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Chicago Bears


Sun Times: Matt Forte Is More “Gimmick Than Go-To”

Obviously Chicago Bears’ running back Matt Forte is still dangling under the infamous franchise tag with no long term deal worked out yet. In the meantime, the team has signed RB Michael Bush from the Raiders leaving Forte justifiably feeling disrespected. Well, justifiably to some…not Joe Cowley from the Sun Times who may have written one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read this off season.

He argues that Forte should basically chill out since he isn’t all that anyway:

But here’s a little reminder to Forte. He wants to be treated like an elite back, but he’s more gimmick than go-to. In two of his four seasons, he wasn’t even a 1,000-yard back. He has averaged just over seven touchdowns a season, and that includes all the dump passes and screens he has gotten over the years.

When you think grind it out at the end of a game, you don’t exactly think Forte.

He’s no Adrian Peterson; he’s not even Chris Johnson.

He’s a versatile back who has taken advantage of an offense lacking a real receiver that has had to turn to him out of the backfield.

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Is It Possible Matt Forte’s Injury Could Work In His Favor?

So Matt Forte aka 50% of the bears offense aka overworked and underpaid aka the reason running backs hold out aka aka aka … has sprained his MCL.

First let’s take a moment to thank de lawwd (or whomever you praise) that Forte didn’t tear his ACL or MCL. That’s a potential death knell for an RB who wants a big contract.

But this is a sprain and he shall recover. The bad part (or good part?) is that he has to be out at least 2 weeks and justifiably 4. Of course, the Bears are pushing for him to come back before the end of the season. But if he doesn’t,  I can see this working in Forte’s favor. Hear me out.

If Forte sits out the rest of the season and the Bears don’t make the playoffs, Forte doesn’t have to play anymore for the rest of the year and can focus on free agency. Some might say that Forte needs to continue to play to keep his contract hopes up. I disagree. If Forte is out from now until spring training he will be viewed as refreshed. No one in their right mind is going to forget this man was 50% of his team’s offense, handled himself like a professional at all times, and never avoided contact despite having reason to do so.

The rumors were that the Bears offered or at least floated 14 million guaranteed and that wasn’t enough for Forte. I don’t know how true this is…but he can probably get at least 14 million guaranteed in free agency so turning down the first 14 million is not likely to hurt him if this pans out the way it can. Of course all of this is moot if the Bears make the playoffs and go deep into the post season. But there’s a good chance that won’t happen if Cutler misses the rest of the regular season.

The flipside of this is that Forte comes back from injury and isn’t as good OR he’s just as good but is seen as worn down from a season with entirely too heavy a load. Can’t win for trying sometimes. There are so many scenarios good and bad…of course I think we all hope that Forte can come back, do well and get the contract he deserves without a whole bunch of other machinations.

Either way, I don’t think Forte should rush back if you know what I’m saying. *wink wink - rib jab*




Bears GM Says Team Did Everything Possible to Improve Offensive Line

Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler

Is Bears QB Jay Cutler thinking about the time he spends lying down in public?

I had to read Chicago  Bears General Manager**Jerry Angelo’s quote a few times to make sure I was seeing the right thing. Angelo said that during the offensive they did everything possible to improve their line. And of the Bears last loss he said:

“We like our eight linemen. That’s not an issue. Injuries happen, and then you have to adjust accordingly. Everything bad that happened on Sunday wasn’t all because of poor offensive line play. Believe me when I tell you that. It was a collective failure. The defense and special teams share part of that as well. So let’s not beat up on the offensive line.”

Lets mince some words here.

1. Just because you believe you did everything you could to improve an offensive line is a separate issue from whether or not the line is good

2. Football is definitely a team game but given how many sacks (not even counting hits or knockdowns) the Bears are allowing Cutler to suffer, you can see where there’d be a domino effect of bad performances.

3. The article mentions they want to try to protect Cutler by balancing the offense between passing and handoffs. But, if so, why isn’t Matt Forte’s contract situation worked out? He was responsible for a high percentage of their offense. And it bears pointing out that RBs have to work with the same O lines that QBs have to work with. Yes a line can be terrible at pass protection and better at run blocking and vice versa, but if Cutler’s sacks are up but Forte’s numbers are down, again that points to issues with the line.

4. If Angelo and others are hinting at Cutler holding the ball too long, I’m not so sure I’m buying that. Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick are known  to hold the ball a little extra time because Ben likes to shake defenders and Vick likes to run away from them. Cutler really has no tangible  incentive to hold the ball longeer, and if he did I think that it’s something he would have solved after last year’s sack totals. I’m sure, at this point, he’d rather throw a ball away on consecutive downs  than absorb this many blows.

The saga continues I guess.


**Updated. Original post referred to Angelo as owner.


Donovan McNabb to Athletes: Get Off Twitter

So last week beleaguered Redskins QB Donovan McNabb was interviewed on ESPN radio and said, among other things, that athletes shouldn’t tweet. This became a sort of big story over the weekend. And usually I don’t like to post things that everyone else has already posted but I had a few thoughts on this.

In the interview, the subject of twitter came up because so many athletes publicly criticized Jay Cutler in their tweets for not returning to the  NFC championship game last season-before there was any report on the extent of his injury. McNabb said that the players who tweeted about Cutler during the game did so out of jealousy. I’ve said before I thought that the criticism of Cutler by both athletes and the general public was dumb and uncouth. My solution to this is to encourage people not to be dumb and uncouth and to make fun of them when they are. McNabb’s solution, however, is to get athletes off of social media.

Athletes, especially football players, need social media in order to maintain relevance. There’s over 1700 players in the NFL and most won’t ever make an amount of money that remotely approaches what McNabb has made in his career. Other players need every ad dollar  and fan connection they can muster up. Social media doesn’t prevent players from commenting out of hand, nor should it. I mean, I personally enjoy the off the field entertainment.

This past month we’ve seen quite a few players spar with words. Namely, New York Giants’ Defensive End Osi Umenyiora and Philadelphia Eagles Running  Back LeSean McCoy as well as Chicago Bears Linebacker Brian Urlacher and Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Dhani Jones. In these exchanges, Umenyiora refused to acknowledge that he’d ever heard of McCoy choosing to refer to him as a woman and Urlacher stated that he hadn’t heard anything about Jones since the year they were both drafted.

I think McNabb’s position just further shows why his PR is so stinking bad. And he really could stand to lighten up.


Brian Urlacher Says Soldier Field is a Disaster and Other Quotes From This Week

Brian Urlacher Says Soldier Field is a Disaster

It’s no secret that the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field isin’t in good shape. You can even see how bad it is when watching on television as players dive into play action pieces of the field fly everywhere. Every now and then broadcast cameras will linger on a hole. But it’s still not often that you hear players talk about the field candidly.

“A disaster,” Urlacher said. “We complain about it all the time. I don’t know what’s wrong with our field. Every week they’ve resodded it. They had a soccer game there, or they had nine high school games in two days. It’s always something.

Ed Reed Says He will NOT have surgery on his neck.

“I don’t want to be like these guys having neck surgery, then you got to go have another surgery just to continue to play this game,” Reed told ESPN. “I love this game but I love myself more.”

Always tough to see such a great and consistent player suffer through injury. Ed Reed missed 8 games and still led the league in interceptions upon return.

Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith continue to take the battle rhetoric all the way down. They even appeared together in some show of symbolism however belated. I mean at this point we’re all burnt out on the lockout, and since it’s almost July, it’s kind of hard to get excited about rumors of a deal being done soon. But anyway, here’s your obligatory lockout update.

“Someone asked me whether I was optimist,” Smith said. “I think we’re both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know we’re talking about the right issues. And we’re working hard to get it done. It’s extremely complicated, it requires a lot of hard work by all the people, but we’re going to keep working at it.”

Falcons Wide Receiver Roddy White expressed a lot of confidence in the Falcons offense.

“He’s real coachable and he’s learning everyday,” White said of Jones during an interview with NFL Network. “[Our offense is] going to be special. It’s going to remind you of the Greatest Show on Turf. We’ve got a lot of explosive players and I see a lot more explosive plays coming out of our offense.”

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Falcons picking up Julio Jones when their defense is so sorely lacking. However, there is an argument to be made that Matt Ryan and Julio Jones could be one of the great QB/WR tandems of the future if he pans out the way the Falcons hope.

Still, they gave up a lot. And passed on Prince Amukamara the CB that went to the Giants already-stacked defense.




Devin Hester Writes Monthly Column About Fatherhood

I love to see dads share their thoughts on fatherhood, so I wanted to link you guys in case you’re interested too.

Starting this month, Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears is writing a monthly column on Fatherhood for the magazine and web site “Chicago Parent.”

I think it’s a cute article, but it wouldn’t hurt if whomever is helping him write would let it future posts loosen up the tone a bit. Still a great idea for Devin and a opportunity to see a player in a different light.

Check the article out here:



Kick Returners Complain About Kickoff Changes…And So Do I

Josh Cribbs still wants a chance to prove himself as a returner.

Placekickers just had their best week ever. Kick returners? Not so much.

Fans and players alike were looking for a break from the lockout talk and the NFL just gave it to them in the form of the latest rule changes. The NFL announced this week that kickoff will now take place at the 30 yard line instead of the 35 yard line. Touchbacks will remain at the 20 and coverage teams will get a 5 yard head start instead of a 10-15 yard head start.

What does this mean?

Less returns

Less injuries on returns

Less excitement

More touchbacks

Less excitement

Last season, with kickoffs taking place at the 30 yard line, there were 23 kickoff returns that resulted in a touchdown. The last time teams kicked off from the 35 yard line was 1993. That year there were four such returns.

I can’t boo loud enough!

Kickoff returns are one of my favorite parts of football. There’s just nothing like a an exciting return, especially to start a game. I’ve heard a lot of theories about why 26 teams would vote in favor of the rule change-everything from having to avoid paying returners to setting the stage for an 18 game season. All valid. But I think that the owners heard the phrase “prevent injuries” and knew they could go for it both for financial reasons as well as to appear sensitive to the safety issue-especially since they voted down increased protection for defenseless receivers at the same meeting (SIDE FUCKING EYE!).

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that I support anything that keeps the fellas on the field safer. But I really hate when practices are eliminated through the backdoor. In this case, the NFL isn’t really reducing injuries through modification, they’re doing so through elimination.  If the NFL wants to get rid of kickoff returns they should just do it rather than pretending there’s still a real choice for coaches and players.

Even the reduced lead time for coverage isn’t going to help returners enough to prevent their inevitable drift into never never land. One day I will tell my grandchildren about the spectacular kickoff returns I’ve seen. By then I’ll probably also have to explain to them that there used to be punt returns, sacks, and tackles too.

I’m exaggerating…slightly.

But I really am uncomfortable with the way that the rule changes that happen every year send different messages about the game’s direction.  Perhaps as soon as we’re done discussing the CBA there should be a general conversation about the future of the game.If kick off returns are so dangerous, is it possible that they may eliminate punt returns next? PLEASE GOD NO! Hi Roger! Let’s chat about this. Call me.

Seriously though, some teams have invested in their special teams (the Browns being one example as well as the Bears who both voted against the rule) and if we’re going to talk about finances, it might be good for owners to talk about where the game is going before making rules that negate investments some of them have already made. Part of being a good business owner is planning. ZING!

On another note, it bothers me that the NFL refused to release any data on this issue. Football players are injured on any time play action takes place. I couldn’t begin to take a guess about whether kick off returners are being injured more often on returns than in other times they’re on the field.

The most notable return injuries last season weren’t a result of velocity rather awkward tackling and illegal hits such as what happened to Dez Bryant and Ellis Hobbs. Kick off return injuries are also more memorable than other types of injuries and without data, how do we know the NFL isn’t scapegoating?

That being said, many injuries on kickoff happen to other players-not the returners. And even without numbers you can assume that there’s a health benefit to the rule change (reduce contact, reduce injury, 2+2 = 4 and other complicated things of that nature).

Predictably, kickers around the league went to bed while visions of touchbacks danced in their heads.

Graham Gano:

“On kickoffs you do see a lot of big plays, a lot of big hits, and a lot of big touchdowns. I think it will affect that a whole lot. You’re gonna see guys who don’t have a strong leg putting it in the end zone, getting touchbacks, so that’s going to take away chances to get big returns. For us I think it’s going to help us out a lot.”

Jay Feely

“Personally, I’m very happy about it. I think all the veteran kickers are happy about it. I do think it will definitely take some excitement out of the game. It eliminates good returns from guys like LaRod (Stephens-Howling), Devin Hester, Leon Washington.”

Speaking of Hester and Washington, they had plenty to say, so did Josh Cribbs.

Devin Hester

“They’ve gone too far. They’re taking the whole fun out of the game,” Hester said. “The fans come out, especially in Chicago, to see returns. That’s one of our key assets to our team. Fans love our big returns. Not only do they kick it out of bounds when it’s time to punt the ball. But now they get this advantage on kickoffs where we felt we were guaranteed a kickoff return. Now you’re taking that away from our return game. The return game is out of the picture.”

Leon Washington

Oh they hating on me man. Come on now. You know I don’t like the rule. I’m sure sure Brad Smith and Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs and the rest of those guys you know doing a good job returning the balls don’t like the rule. I mean it’s a part of the game that is really exciting. I think fans look forward to it because it’s an instant momentum change. You gotta think about it. It’s the first play of the game or the first play after halftime after the opposing teams scores, so it’s one of those things. I think the NFL is trying to figure out how can they minimize the injuries on the kickoff and kickoff return unit. Also like you said there might be some greed involved. I’m sure teams will try to adjust to it. I was telling my dad the other day you know it looks like there’s going to be a bunch of 109-yard kickoff returns because I plan on coming out of the end zone if that takes place.”

Josh Cribbs

“It’ll be a tremendous amount of touchbacks…They’re already kicking away from Devin Hester, myself, other guys and this will just make it over the top, like no kickoff returns.

“I guess I just have to get my punt game up until they change that. I just can’t fathom that other alternatives were not taken. What it does do is take a lot of the excitement out of the game, decreases the opportunity for guys like myself coming out of college to have an opportunity to play football because scouts won’t recruit guys like that anymore because they won’t need them.”

Just so you know, the Eagles, Browns, Jaguars, Bengals, Raiders, and Bears were the only teams to vote against the rule change.


New Years Resolutions Around the League

I know a lot of people don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions but I do. I made a list of things I want to change over the next year and decade. I think I did a really good job, so it follows that I’d make some resolutions for other people. To help out people in and around the NFL, I made a list of resolutions that I personally think others should make.

Roger Goodell - Begin to apply fines equitably across the league.

Donovan McNabb - Learn the difference between being professional and being a pushover.

James Harrison - Relearn the fundamentals of tackling.

Braylon Edwards - Utilize cabs.

Troy Polamalu - Put some bass in your voice.

Ryan Clark - Ignore the heckling on twitter.

Darren Sharper - Come to terms with being 35.

Brett Favre - Fall back in love with your wife Deanna.

Andy Reid - Resign.

Michael Vick - Spend money more wisely.

DeSean Jackson - Balance having fun with being professional.

Roddy White - Get media training.

Coy Wire, Cortland Finnegan - Hold a press conference announcing whether you’re black or white.

Rex Ryan - Put your face in the videos so that your wife isn’t the only one exposed.

Terrell Owens - Begin to take responsibility for your shortcomings.

Shawne Merriman - Sleep in a hyperbaric chamber and stretch before practice.

Maurice Jones-Drew, LaGarrette Blount, Michael Turner - Do side bends or situps, but please don’t lose that butt.

Eli Manning - Stand in the mirror and repeat “I am somebody” before leaving the house each day.

Jerry Jones - Consider the opinions of others.

Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, and Washington Redskins - Improve your  awful offensive lines.

Announcers, analysts, and media outlets — Stop mentioning dogfighting every time you mention Michael Vick.

Gus Johnson - Call more games of all kinds.

Bob Costas - Tone the dramatics down a notch.

Jon Gruden - Lobby for the HC gig in Cincy.

Collinsworth - Think before you speak and get some black friends.

Bob Papa - Point to Theisman and Millen and inform your bosses that you simply cannot work under these conditions.

NFLPA - Continue to make the NFLPA truly friendly toward the players and improve the information contained on the lockout site.

This is my quick list, but use the comments to tell other players, announcers, and NFL management and ownership what you think they should work on in 2011.


ESPN says Bears Need Moss…Chicago Tribune says HELL NO

ESPN’s Jon Greenberg makes the case for why the Bears should sign Moss right away.

Case, yes. Glowing endorsement…not quite. It’s a curious article to say the least.

Greenberg writes:

Is everyone caught up? Well good, now let me just get up on my soapbox and tell a professional football team ranked in the top 32 by Forbes Magazine how to handle its business.

Sign Randy Moss. Sign him tomorrow and pay him the $3.38 million he’s owed for the rest of the season. You can pay him in “straight cash homey,” his preferred method of paying fines, or you can pay him in unsold Jay Cutler jerseys.

The Bears have wasted money on lesser players. Orlando Pace made almost twice as much last year as a turnstile operator. Money should not be an object for this franchise.

Just pay him and play him.

Sure, Moss is on the downswing of his epic career, and yes, he’s not the friendliest of guys or the easiest to coach or the first to avoid annoying a traffic cop.

At this stage of his career, the 33-year-old Moss is no sure thing. The New England Patriotswouldn’t have gotten rid of him otherwise, and the Minnesota Vikings wouldn’t be putting him on waivers after he ripped the team just yesterday.

Greenberg goes on to list all the negatives with Moss (dropped balls, unhappy over future, stiffing the media etc.) and lists only one real positive-that he’d be the best receiver on the roster.

You know, I had a conversation with a guy at a sportsbar a few weeks back about “best” player vs. “most productive.” I will take a productive player over one that is considered to be the best any day. What does it mean to be one of the best receivers in the league or even the best receiver on a team if you’re leading the league in dropped passes?

With the overall sour mood in the Bears locker room do they really need Moss who has made it clear that he’s not just unhappy about where he is, he’s unhappy about where he’s not.

The Chicago Tribune says NO MAS to the Moss talk:

Before anybody near Lake Forest posts “GROW MOSS HERE,” signs outside 1000 Football Drive or prints “WE WANT RANDY,” T-shirts, no, Randy Moss makes no sense for the Bears to consider.

Unless you think a me-first quitter well past his prime helps the Bears’ playoff chances. I don’t. When I think of Moss, who was waived by the Vikings on Monday, I see Manny Ramirez in shoulder pads. The Bears need a spark, not an explosion; intensity more than a player prone to long spells of indifference.

Moss may fit in perfectly in the Bears media room with his insolence but not so wonderfully in any locker room. His moody temperament gave the Patriots justification to trade him and the Vikings reason to think they were better without him despite their 2-5 record.

He remains as divisive as he is dangerous at this stage of his career, a talented player with Pro Bowl skill but diva-like tendencies who makes the atmosphere heavier every time he walks into a room or huddle.

While we’re having an emotional moment (yes, every moment we talk about Moss is emotional) I really wonder what makes guys like Moss tick. Here you have a guy who has made a lot of money and gotten a lot of respect but for some reason cannot seem to focus on anything beyond the negative. I wonder if, in 10 years, when Moss looks back on his career will he regret some of the things he’s said and done, especially those things that have happened since he’s been old enough to know better.

This is like when Michael Jordan gave that bitter ass Hall of Fame speech…this is like Allen Iverson signing with a Turkish basketball team. By all accounts Vikes Coach Childress handled this situations 11,000 different types of wrong, but still this is not the way I like to see sports heroes behave. I mean…he asked himself questions and answered them at the podium………………………………………



In Defense of Thomas Jones–Former Falcon Jamal Anderson Makes the Case

Thomas Jones With the Dapper Look

This is the first post in my “In Defense of” series where I choose one player to defend against the criticism levied against them. Today’s post was inspired by a longer and better post by former Falcons running back Jamal Anderson.

In a world where T.O.s and Ochocincos rule the airwaves in more ways than one, we sometimes forget about the quiet warriors that take the field week after week during football season. Thomas Jones is one of those guys. After playing a key role in the  Chicago Bears’ 2007 march to the Super Bowl, Jones was steeped in a little bit of controversy.  He left lots of Chicago fans disappointed when he left the team and moved on to the Jets. in 2009, Jones found himself in a standoff with the always-interesting Coach Rex Ryan when he asked for a contract renegotiation after Ryan had made it clear that veterans would not be receiving extensions until their current contracts expired.

Now that Jones is playing for the Chiefs (he signed in March 2010), those days feel long gone. He’s productive and has quietly helped the Chiefs improve their offense by leaps and bounds.

Anderson covers Jones’ history in the league well:


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