Outside of the safety position, the most glaring need for the Chicago Bears comes in restructuring their offensive line. I use the word Ã¢â‚¬Å“restructuringÃ¢â‚¬? specifically because the offensive line does not require (a) wholesale changes or (b) minor tweaks.
Assuming the Bears make the intelligent decision and move John Tait back to his natural position of right tackle, then the right side of the offensive line is actually in pretty good shape with Kreutz-Garza-Tait. The left side of the line is an unmitigated disaster. How do we fix it?
This is where a more general question must be asked: how close are we to going back to the Super Bowl? If the organization believes a move or two can put us back in the mix, then free agency is rife with players who can step right in and make significant improvements. If they believe weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a year or two away, then spending money frivolously across the line would be a mistake. I'm a member of the former group, believing the last two weeks of the season to be more than an aberration, and seeing the offensive line as a perfect place to put this club over the top. How?
I know this kind of management makes salary cap experts urinate in their dungarees but the Bears HAVE THE MONEY TO DO THIS. I think the NFC is proving year-in-and-year-out that its anybody's ballgame and the Bears can take it over in 2008. They are twenty million dollars under the salary cap and there are no major factors at safety hitting the open market. Spend the money on a primary need and open the season like this:
It wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter who is running the ball. This offensive line wouldn't have a shelf life beyond two or three years but they could operate at an exceedingly high level during what I view as the Bears window for success, namely the prime years in the career of Brian Urlacher. Then again, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a believer in spending the money youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re allowed to spend. The McCaskeysÃ¢â‚¬Â¦not so much.
No team has ever been to back-to-back Super Bowls without a Hall of Fame quarterback. No team without Bill Parcells or Joe Gibbs has made it to multiple Super Bowls in five years without a Hall of Fame quarterback. It is the quarterback, stupid. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always been the quarterback. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll always be the quarterback. Especially in a football city thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spent a century looking for one.
EveryoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got an opinion. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mine.
RE-SIGN REX GROSSMAN
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a ton of faith in Rex GrossmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ability to lead the Bears over a prolonged period of time but the team would be well-served by an incentive-laden one or two-year deal with Sexy that would give him the time and opportunity to prove me and those like me wrong. Grossman isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t getting a big contract anywhere and isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t finding a more receptive offense to his talents. The job shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be his come camp, but he should have a chance to fight for it. (And I dare you to think of what youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll feel should Rex throw a few touchdowns for Miami or Baltimore next season. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll miss him. I know you will. So does Pissed Off.)
KYLE ORTON OVER BRIAN GRIESE
Brian Griese gives the Bears no better chance to win than KO so the Bears must stick with the younger and hotter hand. KO doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look quite like a number one in this league but he does look like a venerable backup, capable of winning every time he gets a start a la Steve Fuller.
BUT WHO HAS SHALL BE THE THREE?
This is where the questioning starts for me and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll rationalize my answers as such: the Bears must either add a quarterback ready to win it all now or a rookie they believe is the future of the franchise. The third spot can no longer be wasted on mediocre talents like Henry Burris.
The only veteran being mentioned that fits this bill is Donovan McNabb, a player I don't like. Great quarterbacks don't get traded while they're still great and I'd argue that McNabb's never been great. But guys like Derek Anderson couldn't interest me less. Why? Ask me again midway through 2008.
As for the rookie, I like Matt Ryan just fine. But I'm a Joe Flacco man. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what Dan Pompeii said about his Senior Bowl. (Just remember, folks, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been on Flacco since before most of you knew who he was.)
One of the big winners last week was Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco, who looked like the best passer in Mobile. One front-office man said Flacco has gone from a third-round pick to a high second-round pick, and it's even possible he could sneak into the first round. Flacco also may have passed Louisville's Brian Brohm as the second-ranked quarterback in the draft behind Matt Ryan of Boston College.
This is more than enough to get the ball rolling. Enjoy.
Hey all. I am returning to life slowly from a five-day disaster of the flu. We'll get back to the offseason analysis and even talk some Super Bowl next week.
As for now, I'm asking our valued readers what you think this site lacks or what you'd like to this side to add before the beginning of the 08-09 season (which officially begins on Draft Day). We're always looking to adapt and we'd love your thoughts.
Word to the wise: we're doing quarterback next. Look out.
