DaBearsBlog wishes to extend Happy 21st Birthday wishes to Mad Max - one of the first to ever grace our site with his presence.
The Chicago Bears have announced that to celebrate the kid turning 21, they're offering him a 3-year 15 million dollar deal to be the next head coach.
Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are currently arguing over who gets the window seat in first class on the flight to Chicago.
Thomas Jones isn't stupid. He knows he's capable of being the starting running back for just about any team in the National Football League. He also knows that there are at least four teams that will actively be searching for a starter at the position: both New York teams, Houston, Detroit (where Kevin Jones is apparently out half of next season).
I think I understand the case for dealing him, especially coming off a brilliant postseason which put his value at an all-time high. But if the Bears are to make a mistake with Thomas Jones, it should be to extend his contract an additional two years with a significant signing bonus. A fumble and another injury on sports' biggest stage was enough to prove that putting this shaky Ron Turner monster on the shoulders of Cedric Benson might be the kind of error that slingshots a Super Bowl team out of the playoffs.
Peter King reported that in the second half of the Super Bowl, NFL Films captured TJ getting in Grossman's face with a repeated plea of "Come on, Rex! Make a play!" The Bears haven't had a more under appreciated player since Neal Anderson with even me calling for the guy to be benched twice this season. The time has come to put the criticism in our backpockets and open the check book.
It's this simple, Jerome Angelo. 20 has earned 32's contract and nobody - not the players, not the fans, the media - will criticize you for rewarding a darn good football player. Letting him go...that's another story.
Lovie Smith is being shown the love by the Chicago Bears. If by the love you mean the kind of love men show other men in prison showers. According to this story on ESPN.com, the sides aren't even close and both Lovie and his agent are resigned to being free agents come the end of the season.
I guess I'm supposed to give an opinion on the matter but the truth is I really don't give a shit. Lovie's done a fine job and I think he's a good football coach but this isn't exactly surprising. The Bears don't pay people. They never have. They never will. Should Lovie be the lowest paid head coach in football? Absolutely not. Should he be one of the highest? Jesus Christ no!
Think to yourself quickly. Name one moment in the last two seasons where you said to yourself, "That's damn good coaching." Still, you can't argue with results and the results are that Lovie Smith has won two division titles and brought this team to the Super Bowl.
I don't know. Maybe it's just me. I just can't get worked up about this whole thing.
We shouldn't pretend that the addition of Mike Brown and Tommie Harris will insert the 2007 Chicago Bears back into the Super Bowl. We shouldn't pretend that Peyton Manning's goalline to goalline dissection of the league's #2 defense was the product of shoddy Ron Rivera game-planning. Bob Babich (henceforth known on DaBlog as The Bich) has work to do and since I am so firmly in his camp and pro this hire, I'm taking it upon myself to lay out what will be expected of him in the coming year. It is a three-point stance.
MORE THAN FOUR
When the Bears have struggled in pass coverage it has been because of a near-arrogant reliance on their front four to get pressure. When the front four has struggled, they've refused to involve their fast and ferocious linebackers in the attack. This must change.
DEVELOP THE SAFETIES AGAINST THE RUSH
Mike Brown will be on IR by the first week in October so the Bears must concern themselves in this offseason with developing a player to fill that void. I think it can be Chris Harris - a big-time hitter - but he's been far too much a liability in the passing game.
Missing that many tackles on the biggest stage in sports can be humiliating for a group as proud as this Bears defense. In the parity-riddled NFL the Bears can't afford to start the season asleep at the wheel. Make them believe they're the best in the game because with Harris and Brown back, they are.
What is Ron Rivera thinking?
There are two reasons Rivera is no longer the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears. The first is money because the first is always money. The second is to gain experience with the 3-4 defense, the lack of which he believes cost him several head coaching opportunities.
