The Tribune picked up a story from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune regarding your favorite retired quarterback's possible return to the National Football League in his third laundry in three years. Normally I'd regard a report like this as simple media speculation, except for Favre's comments:
"Nothing has changed. At this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football."Brett Favre was a somebody on the football field, even when he was throwing away the Jets' season in 2008. When somebodies retire, specifically pseudo-greats like Favre, what keeps them alive is the organization wherein they found greatness. Paul O'Neill sits in the Yankee broadcast booth. Nolan Ryan is president of the Texas Rangers. And every NBA legend knows that their appearance at a home game will yield a rousing standing ovation. Men like this are defined by the games they play. Everything else is secondary.
Favre doesn't have that. In fact he has the opposite of that. Now he finds himself in an athletic purgatory; trapped between the legacies of former successes and recent ineptitude. (Though I would argue that most of those successes came with their share of ineptitude.) Does Minnesota have faith in the Tarvaris/Sage combo? Does Dan Snyder believe one year of Favre is worth more than one of Jason Campbell? Does Josh McD try to rescue an awful off-season with Captain Wrangler? All I know is that Favre is back. (This means that if you value your sanity you should turn off ESPN now and leave it off until September.)
And I understand that some will say, "Stop writing about Favre." I say, "Shut up." Brett Favre is the number one villain of the Chicago Bears for the last two decades and if this were DaSupermanBlog and Lex Luther were planning a comeback, we'd certainly cover it. Plus, having Favre return and play for the Vikings would have a two-pronged, positive effect at Halas Hall. He stinks, so we'd get to beat the division champ twice. We'd also get to watch #4, in purple, stand on the other side of the field at Lambeau. A poetic image to be cherished for all time.
1. It is a success if either Jarron Gilbert or Henry Melton is a productive part of the defensive line rotation when the Bears open the season in Green Bay.
2. It is a failure if Juaquin Iglesias spends a year learning all the positions and catching no passes. This kid, simply by being drafting in the third round, is now the fifth receiver on the depth chart. That puts him on the active roster, barring any free agent signings before camp.
3. Jerry Angelo's failed attempt to acquire Anquan Boldin on Saturday should send a signal to Bears' fans: Angelo's turned a corner. With the Giants and Eagles and Titans drafting wide receivers in the first round, the Bears are now among only a handful of clubs (Jets, Ravens) still in the running for AB. Call me crazy but I don't think this deal is dead and I think we can still get him prior to the summer. It may require creating another boring draft weekend in 2010.
4. Johnny Knox's official nickname is Jackass. Nothing else will be accepted on this website.
ADDENDUM 4/28 - From David Haugh's column: I like that Jay Cutler sent a text message to new wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias within hours of the Bears taking Iglesias in the third round, reaching out to establish immediate rapport. It won't make Iglesias any easier to find on third downs or hasten his way into the WR rotation, but it meant something to the rookie. "[Cutler] texted me and I feel good about it already," Iglesias told his hometown paper, the Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald. "I'm just ready to get there and start doing my job."
Rick Gosselin is the best football writer in the country. He wrote the following on Monday:
The defensive board in this draft is subpar and the line board is a cut below that. The quality runs thin. This is one of the smaller, slower boards I've ever researched. I'm not sure I've ever seen so many 6-2, 4.80 pass rushers in a single draft.
So the NFL has been scouting a little harder, digging a little deeper this winter and spring trying to manufacture some defensive linemen worth drafting in 2009. One of the beneficiaries could be Henry Melton of Texas. He's a late-comer at the position, which is why he wasn't invited to the NFL scouting combine.
Melton was recruited by Texas as a running back and spent his first two seasons there, rushing for 10 touchdowns as a freshman and six more as a sophomore. But the Longhorns moved him to defensive end his junior season in 2007 and Melton spent most of that fall on special teams. But he moved into the starting lineup as a senior in 2008 and contributed 29 tackles to the nation's third-ranked run defense. He also collected four sacks on his way to honorable mention All-Big 12 acclaim.
Melton is one of the few ends on this draft board with both size (6-3, 272) and speed (4.65 40). Because of his inexperience at the position, the NFL thinks he has a tremendous upside. The Grapevine product is rising on this draft board by the day.