Our fearless leader is sick, not sick like some of the comments posted by Mike (or whatever name he decides to use), but more flu sick and he's asked me to write something while he spends his day sipping 7-UP. At this point in the football season, the point where our favorite team is sitting at home, the only thing that peaks my interest is the talent on hand at the senior bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
There has been a lot of speculation regarding the quarterbacking situation around here and why shouldn't there be, this is the Chicago Bears we are talking about. Most of you level headed ladies and gents have come around to the realization that we really need to re-sign Rex. After showing what he was able to do coming back from his benching, and seeing what we have available in Orton, Griese, free agency and the draft, its obvious that we need this guy in 2008. I'm not going deep into it but free agency is not going to produce a QB that we can get or would want to get (P.J. Lohsman, I mean J.P., McNabb, Anderson, etc.) and drafting a guy means he needs to sit and learn for at least one full season. Our hands are a bit tied and they are really going to be tied if Rex entertains another offer.
That all being said, lets speculate. Our coach, Mr. Smith is in Mobile looking at the talent first hand. Here is a list of the QBs he's looking at: JOE FLACCO, 6-6, 235, Delaware CHAD HENNE, 6-2, 225, Michigan JOHN DAVID BOOTY, 6-3, 210, USC COLT BRENNAN, 6-2, 185, Hawaii ERIC AINGE, 6-6, 225, Tennessee ANDRE WOODSON, 6-4, 220, Kentucky.
We can all be pretty certain that O-line is the most pressing need on this team and I for one do not think that the brain trust will draft a QB (if they draft one at all) in the first 2 rounds. So which of these guys are even possibilities then? Which ones will fall to the later rounds. We know guys like Ryan and Brohm (who are not at the Senior Bowl) will not fall that far. There are several good articles including one from NFL.com that gives a good synopsis of each player if you want to check it out to help formulate an opinion. I will give you my thoughts later.
In the end, Brett Favre had every opportunity to lead the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl but Jay Mariotti's "greatest football player ever" did what he seems to always do in the big spot: he threw the ball to other team.
I won't lie. Having the Packers go to the Super Bowl and lose would have greatly diminished what we did a year ago. Having them lose today makes me feel warm and nice.
See ya'll tomorrow.
When you're evaluating an offseason, it's impossible to ignore a team's strength and the Bears have no greater strength than the tight end position. You could make the argument - and I do - that the Bears have better tight end depth than any other team in the league. Let's look at the three-headed, Tight End Attack (or TEA Time).
GREG OLSEN, the superstar. The Bears' most exciting presence not wearing #23, Olsen showed in spurts this season that he's going to be the finest offensive first round draft pick since Neal Anderson in 1986. That's twenty goddamn years. On top of Ron Turner's priority list this offseason should be developing schemes that involve a heavy-dose of G-Reg - a mismatch for any safety in football.
DESMOND "The Des Dispenser" CLARK, the stalwart. All Des Clark does is make big catches in big spots. Not only a weapon in the passing game, Clark's dynamic run blocking allows the Bears to spread out Olsen and forces safeties and linebackers to account for him at all times. Clark had one of the signature plays of 2007: a 39 yard completion from Rex Grossman to start overtime against the Denver Broncos to help cap the most exciting victory of the year.
JOHN GILMORE, the tight endzone. Gilmore is a rock of a blocker and a threat in the endzone. If you can find more exciting ways to write about the third tight end, you're a better man than I.
Jerry, leave it alone. Ron, use it. Most teams don't have one tight end that can put defenses in mismatch situations. The Bears have two. Desmond Clark's 44 catches are okay but Greg Olsen's 39 need to inch closer to 75 in 2008. Give this kid a chance to be a star and he will be.
Good work so far on the Skunk and the receiving corps. Feel free to go back to those posts and comment if you haven't weighed in yet. Now we'll move to the running backs, starting with the players already pretending to be professional ball carriers.
CEDRIC BENSON, the disappointment. For those hoping our third consecutive first-round running back bust to be cut this offseason, just keep hoping. Benson's already been paid a fortune and it's just not cost effective to release him now. The smart move: return Benson to his 2006 role - the late game muscle to wear down tired defenses.
ADRIAN PETERSON, suddenly expendable. Lovie Smith has said that we should expect Adrian Peterson to be on the roster as long as he's the head coach but Hungry Like the Wolfe's emergence as a third down threat has made AP rather expendable. He's proven he can't be a 25 carry-a-game guy so what purpose does he really serve? The smart move: try to deal him to Minnesota for a late-round draft pick so they can have both APs.
GARRETT "Hungry Like the" WOLFE, the diet Dave Meggett. Wolfe is not only a budding impact player but he's certainly a great return man option should the Skunk be shifted to an offense-heavy role. Wolfe's ability to take a screen play the distance is something this offense has lacked for many years and developing that part of the offensive scheme should be an offseason priority.
I think the Bears can add talent in a draft that has more talent at running back than anywhere else on the field - Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice...etc. There are three pro options that I find a bit intriguing, phrased here in the form of a question to start the debate going.
1. What is Michael Turner going to cost and is he worth it?
2. Julius Jones is unrestricted and Marion Barber is restricted. Should the Bears make a move for a Cowboy?
3. Can Justin Fargas continue to improve upon his terrific 2007 and be the every down back for a team desperate for one?
I'm not avoiding the quarterback position, folks, just saving it for later. Outside of safety, wide receiver might be the most pressing issue facing the Chicago Bears this offseason. Don't believe me? Look at the stable of horses this year.
BERNARD BERRIAN, free agent. With the Cowboys prematurely extending this past weekend's goat, Patty O'Crayton, B Squared quickly became the most coveted pass catcher on the open market. Jerry Angelo has hinted at using the franchise tag but Berrian has all but said he'd only want to return to the team if they solidify the quarterback position. Being that this is the Chicago Bears, that is certainly not happening.
MUHSIN MUHAMMAD, sucks. If Moose's name did not contain the "oo" sound, fans would be in an uproar over his complete lack of production over the last three seasons, coupled with his penchant for dropping passes in big spots. If Moose were to be released by the Bears there would certainly not be a breadline of NFL teams desperate for his services. I don't want him back but what's the alternative?
RASHIED KHALID DAVIS, free agent. Davis is a reliable possession receiver and a weapon on special teams who I'd put in the under-utilized column (with almost every other member of Ron Turner's offense). Maybe it's the poet in my heart but I'll never forget the throw-and-catch from Grossman to Rash in overtime of the 2006 Divisional round against Seattle which Joe Buck eloquently pronounced, "The biggest throw of Rex Grossman's career." I'd like him back.
MARK BRADLEY, enigma. I mention it often because I saw it live: Mark Bradley played like a top tier wideout during the Meadowlands Massacre of 2006. Against the Giants and Jets, Bradley replaced an ailing B Squared by dominating on the outside with a burst of speed shared only be Devin Hester on this team. There are a lot of questions surrounding Bradley's lack of development that has baffled the General Manager and fans alike.
MIKE HASS, unknown.
There are options, of course, though not many. (Chad Johnson is available if a team is willing to part with a second or third round pick for his services.) Here's my plan: (1) Keep Berrian. He's about to become a top flight player in this league and I'd hate to see that happen in another uniform. (2) Cut Moose and wait for a late spring cut of a veteran wideout who can catch. (3) Re-sign Davis, if only for his value on the best special teams in the NFL.
Today we begin a position-by-position offseason breakdown that should continue through the Super Bowl. Here's the only ground rule: keep the comments ON SUBJECT. We're going to hit every single aspect of this football team and there will be time to weigh-in on all things Chicago Bears. I understand that analysis of one position may crossover with another but I don't want every post to end up resulting in an unwinnable quarterbacks debate.
Today we're starting not with a position but with a player: Devin Hester. Hester transcends the Bears organization as their most dynamic and inspiring talent. His use has become the subject of great conversation. When Dan Pompei of the Trib asked Jerry Angelo about an increased offensive role, here was Angelo's response:
I would think we would increase his role. It's how we're going to do it. How many times do we want to get his hands on the ball, in what capacities? Do you want to keep him as your punt and kickoff returner? Can you play him as a full-time wide receiver and returner? If we don't feel he can do that, we might have to cut his numbers as a returner and increase his play time as a wide receiver. These are the things we have to talk about. We need to have a really good plan for Devin.
QUESTION ONE: Should Devin Hester become a major factor in the 2008 offensive scheme?
QUESTION TWO: Should that role lead to a decrease in his special teams reps?
QUESTION THREE: What - in your opinion - is the perfect role for the Skunk?
Get it started. I'll join you below.
