Chicago Sun-Times

Q&A: The replies

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Thanks for all of the questions. I got to as many as possible. Some were edited for length, clarity, etc. Some wound up being somewhat repetitive. We’ll do it again soon.

Q: Assuming the Bears take a running back in the first three rounds of the draft, what will that mean for Garrett Wolfe and Adrian Peterson? Is it possible the Bears will carry four running backs out of training camp? Also, if the Bears ask Israel Idonije to bulk up in order to slide down into the defensive tackle position (which has been reported recently), will that effectively remove him as a "wedge buster" on special teams? I would hate to see both him and Brendon Ayanbedejo missing from coverage teams.

Sam, Carol Stream

Hi Sam,

The Bears are not going to give up on Wolfe, a third-round pick in 2007, after one season. They’re more likely to cut their losses with Cedric Benson before Wolfe. They need to find a better defined role for him as a change-of-pace back this season but before they do that they need to straighten out the running game, period. I think it’s fair to say Peterson showed he’s not cut out for the backup role but he’s a valuable performer on special teams and has been durable. I don’t see why the Bears would not keep four running backs (five if you count a fullback). They kept six wide receivers last season and virtually never used Mike Hass.

As far as Izzy, I’d expect him to still be a part of the coverage teams. He’s got a special combination of size and speed and even if he bulks up a little to move inside, he’ll still be valuable for Dave Toub’s special teams.

Q: Any chance the Bears go after Dennis Dixon in the fourth or fifth round? I think the kid has a lot of potential I would love the pick.

Matthew, Parts Unknown

Hi Matthew,

I’d certainly say there is a chance the Bears could target the Oregon quarterback in the middle rounds. He’s still rehabbing a torn ACL, but was reportedly impressive last week when he worked out for scouts. The Bears, I was told, were not one of the teams present. Dixon is an intriguing guy, but one you’re not looking toward until 2009. The Bears seem to always be talking about a “redshirt” class for draft picks. Dan Bazuin and Michael Okwo headline it this year. For that reason, Dixon doesn’t make sense to me. This offense and this coaching staff needs players it can work with now. Of course, neither the coaches nor anyone else has asked for my opinion.


Q: What do you know about Mike Hass’ standing with the coaches? He seemed like a real promising rookie last spring and summer but then never got in a regular-season game. Have the coaches soured on him?

Cliff, Clinton, Ind.

Hi Cliff,

I wanted to get to a Hass question quickly (there were several). He is the most popular player the Bears have had in at least the last eight years that has never done a thing on the field for them. Hass did dress for the Philadelphia game last season and was in on a handful of special teams plays. I’d say his lack of experience and ability to play special teams was probably the biggest reason he didn’t see more action. It’s a little farfetched to think he would have been a panacea for the dreadful passing game in 2007. If the coaches could not find a spot to utilize former second-round draft pick Mark Bradley, and needed nearly a half-season to get Devin Hester more involved, how can you expect them to carve out a niche for the former Biletnikoff Award winner? I know the guy has amazing hands and I’ve seen it myself in practice. But it’s going to be an uphill battle for him to make the roster in his third NFL season, and I would imagine at this point he’d probably embrace an opportunity elsewhere.

With Bradley, Hester, Marty Booker, Brandon Lloyd and Rashied Davis (the restricted free agent is expected to return) that’s five wideouts right there. It’s a near certainty the club drafts one to bring them to six. Unless Lloyd finds a way to get himself cut, or someone gets injured (always possible), it’s going to be a challenge. Brandon Rideau finds himself in the same position because it’s just unlikely the team that gets off the bus running will keep seven wide receivers. They kept six last season didn’t use No. 6. Hass is a good guy and here’s hoping he gets a fair shake.


Q: What is Rashied Davis’ status? The more wide receivers on the roster the merrier.

Tony, Santa Clara, Calif.

Hi Tony,

Davis is a restricted free agent. The deadline to sign an offer sheet with another club is April 18. At this point, chances are he’s returning to the Bears at the low level tender of $927,000. He’s a quality slot receiver when the offense is functioning and is valuable on special teams, where I could see his role expanding this season.


Q: How reluctant would the Bears be to draft Michigan wide receiver Mario Manningham with their second round pick (44th overall) should he fall that far? He's been questioned on his character issues and it looks like he could drop out of the first round. Will be Bears be weary of him because of past problems with Tank Johnson? Also, will they shy away from him because of the disaster David Terrell turned out to be? I feel Manningham can be the best wide receiver in this draft and by the looks of his on-field numbers and highlights, there's no question.

Kris, Knoxville, Ill.

Kris: Manningham would have to be an intriguing selection in the middle of the second round. Earlier this week, he admitted to pot use and failing two drug tests in school. Worse, Manningham didn’t come clean with NFL personnel he met with at the combine and has had to address that issue with a letter he has sent to all teams in which he said he “wasn’t straightforward’’ with them.

Given Jerry Angelo’s decree at the combine that he is putting even more stock in character these days, I’d have to say that makes his selection unlikely. The guy didn’t help himself either with a slow 40 time (4.59 seconds at the combine, although he improved at his pro day) and is reported to have had differences with coach Lloyd Carr while in school. So, potentially you’re talking about rolling the dice with a former dope smoker who didn’t come clean with teams about the subject the first time around, didn’t time well and may be difficult to work with? No thanks.

Could Manningham turn into a star? No question about it. I just don’t see it being with a “C” on the side of his helmet. But I would agree he’d be a value pick at No. 44. A running back from Tennessee was dogged by a failed pot test at the combine back in 1994. The Philadelphia Eagles used the 42nd pick on Charlie Garner and he had nearly 11,000 yards of total offense in his 11-year career.


Q: Rate the chances of the Bears' first-round pick by position. I'd think its something like 35% OT, 30% RB, 20% DT, 15% other.

Mike, Fayetteville, Ark.

Hi Mike,

65 percent offensive lineman—Virginia’s Branden Albert is considered a guard by some.

10 percent quarterback—could Boston College’s Matt Ryan have that nervous Brady Quinn squirm on draft day?