I'm not going to get into the money issues because it is not my place to comment on what another man believes he is worth. I will only say that I support the Bears in refusing to pay a coordinator a million dollars a year. The 3-4 situation is just puzzling though.
Rivera wanted the Dallas and San Diego jobs but he didn't get them. Boo-hoo. That sucks. But taking a demotion in this league is paramount to career suicide. The NFL changes on a dime and for all the 3-4 jobs available this year, there'll be twice as many 4-3 jobs up next year. Why not continue to coordinate one of the two or three best defenses in football and throw your hat back into the ring next year when a Giants or a Jaguars or even a Bucs job might be available?
Rivera has been a good coordinator but by no means a great one. I hope the rumors are true and Bob Babich will become the new coordinator. Loyal readers will know I've spoken highly of Babich in the past. Either way this is a defense that springs from the head coach and we've got a good one.
ADDENDUM: Peter King reports for SI that this was a flat-out firing by the Bears. Lovie did not want Rivera back and this was not, in fact, Rivera's decision.
I walked into a pub yesterday afternoon to watch the Dayton 500. That's right, I said it. I'm coming around to this whole automobile racing thing. As I sat down, I took the Bears cap off my head and placed it on the cold oak bar. An elderly black man to my left turned to me as if placed on the stool by Mickey Spillane and said, "Must be proud to still be wearing the cap."
"I am proud," I said.
"I don't know from nothing but that's a good ballclub, the Bears. A good ballclub. Just need a quarterback."
"Same old story for us..."
He laughed. "That's right, that's right. Well you don't need me telling me you since you're wearing the cap and the game's already been played but you oughta be proud of that team there. I think they're going to win it all next year." He took a sip of his Jim Beam on the rocks. "If they get themselves a quarterback."
I bought him a drink. After all, he just put they (the Bears) and win it all in the same sentence. And the two of us watched a whole lotta cars drive fast and in a circle. Maybe, just maybe, the 2007 Chicago Bears will be world champions.
Brilliant move by Jerry Angelo and well-worth breaking my vacation for. He'll make 7.2 million this year. A few thoughts:
1. This doesn't mean a long-term deal is dead but it keeps Briggs off the market for 2007.
2. The Bears are now going to add Tommie Harris and Mike Brown to the entirety of the best defense in the conference.
3. This officially begins the 2007 season. So let's get focused and win the goddamn world championship.
Da Bears Blog goes on vacation this week. Not actually going anywhere but packing up my belongings and moving for the hallowed grounds of Brooklyn, New York. We'll return Monday with a gangbuster of a column, I promise.
Needless to say I have not taken defeat well and unfortunately - at least in my case - the little red laser is pointed directly at Rex Grossman's forehead. With every day that's gone by since the 4th I have become more enraged by his performance. I know there are many who support him and they have reason to do so. He's young. He won however many games this year. He's a tough kid with great potential.
But the Bears have too much talent on this roster to experiment another year with a young, immature player at quarterback. Do I want Rex cut? No. But I'm sick and tired of the excruciating mantra that drifts from Halas Hall like a downwind fart: Rex is our quarterback. No. Right now Rex is not your quarterback. He's certainly not mine. If #8 is the guy on opening day he better have earned it over the summer.
Because the blame isn't his anymore. If he fails this team and its fans again, the blame is placed squarely on the shoulders of Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith for allowing this nonsense to continue. When a player isn't great, it is on the player. When a player is allowed to be a perpetual letdown, it is on those allowing him to do so.
I want a battle in training camp. And I want Rex Grossman to lose. Like I said...I'm not taking this well at all.
See ya'll Monday.
Announcement. The Official Greatest Player in the History of Football According to DaBlog has moved to ESPN Radio. Be sure to check it out.
Going into 2007 the Bears may not have a more pressing need than getting younger on the offensive line. Here's a breakdown of the group:
Olin Kreutz, 29
Roberto Garza, 27
Fred Miller, 34
John Tait, 32
Terrence Metcalf, 29
John St. Clair, 29
Ruben Brown, 34 (free agent)
What should the Bears do?