Sunday the San Diego Chargers performed one of the greatest heists in the history of the National Football League: they stole the crown jewel of the 2007 season. They robbed us all of not only the best rivalry in football but the best rivalry in all sports, anywhere. We wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get Patriots v. Colts. We wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get Tom Brady v. Peyton Manning, the quintessential sports debate of this era. Peter King subtitled his Monday Morning Quarterback column as Observations from a nearly perfect NFL weekend. Peter should know better.
And letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s be honest. The Chargers make it very difficult to root against the New England Patriot quest for perfection. Philip Rivers shatters the glass on the douchebag-o-meter. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a mediocre player that talks like a star and acts like Ryan Leaf. Shaun Phillips celebrated a sack on a botched Peyton Manning handoff as if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d plowed through Anthony Munoz to make the play. We had an opportunity to see World Champions as underdogs and instead weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re left with a two-touchdown point spread that will only grow as the week continues.
So what can we hope for now? Patriots 45. Packers 10.
On Sunday the New York Giants will travel to Lambeau Field and lose a heartbreaker to the Green Bay Packers, sending the cheese to the Super Bowl. It is another one of the 2007 season's disturbing sucker punches to the Bears faithful who actually believed the last two years happened. Who were we kidding? The Chicago Bears will officially vacate the position of NFC Champions Sunday and they'll be putting this year's green jacket on Green Bay.
The two weeks that follow will be some of the most unbearable in the history of humans. Brett Favre top tens on Sportscenter, Brett Favre covers of Sports Illustrated, Brett Favre Inside the Actor's Studio, Brett Favre wins the Republican primary in South Carolina...etc. Pay attention. Watch every second. TIVO or DVR or pop in a cassette tape and record every moment. Just hope Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith are doing the same thing. Let it be a reminder that where there's a quarterback, there's a way. And even though I've got a lot of problems with the media coverage of Brett Favre, there's no doubting he's one hell of a quarterback.
Oh yes, folks, Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers are going to the Super Bowl. God help us all. As for the Bears, we'll start a position-by-position breakdown this week.
After last week's sweep of the Wildcard round, I return to the National Football League with a swagger usually reserved for gunslingers and those guys Chris Hansen catches on To Catch a Predator. We'll start breaking the Bears' offseason plans down position-by-position next week.
Seattle +7.5 OVER GREEN BAY
Somebody always gets picked off in this round and I think it's happening at Lambeau. (Full disclosure: I'm a Chicago Bears fans and I believe the Packers to be worthless turds.) Seattle isn't running the ball well but their defense has peaked at the perfect time, mustering a ferocious pass rush. You beat the Favre underneath stuff with good man coverage and great linebacker play. The Seahawks have a resurgent Marcus Trufant and - in my mind - the best linebacking corps in the NFL right now. Seattle 26, Green Bay 23
NEW ENGLAND -13 OVER Jacksonville
I was fully prepared to come out of last weekend on the Jacksonville Jaguars bandwagon but instead I lost all faith in two of their most valuable commodities: coach and quarterback. Jack Del Rio looked lost in the second half as he abandoned his running game, recklessly challenged calls and managed the clock as if the only voice in his headset was Herm Edwards. Del Rio put a lead on the arm of David Garrard who illustrated with great gusto how inept he can be as a passer. They still have a formidable run game but you're not beating the league's best team without making plays downfield. This might look like a ballgame early but it won't end that way. New England 41, Jacksonville 20
INDIANAPOLIS -8 over San Diego
Somehow I've started to hate Philip Rivers. Not dislike. Hate. Not since the heyday of Chris Hovan has such a mediocre football player received so much face time. The Chargers looked far too excited to beat an overmatched and injury-ridden Tennessee Titan team but its time to play the varsity now. Indy has been happy to stand off to the side and listen to the world wax poetic on the undefeated Pats. I think they make a statement Sunday and set up the best football game in years. Indianapolis 37, San Diego 13
New York Giants +7.5 over DALLAS
There's no TO and rumors of a Terry Glenn sighting. Romo has looked like Eli and Eli has looked like Romo. Nobody can block the Giants front four. Nobody can block Demarcus Ware. Roy Williams is going to the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl? Roy Williams is quickly climbing the list of the most overrated athletes in human history. All I know is these two teams have played twice and both times there were a lot of points scored. I'll cautiously take the home team. Dallas 38, New York 31
There will be eight teams playing football next weekend. Eight teams that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t include the fallen-from-grace Chicago Bears. Each of those 8 teams offers a lesson for an organization that can not afford to lose more than it wins in 2008. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll start from the bottom up.