Okay kids, here's how it will work this year. As we head into the weekend, we're going to separate the contest into two parts. Part one will be guessing correctly who the Bears will select with their only day one choice. Everyone who gets that choice right will have the opportunity to guess the Sunday choices. The most correct Sunday selections will get the opportunity to write a Wednesday column for the main page, analyzing the Bears' draft.
For the sake of debate, I'll give you the five players I expect to be high on the list at #49.
(5) Who the hell knows?
(4) Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma
(3) Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
(2) Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
(1) Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State
Post your picks below and I'll be back when the selection is made or if anything important happens.
First it was Chad Ocho Cinco. Then it was Anquan Boldin. Now - according to PFT - the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants are doing the Pennsylvania Polka (not a real dance) around a possible trade for Braylon Edwards. According to Sal Paolantonio the Giants refuse to offer more than a second and fifth-round draft pick for the player and the Browns are holding out for more.
I say offer more. Not a lot more. But a little more. A second and a fourth, maybe? In case you haven't noticed, I don't put a lot of a stock in the Bears' ability to draft offensive talent (specifically at the receiver spot). Braylon Edwards has flaws, mainly in the drops department, but he's also capable of being a 75-90 catch guy with Jay Cutler at quarterback. (In 2007, with Derek Anderson, he had 80 catches, 1289 yards and 16 touchdowns.)
If the Chicago Bears think they can win a championship in 2009 and are willing to put all their chips on the table (I hate poker metaphors too), this is the kind of move they need to make. With Holt off the board and Boldin out of their reach, the Bears can not rely on Earl Bennett or Brian Robiskie to frighten defensive coordinators around the league.
I'm not saying the Bears can't win without a viable number one man on the outside. I am saying that having a viable number one man on the outside makes them the surefire favorite to win the NFC North. Braylon Edwards can be that man.
I scanned Sports Illustrated's website this morning and found that apparently the stories on Jay Cutler's nightlife have national traction. Most of you know that I've developed a staunch policy against writing about off-field issues, as I find a majority of them to be media-manipulated (if not created) excuses of perching middle-aged white writers atop the highest of high moral horses.
Jay Christopher Cutler (JCC to our Jewish readers) was born April 29, 1983. I'm no wizard at mathematics but that means exactly a week from today Jay Christopher Cutler will turn twenty-six years old. That's young. That's so young that it's younger than me. And if JCC wants to explore the nightlife in one of America's most vibrant cities...maybe meet a couple broads...maybe get pissed drunk...I'm all for it.
But this is not about Jay Cutler, as much as the press would like you to think it is by pretending to be concerned for his health. This is about the Jim Nantz-ification of the American sports media and their obsession with conservative family values. Celebrate Archie Manning's love for his kids and Deanna Favre's support for her husband while denigrating Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler for enjoying their existence as young men of means. Why? Because it's easy. Because it's convenient. Because those middle-aged white sportswriters know that they're working with a predominantly middle-aged white sports fan reader. And because both know that they'd much rather be surrounded by beautiful women and free drinks then meeting deadlines and mowing their lawns in Arlington Heights.
It's not just sports, of course. We live in a "you must have a wife and kids" culture. Happiness need not apply. And since I'm about to spend an entire year apologizing for every mistake Jay Cutler makes, I think this is the right time to point out that being young and having fun is not a mistake. Not at 26. Not in April.
Now if he's getting drunk during Packer week in early September, we'll re-evaluate. But until then, Jay, enjoy being the King of Chicago. Because right now it's all on credit. On September 13th, you'll have to earn the right to sit on the throne.
I keep reading from the Peter Kings and Pat Kirwans of the world how the wondrous unknown of this weekend's draft will make it one of the most exciting in years. Questions as thrilling as: Do the Lions feel anybody is worth top pick money? Will the Redskins make a play for borderline professional quarterback Mark Sanchez? Where will tackles Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe end up?
Couple those with the fact that the Chicago Bears don't have a first round draft pick until the Mayan calendar ends and you'll have to forgive me if I decide to spend Saturday on the golf course (a newbie to the sport still trying to break the vaunted 100 mark).
