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.



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

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.



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

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


RB Ahman Green
FB William Henderson

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