty MAC as a Central Michigan Chippewa, Bazuin (Ba-ZINE) is clearly in line to move up the ranks as the Ogunleye era is wearing thinner. Scouts liken him to fellow MAC alum Jason Babin of Houston, whoever that is.

This pick seems like a reach. While the Bears gave no indication of it, many teams viewed Bazuin as a tweener who will possibly need to convert to linebacker to make a splash in the NFL. So while he's arguably a fit with the Bears' system as a fleet defensive end, he'd be a better fit in a 3-4 defense that employs an LB/DE hybrid.

Without the trade-down, I thought the Bears would take one of the USC WRs who suffered some slippage Saturday. Linebacker Paul Posluszny was looking good too, but longtime-guy Marv Levy traded on up, thrilling the 400 writers who predicted Marv would see in Posluszny the next Shane Conlan.

RB Garrett Wolfe, NIU, HT: 5-7 WT: 177

At the end of the 3rd round, Angelo went a direction expected by many but one that I didn't not espouse: scatback. It was a logical pursuit with Thomas Jones traded -- Cedric Benson takes over, Adrian Peterson capably steps up as #2 back, and there's room for a 3rd RB with special teams ability.

The Bears were extremely impressed with the local product Wolfe, whom Northern Illinois conducted Heisman campaigns for. The Bears put him through a private workout and were floored by the route-running and pass-catching drills of the little fella: "The ball never touched the ground."

I can't tell you what kind of player Wolfe is in the big leagues, but I felt the Bears could pick a tiny flyer of a running back on the 2nd day or in free agency. It wasn't high on my wish list.

To me, it also makes the Thomas Jones trade a little more bitter. Having 2 strong RBs behind Jones made the trade plausible, as 3rd RB isn't a huge hole to spring. Perhaps Wolfe will be a thrilling player but, on a simplistic level, trading a workhorse #1 RB for a 2nd-rounder, then using a 3rd-rounder to stock the #3 scatback RB slot isn't good math.

It's as good a time as any to also mention something that made the Thomas Jones trade less bitter. Seattle traded fine WR Darrell Jackson to division rival San Francisco for a mere 4th-rounder. RBs and WRs are apples and oranges, but if Jackson's only worth a 4th-rounder, getting a 2nd-rounder for Jones a year before he walked feels a little better.

But on that note, I wish the Bears had been the ones who traded their 4 for DJax. I'd have been thrilled with that.

How's that? Randy Moss was also traded for a 4th-rounder? Not interested. But DJax is a different story. I'd have loved a new #1 WR for that rate.

LB Michael Okwo, Stanford, HT: 5-11 WT: 232

With the 2nd of back-to-back picks, after selecting Wolfe, Mike Okwo looked like a giant at 5-11 and 232. Lining up at LB, he won't look so big.

While it was expected the Bears would grab a linebacker to prepare for the sit-down strike and departure of Briggs, and they do stress speed rather than size at the position, Okwo might be doing his best work as a gunner on special teams. Okwo's 4.70 40 time doesn't pop eyeballs, so he's "a football player" and "an effort guy" who "plays fast" and who stood out on a lousy Stanford team.

OG Josh Beekman, Boston College, HT: 6-2 WT: 321

With an aging O-line, the Bears figured to pick an O-lineman, perhaps much earlier than the late 4th round. The Bears were interested in Garrett Wolfe's teammate, OLT Doug Free, but the Cowboys selected him a few picks earlier.

Beekman's a project. Short at 6'2", the 321 pounds is the top of his range. At his size, he's more likely to be Olin Kreutz's eventual replacement at Center than he is anything else.

The next 2 picks, again back-to-back, were Jerry Angelo's tribute to one of his first and favorite late-round draftees, Jerry Azumah.

FS Kevin Payne, Louisiana-Monroe, HT: 6-0 WT: 216

It is very safe to say that Payne was the best athlete available when the Bears selected in the 5th round. A la Jerry Azumah, Payne is a converted running back, having switched to defense in his junior year. The kid did all but sell peanuts at Louisiana-Monroe. Beware Brad Maynard: in addition to his duties as Safety, Payne averaged a very respectable 40.8 yards as Monroe's punter.

CB Corey Graham, New Hampshire, HT: 6-0 WT: 192

From Jerry Azumah's alma mater no less, the wispy Graham excelled primarily as a return man. Angelo felt he slipped under the radar due to his missing the combine, onaccounta lack of medical clearance for the broken fibula that cost Graham much of 2006.

Good project for the Bears to take on. Graham should be able to contribute immediately on special teams while the Bears determine if he's big enough and good enough to stick as a CB, for post-2007 when Nate Vasher and/or Peanut Tillman become too expensive to keep.

The Bears closed it out with an even tinier CB and an offensive tackle project. Presumably, the offensive lineman doesn't have return skills, but you never know with Jerry Angelo.

Overall, it doesn't look like a high-impact draft to me. The offense should get a nice boost from the Tight End, both from Olsen directly and from having 2 useful players at the position, which wasn't the case last year. Other than that, it looks like the Bears are striving for the best special teams ever, which isn't a very long journey from where they were in 2006.

As far as the rest of the division, I'll be excited to see the Calvin Johnson kid that we heard so much about play for the Lions. I was hoping Millen would avoid picking him because of the easy jokes. Some have said new Viking Adrian Peterson is already the best RB in the NFC North, and maybe that'll put a little more fire in Ced Benson's kitchen. Chester Taylor and the rush defense was all Minnesota had last year, so drafting another RB doesn't plug the main gaping holes.

From a Packer standpoint, it's happened again. The writers have lit the torches and are ready to hang Ted Thompson in effigy for not giving Favre any new toys … despite that they selected RB and WR in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Poor, poor Brett.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Catch Us If You Can! (You Can't)

The Bears 2007 schedule is out and I'm already seeing the braintrust at the Tribune making their game-by-game predictions.

I'm pretty sure they padded one or both of Downey's and Morrissey's 10-6 predictions from last year. On the eve of last season, both said the Bears might scrape into the playoffs but were going no place. And of course the Bears scraped their way to the division title, with 5 or 6 weeks to spare.

The schedule certainly appears to be tougher than last year, with 7 playoffs teams on tap, plus last-week-heartbroken Denver. However, thanks to the 6 NFC North games and the Raiders, the strength of schedule chart says the Bears have the 2nd-softest schedule again in 2007. Arizona is the only team with softer opponents.

Aaap, I don't think it's the time to do game-by-game predictions, so I'll refrain from typing the W or L next to each game. Don't they know there's a draft on? Apparently not needless to say, the whereabouts of Lance Briggs or the identity of the Chiefs QB, for example, would likely have a bearing on some of my selections.

Really, I just don't want to tip my football-picking hand to my fellow shitwits before the taxman has even come to the door.

From a Bear standpoint, the first 3 weeks couldn't be any different. Last season, the Bears swept through the 3 NFC North rivals and that was about all she wrote, other than playoff planning.

It was still a good feeling and all, even if Grossman nearly blew the Minnesota game, only being bailed out by a miracle fumble recovery off a strip of Mewelde Moore. It was still early enough in the Lovie Smith era that I needed confirmation that the Jauron days were completely over -- the days when the Bears would invariably get beat by 30 or 40 in the opener due to lack of preparation.

The Bears hop right in to the fire in 2007 with games against 3 playoff teams, albeit San Diego and Dallas with new coaches, and Kansas City with the same non-playoff-ready Herm Edwards. September 24 could very well be a day of panic in Chicago.

Conversely, it could be a day of hope in Detroit, Minnesota, and Green Bay that there's a chance they could have supplanted the Bears at the top of the NFC North food chain.

