Chicago Sports Inside and Out – The Chicago Sports Maven

Bringing Chicago sports to the world!

Posts Tagged ‘Drew Brees’

Top 5 Ways To Make The Pro Bowl Better

Posted by sportsmaven on February 12, 2007

Yes, I was one of the few who actually admit that I watched this year’s NFL Pro Bowl on Saturday evening. As I snuggled up to my 42 in. plasma television with carry out from my favorite Northbrook, IL eatery, Francesca’s (great Italian food, by the way!) I watched what was actually a very interesting and entertaining Pro Bowl game. Devin Hester took the opening kickoff to the 19 yard line where he was tripped up by some sketchy Honolulu astro turf sort of stuff. What a difference a week makes for Hester. Actually, I couldn’t believe that the AFC actually kicked away from Hester on their second kickoff of the game. Come on, this is the PRO BOWL, not the Super Bowl. I suppose you want to turn off the few fans watching by not letting the game’s most prolific returner actually return a kick. The other thing about the Pro Bowl is that it would have been nice to see some of our own Chicago Bears players actually playing in the game (or even showing up, for that matter.)

2007 Pro Bowl

Is RB Tiki Barber retiring just in time? He clearly has lost a large amount of arm strength as indicated by the INT he threw to Ed Reed in the 1st quarter. He is clearly washed up. (well, maybe not so much) Drew Brees injury is the poster child for why many feel that the Pro Bowl is not a good game to play.

So I was happy to see that the NFL actually took most of my Top 5 ways to make the Pro Bowl better, and we, as the fans, will be the better off for that. My Top 5 suggestions were:

1. Play the game on Saturday instead of Sunday. I think they ought to play the Super Bowl on a Saturday too, seeing as it usually takes another full day to recover, whether you are at the game or at home hosting a Super Bowl party. Either way, these games work better on Saturdays, for do we really want to take a vacation day for the Super Bowl? And do we really want to stay up until 10pm on a Sunday night to watch the Pro Bowl (and miss Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and all those other Sunday night staples that are as additictive as crack?)

2. Mike all the players, let the fans hear what really goes on in the huddle. CBS did a great job of doing this, but the mikes they had SUCKED. I couldn’t hear squat when the QB’s were calling the plays. Fortunately, they had the play callers on both sides miked and when they switched to that, it worked brilliantly. Next year, get better microphones so we can hear what’s going on. Also, loved that Dan Dierdorf and Phil Simms were explaining what the play terminology meant. That was the best part of the game in my opinion.

3. Introduce a Skills Competition. This was great to see at halftime of the game. The kicking competition between Robbie Gould and Nate Kaeding was priceless and very entertaining. The other skills competitions I actually watched on the NFL Network. They were entertaining as well, with a strong man competition (# of reps at 225 lbs.) a passing, receiving competitions and a gauntlet competition that was entertaining. How about the NFL Cheerleader Playoffs? In fact, the NFL should require all teams to have cheerleaders next season. Since my Bears don’t have them, here is a shot of what could be:

NFL Cheerleaders 1NFL Cheerleaders 2NE Pats Cheerleader

4. More behind the scenes video. I want to see what a practice is like. I also want to go into the locker room and see what a player has to go through to get ready for a game, what do they do, how do they get ready. Blooper videos are also fun. How do the players spend the week in Honolulu? How about players interviewing players and coaches? How about pulling a fan out of the stands or better yet, having a fan win one of those season long NFL contests and have them call plays for the playcaller for one or two series (10 plays) for each team?

