That's your draft, ladies and gentlemen.
I have very high hopes for Dan Bazuin and Josh Beekman two or three years down the road. But when it comes to the Bears' quest for a championship in 2008, this weekend was about Greg Olsen.
The Bears now have two, young speedsters on the outside. They have a slot man who emerged in the postseason as a go-to threat. They have a seasoned veteran hungry for a title. They have arguably the best blocking tight end in the conference. Now they have THE GUY. Now they have the tight end that slides into the slot and forces defenses to change their allignments. Olsen threatens the middle of every defense in football.
Olsen makes Desmond Clark better.
Olsen makes Rex Grossman better.
Olsen makes the Bears better.
Has he picked a number yet? I got about seventy bucks burning a hole in my pocket.
Pleased with the selection of Beekman in the fourth, the Bears approached the secondary with their next two picks. Kevin Payne from Louisiana-Monroe and Corey Graham from New Hampshire. Don't forget that the Bears lost significant special teams contributors this offseason and Payne is certainly going to help fill that tank.
A buddy of mine defines Payne as an "Ed Gennero-like iron man." If you get the reference, then you belong on this website.
Strengths: A versatile prospect with experience at running back, wide receiver, free and strong safety, as well as punter and return specialist on special teams. Possesses adequate height and good bulk. He is a fluid athlete for his size. Fills hard versus the run and will throw his body around. He is tough and aggressive. Shows good initial power as a hitter. Pursuit angles and recognition skills continue to improve. He has a great work ethic and is the type that will do everything he can to contribute in different areas to earn his roster spot.
Weaknesses: Lacks ideal speed. Was able to overcome it at lower-level DI college but lack of acceleration will be a much bigger factor in the NFL. He lacks ideal experience at safety and still has much room to improve in terms of footwork and recognition skills. He also needs to do a better job of breaking down and wrapping up as a tackler in space. Lacks ideal mental capacity and there are some concerns regarding his potential to handle complex schemes and get his teammates lined up as a safety in the NFL.
Overall: Payne was redshirted in 2002. He then started all 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2003 at running back, carried 248 times for 976 yards (3.9 average) and six touchdowns, caught 41 passes for 488 yards (11.9 average) and three more scores, completed a 35-yard touchdown pass, was selected to the All-Sun Belt second team, and was named the conference's Freshman of the Year. In 2004, he played in eight of 11 games with seven starts before breaking his arm against North Texas which ended his season. For the year, Payne carried 74 times for 261 yards (3.5 yards) and two touchdowns, and caught 12 passes for 103 yards (8.6 average) and one more touchdown. He moved to safety during spring practice in 2005 and then started all 11 contests in the fall, earning second team All-Sun Belt honors, and recorded 87 total tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, and one forced fumble. In 2006, Payne amassed 98 total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, four interceptions, three pass breakups, and one forced fumble. During the 2005 and 2006 seasons, he also returned 24 kickoffs for 605 yards (25.2 average) and three punts for nine yards.
Payne is a versatile athlete with good size and toughness at the safety position. While he made strides as a senior, Payne still is a raw safety that must improve his tackling consistency and recognition skills in coverage. He also lacks ideal top-end speed, which limits his range. In our opinion, Payne is an intriguing developmental project worthy of consideration in the fourth-to-fifth round range.
Strengths: Shows good top-end speed and flashes the ability to run with most receivers. Shows good awareness, shows strong grasp of spacing and can cover a lot of ground in zone coverage. Plays with a mean streak, uses hands fairly well and can slow receivers down at the line of scrimmage. Possesses above-average size and doesn't shy away from contact. Reads quarterback's eyes, has strong hands and is a playmaker in coverage that can produce with the ball in hands. Times jumps well and is tall enough to compete for jump balls. Takes adequate pursuit angles, flashes the ability to slip blocks in space and plays with a non-stop motor. Reads blocks well, shows a second gear in the open field and is a dangerous return man.
Weaknesses: Takes too long to change directions, doesn't explode out of cuts and is more effective dropping into zone coverage than is matching up man-to-man. Appears stiff when forced to turn and run and has to get a good jam in at the line of scrimmage to hold own on an island. Takes too long to shed blocks and occasionally creates running lanes by running around blockers rather than stacking them up at the point of attack. Played at a small school and there is some concern about ability to make the jump to the NFL.