10 percent running back—a lot of people are demanding a back. I just don’t see it. Not only does the experience with Cedric Benson scare the Bears, they still want to see him succeed.

10 percent defensive tackle—Chances would be higher if I thought Sedrick Ellis or Glenn Dorsey were actually going to slide. Both should go in the top nine.

5 percent other—if Jerry Angelo can manage a trade down in the first round, maybe another position jumps out. Miami safety Kenny Phillips? A receiver?


Q: As I understand the quarterback situation, Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman will be working with very similar base salaries for the 2008 season. With this in mind, I cannot imagine the Bears would draft a quarterback that would make more in base salary than their experienced quarterbacks in competition for the starting job. Which of the Bears' picks in this year's draft would fall below this salary threshold for a QB, and when do you believe the Bears will draft a QB to develop?

Steve, Milwaukee

Hi Steve,

The Bears are desperate for a franchise quarterback. They need one in the worst way. If Angelo could find one, he’d be silly not to pay the moon for his services. I don’t think that will be a factor in their thinking whatsoever. Moreover, base salaries are relatively insignificant when it comes to rookie deals. The bulk of the money for top picks is wrapped up in various bonus payments and escalators. Grossman’s base salary for 2008 is $1.5 million, $200,000 more than Orton’s. Grossman’s one-year contract maxes out at $4.5 million. Orton’s one-year extension (he was under contract for 2008) tops out at $5.02 million and they have the same triggers for escalators.

If the Bears are convinced there’s a guy who can develop into a starter in 2009, they could pull the trigger on a quarterback in the second round. If not, I could see them waiting until the fourth or fifth round to take a chance on a developmental guy. If Matt Ryan falls to No. 14, he’ll warrant discussion. Last year’s second-round pick, Dan Bazuin, signed a four-year deal with a signing bonus of $1.185 million. Any four-year deal for the No. 44 pick (the Bears’ second rounder) is easily going to trump the total value of deals for Grossman and Orton. It’s apples and oranges.


Q: By the time the offense has finished its one- to two-year rebuilding process and is competent, Adewale Ogunleye and Brian Urlacher will both be over 30. Trading these two for draft picks could allow the offense and defense to peak at the same time. Would the Bears be in better position to win in the long run if they traded these two dominant players?

Dave, Parts Unknown

Hi Dave,

You’re confident the offense will be rebuilt in one or two years? Do you know something about this quarterback competition the rest of us are dying to learn? Ogunleye and Urlacher will both be 30 this season. Trading Urlacher makes perfect sense if you’re tired of his pleas for a new contract. Dealing Ogunleye means you’re confident Dan Bazuin can be not just a strong role player in his first season but a strong starter. Ridding the roster of Urlacher and Ogunleye would ensure the defense will not be peaking in a year or two.


Q: It's starting to look to me like '06 when the whole world expected the Bears to take a tight end. Then the whole league spent the whole draft taking tight ends right in front of the Bears. We just waited a year and Greg Olsen dropped in our laps. This year could it be tackles instead of tight ends?

Gary, Parts Unknown

Hi Gary,

It could be. If so, there will be a whole lot of focus on your new starting right tackle, John St. Clair.


Q: Will we see more of Greg Olson this year? I think it’s crazy to draft someone with his talent and not use them.

Stan T., Maryland

Hi Stan,

I’d expect more from Olsen this season. He’ll be in his second year and unless the Bears get a real boost at wide receiver, they’re going to need to lean on him and Desmond Clark more in the passing game. It’s fair to say Olsen’s rookie season—39 receptions, 391 yards, two touchdowns—was in line with the first years of a lot of tight ends.

Twenty-one tight ends were drafted in the first round in the last 18 drafts (including Olsen) and only two had more than 400 yards in their rookie season—Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller in 2005 and the Giants’ Jeremy Shockey in 2002. Those 21 picks averaged 23 catches, 249 yards and two touchdowns. When you consider how broken the Bears’ offense was last season, I think Olsen’s numbers were strong.


Q: Cedric Benson looked slow and fat last year. Is that an illusion or is he slower and fatter than he was at Texas? Why didn't Mark Bradley play more last year? Was Muhsin Muhammed really that much better?

Jeff, Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Hi Jeff,

Benson certainly wasn’t very explosive last season and Lovie Smith has asked him to trim down for this season. The Mark Bradley issue has become a bit of a mystery wrapped inside of an enigma. Bradley missed about a week at the end of training camp last season and that appeared to sink him on the depth chart. If you recall, Smith explained at the start of the season that he was running fifth on the six-man depth chart. He’s been the whipping boy for position coach Darryl Drake at times during his career. Muhammad was their possession receiver last season and that’s not a role Bradley could fill. He’ll have his chance to flourish this season. For Benson and Bradley—the first two picks of 2005—their fourth seasons with the organization are make or break.


Q: I've seen some mock drafts where both Jeff Otah and Chris Williams will be available when the Bears pick. Compare and contrast these players in relation to how they fit the Bears’ system.

Jay, Kankakee

Hi Jay,

Williams is the more polished of the two players. He plays with better leverage and is probably a better fit as a left tackle. Otah is a little bit bigger and could have a higher ceiling after playing only two seasons at Pitt. He’s got a thicker base and longer arms but would have to have his game refined to have an opportunity to play on the left side. The Bears have shown interest in both and attended a private workout Otah had Wednesday. Both would fit what the team is doing. Whether or not both will be on the board, we’ll have to wait and see. I spoke with one high-powered agent Thursday (who doesn’t have a top tackle in the draft) and it was his opinion both would be available at No. 14.


Q: Is it possible Brian Urlacher had a written or unwritten clause in his deal, to always be the higher paid Bears linebacker?

Patrick D., Parts Unknown

Hi Patrick,

There’s no such language in Urlacher’s contract. That would be a difficult thing to quantify also. How do you define highest paid? Higher average yearly salary? Guaranteed money? Urlacher wants more money because the salary cap has shot up 54 percent since he signed his nine-year extension in 2003. Of course, it would be more understandable had a he done something like a six-year extension.


