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?


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.


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.