Overall: Graham saw action in nine games as a true freshman in 2003 eventually taking over as a starter due to injuries and collected 47 total tackles, and three interceptions. In 2004, he registered 110 total tackles, four interceptions including one returned for a touchdown, 17 passes defended, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Graham then earned second team All-Atlantic 10 honors in 2005 as a defensive back and kick returner after finishing with 104 total tackles, three interceptions, nine passes defended, and two fumble recoveries. In 2006, Graham started the first seven contests and collected 41 total tackles, two interceptions, and one pass defended before suffering a broken fibula that ended his season. Over the past three seasons, Graham has returned 65 kickoffs for 1,757 yards (27 average) and two touchdowns and he also returned 10 punts for 102 yards (10 average) and one touchdown in 2006.
Graham is a small-school prospect who lacks ideal agility but he can make an impact in the return game and there is a lot to like about his upside at corner. In fact, he has the size, speed and physical style of play to develop into a sub-package contributor in the right scheme. Graham projects as a second-day pick.
The Bears took Josh Beekman from Boston College with their first selection on day two. Scouts Inc. via ESPN has Beekman listed as one of the ten best prospects still available and the best guard overall. Here's the full evaluation from Scouts.
Strengths: Possesses excellent size. Is a thickly built mauling type of interior offensive lineman. Engulfs undersized defenders at the point of attack and can wear defenders down over the course of the game. Does a good job of locking onto the defender's frame, plays with a wide base and can sustain blocks. Takes good angles to blocks, plays under control in space and can get into position at the second level. Gets adequate knee bend in pass set and rarely gives ground to bull rushers. Shows good awareness, keeps head up and does an adequate job of picking up blitzes as well as line stunts. He has shown some versatility playing guard and center during his collegiate career.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have an explosive first step, doesn't show great footwork and is going to have problems preventing penetration working against one-gap defenders. Foot-speed is lacking, has problems redirecting inside after starting outside and is vulnerable to double moves. Doesn't deliver a violent initial punch, doesn't roll hips into blocks and isn't going to knock defenders back. Lacks ideal range, doesn't cover downfield well and may need to shed some weight in order to gain some quickness. Ideal playing weight is under 320 pounds, but he has ballooned to 340 at points during his collegiate career.
Overall: Beekman was redshirted in 2002. He saw action in all 13 games in 2003, was plugged into the starting lineup twice, and played on special teams registering two tackles. In 2004, Beekman took over as the starting right guard for the entire season (12 games). He once again started all 12 games at right guard in 2005. Beekman started all 13 games as a senior in 2006, 10 at guard and three at center.
Beekman is a far better run blocker than he is a pass blocker but he has the size, strength, toughness and balance to develop into an every-down starting offensive guard in the NFL. He also showed some versatility playing center as a senior. Beekman projects as one of the top-five offensive guard prospects in this year's class and should come off the board no later than the third round.
The knock on Olsen is his strength and blocking ability but the Bears won't need him to do those things. With Clark and Gilmore being terrific blockers, the Bears will ask Olsen to be a threat down the middle of the field. The kid is a statue and he's also fast as shit. While everyone else was talking about the Bears need at WR (something Pissed Off and I certainly don't agree with) the Bears strengthened the passing game by adding the player I think will be the most valuable pass catcher in the draft outside Calvin Johnson.
Like taking a hometown boy. The Bears needed to get a third body at the running back position and they did so by adding a guy with good speed and elusiveness as a compliment to downhill Cedric Benson. This season is about Grossman's progress and Benson's ability to shoulder the burden of thirty touches a game. If Benson goes down, look for Wolfe to play a major role.
DAN BAZUIN and MICHAEL OKWO
I couldn't know less about these two guys. Hope they pan out.
As for today, my good friends...
The Bears have five picks. Will they find a Mark Anderson? I doubt it. If I was Jerry Angelo, I'd draft the top offensive lineman on my board with every pick. If one pans out, you've had a great day two.
Detroit takes wide receiver.
Draft is boring the shit out me
Devin Hester appears in Madden commercial.
Anybody else think Devin Hester would be much better not speaking out loud? (6 PBRs are waiting to go down my throat)
GET UP THERE, BEARS! GET THAT SIXTH PICK! MAKE ME CRACK THAT FIRST PBR WITH PRIDE!
Bears pick in a couple hours. The NFC North is stocking offensive talent.
THE FIRST STUPID PICK OF THE DAY! TEDDY GINN!
Brady Quinn is now going to end up somewhere very interesting. Possibly Green Bay? Jacksonville? Carolina?
Here's the truth of the situation: Terry Shea masterminded this selection because Terry Shea is a fucking moron. And this pick could only have been made by a fucking moron.
Packers on the clock and Brady Quinn sitting there. Do they think Aaron's any good? They shouldn't because he's not. What happens here? If it is Greg Olsen...I won't care for that. I can see him catching touchdowns over the middle at Soldier.
Had four PBRs. Feeling good. Here's my opinion on the Brady Quinn drama. Maybe he just stinks. I hope the Bears take him to stir a nice debate on the site.
Nothing to add. Just getting a little more liquored up. Figured I'd say hello. Hi. How are you? Draft sucks. My white linebacker is still out there.
Quinn to Cleveland. They're going to be the consensus first round winner. Wait and see. Olsen still out there. Never assume the Bears will take a tight end when there's good kick returners on the board.
Cracked another PBR. Anybody else see Brady Quinn interviewed and wonder: (1) How big a douche is this guy? (2) Why is his girlfriend so average? I've had sexual relations with women more attractive.
Pats just took a thug. Why is it only okay when they do it? Sean Salisbury just said that it's okay he has a gun problem and an on-field fight problem because he never had either problem twice. You know who else never repeat offended? Hitler. He only committed genocide once. Does that make him okay, Sean? This just goes to prove once again that Sean Salisbury is the king of the douches. Why does ESPN continue to employ this jerkoff? PBR has brought out the anger, baby, I'm cooking with gas.
I have a growing problem.
I'm growing hungry. Greg Olsen keeps sliding down the board. I don't see him going to San Diego or New England or Baltimore. If New Orleans doesn't take him here, the Bears might grab him.
Okay, okay, okay...
Meachem goes to the Saints. Pats, Ravens, Chargers left. If Olsen is sitting there at 31, I emplore these Bears I love so much to take the man. Take the goddamn man. This team could find themselves in the dynamic position of being able to run two tight end sets. It'll open the entire middle of the field. This is a big talent I thought would be gone in the mid teens.
Pats trade off to Niners. Niners don't need tight end. Olsen will be on the board.
Penn State Paul and G-Reg on the board. Come on, San Diego. Stay out of the way.
Fucking Chargers are taking Olsen? Why the fuck would they do that? They have the best tight end in football? Son of a bitch.
Who is Craig Davis? I've never heard of him. OLSEN!!!!!
Take fucking Olsen.
Stop being dicks and take Olsen.
Son of a bitch! Way to go, Jerry! I love it..
BOYS AND MEGAN, DON'T FORGET. WE PICK AGAIN IN LIKE TWENTY MINUTES. STILL GOOD PLAYERS ON THE BOARD.
Penn State Paul needs to fall five spots. Five spots and he's ours. Detroit and Tampa don't feel like threats. Philly might be but they got Spikes. My two boys are Posluz and Leonard. If they grab one, I'm going to the biggest Jerry Angelo blowjob column of all time.
Branch gone. Good value for him in the early 2nd. My boys still out there.
Pos gone. Fuck me in the rear.
So I want Brian Leonard from Rutgers. That's who I want. And if Philly doesn't take him...I'd like him. That's 70 bucks, Jerry, for your organization. Because I'm buying the jersey.
Eagles make a dumb pick. Nice. Brian Leonard is fantastic. Take him here, Bears. Though there are some nice players on the board.
Traded out. Fucking douche.
Jerry Angelo flexes his genius cock.
He gets a 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 3rd next year.
The best move in the history of the draft.
I still can't get over what he collected for an early 2. I'm just sitting waiting for Brian Leonard to fall, fall, fall down the chart. Another telecast note: us in the NY area have to endure these stupid stop smoking ads. Is making people stop smoking really a big deal? People like smoking. Let them smoke. If they die...at least they did something they liked when they were alive. If no one did anyone that can kill them when they were alive, life would be a god damn convent.
God, the draft is exhausting. And booze...booze makes you drunk. And ladies and germs, I'm close.
Brian Leonard is a Ram. So I can't win em all.
No angry rant....
By the way, I'm here till the pick at 62 then I'm out for the night...which is even dumber.
Bears approaching. I'm now drinking screwdrivers because I ran out of PBR. 12 never enough. My typing: perfect.
As for funny: the Raiders acquired Mike Williams and Josh McCown today. My question: "Don't you have enough shitty players on offense?"
We're next. Don't know what we need.
We take Dan Bazzzwaoin.....
