The website has become operational at ChicagoNow but we're going to hold off on re-directing you guys there until we know that all the kinks have been worked out.
Go there and check it out and comment, proceeding at normal. Let me know via email if anything doesn't work correctly.
We will be re-directing this site in the coming weeks.
Editor's Note: I have no idea why I call these things "rodeos" but I certainly like it.
Corey Graham to Free Safety
Moving CG to safety is a sound move if Nathan Vasher plays like he did a few years ago and not like he did during his miserable 2008 campaign and either Tru McBride, Zack Bowman or a possibly-signed Rod Hood emerge as a viable nickel option. I'm assuming that the Bears (and the rest of the league) believe Mike Brown is no longer capable of being a professional football player or it would make very little sense for him to still be a free agent. His leadership alone would be worth a one-year deal.
The Best* Thing About Jay Cutler...
...is perfectly described by Ron Turner in Dan Pompei's Trib column: "We'll definitely move the pocket more with him," Turner says. "He is good at it when it's called to move the pocket, and he also is good at creating a play, extending a play when nothing is there. That's something I'm really excited about. If everything is not perfect -- protection, you don't get the coverage you want -- he can create something by moving around." The knock on Kyle Orton was his inability to improvise beyond the first or second read and thus it limited how creative the play-calling could be. We were vanilla and predictable in the passing game. Those dogs no longer hunt.
*besides the multiple Super Bowls he's going to win here.
Our Message to the city of Chicago: Go to Hell
It seems every time municipalities get into trouble, working people end up making up the difference. In New York, during every economic cash crunch, I end up paying more money to ride the goddamn subway. Now the city of Chicago would like to retroactively amusement tax season ticket holders for their personal seat licenses - a ludicrous hat on top of a ludicrous hat. The Chicago Bears should do everything in their organizational power to put a halt to this. Think of it as a business transaction and ask yourself: do you want fans entering Soldier Field with or without that five hundred bucks at their disposal? Or think of it from a human standpoint: how far do you think you can push fans before they stop coming to the park?
The New York Times called 4th and Long, the exciting and football thirst-quenching new show hosted by Michael Irvin on Spike TV, "disingenuous". Their rationale being that the program claims to offer a roster spot to one of the twelve budding professional ballplayers who, for reasons ranging from an agent screwjob to being from my New Jersey hometown, have not found their way into the NFL. It only offers a spot in camp.
Did you expect the television writer for the Times to know how football works? I'm not sure the sports writers for the Times know how football works.
These twelve guys are competing for a chance to go to Dallas Cowboys training camp and compete for a roster spot which, contrary to the opinion of the nation's top newspaper, is not an offer allotted to every athlete with a pulse. Will any of these twelve guys play a down in the NFL in 2009? No. Will any of the twelve make a practice squad? Possibly. And for a football player, that's a pretty damn big deal. Let it also be stated that the eleven remaining guys each have played football at a significant level (Big Ten college, Arena League, semi-pro...etc.) These guys ARE football players.
The first episode of the series revealed a few things. (1) Michael Irvin dresses like a designer superhero and can brilliantly deliver a cliche-ridden-yet-effective sports monologue about NOT GIVING UP. (2) Vomiting on television is captivating, especially when there's a lot of vomit. (3) Athletes - perhaps more than any other walk of life - hold to dreams despite a cavalcade of contrary circumstances. These guys are compelling not because of the challenge set before them but because of their own beliefs that they're capable of doing exactly what I've said they can't do: play in the NFL. They'll vomit and cry and be humiliated on television for a long-shot chance at the dream.
And all of these revelations make for a television show that is worth watching. Hard Knocks (this summer featuring the Cincinnati Bengals) has become must-see viewing for the desperate football fan, itching for the season to start. It's fan training camp. 4th and Long is fan OTAs. Hopefully these two shows will merge in the coming years, allowing us to have a vested interest in the Hard Knocks camp characters. For now, I'd just set my DVR for Spike tonight at 11 and let the smell of football enter the kitchen. Even if the meal isn't being served for another four months.
This time of the year is deceased when it comes to football information. Here's a couple note-worthy things...
Forget About Tommie Harris
ESPN believes Tommie Harris is on the hot seat next season. I understand that ESPN makes its living by filling space (on the internet, on TV, in print) with mindless drivel but could there be a more meaningless opinion than Tommie Harris is on the hot seat? He's an oft-injured defensive tackle on a defense that rotates seven-plus players over a four-down period. He was also highly overrated during his "great" year of 2007 (only 8 sacks) and off the field for the 2006 playoff run. And for those who make the argument that his job is to take up blockers, I ask you to look at the great defensive tackles of the Cover 2's past. If Tommie has a terrific 2009, it will be a blessing. Nothing else.
