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Posts Tagged ‘football’

“Sober” Chicago Bears Force The Rest Of Us To Drink

Posted by sportsmaven on March 5, 2008

The Chicago Bears entered this off-season with a clear goal of making the offense the #1 priority. Bears GM Jerry Angelo stressed his intentions in his season ending press conference, but the actions of the Chicago Bears to date, suggest a series of miscues that make it nearly impossible to believe that the Bears offense will be better than last season, much less believing it to be the #1 priority of this off-season.

Lance Briggs Re-signs with Chicago Bears

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

If improving the offense is, indeed, the #1 priority, I would have thought the Bears would have invested in an approach similar to the following:

1. Franchise WR Bernard Berrian — using the same strategy of maintaining defensive consistency by retaining LB Lance Briggs this past season, the Bears could have began by locking up their game breaker, Berrian for one season with the franchise tag. This would serve the purpose of maintaining consistency in the offense, keeping the strength of an already suspect WR corps intact, buy some valuable time in attempting to sign Berrian long term deal, and finally, taking pressure off the remaining receivers to develop immediately.

2. Pick up a stud OL OR RB in free agency — the need for free agency to shore up one of these positions is paramount in getting the offense back on track. The Bears have an aging, ineffective OL, the oldest in the NFL in average age last season. The current RB situation is dire, with RB Cedric Benson ineffective and injured with a broken ankle that doctors say may affect his speed. If you took care of one in free agency, the other would be resolved in the draft and the offense is in much better shape. Both positions are thin in free agency and abundant in the draft, with the OL standing out as a little stronger in this year’s draft, so signing a RB such as Michael Turner would be a logical choice, sending a strong message that the Bears were serious about improving an anemic running game and making offense a #1 priority.

3. Invest in improving the long term outlook at QB — the Bears QB situation is not horrible, but it’s not great either. QB Rex Grossman led the Bears to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season and took way more criticism that his performance warranted. He still has potential to be a very good QB in the league and the open competition with Kyle Orton could be a decent challenge. I am more confident about the QB situation if the first two points are adequetely addressed.

So what have the Bears done so far this off-season?

1. The Bears release OT Fred Miller, OG Ruben Brown, WR Muhsin Muhammad, trade QB Brian Griese, extend the contract of DE Alex Brown, re-sign LB Lance Briggs, re-sign QB Rex Grossman, extend the contract of QB Kyle Orton, sign WR Marty Booker, cut ties with special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo, lose WR Bernard Berrian to division-rival Minnesota Vikings, and lose TE John Gilmore to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears come out slightly ahead on defense, as the Briggs contract was very reasonable, they break even on the released players, trading Muhammad for Booker is even or a slight upgrade, but the one player they could least afford to lose on the offense was Bernard Berrian. Losing Berrian to a division rival is a double hit, weakening the Bears while strengthening the Vikings.

2. San Diego Chargers RB Michael Turner never made it to Chicago, amidst reports that he was interested in Chicago but didn’t get a sniff of interest from the Bears. Turner signed a contract (similar to what Lance Briggs signed for) to be the feature back for the Atlanta Falcons. With most of the top free agent guards and tackles off the board by this time, and no other stud RB’s left in free agency, the Bears are now forced to look at lesser free agents, or try to fill both holes in the draft.

3. The QB position is now weakened by removing Grossman/Orton’s most reliable, game breaking talent. That, combined with the lack of a game breaking RB, and a solid OL exposes the very weaknesses of both QB’s and adds further pressure to the development of Devin Hester as a WR. Hester as a WR either has the potential of diminishing his effectiveness as a kick/punt returner, or removing him from that responsibility completely. Combined with the loss of Ayanbadejo, the cascade effect of the Bears off season decisions weakens the special teams unit as well.

The remaining free agent class lacks players with the caliber to improve the Bears offense enough to call it a marked improvement on last year’s squad. This puts huge pressure on the Bears football leadership to come through in drafting immediate impact players and difference makers for the offense in the April 26-27th NFL Draft. This is an extremely tall order, given the Bears recent history of drafting ineffective offensive talent. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti had it right in his article, suggesting that the Bears needed to get drunk and spend. With an estimated $30M under the salary cap (amidst a rise in ticket prices for the 2008 season), spending to fill holes and improve would seem more than reasonable.

The Bears did manage to stay “sober” in this year’s free agent market , but the potential of a 12-4 season is quickly being replaced with the potential of a 4-12 season, with the Super Bowl fading further and further away in the rear view mirror.

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David (Not Adam) Archuleta, Devin Hester, You Are BOTH Ridiculous…

Posted by sportsmaven on February 29, 2008

I am currently watching the second week of American Idol and my favorite contestant to date is a young man, a 17 year old named David Archuleta. He is not to be confused, nor do I believe he is any relation to Bears safety Adam Archuleta. Why am I writing about David Archuleta? Because his performance tonight is not only the anthesis of his namesake, Adam, but is comparable to Adam’s more renowned teammate, Devin Hester.

Adam ArchuletaDavid Archuleta

Davin Hester’s Touchdown in SB

Judge Randy Jackson told Archuleta that his performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine” was the best he had EVER heard on American Idol, period. Paula Abdul called Archuleta’s performance so good, it was “ridiculous”. Simon Cowell said Archuleta was the hands down favorite in the competition. As I listen to the praise heaped on this young man, listening to the screams of the girls in the audience, it makes me wonder……did Chicago somehow get the wrong Archuleta? And if this Arcuhleta is “ridiculous” is he the Devin Hester of American Idol? I would have to answer YES on both questions. By the way, NFL Free Agency opened today and the Bears still have the wrong Archuleta.