I've never heard of the guy. But he'll probably rock.
Love ya all.
NOTE: Tune in through the weekend for a running commentary on the Bears (and the rest of the NFC North) in this year's draft. Without further adieu, PISSED OFF weighs in...
Being there has been quite a bit of talk on this site as well as some national ones regarding the Bears drafting a WR with their first pick I wanted to get in on the action with my opinion, which after having read my blogs for the past few months, you all know is the right one.
Moose is still the same guy who led the NFL in TDs and yards 3 years ago. Three years from now, maybe even two, is when I start getting leery about his diminishing skills, but not now, not yet. It's our system, compared to what Carolina's system did, that isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t giving Moose the league leading numbers we want to see.
We need to face it that we will never have a system that produces the league's top WR. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry about Moose....if you put Chad Johnson or Marvin Harrison or anyone else in Moose's slot with the Bears they would have similar numbers....it's the system not the guy. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care if we had Jerry Rice in his prime, he wouldn't be a league leader in any category playing in this offense.
As Rex progresses, which to the dismay of many I of course think he will, the numbers will get better for our wide outs but still no where near league leading. Would I love for that to be proven wrong?......absolutely. I've said it before and I'll say it again; it was his first full season in the system (first full season period).
There is only one scenario where I would want us to use the first pick on a WR.....see below. Marty Booker or some other slappy retread is not the answer. I think we have a good group. I've stated my case for Moose, Rash will obviously improve over time, if Bradley stays healthy we have seen flashes of how good he can be, and Berrian is a speedster and a deep threat with great concentration and hands. We saw that amazing catch by Berrian in the playoffs against Seattle. Isn't is also great to think back to that handful of Berrian TD's that went for about 50 yards each.
Anyone can make a case for drafting a WR but I think we have more pressing needs. I'm not going to go thru them because we've all speculated the past three months about what we need or donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need and they're all valid points but wide out is not the most pressing, I can assure you. That being said, I am a firm believer in drafting the best available player in the first round for sure and maybe even second round depending on how deep the draft is. If the Brain Wizards think that guy is a WR, then so be it.
Saturday is going to be a great day!
Michael Balich presents his views on the sport we love.
It's no secret, I'm an avid Chicago Bears fan. I have a Chicago Bears ski cap from 1986. The little orange ball on top is missing. It still "fits" though (I had a big head...I was six in 1986). There's even a hole in it. One of my first memories is watching the Super Bowl shuffle. I have a picture of Walter Payton on my dresser. I live in Evansville, IN which means everyone and their brother jumped onto the Colts bandwagon last year. After the Bears lost, I still wore my Bears ski cap proudly. I have no qualms with supporting my team after a big loss following 21 years of not quite getting there. Yes, I realize that most years should be described differently than "not quite getting there", but I hope you can forgive my positive spin.
I must say though, that at some point soon, if the league keeps screwing up a perfectly good thing (namely, getting paid large sums of money for the potential of getting killed/paralyzed/knocked out/given a concussion) I'm going to quit watching in the near future. What is my beef? Most personal foul penalties.
It probably all started with the advent of the place kicker, but I have no qualms with getting rid of plainly dirty actions that add no value to the play. Face slaps and the like were just plain dirty. What I've grown quite tired of the past few years are the countless penalties which are called which do nothing but help the offense in the NFL's quest for making the NFL more like the AFL. What I'm talking about specifically are the following:
Roughing the Passer
Everyone familiar with the pump fake? It's a great play, the quarterback is so great on the run that he scares the defender by pretending he's going to throw the ball. Well, you know what, if you're going to allow the pump fake, you're going to have to allow at least two steps by the defender before he tackles the quarterback. A defender should not be afraid of getting a penalty called on him if he actually tackles the quarterback right after seemingly getting rid of the football. I say "seemingly" because how is the defender supposed to know in that split second whether or not the quarterback actually let the ball go? If the quarterback is that afraid of getting hurt, he should know when to throw the football. Or perhaps he could hit the weightroom and put on a few pounds of muscle. Quarterbacks used to be tough. Manning is the only tough QB I can think of, which sucks because I hate the Colts.
Extension of Roughing the Passer - The QB Slide
If a QB goes past the line of scrimmage, defenders should not be trying to figure out if he's going to slide or if he's making a cut. You all know the play I'm thinking about specifically in which Urlacher did not tackle my least favorite player of all time, Tom Brady. That was a proverbial difference maker in the game. The best LB in the league should not have THAT in the back of his mind. If the QB is allowed past the line of scrimmage, he should have to pay the price. I don't care that McMahon always got hurt, it was damned fun to watch.