Q: In his 20 years of running drafts between the Bears and Tampa, how many Pro Bowl offensive tackles has Jerry Angelo drafted? What could be considered Angelo’s best offensive draft class?

Creighton, Parts Unknown

Hi Creighton,

FIrst of all, I don’t think you can assign all blame or all credit to Angelo for the drafts he was part of in Tampa from 1987-2001. He was the director of player personnel and didn’t have final authority. That being said, we know he hasn’t had great success drafting linemen with the Bears (he also hasn't tried a lot as he's allocated free agency dollars to build the line), although Marc Colombo is a solid starter now in Dallas at right tackle.

You asked for tackles, but the Bears need a guard, too, so I’ll examine linemen as a whole.

The Bucs drafted Paul Gruber out of Wisconsin with the fourth pick in 1988 and was a very solid player, setting a Tampa record with 183 starts. The offense stunk for much of Gruber’s career. Had it been better, he could have easily been named to a Pro Bowl.

Center Tony Mayberry was drafted in the fourth round in 1990 and made three Pro Bowls.

Right tackle Jerry Wunsch was selected in the second round in 1997 and become a solid NFL starter. Guard Frank Middleton was chosen in the third round that year and he was a starter on the high-powered Raiders offenses leading to their appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Guard Cosey Coleman, a second-round pick in 2000, had a steady seven-year career before knee injuries forced him to retire.

There were certainly picks in that span that didn’t pan out—Charles McRae in 1991 and Kenyatta Walker in 2001 stick out as first-round picks who did not flourish.

As far as the best offensive draft ... the Bucs got Warrick Dunn along with Wunsch and Middleton in 1997. That draft also produced cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Al Harris as well as linebacker Al Singleton. Not a bad draft. I think it’s fair to say the Bucs have been a defensive driven team. Kind of like here. That’s not to make an excuse for failed offensive picks however.


Q: So the Bears have enough money to do contract extensions for Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Robbie Gould and now Brain Urlacher, plus sign all their draft picks?

Dan Wilson, Knox, Ind.

Hi Dan,

The answer is yes. $16 million in available cap space is an enormous amount of space even when accounting for the rookie pool. It comes down to cash and how much the club wants to spend and how they want to allocate cap space in the future. How do you think a team like the Redskins wrote massive contracts year after year after year until this season? It can be done. But it’s a matter of the club determining how much they want to pay and those players determining if it works for them.


Q: Do you think Matt Forte is a fit for the Bears’ offense?

Paulo B., Sao Paulo, Brazil

Hi Paulo,

Although Forte played against some smaller competition at Tulane in Conference USA, I think he would be a decent fit for what the Bears do. He runs with good vision and is strong enough to make yards after contact. I’m not sure that Forte has that top gear to take a play all the way, but he’s a rugged, aggressive back who also has some skills as a receiver out of the backfield. I think he can handle blitz pickup assignments, too, and that’s always been something that’s dinged Cedric Benson. Remember, Benson blew a block that led to Brian Griese getting hurt at Oakland last season.


Q: Who do you see as possible trade partners with the Bears in the draft? Does anyone have a surplus of second- or third-round picks?

Adam, Oswego

Hi Adam,

I think Angelo could get together with anyone but the San Francisco 49ers and make a trade happen on draft weekend. I hear the Bears aren't getting along so well the Niners these days.

Atlanta has a bounty of draft picks with the Falcons owning three second-round selections and two in the third round to give them five of the top 68 picks and six of the top 98. Given the state of Arthur Blank’s franchise, I don’t see first-year general manager Tom Dimitroff dealing away much of that depth.


Q: Bears fans seem fanatic about drafting Rashard Mendenhall. I'm a Big Ten fan and Mendenhall didn't seem to be a sure first-round pick coming out of college. He had a great combine and he's a pretty good running back, but this draft seems really deep at the position. So, is Mendenhall really worth the hype (and the 14th pick), or is he getting too much love from the hometown fans? To put it another way, can we get a back with the same potential at a later pick who isn't a local favorite?

Dave, Parts Unknown

Hi Dave,

Mendenhall visited Halas Hall Thursday but I’ve said for some time I don’t believe he is a likely match for the Bears with the 14th pick. There are too many reasons that make me think the club will look elsewhere in the first round if the Illinois back is on the board at 14. Angelo’s draft history is weighted toward selecting linemen on both sides of the ball. There is a higher bust factor often when looking at skilled position players. The needs on the line are glaring. And as you said, this class does have depth. I believe the Bears feel they can get a back with similar upside later in the draft. As promising as Mendenhall? Maybe not. Close? Let’s put it this way, the dropoff to linemen in the later rounds is going to be more significant.


Q: Most of the mock drafts have discussed the Bears need for an offensive tackle, running back, and quarterback (which I agree with, a lot). Within the first round, either an offensive tackle or running back is projected to be taken by the Bears. My question is this: what about the Bears need to draft a wide receiver... and where could that fit (if at all) in the first three rounds of the draft?

Ian, Downers Grove

Hi Ian,

Yes, the Bears have a real need for a playmaking wide receiver in their efforts to add more speed to the offense. There doesn’t seem to be a receiver on the board that would be a match for the 14th pick. I would say there is a good chance they choose one in the second round at No. 44 or with one of their two third-round picks. The team is high on Oklahoma’s Malcolm Kelly and if his quad injury hadn’t dropped him on draft boards, his trip through quick sand Wednesday in Norman, Okla., did. Kelly blamed a 4.68-second time in the 40-yard dash for running in the Sooner’s indoor football facility on a spongy surface and not the Astroturf at the indoor track. He’d be an intriguing selection at No. 44 but would instantly be dogged with questions about another Sooners wide receiver taken in the second round, Mark Bradley.


Q: What do you think of potential third and fourth round picks Kirk Barton, offensive tackle Ohio State, Mike McGlynn guard Pitt and Jeremy Zuttah guard Rutgers?

Jake D., Middleton, Idaho

Hi Jake,

Zuttah is the one of the bunch the team has shown the most interest in, with line coach Harry Hiestand putting him through a private workout in early March. The Bears also attended a workout McGlynn had Wednesday where tackle Jeff Otah also did work. Barton had a fantastic pro day at Ohio State to boost his stock last month, but with the Bears looking for someone to step in and start as a rookie, I’m not sure he fits the profile. Ideally, the Bears will select two tackles but by the time they get around to getting another one he could be off the board. All three could be credible NFL starters.