The Bears haven't exactly had an inspiring off-season, but lest anyone forget, they've been cruising well ahead of NFC North rivals and slowing to watch themselves on the Jumbotron to ensure they look cool doing it.

It's your move, NFC North. What have you guys been up to?

If the schedule made you nervous at all, Bears fans, check this shit out. This will make you feel better. I did a quick compilation of who's in and who's out of the NFC North. It's laughable, man.

Detroit

IN

OT George Foster
RB Tatum Bell
RB TJ Duckett
DE Dewayne White
WR Shaun McDonald
CB Travis Fisher

OUT
CB Dre Bly
FB Corey Schlesinger
TE Marcus Pollard
S Terrence Holt

So, out are a Pro Bowl CB, Urlacher's worst nightmare at the point of attack, a once-good TE, and a guy named Holt that Martz realized wasn't the ex-Ram. Also, Kevin Jones is out for all intents and purposes for the season (with a lis franc injury, same as Mike Brown, which scares the heck out of me).

In come a couple bust-out RBs and some ex-Ram role players. They didn't even get the good Ram WR Kevin Curtis, they settled for Shaun McDonald. The Dewayne White guy from Tampa should be a worthwhile pickup.

Minnesota

OUT

QB Brad Johnson
CB Fred Smoot
LB Napoleon Harris
TE Jermaine Wiggins

IN
WR Bobby Wade
TE Visanthe Shiancoe
LB Vinny Ciurciu
QB Drew Henson

Bottom line, Tarvaris Jackson (or perhaps Brady Quinn) will take over this terrible offense that adds fumblicious Bobby Wade and Visanthe Shiancoe. You think you're laughing, Shiancoe's raking in $8.2 million in 2007. I guess that makes him the guy to fear.

And it gives me great pleasure to introduce the upstart Packers' free agent class.

Green Bay

OUT

RB Ahman Green
FB William Henderson

IN
CB Frank Walker

OK, so they didn't lose a lot either, other than leadership value. But the onus is on you guys to come knock us down, Green Bay, and all you added was a competitor for a nickel CB spot? You don't have to listen that closely to hear the violins playing and the "Poor poor Brett, how could they not give him any help?" columns being hammered out across the nation.

I'd almost have to agree, as much bile as that makes me taste. Is anyone awake up there? I ain't crossing the Cheese Curtain to find out, so I went to the Packers' site just to make sure they're still a franchise and not on probation or anything.

GM Ted Thompson says that they took a "selective approach" to free agency.

I'll say. That's the same kind of selective as Spinal Tap's appeal in 1982, just before they pushed the sock puppet stage out of the way and debuted Jazz Odyssey at Themeland Amusement Park.

Based on how things look today, there may be some games that needed to be won once Tank's presumed 8-game suspension is up. Maybe it would be a positive if the division weren't already locked up by the time Lance Briggs graces us with his grudging presence.

Bob Babich says he's going to rush the passer with the LBs, so I can see Briggs making a glorious return, a la Nigel Tufnel riffing into the middle of "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" without missing a beat. Briggs drops Jay Cutler for a sack, matching his 2006 total, and maybe everyone can get swept up and forget the offseason's shark sandwich for a while and get back to winning playoff games.

Rosenhaus can stand on the sideline looking pissed off like David St. Hubbins's fucking wife. It's an idea.

Sep 9 @San Diego
Sep 16 Kansas City
Sep 23 Dallas
Sep 30 @Detroit
Oct 7 @Green Bay
Oct 14 Minnesota
Oct 21 @Philadelphia
Oct 28 Detroit
Nov 11 @Oakland
Nov 18 @Seattle
Nov 25 Denver
Dec 2 N.Y. Giants
Dec 6 @Washington
Dec 17 @Minnesota
Dec 23 Green Bay
Dec 30 New Orleans

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Be Cool, Baby

Now that the initial surprise of the Redskins' offer for Lance Briggs has worn off, let's all be cool like a bunch of little Fonzies here.

Don Pierson of the Tribune is still saying what I said the other day: pick up the phone and accept the offer before the Redskins come to their senses.

Pierson actually lets Briggs have it. For his big fat mouth, yes, but also cuts Briggs's talent down pretty harshly.

Briggs became a Pro Bowl player because he plays in Smith's defense next to Pro Bowl player Brian Urlacher. Briggs doesn't rush the passer, doesn't make interceptions, doesn't force fumbles and doesn't disrupt offenses. In the long line of Chicago outside linebackers, he's good but he's no Wilber Marshall, Otis Wilson, Doug Buffone, Joe Fortunato, Larry Morris, Rosevelt Colvin or Ross Brupbacher.

Oh, clearly he's no Ross Brupbacher. I had to punch that one up. Based on the only page I can find about Ross Brupbacher, he was in the NFL for 4 apparently undistinguished years (1970-1972, 1976). Evidently Pierson was his biggest fan.

I'm still with you, Don. I'd be fine with pulling the trigger on the offer based on my assumptions that (a) the Bears won't receive a better offer and (b) Briggs will go through with holding out and possibly cause some havoc for the 2007 club. I mean, for chrissakes, somehow he and his agent are busting into owners' meetings and running amok. They're resourceful and irrepressible blowhards. I have to give them their due on that front -- they're the original twin devils of deception!

But I'm liking how the Bears are handling it so far. There's no rush on this thing, even if I got my hackles up upon rumor of this offer.

Lovie's talking like the coolest cat in the room. Hadn't heard from him in a while, but he talked some Tank yesterday, as well as some Briggs.

"Would we welcome [Briggs] back? He's a Chicago Bear. Yeah, we welcome all Chicago Bears back. And he is. So, of course, we will then. I mean, we may have a few players that get hurt and miss some time, and when they are ready to come back, we welcome them back.''

Lovie's found his niche as a good, calming coach who cares about Chicago Bears players on a personal level. He's got it right. Briggs is still a Chicago Bear, even if he might not put the uniform back on until Week 12. Whether that's because of injury or holdout, it's all the same from Lovie's perspective.

I'm also pleased with Angelo's reaction so far. He told the Skins this isn't how we roll. We don't conduct our biz on SportsCenter through insufferable agents. That was a good start.

And now he's slowed down and, according to the Sun-Times' Mike Mulligan:

is believed to be preparing a counteroffer to the Redskins' proposal of a swap of first-round draft picks that would move the Bears from No. 31 to No. 6. The Bears are thought to want a better package in exchange for a Pro Bowl linebacker that might include a combination of players or future draft picks.

While I'm saying this is the best offer the Bears are going to get, maybe Jerry's thinking a little clearer that that's mostly true, but maybe he can milk a little more from the Redskins themselves. The Redskins are out on a limb here, too, and everyone knows they fritter away draft picks as if they have no value.

For instance, one of the picks they frittered away was this year's 2nd-rounder. They traded that to move up last April to draft linebacker Rocky McIntosh. This is the Rocky McIntosh who would figure to be the odd man out if the Redskins acquired Briggs. They've already got Marcus Washington and recent high-priced free agent London Fletcher(-Baker). Add Briggs to that and where's McIntosh? Exactly.

Come to think of it, that 2nd round pick they traded away is the #37 the Bears just got from the Jets in the Thomas Jones deal. It all spins around and around, wildly out of control, when the Redskins are involved. And Jerry Angelo knows that. If nothing else, maybe Jerry likes the current offer but can get them to take #37 instead of #31. Or maybe he can just get the Skins to say "Eh, you know that pick we took for Archuleta? We'll give you that one back."

Pick away at those fools, Jerry. There's still a month at hand.

Another interesting scenario would be the idea of getting a player from the Redskins. The Bears really have no one to fill in at LB, and the draft is said to be pretty lousy at the position. The Redskins have the aforementioned pile of LBs. Scanning down the depth chart a bit farther, there's certainly no room for Warrick Holdman to play anymore.

