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Posts Tagged ‘Bernard Berrian’

Top 5 Issues for Chicago Bears Success This Season

Posted by sportsmaven on August 6, 2007

The Chicago Bears have what seems to be a very interesting problem:  too much depth.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, how can a team have too much depth?  But that’s what the Bears have, so much so that they have traded last year’s starting SS Chris Harris to the Carolina Panthers and are looking to move another, reserve CB and special teams standout Dante Wesley.  I will be the first to admit that I was very hard on Bears GM Jerry Angelo in the early days, but the last 3 years, he has proven that he has not only grown into the job, but has been one of the most shrewdest GM’s in the game in that period.

Cedric Benson at Bears training camp

(Tribune photo by Scott Strazzante)

Angelo has wisely locked up core young talent early at a lesser price then they would have commanded in the open market, has drafted very wisely (has any GM drafted better from rounds 4-7?  If so, I want to know who that person is) and has built a roster that is arguably the strongest in the NFC from top to bottom.

The Bears are trying to defy recent history by returning to the Super Bowl a year after losing the Big Game, only a return is not the goal.  Winning the Super Bowl is the goal and it seems as though Bears head coach Lovie Smith has every man clearly focused on that goal once again.  For the Bears, 5 things have to happen in order to have a chance at returning to the Big Game:

1.  Avoid injuries at all cost — having the best bench depth in the NFC (and maybe in the league, west of New England) is definitely an asset, but you need your best players playing in top form all season.  If LB Brian Urlacher, QB Rex Grossman, RB Cedric Benson, WR Bernard Berrian, KR/PR/WR Devin Hester, DT Tommie Harris, or any one of the starting OL goes down, the next line of talent is thin at these positions.

2.  Offense has to make another leap in performance — The surprise of last season’s team was definitely the performance of the offense.  Nobody on the planet thought the Bears would be #2 in the NFL in scoring nor that Rex Grossman would throw 20 TD passes and over 3000 yards passing.  For the Bears to jump to the next level, Grossman must improve his completion rate.  Last season, he was at 54.6%.  This season, he has to eclipse 60% and limit his interceptions from 20 to single digits.  RB Cedric Benson is on the spot now, and must rush for at least 1,200 yards and 10 TD’s.  WR Mark Bradley must avoid the injury bug and establish himself as the #2 receiver, and WR Bernard Berrian must prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.

3.  KR/PR/WR Devin Hester must emerge as a multiple options threat — this is probably the most tenuous of all the options.  I can’t recall a return man who has excelled on the offensive side of the ball in recent history.  The Kansas City Chiefs tried KR Dante Hall at WR and that didn’t work.  Devin Hester could be one of the best open field players in NFL history, but not after one record setting season as a KR/PR.  Hester must prove that he is a threat regardless of position.  He didn’t stand out as a DB.  The offensive side of the ball is where he belongs, but yet again, he is very raw and unproven there….

4.  Defense can’t have another late season drop off — It was clear that the defense dropped off significantly in the second half of last season.  It was still a very good defense, but a dominant defense wins Super Bowl XLI and that wasn’t the case for the Bears.  The Indianapolis Colts rushed for 191 yards in the Super Bowl against a defense missing DL Tommie Harris and SS Mike Brown.  That defense stepped up against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game, but the time for the defense to shine is in December and January.  New defensive coordinator Bob Babich must bring more energy to the table then his predecessor, Ron Rivera, otherwise the change may be for naught.

5. Young players must perform well — Of any reason listed above, the performance of young players have been one of the biggest contributors to the recent success the Bears have experienced.  KR/PR Devin Hester, SS Danieal Manning, WR Mark Bradley, when healthy, DE Mark Anderson, departed SS Chris Harris, K Robbie Gould are all young players that really turned their games on in their rookie or second years, pushing for playing time and putting high priced veterans on the bubble.  The pressure will be on this year’s draft class, particularly TE Greg Olsen, RB Garrett Wolfe, and CB Trumaine McBride to fill key roles.  If these rookies shine, expect the Bears to be even more potent.

Opening day in San Diego is right around the corner.  The time to play the Chargers might be early in the season, but this is a tough opener.  The non-division schedule is tough, with games against the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks, but to be the best, you have to go through the best.  The Bears will definitely have that to deal with this championship season….

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Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts Do Media Day At The Super Bowl

Posted by sportsmaven on January 31, 2007

Today was Super Bowl XLI Media Day and I found it to be quite an amusing and fun day. The day began with the Chicago Bears taking the interview podiums first (12 podiums lined end zone to end zone on one sideline of the playing field in Dolphins Stadium) for one hour followed by the Indianapolis Colts.