Steinbach is going to elicit a great deal of interest from around the league as the Bengal is on the verge of being one of the best guards in football. He'll only be 27 when next season starts. For a team as far under the cap as the Bears, it's the best place for them to be spending money.
DRAFT, DRAFT, DRAFT
I haven't done the research yet but the Bears should take a significant look at offensive linemen in the first two rounds of this draft, especially with two tackles over 32 years old.
We have a great center, very good guards and pretty good tackles. Too often this season in critical spots was the permiter of our offensive line exposed. The Bears need to seriously evaluate whether John Tait can continue to handle the left tackle spot and whether Fred Miller's still a starting lineman in the league.
Final Thoughts: I'm still pissed we lost the Super Bowl. I'd like to add a mean streak to this unit.
Mike Downey in the Trib. Click on that and read it. Forget my rantings below.
Mike Downey, I thank you. You are the cool head of composure in the asylum.
I was pissed off yesterday. All day. And I woke up this morning pissed off.
2nd and 1. 2nd and 1 and Ron Turner says, "We knew if we got in that position we were going to take a shot." Did you? Did you, Ron? Had you not been watching the game? Had you not seen that your quarterback was completely overwhelmed by everything in front of him? How, in your infinite wisdom, can you say at that moment: WE'RE PUTTING THE GAME IN THIS KID'S HANDS.
For the second half of this season, Lovie and Ron have been on a mission to prove this kid can hold his own with the big boys. Guess what? He can't. Atleast not yet.
I don't wanna hear any of this Lovie Smith bullshit about this being a "running football team" next year because in the biggest moments of the biggest games, this coaching staff abandons the run. You were five points down in a game you had no business being five points down in. A first down in that situation gives your defense an additional five minutes rest. Two first downs gives you three points and puts Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter position of HAVING TO SCORE POINTS.
Instead you took a shot. You made the formal decision as a coaching staff to put the game in the hands of the worst player on the field Sunday. Say it out loud, Ron. "I made the decision to put the game in the hands of the worst player on the field Sunday." Now answer this: how do you still have a job?
A year ago, I harped on the need for the Chicago Bears to acquire a tight end in the draft and spent two days watching ESPN in April screaming, "How many fucking kick returners do we need?" (I mean, really, who drafts Devin Hester?)
Without further adieu...
SAY GOODBYE TO JUSTIN GAGE
There are very few players who've worn the burnt orange I hate more. He catches 10% of the balls that hit his hands and fumbles 90% of the balls he does catch. He's a liability on special teams. Farewell.
LEAVE THE OUTSIDE BOYS ALONE
Look at how this corps of receivers is built. They have a true #1 deep threat in Berrian. A veteran possession receiver in Moose. A playmaking slot guy in Rash. A fourth receiver with #1 talent in Bradley. This group has the ability to not only be successful but be one of the best units in the game. For the first time in 20 years, wide receiver is not a need for the Chicago Bears.
FIND A SPEEDY TIGHT END - MAYBE GREG OLSEN
The problem with the Bears tight ends is they're all the same player - good blockers with decent speed. Des Clark is a great blocker but he doesn't possess the kind of ability that scares defenses into protecting the middle of the field. A player like Miami's Greg Olsen may be avilable at the tail end of the first round.
Final Thoughts: The Bears need to solve the quarterbacking situation. Otherwise Midway, Pissed and I could be the wideouts and it wouldn't make a lick of difference. The tools are in place for a great passing game. Get someone to throw them the ball.
DECATUR, Ill. -- How do you spell Scott Wiese?
In a few weeks, that'd be P-e-y-t-o-n M-a-n-n-i-n-g.
Wiese, a die-hard fan of the Chicago Bears, signed a pledge in front of a crowd at a Decatur bar last Friday night that if the Bears lost Sunday's Super Bowl, he'd change his name to that of the man who led the Indianapolis Colts to victory.