Wouldn't that be something if he came back? Even if it were possible under the cap and all that, I can't see Angelo bringing up Holdman's name. For the most part, everyone has forgiven Angelo for one of his first moves as Bears GM, which was failing to check a box on some form that would have given the Bears draft-pick compensation if another team signed Holdman away.

I don't think Angelo wants to hear from the press about the irony of bringing Holdman back, even if it would be for the good of the team. That's what a lot of this Briggs business is about: doing what's best for the team on the field versus exhibiting class and might as an organization.

Obviously Briggs sitting home for 10 games will hurt the team and moving up 25 slots would help the team. But if the perception is that they were bullied into trading Tom Jones, then they are bullied into trading Briggs, both for less than their value, then there is organizational value in taking a stand. Even if you're getting what you wanted, it's still detrimental to have Rosenhaus saying every 5 minutes that he's calling all of your shots.

So I'm with you, Jerry. Keep plugging away for more. I seem to be with everyone today and that's weird. Am I still drunk or somethin'? I better get that checked out. Or perhaps Briggs/Rosenhaus have irritated the shit out of me and I'll side with anyone but them.

The worst-case scenario is the 10-game holdout, and that would be fine with me. Briggs and Rosenhaus crossed the line long ago, and now they're just picking up the pace on lying, trying to leverage the idiots like Mariotti who make their living off of the fashion of the day, which is trashing the Bears' front office whether the evidence is true or not.

Like a greasy lemming, Mariotti climbs right on board with the agent's claim that Briggs is being tagged like a piece of meat by a team who refuses to negotiate. The Bears offered a long-term deal last year. Where's the counteroffer?

Drew, Lance, tell us what number you've proposed, at any time, that those cheapskates have shot down. That would be the very best way to gain the fan support that you're shamelessly stumping for. Tell us the numbers. We're right here at the ready to call the McCaskeys cheap bastards.

You can't, because you've never made a counteroffer for the Bears to consider. So quit spouting the lie that the Bears refuse to negotiate. It's you guys who've done that. Briggs has been asked a few times and he has no answer, other than he doesn't want to get into all that. Yeah, I can understand why.

We know from past history why Angelo isn't thrilled with the deal on the table and why he'd be working on a counteroffer. He's stated this standpoint before and reiterated it yesterday.

"We have to digest what it is from a [salary]-cap standpoint," Angelo said. "The sixth pick is an inordinate amount of money, and there are cap issues in terms of our plan."

The use of "inordinate" is telling. Angelo feels these high picks are a wolf in sheep's clothing. I right-clicked inordinate for synonyms:

Undue, unnecessary, unwarranted, unreasonable

Angelo wouldn't draft 6th with Bea Arthur's pick. If life was as easy as the draft value board and Angelo could trade down for what that board calls fair value, then there's something to talk about. But it's pretty certain the Redskins have actively shopped this pick and found no takers, and Angelo knows this.

Stay the course, Jerry! Anytime between today and the day after the draft, I'm fine with hearing you say "No deal interested us. Briggs is a Bear in 2007, and we're done talking about it." That won't stop Rosenhaus & Briggs from continuing their media tour, and they'll continue to come off increasingly petulant and dishonest as they announce a few new planned threats each day.

The Bears can sit chilly through all that, because the only aggression that will stand is Briggs sitting home in civvies for 10 weeks and then being obligated to show up. That's how it works, even if twerps like Mariotti prefer and perpetuate the sleazy agent's nonsensical rendition of what time it is.

Go Bearss!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sound of My Own Voice Tour Returns to Glazerville

Jay Glazer of FOX is reporting that a trade is in the works for Lance Briggs. Put it this way about my confidence in Glazer to be a news-breaker: I'm willing to push the extremely valuable previous post down a peg rather than edit my dismissal of Rosenhaus's big talk.

Can this really be happening? Who'd possibly be putting together the assumed irresponsible package that the Bears would be interested in? And which pink-shirted, white-panted NFL decision-maker would put his arm around Jay Glazer, touch manboobs, and slip the news into Jay's barren noggin?

Al Davis doesn't wear pink, baby. So it's got to be Daniel Snyder.

Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for Bears' disgruntled Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, told FOXSports.com that the Redskins informed him Monday that they would like to swing a deal that would send Washington's first-round pick, No. 6 overall, to Chicago for the Bears' first-rounder, No. 31, and Briggs.

OK, so Drew Rosenhaus called FOX and said they'd "like to swing a deal."

When asked about such an offer Redskins owner Dan Snyder confirmed to FOXSports.com that he in fact wanted to make the move and they were waiting to talk to Chicago.

If I were Glazer, I'd probably have used least 3 commas in there. If the Redskins make the phone call, the Bears shouldn't pause for commas either. If I were Jerry Angelo, I'm sure I'd be surprised to get an offer of this magnitude. Run to the window and cash out the Briggs ticket before the Redskins change their minds.

The #6 pick would put the Bears in Calvin Johnsonville, which I hear is the most exciting place to be right now. We can figure out who'll play linebacker later.

Earlier in the day, Rosenhaus ran some more threats past the Bears to try in put them into more of a trading mood. As we all know, Briggs and Rosenhaus very clearly stated that he will never ever play a snap for the Bears again. Since then, they must have done some reading about how things work in the real world.

"After 10 games, he'll come in," Rosenhaus said. "We're going to limit our injury risk as much as possible. That is the plan, come back and play the last six games of the season."

So now he's playing six more games for the Bears, and the playoffs, but then he'll absolutely never ever play another snap for the Bears, ever. The six games there represents the minimum effort for 2007 to count as his franchise-tag year. Just sitting out entirely and barely scraping by on Payday loans would mean the Bears could re-slap the franchise tag on for the first time, all over again.

And that's half the point. The Bears can tag Briggs again for $8.6 million for 2008, regardless of which plan he decides to run with this season. Beyond that, teams can franchise tag a player for a third year, but now the player is due the average of the top 5 salaries in the league, not just the position.

But whatever. The threat of Briggs sitting out 10 games shouldn't have the Bears losing sleep. If the rest of the scrubs in the NFC North aren't tremendously improved, and none of them has had a notable offseason, paying Briggs for only 6 games and heading straight into the playoffs might be a pretty cool hand. The McCaskeys would enjoy the extra walking around money, anyway.

Answer the phone, take the #6 pick, and ship Lance out so he can finally quit making an ass of himself and get on with being "The Man" for the first of many 5-11 seasons in the nation's humilation capital.

You're on the team, Anthony

With a promise that we'll get him one of those jumpsuits and hang-gliding is part of the plan, Anthony Adams joins Adam Archuleta in the Bears' 2007 free-agent class.

As far as defensive tackles go, Adams isn't much more stout than Luke Wilson. But he's light on his feet, has got good cardio, and he's not rehabbing or in jail, which fills a gaping need on the Bears' defensive line. This likely ends any thought of re-signing Ian Scott. Alfonso Boone has signed with Kansas City.

Adams is a 26-year-old 2nd-rounder out of Penn State. On the skeptical side, San Francisco had tons of cap room and didn't want Adams back. On the optimistic side, Adams started all 16 games for the 49ers in 2005, before starting only 5 in 2006 as the 49ers played more 3-4. If it was mostly a philosphical difference that caused his departure from San Francisco, the undersized Adams (6", 299) would figure to be a fit for Lovie's no-loaf defense. He was 25th on ESPN's free-agent list, so that's something.

Coincidentally or not, the signing comes amid the owners' meetings, where it's being speculated that the Bears' incarcerated defensive tackle will have the Roger Goodell book thrown at him to the tune of an 8-game suspension.