5. Amend the rules for more action. I love what the NFL to the rules for this game. No blitzes, no rushing the kickers, rules promoting one on one coverage, no ruling challenges. That was fantastic. Those rule changes brought out some nice play, some great 1 on 1 challenges (Champ Bailey vs. Donald Driver was pretty good)

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Super Bowl XLI Predictions

Posted by sportsmaven on February 3, 2007

The Super Bowl brings the good, the bad, and the ugly in predictions from almost everybody who is somebody on the planet. From athletes, to the media, and celebrities, everyone is an expert when it comes to their Super Bowl picks. In an attempt to consolidate as many Super Bowl predictions as I could find and hear this week, the following lists are the “expert” opinions on who wins Super Bowl XLI on Sunday:

NFL Players, Coaches, Analysts Picks:

    • ESPN Analysts

      Len Pasquarelli – Colts 27-23

      John Clayton – Colts 27-17

      Chris Mortensen – Colts 27-20

      Gene Wojciechowski – Bears 27-26

      Gary Horton – Colts 31-24

      Jeremy Green – Bears 26-23

      Bill Simmons – Bears 33-30

      Jemele Hill – Bears 34-31

      Scoop Jackson – Bears 31-28

      Ron Jaworski – Colts 31-21

      Sal Paolantonio – Colts 31-20

      Eric Allen – Bears 21-17

      Mike Golic – Colts 31-23

      Greg Garber – Colts 30-21

      KC Joyner – Bears 31-27

      John Banks, Deputy Editor – Colts 31-14

      Peter Lawrence-Riddell – Colts 28-17

      Joe Wojciechowski – Colts 27-20

      Chris Berman – Colts 30-20

      Joe Theismann – Colts

      Merril Hoge – Colts

      HBO’s Inside the NFL Team

      Bob Costas – Colts

      Cris Carter – Colts

      Dan Marino – Colts

      Cris Collinsworth – Bears

      ESPN’s Around the Horn Team

      Tim Cowlishaw – Bears

      Tony Reali – Colts

      Jay Mariotti – Bears

      Woody Paige – Colts

      Jackie MacMullen – Colts

      Kevin Blackistone – Colts

      ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption Team

      Michael Wilbon – Bears

      Tony Kornheiser – Colts

      Other ESPN Personalities

      Jim Rome – Colts 24-17

      Andrew Siciliano – Bears

      Ray Ratto – Colts 31-16

      Fox’s The Best Damn Sports Show Period

      Chris Rose – Colts

      Rodney Peete – Bears

      Leann Tweeden – Colts

      Rob Dibble – Bears

      John Salley – Colts

      Chicago Tribune Reporters

      Terry Bannon – Colts 27-23

      Mike Downey – Bears 28-26

      Brian Hamilton – Colts 27-23

      Ed Sherman – Colts 31-20

      Bob Foltman – Colts 24-21

      John Mullin – Bears 21-20

      Rick Morrissey – Bears 28-17

      Fred Mitchell – Bears 27-23

      Dan McGrath – Colts 30-21

      Melissa Issacson – Bears 28-24

      David Haugh – Bears 31-28

      Don Pierson – Colts 30-24

      Skip Myslinski – Colts 34-21

      Paul Sullivan – Bears 30-27

      Lew Freedman – Bears 27-21

      Mark Gonzales – Colts 31-27

      Teddy Greenstein – Bears 27-23

      Philip Hersh – Bears 30-27

      Ed Hinton – Bears 24-9

      Michael Hirsley – Bears 28-21

      KC Johnson – Bears 28-14

      Barry Temkin – Bears 31-27

      Dave Van Dyck – Bears 23-20

      Actors/Celebrities/Athletes/Politicians

      David Letterman – Colts 34-27

      Tom Dreesen – Bears 30-27

      Craig Ferguson – Colts

      Morgan Freeman – Colts

      William H. Macy – Colts

      Dennis Farina – Bears 23-17

      Joe Mantegna – Bears 31-21

      Gary Sinise – Bears 24-21

      Dennis Franz – Bears 24-13

      Bernie Mac – Bears 33-31

      Ashton Kutcher – Bears 24-20

      Paul Newman – Bears 21-20

      Dwayne Wade – Bears 28-24

      Sylvester Stallone – Colts 38-30

      Jack Nicklaus – Colts 34-24

      Arnold Palmer – Colts 31-24

      Serena Williams – Colts 17-13

      Sen. John McCain – Colts by 6

      Sen. John Kerry – Colts 34-27

      Al Franken – Bears 21-20

      Bill O’Reilly – Colts 31-10

      Larry King – Colts 21-7

      Charlie Sheen – Colts 37-33

      Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR – Colts 31-28

      William Shatner – Colts 24-17

      Haley Joel Osment – Colts 31-24

      Mickey Rooney – Bears 24-14

      Tony Sirico – Colts 21-14

      Pat Robertson – Colts 17-14

      Jerry Falwell – Colts by 14

      Duane “Dog” Chapman – Bears 35-28

      John Wooden – Colts

      Bobby Thomson – Colts 24-17

      Ralph Branca – Colts 41-24

      Jennie Finch – Colts 34-27

      Danica Patrick – Bears 31-27

      Molly Sims – Colts 31-24

      Kendra Wilkinson (Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend) – Colts 27-13