The Intelligence of Signing Plaxico Burress
Dr. Drew is saying that two clubs are interested in Plax for the 2009 season and the Chicago Bears should be one. The downsides are clear. He might go to jail. He might be suspended for half the season by the league. He's a pain in the ass. All true. But he's also brilliant at playing wide receiver and should return to the league next November with a renewed passion for the game and the chip-of-all-chips on his shoulder. He could be the boost of adrenaline the team needs for a late-season push, starting in San Francisco. And based on the downsides, we'd be getting a top tier talent for bargain prices. (And if the Bears make the move, I'll have a Blog gun holster made for him.)
It's Not Their Game
Ross Tucker makes a point that I've been making for a long time in his Sports Illustrated mailbag this week. If the NFL is serious about playing the Super Bowl in a dopey city like London, then they might at least entertain playing the game in NFL strongholds like New York, Washington, Green Bay and - yes - even Chicago. Football is played in shit weather. In cold weather. In the muck. Rotating the game between Miami, Tampa and Arizona every couple of years not only bores fans to tears but it rewards teams built for the warm weather. And wouldn't it just be fun - real fun - to see the game played in the snow.
Peter King ranks the Bears fourth in his pre-summer Power Rankings, stating that "If Cutler can lead an offense that puts up 400 points, only a point and a fraction more than a year ago, the Bears should win 12." I love the idea of the club winning twelve games (and wouldn't mind a Super Bowl either) but history tells the story of a team that lives well NOT by the quarterback but by the man running the football.
Why, you say? Why are you trying to take the pressure off the man you have heralded as the savior of the franchise? (I'm not) Aren't you just covering your ass in case he becomes a colossal failure of Elizabethan proportions? (He won't)
The 2006 Chicago Bears had only 3 games all season long with under a hundred yards rushing - 2 against the brilliant rush defense of the Minnesota Vikings and 1 in the statistical anomaly known as the Monday Night Miracle in Arizona. Three games. All year. Under a hundred yards. For that they received a trip to the Super Bowl. (The '85 Bears had only 2 all season long, including the playoffs.)
2007? 12 games under a hundred yards rushing. 2008? 10. Get the picture?
Now I'm not arguing that strength at the quarterback position won't lead to more success in the run game. It certainly should. But Ron Turner's Chicago Bears offense won't depend on just Jay Cutler or Matt Forte or acquiring Anquan Boldin. It will depend on the confluence of many, existing parts. Cutler's presence will be threat enough but he can't turn the ball over. Orlando Pace has to protect the blindside. Frank Omiyale has to become a viable starter. Someone has to catch the ball. If these things happens, Forte and Jones will find holes and find success.
Because in the Lovie Smith era, no statistic has more coincided with victories than rushing yards. Not turnovers. Not rush defense. Nothing. If this team is moving the ball on the ground, they are winning. Facts don't lie.
The story of the three possible Bears...
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch details the reasons for his release from the Rams. Tino's speed and versatility would make him a perfect fit for the Lovie Deuce but I'd just like to see them add some new blood to the unit. If the Bears enter the 2009 season with the 2008 defensive roster, they'll be watching the Andre Johnsons of the world keep them from the playoffs again.
My favorite line about the Bears' interest in Amani Toomer comes from Vaughn McClure: "Maybe the Bears should get back in the Anquan Boldin sweepstakes. The Cardinals receiver remains a trade possibility, as agent Drew Rosenhaus stated from his Twitter account." (1) Twitter was invented for Drew Rosenhaus. (2) Jerry's attempted deal for Anquan on draft day wet my whistle and I can't let it go. (3) Toomer would be a solid replacement for Rash in the slot but he can't be expected to make a significant game impact.
This would be a remarkably smart signing if it happens. It sounds like Lovie wants to turn Gaines into a Chris Cooley-type player - lining him up at both fullback and tight end. This would provide Captain Cutler a solid target around the goal line and also get Jason McKie off the field.
I logged on DaSite this morning to the arousing headline, "New quarterback Cutler gaining firm grasp of Bears offense." This begs a second question: "What's he going to do tomorrow?"
I'm going to make it easy on Captain Cutler by providing a series of instructions that should make the transition seamless.
1. On second/third/fourth and short situations, Ron Turner is going to ask you to hand the football to your fullback. You should not do this. Ever.