Another rumor from the meetings
That rumor from the meetings sounds a lot more likely than the one that says Lance Briggs's people are talking to the Bears' people. The sides were spotted talking, which is odd considering how little they have to talk about, except for a long-term deal.

I failed to report last week's stop on the Lance Briggs Sound of My Own Voice tour. Lance hadn't called NFL Network yet, so he appeared on Rod Woodson's show. Woodson threw an ad-lib into Briggs's monologue and told Lance that his suggestion would be to "ball up" for the good of his corporation, Lance Briggs Inc. He reminded Lance that the franchise tag is part of the business and the Bears could use it again next season.

Briggs and Rosenhaus answered that they were in trade talks with a number of teams. Two of the three teams they named, including Seattle, said within seconds that there's absolutely no truth to that and they have no idea what Rosenhaus is talking about.

Bad rumoring
Earlier today, ESPN and several local outlets reported that the Bears had signed Steeler safety Tyrone Carter to 3-year contract. I couldn't stop thinking about whether they're truly poising themsevles to cut ties with Mike Brown (perhaps after offering a pay cut). This has been speculated since the Archuleta signing. Archuleta himself says incredulously that he's no backup. He doesn't know what the depth chart looks like, but alls he knows is he's always been a starter in this league and doesn't know why he wouldn't be now.

OK, Arch. We're all on your side ... now. Before I could finish thinking about Mike Brown and the jersey hanging in my closet, Tyrone Carter signed with the Steelers. That's some good police work. Bake em away, toys. Unless the rumor was pulled out of thin air, however, it sounds like the Bears are still trying to stockpile more safeties.

Now we're talking
In the most exciting and positive move of the offseason, the Bears re-signed Ruben Brown to a one-year deal for $2.2 million, hence keeping the offensive line together again.

Ruben's answer to whether he could have gotten more was "When you get to be 35, teams start looking at you funny." My mom always said when you get to be 35 without a ring on your finger, everyone looks at you funny, and you're probably gay.

If only there were more like Ruben. I heard him this morning, once Sean Salisbury was done bragging about how much money he won on the basketball games, and Ruben loves being on the gang. Called Kreutz a hall of famer, which is silly, but you can seen why they love Rube back.

I almost vomicked when Salisbury kept jabbing Steve Rosenbloom (when's recent ESPN 1000 acquisition Tommy Waddle taking his spot anyway?) with his choad in shouting what's it's like for "guys who spent so many years in this league, like me and Ruben, to be on the losing end of a Super Bowl." Yeah, Salisbury's an expert on that.

Once Ruben was off the air, Rosenbloom tried to measure back up by taunting that his Harley's bigger that Salisbury's. That's great radio, a couple sleazebags swinging their mid-life crises about. But I have to say, Trey Wingo was hosting a show later and he could give Morons 1 & 2 a run for their money on smug assholism.

Anyways, adding Archuleta, Adams, and Brown adds some intrigue as to what the Bears will do on draft day. They're moving right down the checklist of obvious needs, which should help draft day be a zesty enterprise. Sometimes the left tackle of the future that you need isn't in the pool and the best available athlete is Devin Hester. A Devin Hester. The Devin Hester.

Opener closer
Ron Rivera's eye twitched a little today when the NFL announced its kickoff weekend plans. The Thursday night opener will represent the best of times and the worst of times for Ron Rivera. He spent a couple weeks interviewing for dream jobs between licking the Saints and being beaten down by the Colts. Now he'll watch the two square off, while he falls asleep in his recliner and game-plans just the linebackers for the opener against the Bears 3 days later.

I think it looks like this:
Merriman --> steroid store ----> Grossman ---> ball ----> hizzouse

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dust Off the Face-Sharpening Jokes

Maybe now that Adam Archuleta is a Chicago Bear, I'll get a better look at him and the joke about him getting his face sharpened won't strike me as funny anymore.

Maybe I'll be less specific and just throw a bitter "Nice tackle, pretty boy" at him.




Whereas with Maria Shriver, the face-sharpening bit is surely fitting and no mercy is due when you chose to be Mrs. Schwarzenegger and you're other-worldly skeletal.

Anyhoo, the Archuleta signing reminds me of the old joke from the racetrack, when the horse you decided to bet on doesn't seem so hot and the tote board says it's paying a lousy price. You walk to the window real slow and, if luck is on your side, you'll get shut out of the race and put the money back in your pocket.

The Bears were headed to the window last offseason with a big bankroll in hand to sign Archuleta, who was one of Lovie Smith's guys when he appeared in the Super Bowl as a Ram.

However, a very funny thing happened along the way: the mighty Redskins ran to the teller and plunked down $30 million for 6 years, with $10 million guaranteed, to sign Archuleta.

One year and a million irate, profanity-riddled posts on Redskins messages boards later, Archuleta joins the Bears for an orange-tag price of 3 years, $8.1 million. For their troubles, the Redskins end this particular embarrassing chapter and receive a 6th round pick (which could become a 5th if Archuleta outplays all expectations).

The more apt racetrack analogy would be that the Bears chose not to bet on Archuleta in his last race when he was paying 40 cents on the dollar. Wearing the Redskins silks, Archuleta broke cleanly, faded to the back of the pack, and was vanned off. Pending examination by the Bears' vet, they'll play him in his next race at much better odds, and with much lower expectations.

At least I hope the expectations are low. This offseason, backup safeties Todd Johnson and Cameron Worrell departed. Neither was an impact player, but someone has to play some backup safety and specialty teams, and Archuleta's a decent fit for that. He obviously knows Lovie Smith's defense, so that should put him a step ahead of a mid-round rookie safety they were expected to draft for this role.

Some are going as far as saying that Archuleta is the "perfect fit" for the Lovie Smith defense, but I don't follow that line of thinking. The Cover Two is largely about safeties playing deep coverage and not letting any receivers past them. Bad safety play in the Cover Two results in long, uncontested TDs a la Reggie Wayne's backbreaker in the Super Bowl.

Archuleta's skill set isn't much different than what we've seen from Chris Harris. I'll be extremely disturbed if he's not more skilled than Harris, but their strengths and weaknesses are largely the same.

As we like to say nowadays, Archuleta is who you think he is, when you hear that he's a 6'0", 223 lb safety. He's built like a mini-Linebacker and that was his role in St. Louis. And as you'd expect from a mini-Linebacker, you're going to get more stout run support and less coverage ability than you would expect from a typical safety. The lack of coverage ability, after all, is what landed him on Joe Gibbs's bench quickly and permanently.

A few other quick getting-to-know-you facts about the new guy:

-- Archuleta doesn't have much of a nickname. He's been called Arch, which made more sense in St. Louis. He was called Arch Deluxe, when McDonald's had a sandwich called that. Redskins fans may have stopped caring early enough to bother.

-- Archuleta's a big-time concussion guy. What does it feel like to get a concussion, Adam?

"Yeah, that's a cool feeling (laughs). OK, not really. It's kind of scary. It's wild, though. You wake up, but you really don't know what's going on. It feels sort of like a dream world, but no matter what anybody tells you, you don't believe them, so you ask the same question over and over again. Like when I had a concussion, I was on the sidelines asking my teammates, "Who's winning?" and "What's the score?" maybe 10 or 12 times, and I would not believe what they said even though they were telling the truth and pointing to the scoreboard. It just didn't register.

You just kind of have this disposition where you don't really care about stuff. Like everything's kind of floating by, you're really nonchalant about things. It's literally like having things go in one ear and out the other. You don't have any short-term memory at all."

-- Archuleta calls himself "the most relaxed guy on the planet" but that may be the concussions talking.