      Dick Vitale – Colts 28-21

      Tony Parker – Colts 25-20

      Phil Jackson – Bears 20-15

      Bob Cousy – Colts 37-12

      Leroy Nieman – Colts 24-10

      Ed Asner – Bears 27-24

      Elisabeth Shue – Colts 35-21

      Dionne Warwick – Colts 28-21

      Wayne Newton – Bears 21-7

      Dick Van Patten – Colts 31-21

      Connie Stevens – Bears 32-23

      Jack Valenti – Colts 28-27

      Tobin Bell – Colts 31-6

      Robert Loggia – Colts 35-29

      Buzz Aldrin – Colts 28-17

      Chuck Yeager – Colts 21-14

      Sen. Richard Lugar – Colts

      Richard M. Daley – Bears

      Mike Eruzione – Colts 31-21

      Michael Phelps – Colts 28-17

      Jermain Taylor – Colts 30-24

      Jeremy Wariner – Bears 27-10

      Kerri Walsh – Colts 27-18

      Ian MacShane – Bears 38-35

      William Sanderson – Colts 31-17

      Leah Remini – Colts 34-23

      Jesse L. Martin – Colts 31-24

      James Denton – Colts 26-16

      Jim Caviezel – Colts 31-20

      John Amos – Bears 24-17

      Marisol Nichols – Bears 24-20

      Stephen Root – Colts 27-21

      Robert Iler, Jr. – Bears 28-24

      Dawn Wells – Colts 24-14

      Barry Williams – Colts 27-17

      Florence Henderson – Colts 24-14

      Adam West – Colts 28-24

      Sam Hornish – Colts 41-14

      Matt Kenseth – Colts 34-17

      Jeff Burton – Colts 28-24

      Susan Anton – Colts 31-24

      L. Scott Turow – Bears 24-20

      Vince Neil – Colts 31-24

      Joan Jett – Colts 28-14

      Carrot Top – Colts 31-17

      Penn & Teller – Colts 28-17

      James Blake – Colts 27-17

      Reggie Miller – Colts

      Steve Kerr – Bears

      LeBron James – Colts

      Andy Roddick – Colts

      Bill Bellamy – Bears

      Anna Kournikova – Bears

      Enrique Iglesias – Bears

      Stewart Cink – Colts

      John Daly – Colts

      Davis Love III – Colts

      Brad Faxon – Colts

      Charles Howell III – Colts

      David Toms – Colts

      Justin Leonard – Colts

      Jeff Sluman – Bears

      Aaron Baddeley – Colts

      Fred Couples – Colts

      Camilo Villegas – Bears

      Tom Glavine – Colts

      David Wright – Bears

      John Maine – Colts

      Jose Reyes – Colts

      Vernon Wells – Colts

      NBC Staff – 3 of 5 pick the Colts

      USA Today – 5 of 6 pick the Colts

  • Zach Thomas, LB, Dolphins – Bears

    Roy Williams, S, Cowboys – Bears

    Drew Brees, QB, Saings – Colts

    Sean Payton, Head Coach, Saints – Colts

    Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals – Colts

    Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks – Bears

    TJ Houshmanzadeh, WR, Bengals – Bears

    Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars – Colts by 14

    Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins – Colts

    Joe Montana – Colts

    Mike Ditka – Bears 28-24

    Jack Del Rio, Head Coach, Jaguars – Colts

    Curtis Martin, RB, Jets – Colts

    LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers – Colts

    Steve Mariucci – Colts

    Michael Strahan, DE, Giants – Colts

    Jarrett Payton, RB, Titans – Bears

    Troy Aikman – Colts

    Michael Irvin – Colts

    Media

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Chicago Bears Get To Work Today

Posted by sportsmaven on February 1, 2007