NEW YORK GIANTS
You win football games on the line of scrimmage. The Giants have arguably the best defensive front four in the game and their o-line is the unsung hero of their team, leading a terrific running game and giving Eli tons of time to throw the ball to the other team. They lost center Shaun OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Hara to injury but had the depth not to miss a beat.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
You can always get better. As the Chargers seemed to be limping their way to a division title, GM A.J. Smith made the move of the regular season: acquiring Chris Chambers. After Antonio GatesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ injury Sunday, Chambers showed heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still a star. They Charges moving on to Indianapolis Sunday had a lot to do with that movie.
Sometimes you have to say good-bye. The Seahawks let Steve Hutchinson go in a much-ballyhooed contract debate with the Minnesota Vikings. They werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happy about it then but results are results. They havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t missed the playoffs since and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been able to add Peterson, Kerney and Branch with that money. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m picking them to win in Green Bay.
You need two solid running backs to be a running football team. Then again, we had already learned this lesson, hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t we? When did we forget it?
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Great quarterbacks are still greats quarterbackÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
...and sometimes you have to grow great quarterbacks.
The Cover-2Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s success relies on a great safety. Indianapolis has Bob Sanders to prevent big plays in both the run and pass games. The Bears can blame whoever they want for their defensive collapses (Adam Archuleta anyone?) but if they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sure up the safety spot, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll face the same fate in 2008.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Not winning it all is not winning it all. Faced with the devastation of losing the (gasp!) AFC Championship game, the Pats went out and created the best receiving corps in football from scratch. Why? Because they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have good enough receivers last year to win it all. The Bears also didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t win it all. Where did they upgrade?
Very special thanks to Brad Biggs for this very thorough breakdown of the Bears cap situation heading into the offseason.
Money to $pend
by Brad Biggs, Chicago Sun-Times
Moving into an offseason that is as critical as it is uncertain, one of the Bears' strengths is their health in terms of the salary cap.
Armed with more than $20 million in available cap room, it's liable to be more a question of cash in the budget than space under the cap when it comes to the organization doing as it wants. That's an enormous amount of room, and it can grow depending on how the roster is handled before the beginning of the league year in March.
General manager Jerry Angelo has been careful in seeing that the Bears don't pay for current success by borrowing too far into the future when it comes to the cap. Combine solid drafting on defense, identifying young talent for early contracts and shrewd cap management by contact negotiator Cliff Stein, and the books add up nicely for the Bears.
''We're fine,'' Angelo said. ''It's just the course that we want to go -- how we want to allocate our money -- really not knowing what the marketplace is going to be. We are entering into a new marketplace with the [cap headed to $116 million]. I think that's why you didn't see a lot of extensions throughout the league.
''We'll be very competitive in those areas. And there might be a situation where we do have the resources -- I'm talking about the money in hand -- but we just choose not to do it because we just don't feel that it's in our best interest. We have to place a value on a player in terms of what our marketplace is for him as well.''
Before we look ahead, here's an analysis of the team's top 15 cap figures for the season, which accounted for more than $65 million of their 2007 cap under the unadjusted $109 million limit. Note: These numbers are individual cap figures for '07, not what the player was paid.
1. LB Lance Briggs, $7,206,000: Franchise player earned a big payday for the first time in his career and wants more. The Bears will have to outpay the marketplace for his services. He already turned down a big-money offer and wants out of the shadow of Brian Urlacher.
2. LB Brian Urlacher, $5,850,510: Played like he was worth every penny in games down the stretch. If he can vie for defensive player of the year honors next season at 30, the defense easily will be back in the top 10.
3. C Olin Kreutz, $5,666,670: Six-time Pro Bowl center is the captain of a line in transition. Curiously, Angelo made reference to the center-quarterback exchange in his news conference Thursday, which seems irrelevant to team's current position.
4. DE Adewale Ogunleye, $5,563,055: Coming off his best season with the Bears, he was likely the most consistent player on defense and just about a bargain at this price relative to his production.
5. CB Charles Tillman, $5,432,386: New deal secured Tillman for the long term. He played well in a secondary that was otherwise nothing but musical chairs. A building block moving forward.