I see Archuleta filling Todd Johnson's shoes nicely. A frustrating amount of missed tackles and too-late coverages, along with some eye-popping hits. We can hope Archuleta's aim is better and a higher percentage of those are jacking up the opposition, where Johnson preferred laying the best lumber on Peanut Tillman's head.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Briggs To Take Out Loan To Cover Cell Phone Bill

Jeffrey Lebowski or Dude, if you're into the whole brevity thing, was once a roadie for Metallica on the Speed of Sound Tour. "Bunch of assholes" was his take on the experience and the band many years later.

Apparently as long as there is an outlet with an accredited NFL talking head, Lance Briggs will be making weekly stops on his Sound of My Own Voice tour, a tour that also appears destined to make an asshole of the main act.

Last week, Briggs picked up the blower to run some demands and threats past the Bears through ESPN's Len Pasquarelli.

This week, he moved down the list of desperate-to-make-news voices and gave FOX's sideline troll Jay Glazer a call.

No doubt Briggs and agent Drew Rosenhaus knew that a splashy headline would result, despite the lack of any new developments whatsoever.

"I am now prepared to sit out the year if the Bears don't trade me or release me," Briggs said via cell phone Monday. "I've played my last snap for them. I'll never play another down for Chicago again."

Yeah, and...? What do you mean you're "now" prepared to sit out the year? You said all of this last week. And now you're back because a week went by and nothing happened. Guess what,
Lance and Drew, nothing's going to happen this week either. So get the phone list together for your next weekly appearance. NFL Network next week, Don Banks the following week.

Slight correction, something did happen after last week's threats, Briggs just didn't like it. From the Tribune:

Combative, Briggs added in a brief conversation on the phone that he didn't appreciate Chicago fans and media reacting negatively when he made public his stance last week. He says he was tricked into doing an interview on WSCR-AM 670 and resisted speaking to local reporters because of the way he has been portrayed.

Ah, we Bears fans should apologize to Briggs for reacting negatively to his statement that he'd do everything in his power to never play for our team again. He thinks because his agent had him carefully differentiate Bears management from Bears players & fans, and state which one he's got a problem with, we're supposed to swallow that whole and storm Halas Hall as one!

I also chortle a little at him saying he was tricked into doing an interview on the local station. I'm guessing the trick is that he was asked questions, rather than being allowed to unilaterally spout his side to the reporter he called.

Briggs seems to be bummed about facing the reality I stated last week. His options are to play out the last year of his contract, as he's known for over a year would be the case by virtue of turning down the Bears' long-term contract offer, or sit out the season with no pay. I guess it is new this week that he's come to this realization.

"People think I can't afford to sit out the year, I can take out loans to get me through that year just fine because eventually I'll have a deal somewhere. There are things I can do to make sure I'm fine financially if I sit out."

Wow. I'd be surprised if there really were "people" who thought "Ha ha, Briggs is screwed. He either plays for the Bears or he becomes homeless and trolls alleys for his dinner." I think most of the people figure you might still have some of the $700K + playoff bonuses etc. that you earned last year.

You're very much missing the point and, frankly, you're making an annoying ass of yourself with these weekly shout-outs. You're just the latest to try and exploit the Bears' mostly deserved public relations problems, but you're misoverestimating your hand -- once again a hand that was dealt over a year ago -- and bringing the negative reaction on yourself. If anything, the national reaction has been more negative than the local.

Perhaps it's just a coincidence among Rosenhaus clients, but like Thomas Jones did in demanding a trade, Briggs says it's not all about money, it's about leadership and not having to share it with anyone.

"I've talked to Brian about it. I'm a competitor and I want the same thing he has. I've learned a lot from Brian as a player and a leader and I eventually want to be 'the man' somewhere. I want to be like him and have everything put on me too. Obviously I'll never be able to do that there."

Briggs can't be "The Man" with Urlacher around. Jones couldn't be "The Man" with Benson around. What a bunch of bullcrap, as Jerry Angelo would say. In my estimation, a good start to being a leader is demonstrating that despite the inherent nature of the business, where you compete with others on your own team for your position, the ultimate goal is working together to be the best team. Leaders worry about being The Man relative to the guy they're matched up against on fall Sundays and helping their teammates to do the same.

Just to put a fine point on how useless Briggs's weekly self-serving phone calls are, he concludes:

''That's not to say I'm going to sit out a year, but I'm prepared to do that if it comes to that. There are a lot of different scenarios that could happen. The best-case scenario is that the Bears offer me a long-term contract at market value.''

So much for "I'll never play a down for the Bears again." Glad you're definite. Glad you're not just throwing crap at the wall every week until you feel public opinion has swung your way. Each time you say you'll never play for the Bears again, we become even less interested in your plight, and it becomes even less likely the Bears will be able to trade you. Good plan though.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Everybody Hates the Big Ten

I figured before I'm asked to piss a couple bucks away on the NCAA Tournament, a request I proudly comply with, I should probably watch my first college hoop of the season.

I don't know where the time's gone that it's March already. I do know that 2 years ago the Illini were one of the most likeable teams in the nation, and that I could see going into this season that I hated all the players who were still around.

Anyways, I finally watched about 15 minutes of hoop action before they announced the brackets. Big Ten Final: Wisconsin vs Ohio State. From this, I only picked up one insight and I'm sure it will be integral to my bracket success.

Everyone knows about this look-alike situation.

Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor and Chris Rock




It blew my mind some when Ohio State brought in their own Chris Rock look-alike.



Ohio State's David Lighty and James Tyler Williams

Williams plays young Chris Rock on "Everybody Hates Chris," which is actually a pretty funny program over on the C-Dub.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Because You Never Hear About the Patriots

Nothing to do with the Bears, but I found myself pretty fascinated reading about how the apparently much-hated Ron Borges of the Boston Globe got suspended for 2 months for ripping off a Seattle writer's column word-for-word.

This page covers how it played out and gives the kid responsible a slap on the back.

http://coldhardfootballfacts.com/Article.php?Page=1363

To plagiarize the whole thing myself, this is where the guy pointed it out on an ESPN board. Patriots fans started firing it off to media outlets and the rest is history.

http://boards.espn.go.com/boards/mb/mb?sport=nfl&id=nwe&tid=579151&lid=35

Not sure why I'm pasting the original story and the one Borges published as his own, they're word-for-word, but these were the two links Seattlestatman posted to kick all of this off.

http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/seahawks/story/6389428p-5698815c.html
http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2007/03/04/seahawk_is_a_better_catch

I didn't give myself a full history lesson on Borges. Along the way, I saw an item about how a Boston radio station instituted a policy against having any Boston Globe writers on after Borges called Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu "a fat pussy toad" -- he may or may not have been simply repeating an insult George Steinbrenner had used.

Apparently everyone hates him because he has a vendetta against Bill Belichick, ever since he cut Drew Bledsoe, who was Borges's inside guy.

He sounds like another Mariotti, having written one column about what a great acquisition Adalius Thomas would be for whoever lands him, then ripping the Patriots to shreds after they signed Thomas just a day or two later.

Just keep shouting "strong opinions" and maybe no one will remember when you start shouting down your previous one. As long as you're shouting, it's all good. Unless you're so goddamn lazy that you just cut-and-paste someone else's column and hand it in with your name on it. The Assman will take you down to Chinatown!

... Check that! The Seattlestatman will take you down!

At least Borges had better taste in ripping someone off than the fat fool who got busted for plagiarizing Peter King during Super Bowl week in 2005:
http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com/archives/002650.php

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

You're the Man Now, Ced

While Drew Rosenhaus client Lance Briggs was on the blower with ESPN making it harder for the Bears to trade him, Drew Rosenhaus client Thomas Jones was being traded to the New York Jets.