Bears Media Day 1

When the day began, the media mavens rushed down the aisles of the stadium towards the players on the field like shoppers rushing the Wal-Mart at 5am the day after Thanksgiving

Bears Media Day 2

The Indianapolis Colts were 10 minutes late to today’s media session, keeping up a trend which the media finds quite disturbing. The big name players got the podiums (names such as Rex Grossman, Brian Urlacher, Bernard Berrian, and Muhsin Muhammad for the Bears, Peyton Manning, Adam Vinatieri, Marvin Harrison, and Reggie Wayne). The topics were varied.

Bears Media Day 3

Bears Media Day 4

Some of the highlights of today’s media session:

– Bernard Berrian was asked what kind of syrup he liked on his pancakes (he likes maple)
– An unnamed Bears player was asked his preference, Levitra or Viagra.
– Peyton Manning admits he was pulling for the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game (obvious, as he is from New Orleans)
– Reggie Wayne being asked what it was like to receive a pass from Peyton Manning.
– Adam Vinatieri asked if he is related to Evel Knievel by Steve Mariucci from the NFL Network (he is) and asked to say hi to NFL fans in Japan.
– Tank Johnson asked about 100 questions on his pending gun charges and murder of his bodyguard.
– American Idol rejects (hired by Jimmy Kimmel) trying to get Bears and Colts players to sing.

All and all, it was a good day. Seemed like the Bears embraced media day while the Colts endured it. Deion Sanders from the NFL Network stated that he thought the Bears were exciting and provacative in their sessions (no mention of what the Colts did for Deion).

Another note on routine and adaptability: Plenty has been made on the Bears showing up to Miami early Sunday and the Colts choosing to come later on Monday. The Colts wanted to maintain as much routine as possible, which is a fine goal, BUT THIS IS THE SUPER BOWL, the biggest stange in the world. There is absolutely NOTHING routine about the Super Bowl, where everything is super sized and done to the max, so sticking to as much routine as possible throughout this circus environment may prove to be an exercise in futility. Routine is good for preparation, but too much stock can be put into routine. My belief is not that the team who sticks closest to their weekly routine has the edge, but rather the team that is most adaptable and adapts to the demands of the bright lights the quickest has the advantage. Right now, I feel the Bears have been that more adaptable team, giving them my edge in the chess match known as the Super Bowl…..

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Super Bowl? Miami Here We Come!

Posted by sportsmaven on January 22, 2007

Don’t let anyone tell you that the Chicago Bears didn’t earn this victory today against the New Orleans Saints. I have never experienced the energy, passion, the intensity contained in Soldier Field today. I have never heard it so loud. The snow fell all game…it was perfect. I refer to my January 18th post as the keys to today’s game with outcomes:

For the Bears:

  1. Third down conversions as a key stat this week. The Bears are at 31% in stopping 3rd down coversions, which is #2 in the NFL in that category. The Bears held the Saints to 38% in 3rd down conversions.
  2. Secondly, do not let Drew Brees get comfortable in the pocket. Change the looks he’s getting, use the blitz early, take him out of his rhythm. If Brees is allowed to get comfortable early, his accurate passing will pick the Bears secondary apart, especially with little to no push to the quarterback from the Bears front four. Brees was sacked 3 times today including once on the 3rd play of the game. He was knocked down about 100 times, and committed a key intentional grounding penalty in the end zone to swing the momentum back to the Bears.
  3. Finally, win the turnover battle and get very physical. The Washington Redskins did this in the regular season and held Brees to his lowest QB rating of the season (59.9). Saints committed 4 turnovers (3 by Brees) Bears had no turnovers. Bears were clearly the more physical team today.

For the Saints:

  1. The Bears actually match up with the Saints fairly well, so the keys for the Saints are to establish the run early to loosen up the passing game. Deuce Mc Allister and Reggie Bush combined for 10 carries for 37 yards as the Saints abandoned the run early and threw 49 passes.
  2. Secondly, the Saints need their rush ends, Will Smith and Charles Grant to get a push on Rex Grossman to protect their weak secondary. The Saints are prone to the big play and when they give it up, they give it up BIG. (ask Fred Thomas about that) Put the heat on Rex and the Bears offense slams to a grinding halt. Rex Grossman hardly felt any heat and wasn’t sacked today. Fred Thomas was burned for a 33 yd. touchdown reception by Bernard Berrian.
  3. Finally, win the time of possession battle. Keep the #1 rated offense in the NFC on the field as much as possible. The Saints lost the time of possession battle, 35:15 to 24:45.

In the AFC, the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning finally got over the hump called the New England Patriots 38-34 to meet the Bears in Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4th in Miami, FL. Tom Brady had a last gasp opportunity and threw and interception that essentially ended the game. The early line for Super Bowl XLI is Colts giving 7. The NFL Today crew on ESPN and the ESPN analysts are already picking the Colts to win. I suppose the Bears will be playing that underdog card again. No need for me to tell you who I like. Here we go again….

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