Q: Do NFL players ever get spot rewards due to exceptional performance that fall outside of their contract? For instance, when Rex Grossman was NFC player of the month in September 2006 (seems like a lifetime ago), would it ever happen that an owner would throw him say $25,000 as recognition for an outstanding accomplishment? Or, do they stay strictly to the details of the contract? It's something I've always wondered.

Quentin, Parts Unknown

Hi Quentin,

You’ve wondered if the McCaskeys would just open the checkbook and spend just because? No. Such rewards would be in violation of the league’s rules and would not be in line with the guidelines for the salary cap.


Q: I don't understand how the Bears can have a player on their team for seven years like Terrence Metcalf and then think he cannot be an instant starter. How could they be surprised by his poor play ... as it has been described last year? And if Josh Beekman isn't ready to play the position he was drafted to play after a year with the Bears, doesn't this say offensive coaches can't develop players and the Angelo personnel team can't draft offensive players?

David H., Parts Unknown

Hi David,

Metcalf could face an uphill battle to make the roster this season, especially if the Bears use a high selection on a guard. As things are constructed right now, he and Beekman are in competition for the job at left guard. Metcalf, a third-round pick in 2002, got his opportunity when Ruben Brown was injured last season but wound up being replaced by John St. Clair. There’s value in having a veteran like Metcalf around, and he’s certainly not pulling down big bucks, but he will have to show improvement. If Beekman doesn’t step forward and take the job, the fourth-round pick from last season needs to become a serviceable backup. He worked at center a lot last year in practice. He’s a little undersized to project as a top line starter in my opinion.


Q: On the quarterback situation ... is it going to be a "real" competition? Who do you think will start Week 1?

Braxton, Salt Lake City, Utah

Hi Braxton,

Now we’re talking. Quarterback questions.

To hear Brandon Lloyd tell it on a conference call with media last month, the fix is in.

Lloyd was at Halas Hall and met with coaches on the day he signed his contract. Presumably, a question like “who is going to be my quarterback?’’ came up at some point. Before he left the building, Lloyd shared with media that Rex Grossman was the starting quarterback. That was until some people sitting near him, including his college coach Ron Turner, got him straightened out.

Signing Kyle Orton to a contract of essentially equal value is the first move you’ve seen the franchise make since drafting Grossman in the first round in 2003 to even the playing field. Whether ot not that field is level yet, and whether or not we’ll be watching a “real” competition is debatable but at some point you have to take the coaches on their word.

I doubt the man who wins the job will be grossly outperformed in the preseason. We have seen evidence of Lovie Smith pulling the plug on a disaster waiting to happen when Chad Hutchinson was launched at the end of the summer in 2005.


Q: Do you believe the Bears will remain loyal to Brian Urlacher especially because he has not taken the level of disrespect to the Bears as fellow linebacker Lance Briggs did?

Ish, Syracuse, N.Y.

Hi Ish,

I’m not sure how the Bears have been unloyal to Urlacher. He is still under contract and the club is living up to its end of that $56 million bargain. I think it’s fair to say Urlacher is just about at the point Briggs was a year ago, too. Ultimately, will the club throw Urlacher some extra cash to appease him? Quite possibly. But the way this thing has unfolded publicly has not served his cause, I can tell you that. His timing would be much better, too, if he wasn’t coming off neck surgery following a season in which he was not one of the top five middle linebackers in the NFC in the Pro Bowl selection process. The chronic back problem doesn’t help either.


Q: What do you think of Josh Johnson, the quarterback from San Diego, and what do you think the chances are of the Bears drafting him?

Kyle R., Parts Unknown
Hi Kyle,

Johnson had a wildly productive career playing for ex-Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh against inferior competition. Some of his statistics are ridiculous. He passed for 43 touchdowns last season with just one interception. Johnson is athletic at 6-3, 213 pounds, and moves well but his footwork needs some real refinement. He’s a raw project that someone will draft in the mid rounds probably. I believe the Bears are higher on San Diego State’s Kevin O’Connell after quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton went out there and checked both out.

That's all for now. Thanks for the interest.

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22 Comments

Brad,

Thanks for answering my question about the OL. I think the Bears would be smart to draft in the following way:

Round 1: Jeff Otah OT (trade to Falcons for 2nd round picks)
Round 2: Matt Forte RB
Round 3: Jeremy Zuttah OG
Round 3: Jordy Nelson WR
Round 4: Kirk Barton OT Ohio State
Round 5: Kevin O'Connell QB
Round 6: J Leman ILB
Round 7: Markus Monk WR
Round 7: Lorenzo Williams DT
Round 7: J.J. Finley TE

Do you think I could get a job with them when I finish school?

Take care,

Jake D.

Thanks Brad, even though I asked about OT's and you answered OG and C.

So lets see of the two RT's you mention both where and are decent with injury issues. He has been ok at drafting OG's and Centers, but that really isn't a lot of names over a 20 year period.

I noticed not a single LT was named as being even decent. You would think LT a position considered by most to be the second most important position on a football team would get a little more attention by our GM.

But the answer to the question is Zero Pro Bowl offensive Tackles between the Bears and the Bucs and not even a decent LT but two big first round busts at LT. Thanks thats all I wanted to know.

Lets hope Albert is there at 14.

BRAD SAYS: Paul Gruber was a left tackle his entire career.

I understand the level of frustration with Benson, but if you look at his numbers, he was a pretty decent back before this season. He averaged over 4 yards per carry splitting time with Jones. He was not by any stretch a bust. Sure, his pass blocking was suspect at best, and his hands were not fantastic, but did anyone expect any different coming out of college? he was in a run-dominated scheme at Texas, and wasn't asked to pass block at all. People want Cedric to be Thomas Jones, and he never will be. But before we talk about how great Thomas Jones is, take a look at his first 3 years in the league. He was widely considered a bust in Arizona, and never averaged 4 yards a carry, nor did he ever get 140 carries in a season. His best average was 3.7. So before we pile on Cedric, who needs to show more than he has, remember the guy he replaced was an even bigger waste of a draft pick, and did not start looking like a first round running back until halfway through his 4th season when he got a shot in Tampa Bay. And he wasn;t able to take the job from guys like Marcel Shipp and Michael Pittman.

Let's try some rational thinking here. Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson are at basically the same point in their careers after 3 seasons. Both have been injured or benched, production has not been solid, and neither look worthy of being a top 10 draft pick....yet. Benson actually has better numbers running the ball.

Joe Benson isn't considered a bust be because he lacks talent. In fact thats what makes it worse. He is considered a bust because he has proven to be lazy, last year he was out of shape, have you ever seen Jones out of shape? Also when most players are drafted they all have knocks against them, Manning can't win the big one, Jerry Rice isn't fast, and so on. What seoerates the good from the bad is that the player continues to develop and work on his game. Benson has done just the opposite he has looked worse every year he has played out of college. The knocks against Benson where, he could be lazy, goes down on contact, and may have to much wear and tear. All of these are proving to be true in his case. He got fat, still goes down on contact, and has major injury issues. Joe the more injuries any player gets the harder it becomes for a player to mantain any given level. One more major injury and he is out of the league, and you can bet on that. If he doesn't have a steller year with the bears he is gone and Angelo and Lovie will be in it up to there necks. No one is saying Benson didn't have talent, everyone is saying he did not develop it and has not worked hard to develop it. That also brings into question his character and work ethic, which we often hear about. The nthere is Jones who was considered a great character guy with a major work ethic. He was also misused in Arizona, he did just fine as soon as he left there. Which could mean Benson may not fit the Bears system and he should be let go sense we can't use him. Then there is the Oline and Benson, it will take years to fix the line at least 3 maybe 4 and that is not my opinion that is most peoples opinion. By the time it is up to speed Benson will be in the later part of his career.

So Joe basically you are trying to hold onto a Running Back in Benson who has proven to be a Bad character guy who does not get along with his team, he has proven to be lazy and injury prone and has not tried in anyway to maximize his talents or improve his game. But maybe he will this year. Even if he did work hard this year I still wouldn't want him after all the other BS. His hold out, his fued with the coaches, his remarks about Jones, his remarks about the offensive line, his remarks about the team, his attitude problem, and total lack of drive. If he does get in shape it is probably because he wants more money.

Not one single person on the Bears has said a good thing about Benson this year. My guess is there is a reason for that. Also don't think Angelo and Lovie are not mad about drafting him, and not upset about letting Jones go. Angelo and Lovie had nothing but good things to say about Jones, they got rid of him for Benson and they got what they deserved. Jones almost had more yards than Benson and Peterson combined last year on a team that was worse than the Bears. The Bears last year where 15th in passing and 30th in rushing. It was the Bears rushing attack that was brutal last year not the passing game. You cannot blame the OT's for that. It appears by the passing game numbers that the OT's are not as bad as everyone thinks.

Hey Joe,
I agree completely. Cedric Benson was a helpful part of the 2006 team and their SB run (No, it's not b/c of him, but he and TJ and AP combined to produce a powerful running game which led to play action, which led to a better rested D which led to...you get it.) He had a decent 4.1 running avg. back in 2006 too. Even in 2007 he's showed some flashes. He does need improvement in catching passes and blocking though. I think we can all agree on that. So will the coaches help him out with this??? Benson was a two sport athlete and he's very talented physically and athletically. I don't doubt that he's capable of improving in those two areas.

After dumping half their line, the Bears are now forced to invest in quality lineman early on. However, a running back with quickness should has got to be an early priority as well. Both Benson and Peterson looked like plodders that went down way too easily last year. Slow and soft are not very good qualities in backs for a team that gets off the bus running the football. Successful running backs have to have some special qualities (speed, quickness, balance, elusiveness, toughness). To me, Benson has none and is just a more expensive and less productive Anthony Thomas... we should have been the ones crying on draft day.

The biggest waste in last season's disaster was not in giving our other depth a try (especially Wolfe at RB, Bradley and Haas at WR, and Beekman at Guard). As a result, the Bears are in a position of hoping what they have rather than knowing what they have. I also think Wolfe (who at least has speed and quickness) should be in the mix for starting RB. Plenty of small backs have enjoyed great success in the NFL (Sanders, Dunn and Drew). Otherwise, why invest a third a third round pick on a marginal role player?

I also don't understand why Ruben Brown wasn't brought back as insurance in a time of transition. As I understood it, he poor play last year was due to an injury that has now been corrected. Why not have him around at the minimum vet's salary since both Beekman and Metcalf have yet to prove they can carry the load?

Creighton,
Not saying Benson doesn't have his warts, but he can be productive. He isn't fiery, and he isn't a leader in the locker room, but we don't want our running back to be like that. He needs to improve, no question. He has underperformed to expectations, no question. And he really doesn't fit our offense. The West Coast offense is designed to use the back out of the backfield when the run isn't there, and Benson is not a receiving back. Shame on the Bears for drafting a poor fit for their offense. The offense is going to look different this year, because it can't be this bad again without the entire coaching staff being fired and launched into deep space. Will it be built around a straight ahead, power running game? Probably not, which is the strength of Benson's game. He is a patient runner, used to looking for holes, and then hitting them when they open. The west coast offense is a reacting running game, where you press the hole and look to cut back when it isn't there. He looks slow, because the holes were not there. I was at the game in Detroit his rookie season where he got to the edge, turned the corner, and was 30 yards downfield before anyone could get a hand on him in the 4th quarter of that game. In his last two games before he got hurt, he hit holes and accelerated like what we expected him to do when we drafted him. Is Cedric to blame for not being what he should be? He didn't look slow, he didn't look lazy. He looked like the back we drafted. So it is there. The talent, the desire, and the work ethic are there. What happened to it? I say at least a good chunk of the blame deservedly falls on Ron Turner and the coaching staff. How many times did we go away from the run when we rattled off a few good plays? how often did we throw on 3 downs and go 3 and out? How often did we have 30 carries in a game for the running backs?