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The Best Is Yet To Come For Illinois…Football, That Is

Posted by sportsmaven on January 11, 2008

Don’t let Illinois’ Rose Bowl performance fool you, the Fighting Illini are on the rise. After New Year’s Day’s meeting with the USC Trojans, Illinois is a better team that the final score of 49-17 indicated. The Illini played with heart and toughness, and with a bit of talent, but USC is arguably the team with the best talent in the country. Illinois, at times, hung in with the Trojans, but the gap in talent between Illinois and USC was too great, at least for this game, on this day.

Better Days For Illinois Football

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire

Now many people think that Illinois should just be happy they made a BCS bowl and that any other year, the 9-3 Illini are happily playing the Capital One Bowl, watching Ohio St. in the Rose Bowl. I think that’s fodder for narrow-minded; pessimistic thinkers. Illini Coach Ron Zook is an outstanding recruiter, and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s spread offense and his Washington DC area connections (as well as his remarkable eye for recruiting difference-makers) provides the rebirth of the Illini football program.

Now, if we could only get Ron Zook to help Bruce Weber recruit for the basketball program……

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Bears Lay An Egg On National TV

Posted by sportsmaven on December 18, 2007

If you haven’t already realized it, the Chicago Bears are officially a national embarrassment. Tonight’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings wasn’t a decisive Vikings victory in the least. In fact, it appeared to me that the Vikings were a little less inept that the Bears, in pulling out a 20-13 victory on Monday Night Football.

Kyle Orton starts for Bears on Monday night

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Tonight was QB Kyle Orton’s 2007 coming out party and he was OK tonight. He didn’t get any help tonight from anyone on the offensive side of the ball. To fully explain how painfully horrible this game was for the Bears, consider the following:

  • The Vikings turn the ball over 4 times, including their first two possessions of the game, with Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson throwing 3 of the most ugly interceptions seen as well as helping RB Adrian Peterson fumble a handoff.
  • The Vikings muff an extra point attempt after their 3rd quarter touchdown
  • The Bears are +3 in turnover differential and STILL lose
  • The Bears miss 5 tackles on one play, resulting in a 71 yard completion to Vikings WR Robert Ferguson, the longest reception of his 8 year career.
  • The Bears commit 11 penalties for 95 yards, many on false starts and holding calls on the offensive line.

I really don’t know what to say about the Bears team as a whole. This season has been a colossal collapse from all aspects of the game, save the special teams, K Robbie Gould, and WR/KR Devin Hester, most notably. The offensive line is getting worse week to week, not being able to run block all season (the Bears are dead last in the NFL in rushing) and not pass blocking much better. The offensive rushing game lacks explosion, consistency (other than being consistently horrible). The offense on the whole misses too many blocks, too many unforced errors, and mental mishaps. Too many 3 and outs, killing the effectiveness of the defense. Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner is definitely on the hot seat in Chicago.

On the defensive misses too many tackles, too many undisciplined jumps out of gap coverage, players out of position, too vulnerable to cutback runs and cutback moves, can’t prevent the big plays. The Bears may be looking at the potential of two new coordinators next season.

The Bears are hitting new lows each week and there are so many holes to fix on this team that it’s becoming a full blown rebuilding project. The worse the Bears play, the more the feeling is that last year’s Super Bowl run was a fluke. Next year isn’t looking so hot after a bad Monday night loss to a not so good Vikings team.

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Bears Can Win On National TV

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

22After the Dallas Cowboys160167 game a couple of weeks ago, I began to doubt whether or not the Chicago Bears 161168had a jinx of their own. It seems as though the Bears can’t win a game on national television. The Bears record on Monday Night Football has been an atrocious 18-32 going into the 2007 season. Their record on Sunday Night Football has been a little better, 2-1 going into last night’s game with the undefeated Green Bay Packers162169.

Bears Beat Packers 27-20

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

With the Cubs death spiral in the playoffs, as well as the 1-3 start for the Bears, going into last night’s game, many thought it would be a long winter for sports in Chicago. After the first two drives, it was going to be a REALLY long winter, as the Bears looked about as bad as you could look. But they were still in the game, trailing only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and 17-7 going into halftime. The Packers somehow couldn’t get past the Bears, keeping them in the game with turnovers, penalties, and mistakes.

ESPN made some references to airing Lovie Smith’s halftime speech to the Bears, but it never made any mention of it after that teaser and I fell asleep waiting for it, so I never got to see it, but whatever he said, it must have worked, as the Bears finally showed up in the second half, played good football, and won the game 27-20.170

I have to admit that the Bears didn’t look very dominant in any phase of the game last night. They looked over-matched both offensively and defensively in the first half. The defense came out much tougher in the second half and the offense did just enough to capitalize on sloppy play by the Packers, but I felt that the the outcome wasn’t so much a Bears victory as it was a Packers loss. I am still not convinced that the offense is much better than it was. Bears QB Brian Griese171 had a good game and the Bears TE had great games. (Finally — TE Greg Olsen172 gets involved and it pays off!)

The Bears defense needs some work, as they let the Packers run on them all night. They did a great job of picking it up in the second half, but I have yet to see the Bears play a complete game this season and we are entering week 6. I am optimistic that the Bears are moving in the right direction and the Packers win was the biggest of the season. We have the Minnesota Vikings173 at home this week and we need to make this game our next make or break game of the week. At 2-3 we are still 2 games behind the Packers and need to close ground every week now. Like it or not, every divisional game is a must-win, that’s the situation we’re in.2

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