I shouldn't even have to mention this one as we're talking about football, but I must. Ronnie Lott routinely lit up receivers coming into his area. If the receiver didn't know Lott was around he was creamed. I miss this type of play. If a guy is going up to try to catch the ball and you decide to play the body and the ball is just over the guy's head, it should not be a penalty. Put simply, a defensive player should never be penalized for executing a play where the offensive player puts HIM SELF into a bad position. If the ball is overthrown, you better look down and dodge the oncoming blow. I know Lott wasn't a Bear, but, needless to say, I wish he were...
Excessive Celebration (or whatever it is called)
Players should be allowed to do whatever the heck the crowd lets them get away with. If it is direct taunting of the other team, that is different. But if guys gather around and do a little dance, who gives a crap? Seriously. If you think the guy is an * sshole because of it, chances are, he probably is, and now that you know that, you won't feel so bad when the karmic retribution snaps their ACL in week 10. Of course, they could outlaw certain, just plain stupid celebrations like the NYG jump shot that the Bears inexplicably mocked them with, but then did the very same thing the following week. It was not a happy day for me.
"Late" Hit Out of Bounds
When a player gets near the out of bounds line, if his foot has not touched out of bounds, the play is still live. If there is a defender close enough to him to hit him while he is in the air, he should be punished for his transgression (as Walter Payton would put, for "dying easy"). The referee almost never spots the ball properly if someone jumps diagonally out of bounds. The ball should be placed where the ball is when the players foot touches out of bounds, not where the ball went out. This isn't golf. I really hope I'm not wrong in that remembrance of the rule, otherwise this whole section is pretty much a moot point. I can't really find a clarification to this, but I'm thinking this is correct. If not, let me know. In summary, if a runner has placed a foot on the ground out of bounds, he should not be hit, but if he's still in the air, he should be hit because the defender has a right to stop him from gaining yardage. Michael Vick and other players get near out of bounds and sometimes gain three extra yards because the defender is afraid of hitting them. This is complete crap. Michael Vick should be punished. Not for a transgression, just because.
Basically, penalties like this can change the outcome of the game and there is no reason for that, especially when the foul is marginal at best.
WILL THE BEARS BE BETTER OR WORSE IN 2007?
Everyone wants to wait for the draft to answer this. I'm going to go against conventional wisdom and say that it's NOT dependent on the draft. Why? Because I agree with Jeff - I think these dudes know what they are doing, and they are going to get us more studs, whether it be early, late or in between. And we're already stocked.
So here's my analysis, broken out by category.
O-LINE - Better, because we have the same guys and will be drafting a young stud with one of the higher picks. Plus Rex improving and adding a scrambling dimension will make them look better. (Argument for worse: Old guys just got older).
RECEIVERS - Better, because Berrian, Rashied and Bradley will all be a year more seasoned plus we're sure to add another through the draft. Plus they will benefit from Rex improving. (Argument for worse - if we don't draft a stud, old and getting tired Moose is one year older and tireder).
RUNNING BACKS - Worse, unfortunately. This is a projection but it's hard for me to imagine that Benson & AP can be as good as Benson and Jones were. Plus we'll be crossing fingers all year against injury. (Argument for better - as good as TJ was last year, he took carries away from Benson for much of the season. I do believe Benson is going to make the most of those additional carries this year).
TIGHT END/FULLBACK - Better, especially when Jerry drafts Greg Olsen and Brian Leonard. Seriously, though, a new tight end looks to be in the cards, and both these positions will benefit not only by better Rex but by better play-calling, which better f-ing happen next year. Ron T, you still here? We forget to fire you or something?
QUARTERBACK - Better. Rex's improvement in his second full season will make all other categories better on offense, AND on defense too as they get to stay off the field. He is the single most important factor as to why I think the Bears will be even better in 2007 than the glorious 2006 season.
D-LINE - Uncertain - Based on how Tommy recovers from his injury, whether Dusty is any good (think he will be), how the new Adams guy does in filling in for a missing Tank.
LINEBACKERS - Worse, unless Lance plays. No argument for better possible.
CORNERS - Same, unless Vash leaves before the season due to trade.