This draft has no juice. Not for this league. Just read Vic Carucci's wonderful NFL.com piece, asserting that teams have become horrified of first round selections because the long-term monetary risk is not worth the immediate on-field reward. And not for this team. I mean, really, can anything from this training camp make camp more exciting than its already going to be?
The names of the players the Bears select will be significantly less important than the positions. It'll tell us where the organization has targeted as areas that require competition - as if we don't already know them. I'd be shocked (very shocked) if a single player the team takes becomes a starter in 2009. And that makes draft weekend a bit anti-climactic.
So I'm not going to get excited as the clock ticks down on each Bears selection. I'm going to fight for a 99 at Shawnee in the Poconos by eliminating terrible second shots from the fairway. I'll keep my eyes on what's happening and weigh-in should something of interest take place. But I'm not worried about it. Because with the 18th pick on Saturday afternoon, the Chicago Bears have already selected the first franchise quarterback in franchise history. And I have a jersey to order.
On the day of Jay (but prior to the signing), I wrote the following:
Getting Cutler isn't a smart move for the Chicago Bears. It is a franchise-altering move. It is the kind of move that changes the identity from top-to-bottom. Halas Hall can shed their label of being cheaper than a street-walker in downtown Atlantic City. The offense can enter into the 2009 with expectations beyond "not screwing things up." Jay Cutler brings hope to an organization that seems to be priming the fan base for another .500 campaign.Think about where we are.
The times they are a' changin. The Bears haven't solved the defensive issues that kept them out of the 2008 postseason. They still look to enter the 2009 season with less experience at wide receiver than anywhere else in the NFL. But in a league where each and every team believes the championship window is twelve months or less, Halas Hall has managed to sell me on the long-term viability of the franchise. I'm excited for 2009. And 2010. 11. 12. Beyond.
There will be fire in Bourbonnais - wide receivers or not. Fire from the earth, scorched by stampeding die-hards eager for a look at the man who comes to serve the dinner. I'm not a religious fella but as a Bears fan - thanks to Jerry Angelo - I feel reborn. He described the energy as a "tsunami". I'd call it an earthquake. The ground has cracked open and may we now hope that years of miserly behavior and bad decisions sink far, far below. Far enough never to be seen again.
Let past regrets be prelude to the future greatness. And bear down, Chicago Bears. Bear down.
The Arizona Republic is reporting that Anquan Boldin is now officially available in a trade.
Here are the questions to be discussed (and here are my answers):
Question #1 Do the Bears have enough to acquire him?
Yes. Just for the sake of argument, what if the Bears offered Arizona the rest of their draft? Every pick they have remaining in the 2009? Would Arizona accept that offer? I'm leaning towards "absolutely". Arizona would gain a fleet of young athletes and the Chicago Bears would solidify the wide receiver position for the next five years.
Question #2 Can the Bears afford to relinquish an entire draft?
I think we can and here's why. Take out the second choice, inevitably spent on a wide receiver, and we're left with a series of day two selections. Jerry has shown a knack for nailing a pick or two late but who among us - including JA - would rather score on a 5th round corner than pair his All-Pro quarterback with a tough-as-nails number one wide receiver?
Question #3 Can the Bears sign him to the long-term deal he requires?
Yes. Will they? Different story.
Question #4 Are the Bears capable of making their fans THIS happy?
My God, can you imagine it?
Six thoughts on the schedule (in honor of #6)...
1. I don't want to hear all this talk about how easy the Bears schedule is. Of course it'll look easy on paper when two of their games are against 0-16 teams. The fact is that all four teams that played in the conference championship games will play the Bears in 2009.
2. The hardest stretch of games is Arizona, @ San Francisco, Philadelphia, @ Minnesota. If the Bears don't hit this stretch at 5-2 or 4-3, the playoffs will be pipe dream.
3. I hate, hate, hate, hate opening on Sunday night. It's like waking up on Christmas morning and not getting to open any presents until everybody else you know has opened theirs. Not to mention the Bears play late afternoon games in weeks two and three. Maybe I'll move to the west coast.
4. I don't like the bye early in the season but it will give the Bears two weeks to prepare for a very tough road contest in Atlanta.
5. Jay Cutler opens against our biggest rival on the road and then faces the league's best defense the following week. That's called baptism by fire. If he starts 2-0, there may be some premature statue building outside Halas Hall.
6. 4-2 in the division. 2-2 against the AFC North. 3-1 against the NFC West. Split with the Falcons and Eagles. 10-6.
Sun 9/13 -@ Packers (Night)
Sun 9/20 - Steelers
Sun 9/27- @ Seahawks
Sun 10/4 - Lions
Sun 10/11 - BYE
Sun 10/18 - @ Falcons (Night)
Sun 10/25 - @ Bengals
Sun 11/1 - Browns
Sun 11/8 - Cardinals
Thurs 11/12 - @ 49ers (Thursday)
Sun 11/22 - Eagles (Night)
Sun 11/29 - @ Vikings
Sun 12/6 - Rams
Sun 12/13 - Packers
Sun 12/20 - @ Ravens
Mon 12/28 - Vikings (MNF)
Sun 1/3 - @ Lions
Whatever your thoughts on the Cutler trade we have five prime time games lined up and there is no doubt that wouldn't have happened without him.
Note: I'm on vacation until Thursday so Noah and the Reverend will be here should anything newsworthy take place.
I. Sign Torry Holt
Did you think I was going to leave this off the list? I pushed for Jay Cutler and it happened so I'm taking full credit for that. Now I'm pushing for Holt, a player I believe has a pair of great seasons still in the tank. Using the Ambassadors of Former Ramdom (Orlando, Lovie), Jerry should make this acquisition to take the pressure off his second round draft selection.
II. Sign Gus Frerotte
Frerotte belongs in the category of quarterback where Brad Johnson has lived for a decade: serviceable. Big Gus could come onto the Bears and provide a back-up option that is ready to go into football games and - quite possibly - win them. Caleb Hanie might one day be professional football player but that day is not here yet.
III. Move Nathan Vasher to Free Safety
I'm not a football coach and don't pretend to understand the overwhelming complexities of defensive coordination. I do know facts. Fact: Vasher was good. Fact: Vasher stinks now. But his stinking seems to have been relegated to covering wide receivers and tackling in the open-field on the outside. Moving The Interceptor to the free safety spot will mean he's covering tight ends over the middle and playing a lot of centerfield - which should allow his ball hawk skills to flourish.
IV. Move Lance Briggs to Middle Linebacker
If the Chicago Bears want to develop a pass rush using the players currently on the roster, they should utilize their best weapon: Brian Urlacher's speed. That means moving Lance Briggs to middle linebacker and allowing Urlacher to attack quarterbacks on the outside. The days of #54 making player from sideline-to-sideline seem to be behind him. Where he got by on raw ability he now must succeed by being put in the right place at the right time.
V. Have a Conversation With Orlando Pace
Signing Orlando Pace was a pivotal move for this club and I understand they had to promise him left tackle in order to do so. But Pace needs to prove himself in training camp or Lovie/Ron need to be prepared to go with the younger, upside-laden Chris Williams at the position. The left tackle is no longer important in the "he's always important" kinda way. The left tackle of the Chicago Bears is protecting the blindside of the franchise quarterback.
I'll say that again. The left tackle of the Chicago Bears is protecting the blindside of the franchise quarterback.
I know I've already written about it but there's no reason to stop. The Bears MUST sign Torry Holt. They MUST sign Torry Holt now. They must find out what offers are going to be on the table from Tennessee and Jacksonville and add on money and years. If it's true that Holt doesn't want to play in cold weather, then the Chicago Bears must throw him enough cash for him to buy a nice, big, warm fur coat.
Yes I know Holt's numbers have declined incrementally since 2003, with this past season being an anomaly of a disastrous offense. But Holt will not be asked to spread defenses deep down the field in Chicago. That's Devin Hester's role. He won't be asked to catch short balls in traffic. That's where the tight ends come in. Instead Holt will be asked to be a reliable presence at the position, catching what's thrown to him and moving the chains. In essence, the Bears will need an aging Torry Holt to play like a somewhat-aging Isaac Bruce.
The quarterback is here. The running backs are here. The offensive linemen are here. Bring in the wide receiver that will solidify what might possibly be the best assembled Chicago Bears offense since #34 was back there. And do it now.