2. Sometimes the receivers don't catch the ball, even when you throw it well. Especially Rashied Davis. I'm not sure what the other receivers will do because, other than Devin Hester, none of them have ever caught a pass in the league. Don't get down. We'll get you better ones in time.
3. When you see that same Mr. Hester running a go route downfield, throw the football. If he doesn't catch it, he'll draw a flag from a terrified corner/safety who has never seen a player run that fast. (On a similar note, Turner's going to want you to throw this dopey Hester screen all the time. You should not do this. Ever.)
4. Throw the ball to Greg Olsen all the time. He's a 90-catch talent coming off a 54-catch season and there's neither a linebacker nor a safety in the league that can cover him man-to-man. (Turner may require you throw an endzone fade to Mr. Olsen. You should not do this. Ever.)
5. This is going to be a strange experience for both of us, Jay. We're not used to having an elite-level quarterback and you're not used to playing outside the shadow of former quarterbacking glory. You're going to want to impress us. That's fine. But the most important thing to Chicago Bears fans is winning ballgames. 4,000 yards would be wonderful. Pro Bowls, perfecting ratings, all that stuff. Wonderful. But if you win ballgames, specifically the one at the end of the season, you become immortal in one of America's greatest cities. You stop paying for things. You open steak restaurants. If you win the one at the end of the season, you become Chicago Bears football.
Site Note: We're being told the transition to ChicagoNow will be happening soon.
Let me say it without any art: DaBearsBlog is joining ChicagoNow, a local network of sites owned by the Chicago Tribune Media Group.
Now let me explain. A month or so ago, in the wake of the Jay Cutler "tsunami", Noah and I were contacted by a cool guy named Jimmy Greenfield at the Tribune. The company was building a network of Chicago blogs (on every subject imaginable) and they wanted us to be their home for the Chicago Bears. Cool, right? We talked about it and decided it was the right move for the site to make.
Why? There are a lot of reasons. We're going to make some more money, enabling us to spend more time developing a better site. We're also going to be increasing our readership dramatically. As a writer, that's ultimately why you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were). You need eyes. And this move is going to bring more to the work.
I am retaining full editorial control of the site. That sentence gets it own paragraph. Well, I guess it actually doesn't, but you get my point.
The Tribune will not have any say in what I write or what you comment. Just don't threaten to kill Obama and we'll be fine. The site - as you know it - will remain unchanged. It'll look different but the process will be the same. I'll post. You'll comment. Same style. Same speed. No bullshit. No interference from anybody else. Even the URL will remain the same and you'll just be redirected to the new site.
You will be asked to register to comment. I'm not thrilled about it but it comes with the territory. Since many of you emailed me last year asking for registration to protect your handles, I don't think it'll be much of a problem. You'll have to register the first time you comment and everything will be simple after that, I promise. What is important to me is that you all register the first day we launch. I've come to know you guys over the years through these handles and I'd like to see them continue.
We signed an initial three-month contract and we're hoping this collaboration extends indefinitely. If the experience for you guys becomes a negative one, we'll terminate the deal this summer. What I want you all to do is email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your reactions as we move forward. Let me know what you like, what you dislike, what works well, what doesn't...etc.
This site is receiving this opportunity because of you guys. I do my thing but it's the consistency and passion from you guys that has helped this site become more than I ever thought it would become. We will not lose our spirit or our edge. We'll continue to write honestly about the organization and the people who cover it, including those employed by the Tribune. We're an Off-Broadway production that's moving uptown. That's all.
I'm Stalking Anquan Boldin
Boldin showed up at Arizona's mini-camp and is faking a hamstring injury. According to head coach Ken Whisenhunt, "Hey, we know what's going on, so I'm really not going to have much to say about that." With the Cardinals having only $6.5 million in cap room, the likelihood of an extension is not good. My dream of Boldin the Bear stays alive!
Pool Jump, Tuna Melton & Marinelli
"These guys are very talented athletes," Marinelli said. "When I talk about talent, I mean short-space quickness. Then I look at them being tall and being able to bend. A guy like [Gilbert], if you can jump out of a pool, you're in pretty good shape to bend. If you can bend and your feet are quick, that means you can play with a good base. They run extremely well. They're coordinated. Now I have to coordinate them into a rush mode."
You know what I like? The last sentence. "Now I HAVE TO..." Accountability has made its way back to this coaching staff. I think it might be nice to have someone with Marinelli's intensity on the Bears' sideline.
The Sad, Sad Ballad of Brad and Brett
It has begun.
Oh, About that Announcement...
I'm not being coy or anything. I just have to wait until some details get hammered out before I can post things officially on here. But our little site is moving up in the world.