Cedric needs to grow up. He needs to be a professional and do his job. But he can, and if he fails this year, then all bets are off. But don't blame the guy for not being Walter, or Thomas Jones, or even Adrian Peterson. We compare him to what he isn't, not what he is. Jerome Bettis was a washout in St. Louis before he got into the right system in Pittsburgh too. Attitude problem, said and did all the wrong things in the locker room, and now no one talks about those things. It couldn't possibly be bad management and coaching in St. Louis that contributed to this, right?

Just saying, let's not put all the blame on a guy who may not deserve all of it. He deserves his fair share, but not as much as he gets.

Joe I never put any blame on Benson that he did not deserve. Everything I said was accurate and honest, and you seem to agree. I hope you understand I do not blame Cedric for the short falls of the offense. But without a doubt he has not helped.

My order of blame.

Jerry Angelo, he did a patch work job on the offense but neglected to address glaring needs on that side of the ball. His draft picks on offense have also been poor. His worst work has been with the Oline and QB. As of right now the Bears still lack a franchise QB and we are going through yet another QB compitition with two guys who have almos identical numbers and the numbers are bad. Niether has ever had a good season.

The Oline is pathetic, Angelo thought it would be a good idea to bring in vets to do a patch job which worked for a couple years but he never brought in anyone to develop behind them like every other team in the NFL does. Now we need an all new oline which will take years to build and develop.

Lovie Smith

Offense has been a huge need for this team sense he got here. The best ranking they ever got was 15th in 06. Yet every year he and Jerry show favortism to the defense who often did not need any help. Like Tank Johnson.

With a 25th ranked offense last year and a running game rated 30th in the league on a team that gets off the bus running.I think the team needs to go and get back on the bus and come off when there ready to play. It wasn't injuries that made the Offense bad, it was always bad. This off season we have seen it get worse. How do you fix an offense by making it worse. Our D was horrible last year as well, we give up way to many yards to be considered an elite defense. Lovie spends all season backing players who suck and then benches then the following year but it takes him a little more than a year to figure it out.

Ron Turner:
I hate this man. But he is still here, got fired from a college program but he is good enough to be a offensive cordinator with the Bears.

That is how I blame the bears in that order.

I am right there with you on assigning blame within the organization. The only thing missing is the McCaskey family, who has taken George Halas's penchant for saving money to a policy of not understanding where to properly spend it. I think we are right there on the Benson issue, and he has worsened a situation by his "thoughtful" nature, which is a media-speak way of saying he is measured, calculating, and reserved. Those three characteristics do not translate well to a passionate game like football, as evidenced by how worked up fans get just talking about it.

The last line of the prior post was more an indictment of the mob mentality of the blog, where most are lining up with pitchforks and torches to run him out of town as the scapegoat of the woes of the offense. I did not intend to direct it your way. A scapegoat in Chicago...has there ever been a time when there wasn't one? Ironic when you consider the biggest scapegoat in Chicago is literally a goat?

Damn goat, you know after I posted it I was like you know I forgot something, oh at the top of the list. The McCaskey family. PAPA BEAR IS ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE.

Well I know the Bears won't take Mendenhall but I think I am going to drive the board nuts this weak trying to convince everyone the Bears should ignore Otah and trade down for Gosder. If we are going to get a RT we might as well get the guy from the big school who is not a project and would cost less money. Besides Otah is a project and so is Williams, niether would be as good a RT as both are more natural LT's. Sides if we can get a second round pick we could get a back and a guard in round 2. Or a Back and a QB or a back and a WR.

There are some good points Creighton and Joe your exchange hit home hard. But you left out a couple of items as you were distributing the faults: Angelo has to be held accountable for the staff as well as Lovie, people are always complaining about shortcomings but this staff was picked by Lovie Smith ok'd by Angelo it's a good ole boy staff, Babich was Lovie's buddy so Riviera had to go it's not like he had all the answers either he got out-coached in the Super Bowl but he was popular and a threat. Lovie and Angelo didn't jump at the opportunity to hire a versitle offensive mind because Lovie finally got his money and any real offensive coach is a threat so we stick with a has been like Turner and Babich who is a never was and was consistantly out coached all season long, but oh isn't that what Lovie specializes in. Lovie failed to use the tools on defense he was given properly. He left Anderson out there against huge left tackles down after down when he should have moved him around make the offense account for his presence and played the tried and true Alex Brown. When Vasher went down he disrupted a already fragile psyche in D.Manning and he didn't recover until the last two games of the season and now with Payne coming back M.Brown in the mix (until he goes down again) and McGowan coming on late inthe season will be hard-pressed to get on the field next season. With McBride improving game by game they should have moved there other defensive playmaker Tillman to safety where he probably belongs so that means Lovie is totally unflexible when it comes to improvising and adapting to the talent he has on both side of the ball. Moose was still on the field in weeks 12-16 obviously not getting any seperation making the Qb's stand longer with no where to go Berrian running the wrong routes but no other reciever on the team could get a look see. Metcalf was a turnstile and got no movement at all Lovie's answer move St.Clair what ever happened to Beekman, Tyler and Oakley. The say Oakley and Beekman are undersized well why were they drafted? P.J Pope was on the practice squad GreenBay took him off and sent him back once Ryan Grant showed up, but wasn't he in Bears camp as a free agent after the draft? or was that the other ND running back. Yeah Joe fans REAL fans who see everything unfold in front of them do get worked up and when players and mgmt don't give a crap passion turns to angst. If this crew of mis-fit management does not right the ship this year and get it in the right direction they should back up the truck and get Angelo, Lovie, Turner, Babich and who ever the heck Pep Hamilton is and get them out of town and start over so we can see another Super Bowl before the next decade ends.

