Chicago Sports Inside and Out – The Chicago Sports Maven

Bringing Chicago sports to the world!

Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Chicago Bears Devin Hester Signs New Extension

Posted by sportsmaven on July 27, 2008

Thank the higher powers above that Devin Hester’s wobbly hamstring healed just enough for him to sign a 4 year extension for a reported $40 million dollars, with a guaranteed $15 million.  The contract also has another $10 million in incentives if Hester develops into a #1 receiver, for which he has the potential to accomplish.

(Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

(Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

Word on the street is that the Hester deal has all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed:

  • David Haugh from the Chicago Tribune reports that “Hester becomes the 10th Bears starter and fifth Pro Bowl player the Bears have signed to a contract extension this off-season. It is believed this new contract will make Hester the highest-paid return man in NFL history.”
  • David Haugh also reports that Hester is at the top of the list of recent Chicago Bears re-signed by Chicago Bears GM Jerry Angelo.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times reveals that “[Hester’s] extension adds four new years for Hester meaning he is a Bear through 2013. He was under contract through 2009 and he is the first player with a four-year contract for the Bears to get new money after only two seasons.”
  • ESPN reports that “This [contract] was probably the most difficult one we’ve had to do and probably ever will do because we’re not only rewarding a special player,” Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. “If you look at it as a returner, we blew that [money total] out of the water. It was now looking at him as what he might be or could be as a receiver. That’s where the real difficulties were and a real challenge.”

Any way you look at it, it seems that Devin Hester is happy (and potentially $40M richer) and the Bears are happy (a difficult, challenging, but creative and fair contract).  Hester celebrated by catching a 40-yd pass from QB Rex Grossman in Sunday afternoon’s practice.  Seems as though the hammy is healed.

Other Devin Hester commentary:

  • Windy City Gridiron notes that “[Bears] check another off theirs list” with the Hester signing.
  • Matt Loede from Bearsgab.com notes that “We’ll see now with a lot more cash in his pocket if that hamstring suddenly feels better today”
  • AOL Sports Fanhouse reports that “virtually everyone things [Hester signing] is a good move.”

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Will The Chicago Bears Do In The 2008 NFL Draft?

Posted by sportsmaven on April 26, 2008

There have been countless mock drafts, endless expert analysis and general watercooler, beer garden, happy hour sports conversations on what exactly the Chicago Bears will do with their draft picks in today’s NFL Draft. The consensus? Nobody knows exactly what the Bears will do…..and that’s exactly the way that Bears GM Jerry Angelo likes it.

ESPN’s expert NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks the Bears will go with a offensive lineman, specifically Vanderbilt OT Chris Williams. Todd McShay from Scouts, Inc is going with Boise State OT Ryan Clady (personally, I think he’ll be long gone by pick 14). Fox Sports analyst Jay Glazer has the Bears picking Illinois standout RB Rashard Mendenhall. And finally, the guru of all mock draft analysts, the most accurate mock draft expert, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning Star has the Bears choosing Virginia OG/OT Branden Albert. Other late circulating rumors have the Bears entertaining trade offers and the possibility of moving down in the draft (which is real, since Jerry Angelo seems to prefer that strategy over all others.)

One thing is certain about this draft: This is a make or break draft for Jerry Angelo. He has to hit big in this draft and he has to hit big with picks on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears have many holes to fill: OT, OG, WR, RB, possibly QB. The Bears need at least 2 starter grade picks out of this draft and and probably 4-5 major contributors in order to compete in the NFC this coming season.

The NFC will be a vastly improved conference this coming season, and in particular, the NFC North Division. The Minnesota Vikings look drastically improved with the addition of WR Bernard Berrian to strengthen the offense and DE Jared Allen to a underrated defense, the Detroit Lions look to make a step up from last season if they play their draft cards correctly and the Green Bay Packers are the reigning division champions, who many feel will drop off after the retirement of QB Brett Farve. (I believe the Packers will be in contention for the division title all season long.) In addition, teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks are bulking up to compete for the NFC crown.

The Bears hold 11 draft picks and 4 of the first 100 picks. The Chicago Tribune ranked the top GM’s in the NFL in terms of draft picks that went on to become starters in the league. The top GM was, surprisingly Arizona Cardinals GM (and former Bears Director of Pro Personnel) Rod Graves. The Bears Jerry Angelo made it into the top 10 at #10, mostly on the strength of his defensive picks. Offense has not been good to Jerry Angelo draft picks, which puts even more pressure on hitting this draft big. The Bears need playmakers, explosive players, football players, not combine gym rat types. Jerry Angelo stated this week that this was a 10 man draft at the top, which is not good if you hold the 14th pick. While I don’t envision Angelo trading up, it wouldn’t surprise me if he traded down. The OL pick in the first round seems to be the majority opinion in mock drafts and analyst opinions. Which means that it’s most likely Chris Williams. 2nd round RB and third round WR/OL. After that, it’s more of a crapshoot, which makes predictions a waste of good time. Good luck, Jerry Angelo……you’re going to need a lot of it.

By the way, some of the players I like in this year’s draft that I would be thrilled to see the Bears pick:

RB – Rashard Mendenhall, James Stewart, Ray Rice, Matt Forte

WR – Mario Manningham, Malcolm Kelly, Eddie Royal, James Hardy, Jordy Nelson

OL – Ryan Clady, Branden Albert, Chilo Rachal, Duane Brown, Anthony Collins, Chris Williams

QB – Chad Henne, Joe Flacco, Dennis Dixon

Safety – Tom Zbikowski

DT – Marcus Harrison, Pat Sims

LB – Jordon Dizon, Xavier Adibi

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

“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.

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

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

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.

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »