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Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by short faced bear, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach DBS Writer

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    By Brad Biggs
    Tribune reporter

    12:31 p.m. CST, November 14, 2013
    The mailbag was overflowing this week with questions about the Chicago Bears possibly pursuing cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha now that Charles Tillman will miss the remainder of the regular season. There was also an abundance of questions about the team bringing in Ed Reed following his exit from the Texans. Then, there were questions about the Bears signing Asomugha AND Reed to bolster the secondary. So, what’s the deal?

    I would be surprised if the Bears had interest in Asomugha at this point. He has been on the street since since the 49ers waived him Nov. 4. The Bears are not the only team in need of some help at cornerback. Teams try to stockpile cornerbacks like defensive linemen because it is a passing league and a defense can’t have enough good players to rush the passer and cover downfield. Asomugha, 32, was a shell of his former self with the 49ers and, for that matter, in the time he spent with the Eagles. But the biggest reason why the Bears will not go after Asomugha, in my opinion, is he is a man-to-man cornerback. The Bears, as well all know, run a Cover-2 base defense. Asomugha wouldn’t be a fit for the Bears because he doesn’t have interest in playing in this scheme. Teams he would fit apparently don’t have interest in him either at this point.

    As far as Reed, who Thursday signed with the Jets, the scouts I have talked to say he was pretty much done last season in Baltimore. The Texans added Reed, a likely future Hall of Famer, hoping he could bring a veteran presence and maybe make a few plays. Reed wasn’t making any plays and when he popped off about Wade Phillips’ defense, that was the final straw for a disappointing Houston team. But this was a football move above all else. Reed doesn’t seem to have much if anything left in the tank at this point. The Bears signed veteran Derrick Martin on Wednesday. I highly doubt Asomugha will be in play even if other injuries necessitate future moves.

    This may be sacrilege considering the Bears' sorry quarterback history but should they think about letting Jay Cutler walk in free agency? Regardless of how talented Cutler is, he's showing himself to be injury-prone in addition to his concussion history, and he's still too inconsistent when he is healthy. While he isn't as talented, Josh McCown seems to thrive in Marc Trestman's offense, so they could re-sign him to be the starter, sign a new backup and draft somebody to groom in the system for the future. Then, since McCown would cost much less than Cutler, the Bears could use the money saved on the quarterback position to help re-sign or replace some of the defensive players who are coming out of contract. Your thoughts? – Brian, Vernon Hills, Ill.

    The best answer I can provide for this is it’s premature to make a conclusion on what will happen with Cutler. When general manager Phil Emery and his front office staff get together with the coaching staff at the end of the season and plot a course for 2014 and beyond, they do so with the entire 2013 season in review. What if McCown bombs out Sunday against the Ravens and in any more starts he has this season while Cutler is on the sideline? What if the 2014 quarterback draft class isn’t quite as stocked as some believe it will be? There are a lot of variables in play here and seven games is a lot of material to review.

    My opinion is the decision on Cutler and the future should be based on one question: Is he a quarterback with whom the Bears believe they can win a Super Bowl. Period. Now, there is a lot that goes into that. Former general manager Jerry Angelo emphatically believed Cutler was the missing piece when he swung the blockbuster trade for him on April 2, 1999. The Bears have not gotten there yet and they’ve been close only once. Emery, Trestman and others need to make a determination, in my mind, if Cutler is the player to guide the Bears there. If he is, a long-term contract is in order. If not, the more time the Bears spend with Cutler, the longer they delay the process of finding the quarterback that is the one to take the team to that level. There are so many layers to this. Production. Durability. Coachability. Leadership. To a degree, Cutler has left a trail of ex-personnel men and ex-coaches in his wake at Halas Hall as the team has failed to produce. He’s 1-7 as a starter against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers is signed through 2019. Through the first six starts this season, before his groin injury at Washington, he looked good in Trestman’s offense. The coach has called him the most gifted passer he has ever worked with on multiple occasions. Emery has referred to Cutler as a “franchise” quarterback before. The proof will be in the team’s actions at the end of the season. Let’s see how the next seven games play out.

    It seemed pretty obvious that Jay Cutler couldn't perform effectively early in the second half against the Lions. I've heard some arguments that even in his hobbled state, Cutler made throws that Josh McCown couldn't, and maybe that's true. But it still seems like his lower body injuries took away more than what his raw arm strength could make up for. If you're in Marc Trestman's shoes, when do you pull Cutler from the game? -- Ryan T.

    This has been a hotly debated question all week and Trestman has taken plenty of criticism for sticking with Cutler until the final possession. Here is what I know: The medical staff on the sideline determined that Cutler was not in a position where he could do further harm to himself. If he was, the doctors and trainers would have alerted Trestman to remove the quarterback from the game. Why? Because no trainer or doctor is going to put himself in a position to be fired for allowing the quarterback to play longer than he should. It was evident as the fourth quarter unfolded that Cutler wasn’t able to do some of the things he needed to in terms of moving in the pocket. As I’ve written already this week, I thought Trestman’s decisions with two chances for a two-point conversion were more bothersome than rolling with Cutler as long as he did. Cutler is the starter and if Trestman is told he’s OK to play, he’s going to play him. But the pass with heavy personnel on the field that was well covered by the Lions and then the running play to Matt Forte that was blown up, those were poor calls. Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham did a better job at that juncture of the game with strategy than Trestman. That, in my opinion, was a bigger shortcoming because despite sticking with Cutler as long as the Bears did, they were in position to force overtime.

    I love Robbie Gould. He is hands down the best kicker the Bears have ever had. But he is terrible at the onside kick. When the Bears line up, I realize they have virtually no chance of recovering. I know the percentages for success is low but most of his kicks are not even contested – one Sunday hop right to someone and it’s over. I know he works hard as I see him on the field very early before games. Why can’t he get the same kind of English as most of the other kickers in the league can? Also, how long has it been since the Bears have been successful at one? -- Randy, Clarendon Hills

    The last successful onside kick for the Bears was Sept. 29, 2003, when Ahmad Merritt recovered a Paul Edinger kick in the first game at the renovated Soldier Field. It didn’t make a difference as the Packers won 38-23. Criticism of Gould has popped up this season because he’s been forced to attempt four onside kicks, all unsuccessful, and is now 0 for 12 over the course of his career. But the odds of a successful onside kick when the opponent knows it is coming are slim. We’re talking Hail Mary slim. The percentages for a surprise onside kick are not bad. Some suggest it is close to 50 percent and the Packers hit the Bears for one with Mason Crosby two weeks ago. But I have to ask this: Would you rather have the most accurate active kicker in the league in terms of field goals or a kicker that might be able to generate a high hop a little more consistently on an onside kick? It’s a gadget play and the percentages are very low. Some kickers have the ability to control the ball well off a high hop. The longer the ball is in the air, the more time the coverage team has to get downfield and even out the numbers in a fight for the ball. Special teams coordinators were regularly in fear of Joe Nedney, who could generate a very high hop on an onside kicks. According to Pro Football Reference, Nedney executed eight successful onside kicks in his career but it was the element of surprise that made him to so good. That, and his ability to make his onside kick approach look like a normal kickoff. It’s like a pitcher’s delivery for a changeup mirroring his fastball.

    “It’s a constant lobbying effort on my part to get them to call it,” Nedney told the New York Times during his playing days. “The kick itself is easy to execute. The biggest challenge is you have to make sure it’s being done at a time of the game when it’s least expected. There used to be times when you wouldn’t expect something like that to happen.”

    Nedney credited Olindo Mare, who the Bears used to replace an injured Gould late last season, for leading him to work on the craft after he saw Mare execute consecutive onside kicks. Both were surprise moves.

    NFL rules have changed, too, so a kicking team cannot overload one side of the field with eight players. But it’s a numbers game. The opponent would then put that many players on that side of the field to match up. It comes down to matchups. Sometimes, special teams coordinators will look to pick on a rookie that might not be as poised to handle the situation. If a team is overloading the outside, kickers will try dribbling the ball up the middle as Gould has.

    I think the view of Gould as an onside kick specialist might be different if he was given some chances to surprise the opponent. That being said, it’s a little unfair to criticize him because his job is to make field goals and he’s as good as anyone at that – 16 for 17 this season (tied for sixth in the NFL for the best percentage). He also has 25 touchbacks, tied for 14th in the NFL. That puts him on pace for 44 touchbacks, which would be a career best.

    I realize the main question on most readers' minds concerns Jay Cutler's status after the season. I had this offbeat thought/prediction and wanted you to tell me if it's viable or totally off base. Trestman seems to like a "game-managing," veteran quarterback, rather than a big-armed "gunslinger" like Cutler -- he helped take Rich Gannon from obscurity to the MVP of the league. If I understand it correctly, if the Texans cut Matt Schaub after the season, they'll save a boatload of money. Schaub, despite his awful start to this season, seems to be a much better fit for what Trestman likes to do than Cutler. And Schaub and Houston seem ready to part ways. It could be one of those things where all he needs is a change of scenery. So the Bears let Cutler walk, then when/if the Texans cut Schaub, they pounce. I'm one of those who likes Cutler and thinks he is the best quarterback the Bears have had in years, so this isn't something I want to happen. It's just a thought that popped in my head when I read that a couple "experts" felt Schaub was most likely on his way out of Houston. Tell me if this is totally crazy, or might it actually make some sense. -- Mark M., Schaumburg

    Schaub has had some successful seasons with the Texans, posting a 19-7 record as a starter in 2011 and 2012. He’s 32 and still might have some fine football ahead of him but was downright awful earlier this season before making his way to the bench. Let’s keep in mind that the Bears’ coaching staff might not be a quick fix for Schaub, who has been working with some pretty respected offensive coaches in Houston. I can’t envision Schaub being a Plan A for the Bears in the event they plan to move on from Cutler, who has also had a fine record as the starter of the Bears. I think Trestman is like most offensive coaches. He wants to work with the most physically gifted players at each position. Trestman and Gannon have a close relationship and Gannon really values the work Trestman did with him. Gannon’s career took off with the Raiders under Jon Gruden beginning in 1999, two years before Trestman arrived to Oakland as an assistant. Gannon was the MVP in 2002 at age 37. A change of scenery would likely do Schaub some good but if the Bears move on from Cutler, I think it needs to be with the plan of identifying a young quarterback for the future.

    Even if the bears keep Jay Cutler, do you anticipate them drafting a quarterback in the early rounds? -- @FacingRyan from Twitter

    This seems like a good idea. The question is what quarterback and in what round. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a quarterback in the first round if the right player is on the board when the Bears select. Even if it’s a player that needs a year or two to grow, general manager Phil Emery realizes the significance of the position. But what I don’t see happening is a trade up in the first round to select a passer. That would compromise Emery’s ability to restock a defense in major need of young talent. Emery could still draft defense in Rounds 2 through 5 if he drafted a quarterback in Round 1. But if he had to package multiple picks to move up to draft a quarterback in the first round, that would delay a comprehensive rebuilding of the defense until 2015, in my opinion.

    Do you have a feel for what they are looking for at TE? Seems Tony Scheffler would be an upgrade over Dante Rosario as a No. 2 at any rate. -- @GrizzlyKurt from Twitter

    The Bears had Scheffler in for a look after he was released by the Lions and brought in Zach Miller (not the Seahawks veteran) earlier this week. With only two tight ends on the 53-man roster, I think they are doing due diligence to see what is available in the event a need arises. The Bears are comfortable right now with Eben Britton playing some tight end in the scheme. Scheffler isn’t as good blocking as Rosario and certainly would not be able to play on special teams in the same way. Although, Rosario didn’t look very good allowing a blocked punt at Green Bay. It’s my hunch the moves to look at Scheffler and Miller are efforts to stay prepared and keep an emergency list current. I don’t foresee an imminent move at this position but I could be wrong. If the Bears really liked Scheffler, they probably would have signed him when he was in.

    What defensive players do you consider priorities for the Bears to re-sign in the coming offseason? -- @Kieran_murphy92 from Twitter

    Just like I said with Cutler above, I think it’s a matter of watching the rest of the season play out. Cornerback Tim Jennings is a good fit moving forward, especially if there isn’t a plan to change the defensive scheme. Linebacker James Anderson has been solid but not spectacular. Defensive tackle Henry Melton could come at a bit of a discount considering his rehabilitation from a torn ACL and there is a definite need for moves on the defensive line. Corey Wootton is a young player who has versatility and could figure into the future. The Bears might want to bring Charles Tillman back if the cornerback has a price range in mind that matches what the team is willing to play. There are a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of these moves will be connected. If they don’t make Plan A happen, it affects Plan B, etc. General manager Phil Emery needs to provide an infusion of talent via the draft that is ready to step in and contribute right away. That is the biggest need, in my opinion. Not all of these veterans are going to return and after free agency settles, we’ll get a better picture of what positions will be targeted via the draft.

    What is the word on Lance Briggs? Any closer to possible return? -- @TheReal_LowKey from Twitter

    Briggs’ timetable after he was injured at Washington was four to six weeks for a return and I believe the team was on the far side of that timetable. We’re talking about a broken bone and that prevents him from doing some of the aggressive rehabilitation techniques that Jay Cutler was able to use to return from the groin injury. I would guess Briggs is out for at least the next two games. But we’ll see what shakes out.