Creighton and Joe, you two need to think when you post. Benson is a bust, you don't draft a RB that high to average at best 4 yards a carry, show no explosion and go down on first contact. when was the last time he broke a tackle? Plus everytime he gets hit he gets hurt. he is a plodder that doesnt break tackles and cant take the punishment of 30 carries a game like you want. Creighton, Otah and Williams are projects but not natural LT. Its harder to play LT than RT. if one of them was a LT solution the bears would jump on him. Tait needs to be moved to the right side, he is old and was a swinging door last year against speed rushers. best case is we get a stud LT in this draft. the bottom line is that wrecks grossman needs to be gone, benson needs to be gone, and we start totally over on offense. you all should be mad at the McCaskey family for being cheap and angelo for wasting this defense on the horrible offense with no end in site

Troy you need to learn to read. I did call Benson a Bust smart guy I just don't blame the whole team for him. As for a natural LT. Yes Williams is a natural LT so is Otah ask any expert on the Subject. LT is not harder to play but the position is harder to find. LT and RT are two different positions. RT in general are powerful explosive maulers, while LT's are MORE finnese players used to pass block. Two totally different kind of players. Some guys can do both but most of the time you have one or the other. Williams is a Natural LT and lacks the power to play the right side he is very good at pass blocking but struggles in run blocking which mean he would not be good on the right side. Otah also struggles with run blocking but is good in Pass protection. And every expert in the country says both are projects.

Chris Williams:

Strengths:
An outstanding athlete...Quick and agile...Has nimble feet...Great size with a large frame and room to get bigger..Does a fantastic job in pass protection...Mobile and can get to the second level...Very smart with good awareness...Versatile and has played both guard and tackle...Team leader...Durable and has a lot of experience.

Weaknesses:
Questionable intensity and motor...Must get stronger...Needs to be more physical and aggressive...Doesn't get a great push...Technique needs polishing...May lack a killer instinct...Not a finished product and will need development...Not dominant.

Notes:
Alumnus of the same Louisiana high school as Warrick Dunn and former Texas QB Major Applewhite...Really had a tremendous senior campaign and still has a ton of potential..He has all the physical tools to be a starting left tackle at the next level.

Gosder:

Strengths:
Has excellent size and a huge frame with long arms...Strong and powerful..Gets a great push as a run blocker...Decent athlete...Has nimble feet..Mobile and can get to the second level...Very smart with great awareness...Nice balance...He is stout at the point of attack...Once he locks on the battle's over...A hard worker with top intangibles...Has a ton of experience against top-notch competition...Offers some versatility..Hails from a program that's known for producing NFL offensive linemen.

Weaknesses:
Has some trouble with speedy edge rushers...May lack a killer instinct..Has lapses with his leverage and will play too high at times...Most likely won't be a left tackle in the pros...Didn't have a great senior year..Had some minor off-the-field trouble.

Notes:
Name is pronounced "GOZ-der SHARE-uh-luss"...Born in Haiti...A four-year starter in the ACC...Started 37 consecutive games at right tackle but he moved to the left side as a senior and had some struggles...Was arrested and charged with assault and battery in July of 2007 in connection with a bar fight, although Cherilus claims he was acting as a peacemaker...Not flashy but has the physical tools and should start almost immediately..Prototypical right tackle who should enjoy a long career.

You see where is says one is a LT and one is a RT you notice the differences in there game. Williams would get eaten alive on the right side. Nobody says he can play there.

Oh and for the record there are no stud LT's in this class, Clady, Otah and Williams are all considered projects for the position who may one day be really good, but there is no Joe Thomas, Ogden, Pace, or even Brown level of talent in this draft it is considered a deep oline class with good talent and no elite players. Nobody has even graded out as high as Levi Brown from last year. Let alone the fourth or fifth best OT in this class.

Think when I post:

Here are some quotes: from my post

"Joe I never put any blame on Benson that he did not deserve. Everything I said was accurate and honest, and you seem to agree. I hope you understand I do not blame Cedric for the short falls of the offense. But without a doubt he has not helped".

"Joe Benson isn't considered a bust be because he lacks talent. In fact thats what makes it worse. He is considered a bust because he has proven to be lazy, last year he was out of shape, have you ever seen Jones out of shape? Also when most players are drafted they all have knocks against them, Manning can't win the big one, Jerry Rice isn't fast, and so on. What seoerates the good from the bad is that the player continues to develop and work on his game. Benson has done just the opposite he has looked worse every year he has played out of college. The knocks against Benson where, he could be lazy, goes down on contact, and may have to much wear and tear. All of these are proving to be true in his case. He got fat, still goes down on contact, and has major injury issues. Joe the more injuries any player gets the harder it becomes for a player to mantain any given level. One more major injury and he is out of the league, and you can bet on that. If he doesn't have a steller year with the bears he is gone and Angelo and Lovie will be in it up to there necks. No one is saying Benson didn't have talent, everyone is saying he did not develop it and has not worked hard to develop it. That also brings into question his character and work ethic, which we often hear about".

"Not one single person on the Bears has said a good thing about Benson this year. My guess is there is a reason for that. Also don't think Angelo and Lovie are not mad about drafting him, and not upset about letting Jones go. Angelo and Lovie had nothing but good things to say about Jones, they got rid of him for Benson and they got what they deserved".

Next time read all the posts and try not to skim Troy.


Creighton I feel what you are saying well put. reading for content is a art getting understanding a must, that said true my suggestions at tackle are long in the tooth but could be helpful as former pro bowlers to mentor the young lineman as it seems the coaches either won't or can't and you could get some service out of them. The cupboard is nearly bare at this point and something needs to be done. Williams could come in and start so could Duane Brown and Sam Baker could be possibilities Ohio State tackle [forgot name] is moving up the board. But all the things will not matter if the Bears staff doesn't do a better job of player development how long can you keep players on a practice squad and not have any upward movement? what does that say for a organization when no one gets picked up by other teams? It means these are not starter quality players and there has been more missing than hitting. There is one reason why, the emphasis on offense is not there and it looks like the scouting dept. is inept and thereis no due diligence when it comes to offense. Look at the Grossman choice he's short not mobile and worst of all a Florida QB, look at Orton a shot gun Qb from a pass happy school who never took center snaps made short quick throws system Qb. Benson was like a SUV with a lot of miles runs ok for a while but is high maintanence the key word should have been he's durable which is another word for high mileage all this should have come from a competent scouting dept. Even in college I did not see Benson as elusive or a cutter he would get through the line and have good speed straight but not a instictive runner and he still isn't. So we can even say the scouting department has not done it's due diligence. My last post cited Angelo and Smith now we see it's a trinity of default.