The wheels were in motion long ago. Rosenhaus had Jones raise a stink last offseason, with 2 years left on his contract.

He and Lance Briggs both sat out voluntary workouts, Lovie demoted them to 2nd string, and then real workouts started and all the idiocy ended. But the revolution had started.

The seeds were watered immediately after the Super Bowl, Rosenhaus confirms, when Thomas Jones told him: "Get me to New York." And so he goes.

No matter how you spin it, regardless of the factors involved, your traditionally offense-starved franchise up and trading away its workhorse for the past few seasons is disturbing and will give you a case of the whiplash.

Despite Jones's productivity, the Bears weren't trading from a position of power here. There was no chance the 28-year-old Jones was going to be a Bear in 2008 and beyond. The Bears' options were trading him or watching him walk away after one more season.

When I heard that the return was the 37th pick in the draft, I thought that was pretty good. A high 2nd rounder seemed about right. Then again, the Patriots just traded 2nd and 7th round picks to division rival Miami for Wes Welker, a WR from the Tommy Waddle mold.

Unfortunately, the Bears didn't even get a 2nd rounder for a far superior player to Welker. They didn't get any additional draft picks. All they got was a 26-slot bump-up in the 2nd round of next month's draft, via a pick the Jets had swindled out of the boneheaded Redskins. The speculation has already started that they'll package the 31st and 37th picks to move up in the first round, perhaps to draft Lance Briggs's heir.

It's not a good situation, gang. It sure would have been nice to make one more title run with Jones. They've been working it pretty well, burning up the treads on Jones's tires while preparing Benson to be the workhorse. One more year of that would have been nice.

But I can understand getting something now and eliminating one of the sure distractions, which seem to be piling up daily. Obviously, you wish they could have gotten more. Marv Levy and the Bills are in a similar situation -- I'll officially be upset with the Bears if Marv rounds up a nice package for Willis McGahee.

Many of the experts have opined it's a good deal for both sides (especially the Jets), given the circumstances. Adam Schein of NFL Network, on the other hand, wrote "This is just a wretched deal for Chicago. Somebody call the authorities. The only thing missing is a gun and a mask."

One overlooked factor that makes this deal even worse for the Bears is compensatory draft picks. If the Bears had kept Jones through 2007 and then let him walk, the refrain that they'd be left empty-handed isn't true.

Compensatory picks are a bit of a mysterious business in the NFL, even to those directly involved - free agents signed and lost, as well as the league's evaluation of players' performance, determine which teams receive compensatory picks. So there are no hard, fast rules.

However, the basic premise is that teams who lose more value in free agency than they bring aboard are rewarded draft picks in rounds 3 through 7, based on the value of the players who were lost. To cite a familiar example, when the Bears signed John Tait away from Kansas City, the Chiefs were able to cheer themselves up with the 3rd round draft pick they received as compensation.

Only a guess, but I'd have to think the Bears would probably have gotten a 3rd or 4th round pick when Jones "walked away for nothing" after 2007. I'm not much of a draftnik to know point values of picks, but moving up 26 spots in round 2 doesn't seem much more valuable than a brand spanking new 3rd rounder, in addition to the usual complement of picks.

To close the book on Jones, he worked hard and resurrected his career in Chicago. By all accounts, the cats liked him and he was a good leader who will be sorely missed.

What's Tom going to do with the orange Ferrari, with orange piping on the seats and orange wheel covers? I guess I'll have to watch he and brother Julius's "Keeping Up With the Joneses" reality show to find out. Or perhaps I won't.

For the Bears, it's full speed ahead with Cedric Benson. A cynic would point out that Thomas Jones was one of the few Bears who showed up for the Super Bowl; meanwhile, Cedric Benson showed up on the sidelines for good, early, after a fumble and another injury.

There's no proof that Benson can carry the load without getting injured, even with a competent backup in Adrian Peterson shouldering some carries. He has, however, shown more and more encouraging signs as his playing time has increased.

While Tom Jones's pass-catching skills will be written about as a big loss that Benson can't make up for, the fact is that Jones gained just 150 yards receiving each of the past 2 years. Pretty paltry numbers, really, which is an indictment of the offense and playcalling more than anything. Hitting the RB is a pretty good plan when your QB can't hit a bull in the ass with a banjo some days, but that's another matter. Point is, the pass-catching void being discussed is almost non-existent.

I'm most concerned with the leadership void. Benson has openly expressed his disappointment with being behind Jones on the depth chart since he got here, stating in the papers that there was obviously an agenda outside of playing the best players.

In the meantime, watching Benson was like watching John Winger in Stripes: the troops would come roaring out of the tunnel, and Benson would come strolling out a couple minutes after everyone else, then meander about in a coma of self-pity before retiring to the sideline to sit by himself until called on.

It's all yours now, Cedric. I even put my favorite picture of you top and center and de-Jones-ified the blawg as if that guy never existed. Point your spite that way, son, and let's get after it!

The rest of us will resume worrying which other pieces will be sacrificed until the bill is paid on the next big expenditure, Tommie Harris. Just so his agent isn't Drew Rosenhaus... Doh!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Briggs: "Not one more day" with Bears

Trouble's brewing with Lance Briggs, which isn't surprising considering that he skipped some early activities last offseason over dissatisfaction with his contract.

Sitting home wearing the franchise tag, Briggs evidently got fired up when seeing what could have been and still will be for him: free agent LB Adalius Thomas signed on with the Patriots for 5 years, $35 million, with $20 million guaranteed.

Whatever prompted it, Briggs isn't mincing words here:

"It's a great bunch of guys with a great future, but I can't see myself as being part of that future anymore. Whatever options are available to me, I'll take advantage of them. But going back and playing for the Bears again, no, I don't see that as an option. Not one more day. Not at all."

I'll have to look into this some more to see exactly what options are available to Briggs. My knee-jerk reaction is that he doesn't have much of an option but to play out his last season at $7.2 million.

He doesn't have to be happy about it. He can skip voluntary workouts again, he can skip mandatory workouts and draw fines, but I don't believe that sitting out the season disgruntled is an option. If I'm not mistaken, if he sat out the season, it wouldn't be like going to sleep for a year and waking up a non-franchised free agent -- it would be groundhog day, waking up a year older and still tagged by the Bears for a year.

He's not holding too many cards, in other words, it's about how much incentive the team has to make other arrangements in order to avoid distraction. This is the way of the NFL and Jerry Angelo is aware of it, having expressed that he will do everything he can to accommodate Thomas Jones's trade request. He'll probably be saying the same of Briggs very soon, if he hasn't already.

This is Rosenhaus-induced rhetoric, but Briggs goes out of his way a little to smack the "organization":

"The Chicago Bears team? The coaches, players, city and fans? Yeah, I could stay there forever. I love it. But the Chicago Bears organization? I don't want to be there anymore. I won't play for them and I'll do everything in my power to keep from playing there."

Also, there's no quote about it, but Len Pasquarelli refers to the fact that Briggs mentioned Ron Rivera's departure as a reason for dissatisfaction. (Then again, Len has Briggs as an Arizona State alum instead of Arizona)

Ultimately none of this qualifies as news, but it's still unfortunate to see Briggs getting after actively burning the bridges like this, the bridges every Bears fan hoped would lead to a long-term contract.

I say it's not over. I can understand Briggs's frustration -- it's the same reason I hold out some hope. For the last couple years, the Bears have talked constantly about and done their best to bring everyone back. Continuity, loyalty, and all that. That's much easier to do when you're talking about signing fullbacks and fourth safeties to long-term extensions. A cornerstone, high-quality performer's contract has needed attention for more than a year, and now continuity might be taking a back seat to "a tough business decision" to let him go, despite that the Bears could scrape together Adalius Thomas money.