ADDENDUM 4/10: The Bears should be making an offer to Buffalo for Roscoe Parrish. Parrish has a tremendous relationship with Hester and will provide the Bears with the most dynamic return game in the history of the sport. He's also a more-than-capable wide receiver.
The papers are obsessed with the Bears finding a wide receiver to lineup opposite Devin Hester. This is what happens when you bring in the first franchise arm in franchise history. Brad Biggs has receivers coach Daryl Drake working out kids around the country. Carol "Even I'm Surprised I Still Have a Job" Slezak thinks the Bears need to sign the possibly-incarcerated, definitely-suspended Plaxico Burress. (Haugh wisely disagrees, while succumbing to a moronic lead paragraph.) Vaughn McClure has some of Lovie's positive comments on Torry Holt in here.
You know what I would do? ("What Jeff? What would you do?") I would sign the whole lot of em. Torry Holt. Plax. Marvin Harrison. I'd stockpile at the position and let them work it out in training camp. This team is still deeply under the cap and, without the pressure of a first round selection, can afford to be a bit frivolous this month.
BRING BACK MIKE BROWN
Since clearly there's been a limited market for Mr. Brown's services, I think it's time Jerry Angelo and the Chicago Bears consider bringing him back into the organization on a one-year deal. Unless they believe he's unable to perform at a professional level, Brown's leadership and occasional big-play ability override whatever the financial commitment there might be. And if he gets injured, he gets injured. So what.
Jay Cutler is the starting quarterback of the 2009 Chicago Bears (still fun to write) and one might think there would be an alarming amount of pressure on the self-proclaimed non-savior to make us all forget about Erik Kramer's 3,838 yards in 1995 - the greatest passing season in franchise history. Yes, there will be expectations. But as Neil Hayes (is he new?) astutely points out in the Sun-Times, that pressure is far exceeded by the burning, fiery hot seat on which the coach staff is seated.
What Hayes misses in the article is that Ron Turner won't be fired as offensive coordinator unless the Bears manage win the division with terrible offensive play. And being that the defense has a penchant for handing out ballgames like a wise man hands our myrrh, that seems unlikely. No, the Bears must win the NFC North or the whole lot of em - Ron, Lovie, Babich Patch, Roddy McWinless - will find themselves joining millions of Americans on the unemployment line. (If the Bears are struggling in December, the name "Shanahan" will be very popular around these parts.)
The boldness of the Jay Cutler acquisition has cemented Jerry Angelo's future at general manager and temporarily removed the miser-label of the McCaskey family. Now it is on the coaches. All of them. To win with this roster of players. Win more games than Minnesota, Green Bay and the other team in the division. If they don't win, they're out. Because #6 - successful 2009 or not - is going to be the signal-caller for an awful long time.
I've long believed that Peter King is lost. He's one of those national football writers who thinks we're supposed to foam at the mouth because he knows how to text message and has Brett Favre's phone number. Here's how be begins his sub-moronic, Pat Bowlen lovefest on SI.com: "Jay Cutler has three people to blame for his trade from the most talented young offensive team in football to one of the least..." Needless to say, all three of those people are Jay Cutler.
Denver is the most talented young offensive team in football? Let's see how Mr. Marshall and Mr. Royal produce with Kyle Orton throwing the ball. Chicago is one of the least? Matt Forte. Devin Hester. Greg Olsen. Now Jay Cutler. Name another team in football with four players that talented under the age of twenty-seven. King discounts Cutler's effect on the Broncos offense while underestimating his potential impact in Chicago.
He would have been better served to make the logical point: the Bears lack the receiving corps depth of the Broncos. And that should be their only concern right now. There are no substantial defensive players available. No more offensive linemen. There are receivers and - most notably - Torry Holt. The argument can be made (though not by me) that they overpaid to get their man at quarterback. Now they must do the same at wide receiver. Adding Holt to Hester, developing Earl and bringing in a second-round receiver will put this offense in position to have a wonderful 2009.
I don't mean to sound greedy, Jerry. What you did in the last forty-eight hours changed the face of this franchise. But now is not the time to rest on the laurels of brilliant maneuvering. Now is the time to pull a Patriots. Put both feet on the gasoline.