Blame:
I put the blame 100% on the McCaskey's after 2 Super Bowles in +40 years (1963) the present staff can not be blamed for that.
I felt Rivera was TOTALLY outcoached in the SuperBowl (living in Indy don't think I still don't hear that crap) and I was glad to see him go but now I wish we still had him only because he is better that Babich.
I agree with Benson but hey I grudgingly admit that Joe may be right, we will surely see this year. Why draft Benson when we had Jones? Am I forgetting we didn't have Jones at that time or missing soemeting else?
OK Why draft Benson period? Too late for that bs, he's here and we HAVE to give him another year cause we can't afford to draft another RB when we need OL so bad. Everyone that wants RM....please do you really want to see the poor guy run behind 2nd round (JA) OL that were passed on by other teams in the draft? Boy How I would love to see the Bears draft UP and get Long, Da Bears and McCaskey's UP will never happen, but at this point it's what the Bears need.

Randy how do you blame the McCaskey's they donot run the day to day and they do not draft the players nor do the coach them. When you interview for a job you need a resume and there is a face to face and be honest with yourself aren't you going to say what the employer wants to hear no matter what, then if you get hired you must back it up or you will be fired not given an extention. Angelo got lucky last year now it's put up or get out time to fix this offense and restore the defense. In previous blogs I have pointed the finger at every one including the scouts now it's the players turn. Angelo and Smith donot miss the tackles or blocks nor do they throw the int's or fumble snaps at times the offense resembled complete ineptitude Turner probably couldn't figure out what they could execute. So how does a team 1 season removed from the Super Bowl look so weak in less than a year? Every player in blue and orange should look in the mirror that's where the problem is!!Prima Donnas get back to work you don't scare anyone except your fans.

Randy you know what really sucks, in that 40 years the Pats have been to the Superbowl more than us like 3 times more than us. The PATS??? How is this possible??? Oh and the last time we one the super bowl we had the best oline in football and it was totally drafted by the bears over a five year period including 2 first round picks. Of course half the guys on offense where first round picks back then. But hey we got Benson and his metal ankle and Rex with his happy feet.

DJ I agree, anyone of those guys could come in and start but that also doesn't mean they will be any good. Look at what they have to beat out. I don't see any of them starting at LT, Brown could play guard but he really is more of a zone guy, so is Baker, Williams can't run block to save his life. He had problems run blocking against small schools, the NFL gets a little tougher. Bears last year 15th in passing 30th against the run. Most sacks came from the right side or the middle, Tait did a decent job until the end of the year, Benson could account for at least 6-7 sacks himself in blitz pick up. Garza is going to get someone killed. Even great Centers need strong guards in run support and blitz pick up, RT was a joke last year, and Brown was all but done. Olin has lost a step and Tait is not what he used to be, there both at the end of there careers, I say no more than 2 years each and niether has a replacment. The only place I see Williams starting is LG this year. I would Rather have Gosder at RT and look at next years class for a LT. Lots of people like Williams because he is a very good pass blocker, but when it gets cold in Chicago you need to run block, when the field is sloppy you need to run block, to run block you need power, push, and explosion. Williams has none of that. He is also soft, look at him. So is Otah everyone says he needs to loose weight and gain strength and muscle, the guy has to loose weight and gain weight. Not a good run blocker either but has the size you want for a bad weather team, he is still considered a major project. I don't trust the bears to develop either guy. Gosder is already there, he will probably never be a LT, but he will be a very good in not great RT. I can always watch a Detroit or Carolina game if I want to see how good Mendenhall is. I hope he doesn't fall to detroit, that will be lots of fun, Peterson and Mendenhall 4 times a year, and we got the Benson.

This is what SI had to say about Mendenhall.

Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois: The Big Ten Player of the Year is the most complete back in the draft. As a tough, inside runner with excellent vision and outstanding quickness, Mendenhall is built to be a workhorse in a power-running offense. But Mendenhall also possesses the hands, speed and route-running ability to be a factor in the passing game.

Offensive coordinators will love the fact that he is a three-down back who is capable of staying on the field in all situations. That versatility will lead some teams to view him as the best running back prospect in this year's draft. If Mendenhall can shake the one-year-wonder label, he may surpass McFadden as the top running back prospect.

Now this is what it said about Williams.

Williams is a sissy Left Tackle from Vandy, he is built like the Poppin Fresh dough boy and lacks any power. He can pass block against lower end Jr. High talent but is a total mess in run blocking. If Chicago is on the board they should not take him because he is weak. They should take Mendenhall instead. All other Offensive Tackles are way better than Williams except Otah who is more like the Stay Puffed Marshmellow Man than an NFL Left Tackle. The Bears should take Mendenhall in round one and Collins in round 2, and Brown in round 3, they are not sissy softies like Williams and Otah. Also the last time someone took a Williams at 14 he was one of the biggest busts in NFL. Pick 14 in the NFL draft is famous for having a lot of Busts. The BEARS should be smart for a change and take Mendenhall and fire Angelo.

Wow I can't believe SI said all that either. But there you have it.

I agree with TROY.

Brando, you would, to bad Troy never read me or Joe's posts or else he would have realized he was agreeing with us.

Creighton I see you are trying to make a point by quoting SI but most of the writers for SI and that idiot Kiper I listen to with little or no respect for their opinions because most have been found inaccurate and they change often. In comparision to what is on hand and what could be availible that is why I said Williams, Brown and Baker. I believe Collins, Nicks and Barton can be had 2nd - 4th I have always advocated for Mendenhall but have stated reality Jerry will not spend first round money on a running back even though he would upgrade considereably, but he is financially into Benson. Benson will be the albatross that buries Angelo. NFL Draft Bible has a different take on the players mentioned.

Foxsports has the Bears taking Mendenhall at 14 with Detroit taking Williams at 15. I WISH !!!!!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 11, 2008 8:06 AM.

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