The most annoying aspect I'll brace myself for is rehashing the notion that came up last offseason and will come up again: we can't pay Briggs more than Urlacher.

Which is nonsense - one has nothing to do with the other. Market's gone up and, in fact, Urlacher has said on several occasions that he would restructure if it meant keeping Briggs.

Despite that, it does look like things are setting up where we'll be reading Briggs's departure story and it'll say: Damn Rosenhaus asked for more than Urlacher money and we all know how crazy that is. Unfortunately, many Urlacher diehards will agree and give the Bears a pass on this one.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Marching In Like a Lion

Some thoughts of my own and pointers to others while watching the Windy City snow blowing sideways.

Denver Trades Tatum Bell & George Foster to Detroit for Dre Bly

In like a Lion, indeed. Off the top of my head, CB Dre Bly was possibly the best player on the Lions. There aren't that many good ones to choose from. He was in Detroit 3 years and made 3 Pro Bowls. But Matt Millen trades him away for an RB that Denver was going to cut anyway and an offensive lineman.

Millen obviously hasn't heard the old adage that if the phone rings and the Caller ID says it's Shanahan, don't answer. The same goes for the phone ringing and the nameplate on your desk saying Matt Millen. Although interestingly, in doing some diligence, I punched up firemillen.com and that guy loves the move! Who'da thunk it?

The spin I heard elsewhere is that getting the lineman in trade puts Detroit in position to take either Brady Quinn or yet another WR with the #2 overall pick, instead of Tackle Joe Thomas outta Wisconsin.

Why does it seem like Mike Martz is the coach and GM of this team?

Shanahan Again: Broncos Trade Jake Plummer to the Bucs for a 4th-Round Pick

It's Shanahan. Don't answer. Oh nooooooo! The Buccaneers, fresh off re-signing the spleen-less and muscle-less Chris Simms for $5 million for 2007, trade a 4th-round pick to Denver for the soon-to-be-cut Jake Plummer. A 4th-round pick?

The Buccaneers appear to have been saved the embarrassment. Of all people, it's Jake Plummer who refused to pick up the phone when Shanahan called. He has reportedly chosen to retire somewhere other than the armpit of Florida, hence nixing the whole deal. Jake's always had the behind-the-back pass in his arsenal, so he may still have a trick up his beard to stay in the league on his terms.

Pep Talk

With Wade Wilson mercifully gone, the Bears need a QB coach to work with the three drunken gunslingers. Hard to find much talk about it, but I'll cast my vote nearly as cluelessly as I did on Tuesday.

I like the looks of Pep Hamilton. Good name, good face. Pep was with the Jets for 3 years working with QBs and WRs. He spent 2006 in San Francisco, working under Ron Turner's brother Norv as Assistant QB Coach.

It's a simplistic view, but young 49ers QB Alex Smith was a complete wreck in 2005 -- 1 TD to 11 INTs and 11 fumbles in 9 games. In 2006, Smith wasn't great either, but 16 TDs, 16 INTs, and 10 fumbles is a huge improvement. I'm down with Pep and hope to start seeing him on the Bears sideline.

Free Agency Is Open!

I'd be more wild about free agency if the Bears figured to be big shooters, like the Niners and Browns will reportedly be. I've read enough sourpuss columns about how crappy free agency is nowadays. Writers are pissy that the NFL is making so much money that the salary cap increase means team can retain their stars. As a result, there aren't enough sexy names out there to write about.

The most useful, non-whining free agent list I've read was by the sexy Len Pasquarelli. I'd be surprised if the Bears end up signing any of these guys. The one I've heard as being on the Bears short list is offensive lineman Eric Steinbach, whose contribution to the Bengal police blotter was a drunken boating escapade. Pasquarelli talks about his ability to play Center, Guard, or Tackle, and Jerry Angelo loves that, but I imagine he'll be out of the Bears' price range.

I got a little rush of adrenaline when Joey Porter was released by Pittsburgh, but even 1 year of Urlacher, Briggs, and Porter is too good a dream to be true. Even if he came, any number of gun-happy Bears are a risk to pop a cap in Joey's keyster. He'd call somebody a fag and it would be a whole mess.

And a Historical Note

The Bears go into the season assuming that franchise-tagged Lance Briggs will be a holdout, as will Thomas Jones again, if neither is traded before it comes down to that. I've also heard that the Bears are looking to trade Adewale Ogunleye, which is slightly ironical in that they acquired him largely because of his unhappiness as a restricted free agent whom the Dolphins wouldn't sign long-term.

But bringing it back to Briggs, here's a pretty interesting read about the first ever franchise tagged player. None other than good ol' #58 Wilber Marshall, in 1993. Guys weren't big on being franchised back then either, and they fought the power.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Lovie Long Time

What a relief that all the nonsense can now stop. Lovie Smith's signed on, for market value. Though it got much less press, Jerry Angelo also had his contract extended. Both guys have earned their extensions - one needs to when the McCaskeys are signing the checks.

So everyone can stop wetting themselves now. Even after Lovie said last week that he wanted to be in Chicago and was confident a deal would get done, many were still up in arms.

The really irritating and disappointing aspect of all this hand-wringing was the speed and fury displayed in taking the agent's side on everything. What happened here is that Lovie's agent, Frank Bauer, wasn't getting the contract extension done, so he slapped the Bears in the face and did his negotiating in the newspaper several days in a row.

Pardon me if I don't join the anti-Bears rush to get behind the slimy agent's unfair tactics. If you were the Bears ownership and the agent called you out in the papers, would you run right back to the table and give him whatever he was asking?

It was only last week when Bauer said: "We're not close, we're not encouraged and based on where talks have gone recently, Lovie will be a free agent after next season. It would take an unforeseen breakthrough for this to get done."

I'd like to hear what the unforeseen breakthrough was. He practically shouted "Fire" in a theater last week, now the deal's done? Right, because negotiations work better when both parties are involved, not a blood-sucking lawyer using the media types to stir up nonsense.

The most irresponsible, divisive and unconscionable ugliness this dragged out was written by Carol Slezak of the Sun-Times. I don't even suggest dignifying it by reading the column. See what I mean?:

"The picture that has emerged, while still blurry, gives rise to a legitimate question: Is Smith's race a factor in the Bears' hesitancy to pay him? If Smith, an African American, were white, would the deal have been done long ago?"

There are less than a handful of minority coaches in the NFL, the Bears hired one of them, but CLEARLY they're a bunch of racists. That explains everything. Case closed.

For christ's sake. And if you kept reading, you'd learn that further proof of the obvious racism is that Brian Urlacher got a big, long-term contract while Lance Briggs got stuck with the franchise tag. White on black.

I'll believe it when Briggs's agent calls the Bears racists in the paper.

One other point about the Lovie hand-wringing: the press went crazy screaming about what the Falcons paid new NFL coach Bobby Petrino -- $4.8 million a year. When the reports said the Bears were offering Lovie $4M, there was Petrino-based outrage. What a slap in the face to Lovie! As Doug Buffone would say, "Aw, stawp yourselves."

Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons are idiots, gang. The number that's way out of whack is Petrino's. For example Cam Cameron, once a very hot college coach who has NFL experience, including running a mildly successful San Diego Charger offense, will be making $2.5M with the Dolphins.

It's the Falcons fans who should be outraged that they don't get more for $4.8 million. They get some joker out of Kentucky with no experience, just the idea that the layer of bong resin on Michael Vick's brain is thin enough that he should be calling his own plays.

Kudos to Lovie and Jerry on their paydays. Jerry, last draft was about icing the cake, Lovie's going to need some meat and potatoes this time around to keep his Bears future bright.