Final score: Colts 29, Bears 17.
So Tuesday, Wiese went to the Macon County Courts Facility and started the process of changing his name.
"I made the bet, and now I've got to keep it," the 26-year-old Wiese said.
Wiese will have to advertise his intention in the local newspaper -- the Herald & Review -- for several weeks and then have a judge give him the OK to become, legally anyway, Peyton Manning.
The men have little in common, Wiese acknowledges.
Manning is 30 years old, stands 6-foot-5 and has a contract with the Colts worth more than $100 million.
Wiese is 5-foot-11 and works at an office-supply store for somewhat less.
"I think I kind of represent all Bears fans," he said. "Not that I'm saying they're all idiots like me, but I represent their passion because I really care about my team, you know?"
Once again, reminder to SIGN UP FOR THE EMAIL LIST. As much as you might think you love the Bears now, when Cubs/Sox pitchers and catchers report...your mind will wander.
After my contraversial four-point quarterback plan (If you didn't read the comments, you must. Pissed Off puts on a show), I now present my plan for the Chicago Bears backfield this offseason.
LEAVE THOMAS JONES WHERE HE IS
All Thomas Jones did was put the Bears offense on his back for the entirety of the postseason. Cedric Benson is a remarkable talent but he's also had two major injuries (I consider leaving a Super Bowl major). TJ is the offensive leader, a fiery dude who can look possessed at times. The Super Bowl proved on both sides how important it is in this league to have two quality runners. Don't let our best go anywhere.
DRAFT BRIAN LEONARD, RUTGERS
Get used to reading Brian Leonard's name on here, folks. If you don't know - I'll tell you. Leonard is the fullback Reggie Bush. He blocks as well as any player in this draft. He's got the physical power to be a short yardage back. His most remarkable asset? He's a fullback capable of going in motion and lining up at wide receiver. The biggest play of Rutgers' season came on a flanker screen to Leonard who took off down the sideline. He's a tough kid who was born to play in Chicago - a more versatile Matt Suhey. They say Leonard will be a second-round pick. I'd take him at the end of the first.
Final Thoughts: Why fix what ain't broke? Adding Leonard would simply give the Bears more options - something they desperately could have used a few days ago.
Coming Tomorrow: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
I couldn't help myself. I wanted to write a nice column about how much fun 2006 was but I just didn't have it in me. We're moving on. Charging forward. Marching toward Super Bowl Luckman in the desert sun.
I've read Peter King and heard the opinions of our faithful and here's my four-point plan for solving the quarterback dilemma.
DON'T EXTEND REX GROSSMAN
Rex didn't show up mentally for the biggest game of his life. He was jittery and careless with the football. Lovie Smith can give his ego a media handjob till the Packers win another title but Jerry Angelo has to know better. The last thing this organization can afford to do is reward Grossman - not after watching a coaching staff play keep away with their quarterback for an entire postseason.
CALL THE HOUSTON TEXANS
If King is right and Carr is available...see what it'll cost. Carr has a bigger arm than Grossman, can be a very accurate passer and isn't afraid to get yards by running the football. In Chicago he'd be so thrilled behind a good offensive line and running game, he'd thrive. There's another bonus that I'm surprised King didn't mention. Carr's number one target at Fresno State? Bernard Berrian.
UP FOR GRABS
I don't want to hear any bullshit from Smith about this job being Grossman's to lose in June. Enough. Whoever the quarterbacks are in camp - and that would include Kyle Orton - should have an equal shot of winning the job. Orton won't win it but I'd have won watching him try. This would also give DaBearsBlog.com something to write about all summer.
IF YOU SIGN DAMON HUARD OR JEFF GARCIA, I QUIT
If the idea is to bring in a steady veteran hand that won't lose football games, he's already on the roster. The only reason to bring another player into this situation is if you believe THAT player can make THAT throw to win the world championship. Neither of these guys can do it.