SAFETIES - Better, way better, with MB healthy and teamed with AA. No more needing to split hairs between B-team Chris Harris and B-team Todd Johnson. Two superstuds now in the backfield, countering the potential decline at linebacker. Plus may allow D. Manning to move to corner, thus bolstering them (at least the Bears have suggested this).
SPECIAL TEAMS - Same, which is to say, best in the league. Losses of some key special team players will be made up by BT (that's brain trust). Paging Mr. Hester!
COACHING - Better. Although we lost Ron Rivera, it won't make a difference, and Lovie is proving that he's learning from his mistakes. This year, the Lovie year, with all his guys and his long term visible sign of love and commitment given by the Bears, this is his year to shine, and he won't let his vaunted and becoming-legendary stubbornness derail him from the ultimate prize, even if it means changing up in the middle of the season.
So over all, I score it ---
That all adds up to BETTER IN 2007! Place your bets early folks, BEARS WIN SUPER BOWL XLII!!!
Thanks Jeff, you da man! If it's too long, send it back, crop it, whatever you want. Thanks for creating our home away from home. I can no longer live without it.
I realized this morning as I stared at Day 112 of my last post that I don't know anything about this draft. To be honest, I don't care. What is the draft? It is an excuse to drink for long hours at the end of April each year. You know what? That's not an excuse I needed.
And if the Bears have proven anything it's that they know more than me. Jerry Angelo has been the best late-round drafter in the NFL the last three years. He'll do the right thing and the Bears will come out fighting in September.
So today I offer YOU this website. If there's a column you've been itching to write, let us know. If there's a player in the draft you think we need to know more about, let us know. Between now and next Saturday - this space is yours. Just send an email to email@example.com and we'll set you up with your own column. Pissed Off, Midway, Phil...everybody. Take it over.
With the draft only two weeks away, today we begin to look at what this Bears team really needs. I say really because most of the analysis you read on ESPN.com or hear from Mel Kiper comes without any of those individuals watching a single team they're discussing on a day-to-day basis. Mel Kiper doesn't know Adrian Peterson's contribution on special teams. He knows Adrian Peterson's 40 time and his durability issues at Oklahoma.
Let's be very clear from the outset: the Bears have ONE need. One and one only. Depth on the offensive line and in the secondary are not needs, they're wants and good ones. A new quarterback isn't a need, it's a Chicago pipe dream that belongs in the The Iceman Cometh.
No, the only NEED the Bears have entering this draft is at linebacker - quite possibly the team's greatest strength in the 2006 season. Lance Briggs' potential holdout would lead to Leon Joe starting at linebacker.
There are some fine linebackers in this draft. Lawrence Timmons (Florida State) and Patrick Willis (Mississippi) being two of them. But the guy I like...
Paul Posluszny. Penn State. This would give us three white linebackers. That makes me laugh and would continue to do so all season long. He's that kind of all-hustle, all-workmanlike performer that just seems to look good in the burnt orange and navy blue.
I want Paul.
The schedule has been released for 2007. Here's a week-by-week analysis.
Week One - Sunday September 9th
at San Diego (4:15)
The single hardest game on the schedule is right up front. If the Bears can win on the road against the Vegas favorite to win it all, we might be looking at a second very special season. By the way, opening day at 4:15 sucks. (All times below given in EST)
Week Two - Sunday September 16th
vs. Kansas City (4:15)
The Bears home opener against a team they absolutely should beat.
Week Three - Sunday September 23rd
vs. Dallas (8:15)
The first of five primetime games on the season.
Week Four - Sunday September 30th
at Detroit (1:00)
It takes a month into the season to play at 1. Looks like the 2007 football season will be known as a season on the drink.
Week 5 - Sunday October 7th
at Green Bay (8:15)
Primetime at Lambeau against a rising Packers team with its one-last-hurrah quarterback.
Week 6 - Sunday October 14th
vs. Minnesota (1:00)
Week 7 - Sunday October 21st
at Philly (4:15)
Week 8 - Sunday October 28th
vs. Detroit (1:00)
Week 9 - Bye
This is a winnable stretch of games followed by the perfectly placed bye week. There's nothing like a bye right in the middle of the season.
Week 10 - Sunday November 11th
at Oakland (4:15)
If you don't beat Oakland with two weeks to prepare, you're a 5-11 team.
Week 11 - Sunday November 18th
at Seattle (8:15)
Week 12 - Sunday November 25th
vs. Denver (1:00)
Great game. Like having these guys and the Chiefs at home. Tough places to play.
Week 13 - Sunday December 2nd
vs. Giants (4:15)
Great game. Should be two playoff teams.
Week 14 - Thursday December 6th
at Washington (8:15)
Love the Thursday night game. Can't remember the last time the Bears played in one.
Week 15 - Monday December 17th
at Minnesota (8:30)
The Bears get almost two weeks to prepare for a huge division game. Thank you, schedule makers.
Week 16 - Sunday December 23rd
vs. Green Bay (1:00)
If this division is tight, everything will be decided in weeks 15 and 16.
Week 17 - Sunday December 30th
vs. New Orleans (1:00)
The Bears do not want this game to mean a single thing. Having to win against a young and hungry Saints team is a bad spot no matter where this game is played.
All in all....11-5
Sports and politics seem to be interlocked these days. Today I give you Mike Lupica's column on the Rutgers basketball / Don Imus contraversy. Lupica is, in my mind, the best sportswriter in this country and it is pieces like this that prove it. On Saturday, we'll start our countdown to the NFL Draft.
Their face of grace outshines vile insult
by Mike Lupica
Out of the thoughtless terrible comment that started it all, out of all the rhetoric of these past few days about Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team, even out of the general lousiness that so often dominates the airwaves these days, here were the women of that Rutgers team rising above it all yesterday.
They were not mean, they were not vengeful, they did not look to knock Imus dead in the public square. They wanted us to see exactly who had been insulted and how. This they did with great style. Even on television, it was thrilling to witness.
They were hurt by what Imus said on radio and television last Wednesday. So were their families and their friends and so was their school. Their coach, C. Vivian Stringer, was profoundly wounded, and profoundly offended. All the women who spoke yesterday spoke eloquently about how they were blindsided by this controversy, one that began the morning after they concluded their Cinderella run to the NCAA finals against Tennessee.
"We haven't done anything to deserve this," said Essence Carson, a basketball player and straight-A student and piano player and the star of this day.
Before that, Essence Carson talked about what Imus had said about her and her teammates, and about everything that has happened since.
"It has stolen a moment of pure grace from us," she said.
The moment of pure grace was Essence Carson of Paterson, N.J., who said at one point, "Before the student comes the daughter."
In so many ways, all ways, this young woman with such a wonderful name had gone to the essence of the whole matter in that moment. By saying what he said, Don Imus had not just insulted women in this fashion, he had insulted a bunch of wonderful kids. He hadn't gone after Al Gore or Dick Cheney this time, but people's daughters.
And still Essence Carson was better than the whole thing. We put her face and name on this finally. We did the same with Heather Zurich. And Kia Vaughn of the Bronx, who brought as much common sense as anybody to the occasion when she finally said, "This takes away from things we should be doing."
The kid was talking about going to class.
Stringer spoke passionately and powerfully yesterday before her players did, described those players as "young ladies [who] are the best this nation has to offer. ... God's representatives in every sense of the word." Stringer talked about her team's run to the Final Four in Cleveland, all the way to that last game against favored Tennessee, and then Stringer said, "And they came back to THIS."
The players were the victims. If they had decided not to meet with Don Imus, as he had requested, no one would have faulted them. But they did choose to meet with him. It doesn't mean they excuse what he said. It means they are fair.
Am I in any way defending what he said because he is my friend? Nobody is defending what he said about these young women, starting with Don Imus himself.
But do I think he is a racist? I do not. Do I think he should be fired for what he said? I do not. I have never believed in the media death penalty in cases like this. Rush Limbaugh is sure no friend of mine, but three years ago I wrote that it was dead wrong that he be forced to resign from ESPN because he said the media were going easy on Donovan McNabb because McNabb is black.
Imus is not Limbaugh, of course. Even when the subject is race, these cases are all different. Imus is not Al Campanis, who lost a proud baseball life because he went on "Nightline" and said blacks lacked the "necessities" to be baseball managers. Imus is not Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder, who lost his television career by saying blacks were bred to be better athletes, as if Margaret Mead had made those remarks instead of some bookmaker.
I hated when Ann Coulter called John Edwards a "faggot," and when she went out of her way to insult the widows of Sept. 11, but would never suggest she can't write books or columns. If the worst thing you do in public life becomes the last thing, then how did the Rev. Jesse Jackson survive "Hymietown" and how did the Rev. Al Sharpton survive Tawana Brawley?
Sharpton says he hates the hateful language of rap music, language about women and everything else. Does he think that the rappers should just be boycotted, or should they never be allowed to make another record?