With all the expanded media coverage the last two weeks, it was easy to forget that there was a football game to prepare for today. The Chicago Bears began their serious preparation for Super Bowl XLI. The Bears were in pads, helmets and shorts today and reports said that practice went very well. Ron Turner, the Bears offensive coordinator stated that the Bears offense worked on their first and second down play packages today, which is the Bears routine for Wednesday throughout the season. Briggs - Urlacher in SB Practice

According to Rich Eisen from the NFL Network, reports have it that the Bears looked relaxed, yet ready to go, ready to play this game. I agree, as the Bears seem to be using the “Play Angry” motto plus the underdog role to forge an us against the world bond. I feel good that this plays into the Bears hands perfectly. I am excited to see the Bears come out and prove to the world not only do they belong in the Super Bowl, but they can compete and are more than capable of winning this game.

Bears Playoff Mantra

The more time I spend breaking down the analysis, the picks by the experts, the comments, the more the keys to this game become simpler and simpler. Right now, Super Bowl XLI comes down the Peyton Manning vs. The Bears. It will obviously be more than that, but from the media perspective and slant, it is all about the X-Factor and aura of Peyton Manning vs. the underdog, bonding closer and tighter as every day goes by Chicago Bears football team. The Bears have no Peyton Mannings on their roster. Brian Urlacher is as close as it gets and he’s a middle linebacker.

As each day goes by, the Bears sit and stew, are asked the same questions about being second fiddle to the Colts, listen to how it’s finally Peyton Manning’s year, how it is his time and that he is the chosen one. Peyton Manning, the friendly, likable guy in the boy next door commercials, it’s his coronation, his time to rise and beat the demons that have held him back. All about how the Bears are the better team defensively, special teams and are quite competent offensively, but yet have no chance to win because of the ‘Peyton Manning effect”. I think the pressure is squarely on the broad shoulders of Peyton Manning and the Bears will enter Dolphin Stadium on Sunday night loose, but quietly motivated, letting all the perceived disrespect stew into their performance on the field of play. Many a statement has been made that the QB position is where half the Super Bowl MVP’s come from and that this is Peyton Manning’s right to claim, his coronation. Lets see what the experts say on Monday morning….

Back to the “expert” picks. Clearly in the experts eyes, the Bears are underdogs in every way possible for this game. The most hardened and experienced of analysts just can’t bring themselves to pick the Bears. You name it, you will be hard pressed to find an analyst worth his salt picking the Bears to beat the Colts. This is what I’ve seen so far this week:

Gil Brandt – NFL.com Analyst – Colts 27, Bears 17.
Dr. Z – CNNSI.com – Colts 34, Bears 24
Experts at CBS Sportsline – 4 of 6 pick the Colts to win the Super Bowl
Vinnie Iyer – SportingNews.com – Colts 34, Bears 24
ESPN Scouts Inc. Pick – Colts 28, Bears 24
ESPN Analyst Mark Schlereth’s pick – Colts (no score)
ESPN Analyst Chris Mortensen’s pick – Colts by 4 points
ESPN Around the Horn’s Woody Paige – Colts (“here’s no way in hell or Miami that Chicago can beat Indianapolis.”)

