Posted by sportsmaven on September 28, 2009
The similarities with the Chicago Bears two victories this season are eerily striking in its very nature. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks are two entirely different football teams, but the Bears approach to each game seemed to be virtually the same. The Bears began each game very lethargically on both sides of the ball, stayed in the game while being steamrolled for most of the first half, picked up the intensity in the second half, scored on late drives engineered by Bears QB Jay Cutler and capitalized on two missed field goals by the opposing kicker to scratch out hard fought victories in each game.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Where the similarities end for the two victories are in the post-game press conferences from the opposing coaches. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is fresh off a Super Bowl winning season in 2008. Seahawks head coach Jim Mora, Jr. was just anointed heir apparent to former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren. The common denominator: each coaches team lost to the Chicago Bears with their kickers missing 2 field goals that ultimately proved to be the margin of loss. But this is where the similarities end for Tomlin and Mora.
In yesterday’s loss to the Bears, Mora was asked about his reaction to his kicker, Olindo Mare missing two field goals:
“No excuses for those,” Mora said. “If you’re a kicker in the National Football League, you should make those kicks, bottom line, end of story, period. No excuses, no wind, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to make those kicks, especially in a game like this where you’re kicking, scratching and fighting, playing your tail off and you miss those kicks, not acceptable. Not acceptable. Absolutely not acceptable.”
So, coach Mora, can you tell us how you really feel about the kicking situation? Mora was asked if the team will consider a change at that position.
“We’ll look at changes everywhere,” Mora said. “We’re not going to fight our [behind] and have a field-goal kicker miss two field goals. It’s not going to happen.”
In contrast, when Tomlin was asked by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about K Jeff Reed’s two misses his response was more muted:
“I haven’t talked to Jeff yet about why he missed two kicks. Of course, this is uncharacteristic of him. He just kicked the game winner in overtime last week, and that’s what we’re used to. We aren’t used to what happened with him today.”
The comparison of reactions between Tomlin and Mora couldn’t be any more divergent in nature. In addition to Tomlin, several Steeler teammates came to the defense of Reed, each stating their contribution to the loss. The same for the Seahawk players, who each accepted their responsibility in yesterday’s loss.
Rarely is a loss attributed to one person, especially in the NFL. Each player has a role in victory and defeat and virtually every coach worth his salt recognizes this and states so appropriately in his post-game press conferences. Mike Tomlin displayed the class and professionalism of a true champion in his post-game press conference. In contrast, Jim Mora, Jr’s lack of class and professionalism in his post-game press conference is highly symbolic of a coach who still doesn’t get it .
Attitude and tone are extremely important elements in the dynamics of successful teams. Head coaches are directly responsible for setting the attitude and tone to foster a winning environment. Tomlin’s approach has led his team to the pinnacle, a Super Bowl championship, in only two years. As for Mora’s approach — he is most likely looking for his next fall guy on the waiver wire .
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Chicago Bears, Jay Cutler, Jeff Reed, Jim Mora Jr, Mike Holmgren, Mike Tomlin, Olindo Mare, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl | 2 Comments »
Posted by sportsmaven on October 1, 2008
I’ve been asked by more than one person about my prowess in fantasy football. I have two teams and through week 4, my records are 4-0 in one league, and 3-1 in the other. For those interested, below are my 2008 Fantasy Football team rosters:
Team 1: The West Coast Offense 4-0 record:
- QB Tony Romo, DAL
- QB Kurt Warner, ARZ
- RB Stephen Jackson, STL
- RB Michael Turner, ATL
- RB Brandon Jacobs, NYG
- RB Rashard Mendenhall, PIT – will drop tomorrow
- WR Anquan Boldin, ARZ
- WR TJ Houshmanzadeh, CIN
- WR Calvin Johnson, DET
- WR Donald Driver, GB
- WR Hank Baskett, PHI
- TE Chris Cooley, WAS
- K Nick Folk, DAL
- K John Carney, NYG
- D/ST Seattle Seahawks
- D/ST Arizona Cardinals
Team 2: Windy City Bombers 3-1 record:
- QB Derek Anderson, CLE
- QB Carson Palmer, CIN
- RB Larry Johnson, KC
- RB Matt Forte, CHI
- RB Felix Jones, DAL
- RB Darren Sproles, SD
- WR Terrell Owens, DAL
- WR Torry Holt, STL
- WR Devin Hester, CHI
- WR Donald Driver, GB
- WR Vincent Jackson, SD
- TE Tony Scheffler, DEN
- TE Todd Heap, BAL
- K Nate Kaeding, SD
- D/ST Green Bay
Thoughts? I tweak my rosters constantly, so these are not the exact teams I began with, nor will they be the teams I finish with, but the core players will remain the same.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals, Brandon Jacobs, Calvin Johnson, Carson Palmer, Chris Cooley, Darren Sproles, Derek Anderson, Devin Hester, Donald Driver, fantasy football, Felix Jones, green bay packers, Hank Baskett, John Carney, Kurt Warner, Larry Johnson, Matt Forte, Michael Turner, Nate Kaeding, Nick Fold, Rashard Mendenhall, Seattle Seahawks, Stephen Jackson, Terrell Owens, TJ Houshmanzadeh, Todd Heap, Tony Romo, Tony Schleffler, Torry Holt, Vincent Jackson | 1 Comment »
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: 2008 NFL Draft, Anthony Collins, Bernard Berrian, Branden Albert, Brett Favre, Chad Henne, Chicago Bears, Chilo Rachal, Chris Williams, Dallas Cowboys, Dennis Dixon, Detroit Lions, Duane Brown, Eddie Royal, ESPN, green bay packers, James Hardy, James Stewart, Jared Allen, Jerry Angelo, Joe Flacco, Jordon Dizon, Jordy Nelson, Malcolm Kelly, Marcus Harrison, Mario Manningham, Matt Forte, Mel Kiper, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, NFC, NFC North, NFL, Pat Sims, Philadelphia Eagles, Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice, Rick Gosselin, Ryan Clady, Seattle Seahawks, Todd McShay, Tom Zbikowski, Xavier Adibi | 3 Comments »
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.
(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….
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Bernard Berrian, Bob Babich, Brian Urlacher, Carolina Panthers, Cedric Benson, Chicago Bears, Chris Harris, Dallas Cowboys, Danieal Manning, Dante Hall, Dante Wesley, Denver Broncos, Devin Hester, Garrett Wolfe, Greg Olson, Indianapolis Colts, Jerry Angelo, Kansas City Chiefs, Lovie Smith, Mark Anderson, Mark Bradley, Mike Brown, New Orleans Saints, NFC, NFC Championship, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Rex Grossman, Robbie Gould, Ron Rivera, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl, Super Bowl XLI, Tommie Harris, Trumaine McBride | 1 Comment »
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:
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: Charles Grant, Dallas Cowboys, Deuce McAllister, Drew Brees, Fred Thomas, Indianapolis Colts, Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints, NFC Championship, NFL, Reggie Bush, Rex Grossman, Seattle Seahawks, Sports Illustrated, Super Bowl XLI, Washington Redskins, Will Smith | 2 Comments »