    Can you give a percentage of the chances Jay Ratliff signs long term if he plays well? Or are there a number of factors? -- @TheGodfathertwo from Twitter

    No one can determine what Ratliff’s value is for 2014 and beyond until he gets back on the field. It has been a year this week since he last played in a game for the Cowboys. Ratliff is 32 and has a lot of mileage on him. The Bears signed him for the stretch run with hopes he can help him for this season. Ratliff wants to prove to them – and the rest of the NFL – that still has some good ball left in him. If he plays well, perhaps the Bears would get the first crack at bringing him back because they gave him an opportunity this season. But unrestricted free agency is a two-way street. I don’t think he will be a priority given his age but let’s see what he does when he gets back on the field. He’s yet to even practice for the Bears.

    What are the chances Major Wright gets demoted and Craig Steltz starts? -- @Legacy91 from Twitter

    I explored this topic two weeks ago and Marc Trestman made it clear he wanted to continue forward with Wright and Chris Conte as the team’s starters. I didn’t think Wright was particularly bad against the Lions. He didn’t make a lot of big plays but also didn’t have any big breakdowns, in my opinion.

    Given his size and athleticism, why have the Bears not utilized Martellus Bennett more in the red zone? -- @steveoatms from Twitter

    Bennett got off to a fast start this season with three touchdowns in the first two games, including two against the Vikings. He’s had just once since against the Redskins. The Bears have been pretty decent in the red zone, scoring 20 touchdowns on 34 red-zone opportunities. At 58.8 percent, that ranks 10th in the league. Keep in mind there are plenty of big, athletic targets to choose from. Let’s look at the numbers:

    Martellus Bennett: 19-yard line and in: 7 catches for 55 yards, 4 touchdowns 10-yard line and in: 3 catches for 16 yards, 3 touchdowns.

    Brandon Marshall: 19-yard line and in: 8 catches for 64 yards, 5 touchdowns 10-yard line and in: 2 catches for 5 yards, 2 touchdowns.

    Alshon Jeffery: 19-yard line and in: 4 catches for 28 yards, 3 touchdowns 10-yard line and in: 2 catches for 9 yards, 2 touchdowns.

    Earl Bennett: 19-yard line and in: 2 catches for 27 yards, 2 touchdowns 10-yard line and in: 0 catches.

    Matt Forte: 19-yard line and in: 5 catches for 30 yards 10-yard line and in: 1 catch for 3 yards.

    Keep in mind the interception Jay Cutler threw in the end zone against the Lions was intended for Martellus Bennett. He’s getting looks in the red zone and the Bears have three big targets to utilize.

    What happened to that UFA center who was doing well in camp? Did he catch on somewhere else or is he walking the street? -- @p_grauer from Twitter

    Taylor Boggs is on the roster and has been active for every game. He’s a developmental player looking toward the future but I would not be surprised if the Bears went to veteran Roberto Garza for a one-year deal after this season.

    Do you see C.J. Wilson coming back to the squad? -- @jakemcgill from Twitter


    Wilson would have been a candidate to be promoted this week to take the place of Charles Tillman but the club went outside and brought in Derrick Martin. Wilson has a lot of speed and will need to refine his game in the offseason and next summer.

    I'm really intrigued in Michael Ford. You think he will ever get a touch on offense this year? -- @imjoshkidding from Twitter

    It’s something you can’t rule out. Ford was a physical runner in preseason but I would be surprised if he projected to be more than a backup in the future. Ford has been active for five games this season as a special teams player. His opportunity could come after this season if the Bears choose not to pay Michael Bush $2.8 million next year.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sport...lbag-brad-biggs-20131114,0,1753340,full.story
  2. Henry Burris

    Henry Burris Head Coach

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    Release Cutler, and sign Schaub. Let your starting QB go for someone who's got deeper flaws in his game, doesn't know the system, and is AT LEAST as injury prone. If that line of reasoning makes sense, I suggest you put down the bath salts and try watching a game of football once in a while.
    • Winner Winner x 1
  3. Henry Burris

    Henry Burris Head Coach

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    Also, here's Pompeii's mailbag:

    RT @benyamen are the Bears more likely to go FA or draft to replace Tillman?… My answer:

    Assuming Tillman is gone and Zack Bowman is not his permanent replacement (let's see how he plays), the Bears are likely to try to sign a free agent corner, assuming the market is appealing. Why? Phil Emery knows the best way to go into the draft is with no gaping holes on your roster, so you can be more reactive to the board and taking the best available player. If the Bears went into the draft with no starting cornerback on their depth chart, they would be a slave to the position. That isn't to say they won't draft a cornerback, however. They very well could. However, my friends in scouting circles are telling me it's an awful draft class for cornerbacks. All the more reason to make sure the Bears get a veteran.
  4. MPbears68

    MPbears68 Pro-Bowler

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    Lol, yeah Cutler >> Schaub. MS looked decent only because last two years he had an elite D and elite running game. His done as a de facto 1st stringer IMO no matter where he ends up.

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