6. S Adam Archuleta, $5,098,600: The good news, if coach Lovie Smith wants to keep him, is that the Bears already have given him the bulk of his money. Second time in two years with two teams he really struggled.
7. LT John Tait, $5,000,000: Sure, he might wind up back on the right side, but ankle injuries made the season trying for Tait, who has been a good soldier. He's making what veterans command at left tackle.
8. RT Fred Miller, $4,704,560: A huge drop-off in performance makes Miller's future iffy. It's hard to imagine they would bring him back at anywhere near this price.
9. CB Ricky Manning Jr., $3,365,000: Fell out of favor with the coaching staff and remained at his nickel spot even when he was needed as a starter.
10. S Mike Brown, $3,156,666: Earned his salary based on years served, not performance, after another injury-ruined season. If he's back, look for the club to seek protection.
11. RB Cedric Benson, $3,133,680: Bears are unwilling at this point to admit missing with the No. 4 pick from 2005. This represents a fraction of the $13.8 million he has pocketed so far.
12. WR Muhsin Muhammad, $3,119,080: Combination of age, production and salary might put him in line for a restructuring.
13. CB Nathan Vasher, $2,868,726: Got a true sense of his value during the second game against the Vikings. Figure is likely to go up based on new contract.
14. DT Tommie Harris, $2,650,450: After the dust settles from free agency, it will be interesting to see how the Bears proceed with the three-time Pro Bowl performer who was dominating on a bad left leg at the end of the season.
15. QB Brian Griese, $2,500,000: It's a fair price for a backup with experience. Unfair has been the treatment he has been subjected to around here.
I've pretty much determined that the Pain Scale (1-10) is going to be in the 8-9 range when it comes to watching the NFC playoffs going forward. It's been two years since the Bears weren't involved in this process and having seen them lose to Seattle, Dallas, the Giants and Redskins - none making much of an impression - I think I'll find other things to do.
Anyway, here's my guess as to who's going to win and by how much.
SEATTLE -3.5 OVER Washington
I know Joe Gibbs used to be a great coach. I know Sean Taylor used to be alive. I know the Redskins are the hot team heading into the NFC postseason. But look at the coach/quarterback combinations they've beaten down the stretch: Grossman, Griese/Lovie, Eli/Coughlin, Tarvaris/Childress, Brad Johnson/Wade Phillips. Now everybody at once: relax. They are on the road, an entire nation away against the conference's best coach and best quarterback. Seattle 31, Washington 15.
Jacksonville -1.5 over PITTSBURGH
I almost like this game too much. I've never seen a team not only run the ball as efficiently as the Jags but also hit so many home runs on the ground. Every time you look up, Fred Taylor is going 70 yards and MJD is scoring touchdowns. Hey Lovie, if you wanna run off the bus, this is how you build a team. The more I see this pair work, the more I think Thomas Jones was a greedy prick who didn't know how good he had it. He will when he's out of the league and forgotten in a couple years. Jacksonville 16, Pittsburgh 10
New York Giants +3 over TAMPA BAY
This is about as interesting a sporting event as The Music of Seal on Ice (which was on NBC a few days ago). I love Tampa Bay sat out December like they'd sewn up the one seed. Hey Tampa, you stinky. The Giants stink too but they'll stink less this weekend. New York 24, Tampa Bay 23
SAN DIEGO -8.5 OVER Tennessee
Who do we start at quarterback: the washed up alcoholic white guy or Kordell Stewart II? Oh yeah, this will end well for Jeff Fisher. San Diego 30, Tennessee 9
The first move of the 2007 offseason is a simple one. It doesn't involve the devastating cap value of Lance Briggs. It doesn't involve the Bernard Berrian is-he-or-isn't-he-a-number-one question. It doesn't involve the quarterback (thank God). No, the first move of this offseason is much simpler than all that: re-sign Brendon Ayanbadejo.
I've been trying to find a way to convey what he means to this organization but I'll just let him do it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If I do leave, whatever team does want me the most, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll never amount to the achievements and success that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had in Chicago being that we scored seven special-teams touchdowns this year...Just to do the things that we do on special teams and dominate games and control games, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think any other team will have the ability to do that regardless of if IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m on the team or not.Ã¢â‚¬?
The Bears can't afford to sacrifice their game-altering special teams, even in attempts to strengthen other units. Ayanbadejo is second only to Hester in importance. Keeping him isn't a luxury. It's a necessity.