And while I don't go in for Hollywood much around here, kudos to Alan Arkin on the Best Supporting Actor award. Nice jawb! To borrow my favorite quote of Arkin's from Little Miss Sunshine, and point it at the muckraking Chicago press:


We can tell em all to go to hell.


Go to hell, Slezak.

Friday, February 23, 2007

This Cloud Has a Silver Lining

The current cloud is Bears' standard operating procedure: mangling the process of getting a head coach in place. Toss those nickels around like manhole covers, McCaskeys, just like Da Coach said.

Lovie's loudmouthed agent has done more than his share by ripping the Bears front office in the press every day, but this is all pretty typical fare from the team that brought you the abortive Dave McGinness hiring press conference. Dave phoned in that day and said "On 2nd thought, no thanks."

Anyways, contrary to an earlier opinion of mine, the Dallas Cowboys have proven they're not smart enough to leave Wade Wilson here to continue working on The Rex Grossman Experiment.

Wade's been laboring on Rex's fun-da-mentals for 3 years now and, many games, the funky QB can take a snap and get out from center cleanly. Too often, not so much.

Advanced topics like diving forward for a few yards when no one's around may have been in Wade Wilson's 5-Year Plan somewhere. Alas, we'll never be sure.

Wilson's headed back to Texas where he belongs. He was the Cowboy QB Coach from 2000-2002. Now, with a few more years of experience under his belt, he returns as ... QB Coach. He'll be working under Jason Garrett, who was a QB Coach for about 10 minutes before moving up in the world.

Wilson cited the ongoing Lovie Smith contract saga as a reason for leaving.

''You would think there would be a lot more continuity coming off a Super Bowl appearance,'' Wilson said. ''The changes that were made and some of the things that have been said, once I was given permission, I had to take care of myself. If things are not going well for Lovie and things are not going well for all the position coaches, you have to take advantage.''

Laughably, Wilson also expressed his utter shock that he wasn't given a key to the city for his obviously outstanding work teaching Rex Grossman the finer points.

''There was a person who evaluated me, and I was shocked by some of the things that were said and took major exception," Wilson said, declining to reveal if it was another coach or a member of management. ''That is why I wanted out of Chicago.''

Awwwwww. Good riddance. Enjoy Texas. With Coach Phillips on board, don't be shocked or take major exception when they call you Little Wade. It fits you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lovie Smith: Chico Not The Man

Little did Ron "Chico" Rivera know just how much Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo were pulling for him to get the job in Arizona, Miami, San Diego ... and so on. Or any old job in Dallas, lateral move or not. Lovie and Jerry just wanted the guy gone so it would end on a more positive note than this.

As it is, Rivera goes to San Diego as linebackers coach, where he will be behind Ted Cottrell on the defensive mastermind list and working hands-on with Shawne Merriman to keep him off the juice.

Lovie Smith's old friend dating back to their Tulsa days, Bob Babich, will be promoted from Bears linebacker coach to defensive coordinator.

Having been trained by the McCaskeys, the Bears fan's knee-jerk reaction was "They're going cheap. Rivera takes them to the Super Bowl, now they don't want to pay him." Though this wasn't what happened, it's always good to remind the McCaskeys that they're suspect and probably always will be. You're suspect!

What did happen is that Lovie Smith decided that he'd rather have a loyal first-timer orchestrating the defense than the incumbent, a head-coaching candidate for 8 other teams in the last 2 years.

Taking a step backward, on Saturday in the Tribune, John Mullin wrote about Ron Rivera's contract situation.

"If the Chargers job does not go to Rivera, few expect him to have difficulty reaching agreement on a new deal with the Bears. Rivera, in fact, represents an element of leverage and insurance in the event negotiations fail to produce a deal for coach Lovie Smith."

Well that's pretty interesting. Re-signing Rivera this offseason would provide the Bears "leverage and insurance" when it came to negotiations for Lovie's new contract. One has to wonder if Lovie saw it that way. Regardless, a couple days later, that bit of leverage has been removed from the picture and Lovie's man has been appointed.

The Bears only make the Super Bowl every 20-odd years, so no one's sure what the rules are -- and how wildly the rules vary when you lose a Super Bowl versus winning one -- but this edition of the Bears has preached continuity. It must have been a difficult conversation to tell Ron Rivera that, even though all of the players from the Super Bowl defense are coming back for a 3rd year in a row, we know we can do better than you.

There was also a knee-jerk reaction that the Bears screwed Rivera by not announcing his release a few weeks ago. If anything, being turned away by his current team would have hurt his chances with other teams who were interviewing him for the big promotion. As I said at the top, Smith and Angelo were hoping he'd score a head coaching job, which would provide a natural ending and even put a feather in their mentoring caps. Maybe it would even start that Lovie Smith Coaching Tree.

Rivera and Smith have both made statements that this was a football decision, there was no personality clash, and that seems legitimate. Rivera was nearly as miscast as fellow coordinator hiree Terry Shea. When he was hired, Lovie Smith wanted current Lions coach Rod Marinelli to run his Cover Two, but Tampa wouldn't allow it. Rivera was somewhere down the list of choices.

There has been a lot of gray area the last few years. They were obviously running Lovie Smith's defense, which Rivera didn't have experience with, so how much was Rivera just filling a seat?

Rivera and Smith both commented that they were going different directions. Rivera obviously wanted to go in a direction closer to his Philadelphia roots under blitzmaster Jim Johnson.

If I had to guess, I'd imagine that blitzing only three times in the Super Bowl, fairly typical of the plan throughout the past few seasons, was more Smith's design than Rivera's.

Maybe Rivera was licking his chops watching Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs run, questioning the value of a scheme where these 2 Pro Bowlers combine for 1 sack all season. Maybe following the season-ending injuries to Tommie Harris and Mike Brown, Rivera had some ideas to adjust a scheme that depends most heavily on Safety and Defensive Tackle.

Lovie's bottom line for us is: "You should trust me as a head football coach to put us in the best position to win football games. It's as simple as that."

What will need to be trusted is the "different directions" explanation. Oh, to be a fly on the wall to hear each of their directions.

I would hope that Lovie's direction entails more than playing the Cover Two straight-up while Covering Two ears and shouting "la la la la" so as not to listen to any other ideas on the subject.

As with any scheme, the Cover Two will need to evolve and adjust as offenses do. Any scheme should be flexible enough, or coordinated smartly enough, that it takes advantage of current personnel strengths.

Surely Rivera had his own wrinkles and ideas to suggest and I'll trust that Lovie is always willing to listen, evaluate, and experiment based on his coordinators' advice. If Lovie thought Rivera's ideas for improving the Bears' Cover Two sucked, that's fine, then Rivera needed to go before Lovie can talk about his next contract.

I don't know, maybe I need to be humored a little more. Maybe I need to hear Lovie say he was frustrated by Rivera's work in the Super Bowl, that he thinks they could have stopped the Colts from converting every 3rd down. Something to tell me why the new boss will be better than the old boss.

Or maybe I'd like to see the Bears at least pretend to be like other teams and interview some other options, have some qualified candidates run their ideas past Lovie, before you simply reach down and promote the head coach's inexperienced yes-man to take over one of the very best defenses.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's not "as simple as that" for me. With all due respect, Lovie hasn't earned that blind trust from me. I'm sure his buddy Bob from Tulsa is a good football man and all, I'm not so sure that his uncontested appointment is in the best interest of the Chicago Bears as much as it is in Lovie Smith's.

Circle it on your calendar: Bears at Chargers. Until the schedule comes out, just circle every Sunday (and Monday) between September & December. That'll be the day we see Bob Babich's plan to shut down LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, as linebackers coach Ron Rivera and his trick eye look on from the home sideline.