Final Thoughts: Get Carr but don't mortgage the future for him. Jerry's been such a terrific late round drafter so losing a second round pick might not mean much in the grand scheme. Carr's been behind one of the worst offensive lines in football his whole career and never had the running game he'd have here.
Maybe I haven't given the Super Bowl loss enough air time but I'm going to try and move on. Here's how we at da site are going to roll on through the offseason which - believe it or not - began yesterday. If you haven't already, PLEASE SIGN UP FOR THE EMAIL THING down below. There's going to be weeks where the Bears won't be on your mind and by signing up, the posts will get sent directly to you.
Unfortunately the posts won't be every day. Just have to re-focus some of my energy on my actual writing profession. But have no fear! They will be quite frequent.
This week I'll wrap up the 2006 season as poignantly as possible and give everyone a chance to put their own punctuation mark on what was an incredibly entertaining season of football.
Next week we'll begin the great offseason debate. Free agency, trade market, draft...etc. What do we need? How do we get it?
I'm also going to write reactions to a host of football stuff outside of Chicago. So if you're not just a Bears fan, but an NFL fan, this'll be a cool place to come for a second opinion.
The draft is April 28-29. I'm planning something but not sure what. Stay tuned.
So you tell me...what do you need from me this offseason? I want this site to be the place you go when you need a little Bears all year long. Tell me what you're looking for.
Put myself through the pain of watching the game a second time today. I have a lot of thoughts and I'm going to share them with you now.
1. Bears fans dominated the crowd - most people saying it was 75% us.
2. Thomas Jones continued to be brilliant in the postseason. How can they trade this guy?
3. Robbie Gould looked more comfortable and poised kicking in those conditions than Vinatieri did.
4. Devin Hester is hot shit.
1. Rex Grossman stinks. On that stupid 2nd and 1 call, all he had to do was throw the ball to his right - Jason McKie is standing right there. The worst thing that could have come from it: 3rd and 1.
2. Not exaggerating: the Bears missed 371 tackles.
3. I can't tell if Ron Rivera's defensive gameplan was arrogant or stupid. When all eleven defenders are retreating on every play, it makes being aggressive difficult. I've never seen this defense play so lazy.
4. I didn't have the notebook out but Phil Simms confirmed it on the telecast. When the Bears blitzed Peyton Manning, he looked rattled and rushed throws. So why did they blitz on about 4% of downs?
5. Hunter Hillenmeyer just missed another tackle.
6. Wait...maybe that was Danieal Manning. No...it was both.
7. I don't want to hear any bullshit about the snaps from Olin Kreutz. Both CBS replays clearly show the ball hit Moron McGee in the hands.
8. Remember the play where Grossman scrambled around, could have run for a first down but instead threw a flat-out psychotic pass to the Des Dispenser in double coverage. Yeah...Rex Grossman stinks.
9. Why even bother to dress a third and fourth receiver?
10. I read that a judge said Tank could play in the Super Bowl. Did he actually make the trip?
11. Ian Scott, welcome to free agency.
12. I guess Brad Maynard used up all his great kicks in the championship game.
13. Would somebody cover Joseph Addai coming out of the backfield? Please!
There's probably more. I'm tired.
For me, it all came down to one play. One play to encapsulate three quarters of offensive ineptitude that left a fan base reeling and a defense exhausted. Third quarter. Down five. 2nd and 1. Indianapolis 45 yard line. I said to myself, "Run, run, run. If you can't get a yard on three carries, you deserve to lose." Points of any kind - any kind - change the entire landscape of the game.
Instead? Ron Turner, saving his worst performance for the world to see, calls a deep drop. Rex is sacked for an eleven yard loss and anyone watching this ballgame knew the Bears had just been beaten. It doesn't take Columbo to discover how this guy went winless at the University of Illinois.