Sign Torry Holt.
First to the naysayers. If you believe that the eighteenth pick in this year's draft or the late first round pick in next year's draft will make as significant a contribution to this organization as Jay Cutler, then I beg you to take a look at the drafting success of the Chicago Bears over the last decade. I believe in Bill Parcells' "psychology of results." You are what you are. Jay Cutler is very damn good. First round draft picks might be.
I am happy today. Happy in a way I haven't ever been during a Chicago Bears off-season. My ballclub, the goddamn Chicago Bears, decided to go out and get themselves a quarterback. A damn good quarterback. They gave up whatever they needed to give up to make their team better. Now they are the front-runner in the NFC North. Now they are a legitimate contender for the Super Bowl.
When fifty-three men wearing navy and orange walk into Lambeau Field on a Sunday night this September, they'll be led by the best quarterback in the history of their franchise. This isn't hyperbole or exaggeration. This is the best quarterback in the storied history of the Chicago Bears. The Jay Cutler Era begins in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Is there anything better than that?
I've written extensively on why this is a good move. Today is a day to simply enjoy it. At 6:00 ET (5:00 CT), settle yourself on the soft cushions of your living room couch. Crack open your beer of choice. Maybe fire up a pot of chili. Boil a polish sausage. Grill a hot dog. Order a pizza. But don't forget to turn on ESPN News and watch the introduction of the next ten years of Chicago Bears football.
AND OH BY THE WAY....
For those of you who own a Kevin Butler jersey from the 80s, 90s...he also wore number 6. You only have a change a letter.
GOTTA COUPLE BUCKS ON THE CREDIT CARD?
Let's put things in perspective.
I like Kyle Orton. I like his toughness. I like his leadership. I like his calm under both game-time pressure (see: pre-disaster Atlanta) and intense fan/media scrutiny (see: playing quarterback in Chicago). I like that Kyle Orton was able to win double-digit games as the team's 2005 starter and earn a demotion to clipboard-holding third-stringer without so much as saying a word to the media about "unfair treatment". I like Kyle Orton. And I want him on the Chicago Bears.
But Kyle Orton is no Jay Cutler. Kyle Orton is the type of quarterback the offensive-apologists of years past (of which I've been one) have utilized to defend their inane arguments. "Chicago is a running football team," they'll tell you. "They rely on running the ball and playing defense to win championships. They don't need a big-arm quarterback." It may have held true throughout the 1980s and early 90s when Joe Gibbs' Redskins could seemingly win with anybody playing the position and Bill Parcells won the Lombardi with Jeff Hostetler under center. But not any longer.
NFL football teams, regardless of their home weather conditions, must show the ability to stretch the ball downfield. Jay Cutler has one of the three or four best deep ball arms in the game and da Bears currently possess what is potentially the league's most dynamic speed receiver. What teams didn't fear due to Orton's deep inaccuracy will now be the focus of their weekly defensive game-planning. That's when Matt Forte finds himself gashing front fours at ten-yards-a-clip. That's when field goal drives become quick sixes. That's when you're a contender to win the whole damn thing.
Getting Cutler isn't a smart move for the Chicago Bears. It is a franchise-altering move. It is the kind of move that changes the identity from top-to-bottom. Halas Hall can shed their label of being cheaper than a street-walker in downtown Atlantic City. The offense can enter into the 2009 with expectations beyond "not screwing things up." Jay Cutler brings hope to an organization that seems to be priming the fan base for another .500 campaign.
This is a great player - not a potentially great player. This is a great player who happens to play a position this organization has coveted for the better part of three decades. As a human being, I respect Kyle Orton a ton and hope the Bears can make a deal with Denver that keeps KO on the roster. As a fan of the Chicago Bears - with dreams of a Super Bowl title dancing in my head - I want this club to do whatever is necessary to walk into Lambeau Field on a warm September evening with the most talented quarterback in the century-long history of the franchise.
Addendum 4/1: Any debate against acquiring Jay Cutler should start this way. "I am opposed to the Chicago Bears picking up the most athletic and strongest-armed quarterback in the history of their storied franchise because..."