We spent days listening to the debate about a proper punishment for Imus. But we needed to hear from the women of Rutgers basketball. There they were yesterday, asking where we go from here. "I would like to get [Imus] to get to know us," Kia Vaughn of the Bronx said.
We all got to know them yesterday. One week after the season of their lives for the women of Rutgers basketball, it turns out none of us knew how good they really were.
I like it when football means more than football. Bill Curry - a great player and coach - has written as thoughtful and terrific a eulogy as you're likely to ever read. I hope you enjoy it.
Compassion, optimism hallmarks of Robinson's life
by Bill Curry, special to ESPN.com
Eddie Robinson passed away Tuesday night, having lived in the shadows of the netherworld of racism for much of his life. Like all great leaders, he refused to be defined by external circumstances, deciding very early in life that he would be a positive human being. When he decided to express his gift by being a football coach, it was an eternal blessing to all of us drawn to the huddle. In this era of many claims and few results in the area of uniting disparate segments of society, Robinson used our sport to do precisely that, often under the most intense sort of scrutiny.
In 1941, he took his first and only head coaching job. It was at a place called Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute. In 1946, the school became Grambling College, and in 1976, Grambling State University, its present name. Through it all, the name of the head football coach remained consistent, as an unparalleled record of excellence was being lived out in the obscure rural academic community.
Much is being written and spoken about Robinson's stunning records and accomplishments today. Combine a football record of 408-165-15 with an 80 percent graduation rate and they are big numbers. Put them in perspective, comparing and contrasting their reality with the paltry offerings of us normal human beings, and they become virtually unimaginable. His endurance and consistency make his legacy the stuff of legitimate legend.
I was born on Oct. 21, 1942. Eddie Robinson was the coach of a school that would become Grambling State University. I grew up, went to school, graduated, spent 10 years as a player in the NFL, and then coached 22 years. When I was 54 years of age in 1996, I left coaching after 42 years as a full-time participant in the sport. Eddie Robinson was still the head coach at Grambling State University. A sport that had exhausted so many with its demands had only invigorated this great man.
In 1965, I reported to the Green Bay Packers as a raw rookie, a last-round draft choice, who had never been in a huddle with an African-American player. There I encountered Grambling product Willie Davis, defensive captain, All Pro, and future NFL Hall of Fame member. Davis simultaneously was working on his master's degree in business at the University of Chicago, thereby shattering every racist stereotype I had learned growing up in Georgia. I assumed that Davis and his black teammates would see me as a racist intruder, and that they would summarily reject me.
I could not have been more wrong. Davis became the encouragement I so desperately needed as he mirrored the leadership style of his college coach. He went out of his way to encourage, and as I watched him work, it became clear he was doing the same for most other teammates. Great football teams always have someone who can bridge the chasms we create with our biases and prejudices. Willie Davis was the best I ever saw at that unique style of leadership. Eddie Robinson had a great deal to do with teaching such compassion and community building.
In the early '50s, Robinson had the audacity to attend the convention of the all-white American Football Coaches' Association. According to his biographer Rich Lapchick, he thought very differently than most of us would have. As he walked into the auditorium and scanned the audience of famous big-time coaches, he began to calculate. He pondered, "I wonder how long it will take for me to become president of this organization?" It took only 25 years. In 1976, he became president of our most august coaches' organization, having won the universal respect of his peers across the nation. Nothing intimidated Eddie Robinson.
In 1986, I had the thrill of being invited to speak to the coaches' convention, held in New Orleans that year. I was overjoyed until I walked into the large room and saw who was seated in the front row. There, pencil and pad in hand, sat Eddie Robinson, staring intently into my eyes, waiting. I set a new world record for instant cottonmouth and had a hard time concentrating. Why would the greatest living coach show up to pay attention to a newcomer?
Afterward, I made my way through the crowd that always surrounded him at our meetings. When I stuck out my hand, told him how honored I was and asked him the obvious question, he gave his typical honest response. He smiled, and again fixed me with that powerful gaze, and enthused, "Why son, you brag on one of mine when you talk. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ That is why I showed up!" Sure enough, I had mentioned Willie Davis, and how he had changed my life. The coach's loyalty was as durable as his football tenacity.
Endurance, honorable intention toward all, a sense of personal destiny and the capacity to transcend society's foolish barriers are the hallmarks of Eddie Robinson. While we will miss his wonderful presence, we will continue to live in his glow through the lives of his pupils for generations to come.