Oh yeah. And Grossman fumbled the next snap. But he recovered this one which is starting to become the barometer of success/failure for him. But how? How can a coaching staff watching the same game I was think it wise to put the game in Grossman's hands at that point? How can they not give the ball to Thomas Jones - the best running back in football this postseason? This self-proclaimed "running team" apparently left their identity on Rush Street.
It's the same old script, you see? In the brightest of lights. In the biggest of games. The Bears were out coached and out quarterbacked. You just start to wonder if they currently employ the answer to either issue.
Coming Tomorrow: I'm going to break down how we'll operate here at da site for the next couple months. Hopefully you'll all stick with us going forward.
This is the hardest thing I've ever written.
I love you all. What a wonderful season.
I'll write tomorrow and we'll talk.
I feel terrible. This was ours.
Sunday February 4th 2007
Today the Chicago Bears will play for the world championship of professional football. Today the burnt orange and navy blue will vie for their chance at NFL immortality. Tomorrow is tomorrow. Today is the day football fans dream about.
Bear down, Chicago Bears. Make us proud.
Bear down, Chicago Bears...
It is on the defensive line this Sunday. The push from the perimeter will be there from Brown, Ogunleye and Anderson but there must be presence up the middle from Tank, Ian and Israel. Allow Manning to step up and throw and we're in for a very long day. Tank Johnson as MVP...that'd really put a full dump in Jay Mariotti's shorts.
Make every play, clear the way to Victory...
When the throws are there to be made, Rex Grossman must make them. He doesn't need to be brilliant but he needs to be efficient. Every first down keeps PeyRod off the field.
Bear down Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly...
The Colts have not transformed though the world wants us all to believe they have. They have soft wide receivers and are undersized. Every catch they make, every gain on the ground...the Bears must hit them and hit them hard. If they want a loan from the Bank of the Middle of the Field, make them pay interest.
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation, with your T formation...
Benson and Jones must do their best impression of Taylor and Jones-Drew and Ron Turner must not make the mistakes of Herm Edwards and Brian Billick. The Colts defense is vulnerable on the edges and that is where the Bears must run, run, run. Wear the Colts down and the Bears can repeat their fourth quarter success of two weeks ago.
Bear Down, Chicago Bears. And let them know why you're wearing the crown...
Keep that chip on your shoulder. Play like your mama slapped you. Play like Daddy said you'll never be nothing. You deserve to be in this Super Bowl no matter what the pundits say. Play like it.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois...
I've never had more fun being a Bears fan. Arizona. Giants Stadium on Sunday night. Gould in OT. A snowy fourth quarter against the Saints. This has a been a brilliant season.
Chicago Bears, Bear Down!
One more game. Finish.
I don't have any idea how to behave this week. No clue.
1. My mailman comes into my office every day and says, "Mr. Bears." To which I usually respond with the number of days left till the game and he laughs. That's adequate, right?
2. I wear my Bears hat everywhere. A bird shit on it yesterday while I was walking up 8th Avenue and I literally started doing a happy dance because I've heard it's good luck.
3. People keep coming up to me because of the Bears hat and asking me "How do you think it'll go Sunday?" I never have an answer. Sometimes I give the jokey Bears 72-3. Sometimes I give the uber-humble I think we have a shot. But every time I hear the question I just want it to be Sunday at 6:24 pm.
4. I don't want to watch ESPN and its the only channel I watch. I want to listen to the national media cover the Bears as they play their biggest game in two decades but I end up getting pissed off at their coverage. Then I end up pacing all over the place.
5. As I walk around New York I catch myself giving fake radio interviews. It's sick. I'm crossing the street alone and pontificating about the Bears special teams except when I'm interviewing with ESPN Deportes where its the Bears equipo especiales.
6. I know how to brace myself for victories and defeats in the regular season. I even know how to do it for the playoffs. But the Super Bowl? How can you predict emotion for something like that?