NFL Network Picks from today:
– Rich Eisen – shocking that the Bears are as big an underdog, Bears looked relaxed and appear to be a team ready to play this game, no pick.
– Terrell Davis – everybody is picking the Colts, so the pressure is on the Colts, Bears getting extra motivation from being underdog, no pick.
– Trent Dilfer – Bears look ready to work, no pick.
– Steve Mariucci – Bears have the best team, but picking the Colts because of one player, Peyton Manning
– Drew Brees, NO – Colts
– Carson Palmer, CIN – Colts
– Sean Payton, coach, NO – Colts
– Hines Ward, PIT – Bears
– Matt Hasselbeck, SEA – no pick
– Holly Robinson Peete – Colts
– Zach Thomas, MIA – Bears
– Roy Williams, DAL – Bears
– Brian Baldinger, analyst – Bears
– Donovan McNabb, PHI – Bears (and he’s a Cubs fan too!)

Other expert picks:
– Jimmy Johnson, Fox NFL Analyst on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts
– Boomer Esiason, NFL.com Analyst on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts
– Emmitt Smith on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts
– Al Harris, Packer’s CB on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts
– Chad Johnson, CIN WR on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts

Bears can’t even get a break in video games. The Madden ’07 forecast from ESPN – Colts 38, Bears 27

ESPN Cold Pizza’s Skip Bayless’ Pick – Bears

Ogunleye SB Press Conference

No wonder Adawale Ogunleye looks like he is over the media sessions, interviews and all the Super Bowl fluff. If you were listening for two straight weeks about how much the Colts were better than you, i’m sure you would have the same expression on your face…..

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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….

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

New Orleans Saints A Team of Destiny?

Posted by sportsmaven on January 18, 2007

The buzz phrase this week from our friends in the national media is that the New Orleans Saints are a team of destiny.  The Indianapolis Colts have also used that self descriptive moniker when talking about themselves, as though the hand of God is sweeping away all challengers and paving a path of gold for these two teams to meet in Miami on Feb. 4th for pro football’s biggest prize,  Super Bowl XLI.  When people start pulling out the Team of Destiny card, it’s often a sign that a team is not playing well enough to consistently win.  Last I heard, they still had to play the games on the field.  Several Seattle Seahawks stated that after the Dallas Cowboys game, that they were a Team of Destiny.  They were a team of destiny all right, destined to watch the rest of the playoffs at home on a high definition plasma screen.

So if we plan on using the Team of Destiny line, shouldn’t we be able to bring in other forms of sporting voodoo in play?  How about the Billy Goat curse or the ex-Cub factor?  (Sorry, wrong sport)  But what about the SI jinx?  I just received this week’s copy of Sports Illustrated in the mail today and look who was on the cover.  For those who don’t subscribe, here is a visual:

Drew Brees on SI

So which theory prevails this weekend?  Sorry Drew, we play the game on the field and here are my keys to the NFC Championship Game:

Bears – Rex Grossman and the defense is what everyone talks about as keys to whether the Bears move on or not, but I think that is the easy way out.  The real keys for the Bears are a bit more complex than that.  I am looking at 3rd 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.  Stop 3rd down conversions, and you keep Drew Brees, Reggie  Bush, Deuce McAllister, and company off the field and keep a mediocre Saints defense on the field.  Secondly, do not let 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.  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 – 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.  McAllister and Bush are the best combo backfield in the NFL and are ideal complements to each other.  The Saints like to use a version of the spread offense to open up lanes for Bush and Marques Colston to exploit.  If McAllister is established early, those lanes open up like a landing strip at O’Hare.  Secondly, the Saints need their rush ends, Will Smith and Charles Grant to get a push on 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.  Finally, win the time of possession battle.  Keep the #1 rated offense in the NFC on the field as much as possible.

The Sports Maven’s prediction: Bears 31, Saints 24

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »