Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, Feb. 23: Could Urlacher fill safety void?

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Jumping back into Four Down Territory, our first of what will be four installments this week. We'll run a Q&A each day through Thursday this week. Here we go:

Q: Any possibility the Bears would consider moving Brian Urlacher to free safety since he played safety in college? It seems that with the choices in free agency it might make some sense and extend his playing career, enabling him to fulfill the four years left on his deal. Does he make too much money to play safety? Does he still have the speed? Would it be easier to find a starting middle linebacker to replace him than a starting free safety?
Also, is Kirk Barton under contract with the Bengals or is he a free agent? I thought he showed some potential before he was waived. Is there a chance the Bears would trade a low pick for a back up right tackle like Barton to eliminate the glaring need before the draft?
One more thing, have the Bears considered offering Mike Brown a coaching job? Given his knowledge and leadership, keeping him around to help develop unproven (unidentified) talent could really help the secondary and if the players they get to replace him don't pan out or get injured, he could be reinstated to the roster.

John O., Shorewood, Minn.

A: We usually have a one question per e-mail rule, but we're short on questions tonight.

1. There is zero possibility Urlacher will be moved to safety. If his range is deteriorating at middle linebacker, he certainly wouldn't have it to play safety. It's not even an option.

2. Barton is under contract with the Bengals, and finished the season there on injured reserve after spraining an ankle in practice. He went from the Bears to Miami, San Francisco, back to Miami and then the Bengals. That means three teams gave up on him and one did so twice. There is zero chance the Bears will look to trade for Barton.

3. Why would you offer a coaching job to a man who doesn't want to coach? Brown plans to continue his playing career and most likely will have an opportunity or two to consider after the draft. I'm not sure it's a good idea to try and involve someone who was just a peer with the players in the locker room immediately as a coach, either. Sorry, you're 0-for-3 with these ideas.

Q: Why not use Greg Olsen at wide receiver? Don't the Bears have a promising tight end from last year's draft they could use?

Sid B., San Diego

A: Now that's one the Bears really haven't tried yet, taking someone out of position and seeing if they can fill the holes at wide receiver. Olsen is one of the better developing young tight ends in the league, and he stepped forward in his second year and probably would have done better had the entire offense not struggled so much from November on. Olsen doesn't have the traits to be a top wide receiver. He'd be limited in what he could do because he's not going to have the quickness or hip movement needed for top route running. Why not leave him where he's best suited? I'm not sure the rookie from last season, Kellen Davis, will be more than a role player. We'll see. He did some nice things in training camp last summer and then sort of faded.

Q: With the Michael Vick talk recently, it got me thinking: Are the Bears a pocket passing team because it is their offensive game plan or because their offensive line was old and immobile? With Ruben Brown and Fred Miller having left over the last couple of years, and John Tait talking about retiring, would an infusion of youth on the line get the Bears out of the pocket? If fewer college teams are running a pro offense, is it inevitable that the Bears will find a scrambling quarterback?

Jay, Schaumburg

A: Wouldn't you settle for the Bears just finding a quarterback? You want them to locate a specific type now? Certainly the college game is evolving and there is more and more interest in the spread formation with ex-Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden talking for weeks now about his desire to study Florida's system. But I know of nothing in the background of offensive coordinator Ron Turner or coach Lovie Smith that lead me to believe the Bears will seek out a mobile quarterback. And, no, I don't see Vick having a chance with the Bears. At all.

Let's get some questions rolling in. We'll get back to another bunch tomorrow. Thanks for participating and thanks as always for reading.

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Brad, what would be the odds of the Bears signing Marvin Harrison since he was released from the Colts? Or do you beleive they will stick with the core they have by moving Bennett up?

What players do you think the Bears have targeted in free agency? I think Mike Furrey, Stacy Andrews, Jermaine Phillips and Yeremiah Bell could fill the voids on the team.

why is everyone down on urlacher all the time? i think he is out of position all the time because of the bears defensive scheme. i also think he is probably frustrated with how they call the defense, and hes not that excited to play that way. do you think if they had the same scheme from a couple years ago he would be the same ole urlacher?

Marvin Harrison? seems like he would be beneficial to have around Halas Hall and Hester.


Who stood out to you at the combine and who would you like to see the Bears draft at 18 and 49? Right now I am kinda hoping for Britton or Maclin in round one and Rashad Johnson, Fenuki Topuo, or Kenny Britt in round 2 depending of course on who is there and who they have taken with 18. I know group 10 and 11 have not gone yet but I figure you will be answering question after they are done.

Should the Bears just trade down there 18th pick? say with maybe Philadelphia's 21st, and possibly a 3rd round pick from them? There should still be some valuable players at 21 right?

Brad - You'll have to get used to being short on questions if you continue to belittle your readers. I stopped listening to the Score radio for the same reason. Lighten up and stop treating the readers like idiots. Just because the Bears organization believes that it can treat its fans like simpletons by pretending that all is well, does not mean that you have to follow suit. If the readers ideas seem strange, it is probably just the desperation resulting from the vaccum of information which we call Hallas Hall.


In analyzing Jerry Angelo's draft history, do you see him going more often with "the best available player," as the Bears brass usually states they look for, or do they typically "fill needs." I believe it's the later. While OT is certainly a glaring hole for the team, if a player is available at another position at no. 18 - say CB - who is rated higher, which way do you think the Bears will go?

Who do you like better in a Bears uniform: Torry Holt (if he becomes available), Marv Harrison, Bobby Engram.
With no proven commodities on the team right now, one of those crusty vets would be a great help to the Bears young WRs, I think, and contribute right off the bat.

Here's one for you. Where do you see Grossman ending up? It's a thin crop of FA QB's with experience, especially Superbowl experience. Now that the Vikings are trading for Rosenfels, do you see the Jets showing interest. Personally, I think he will end up in Dallas backing up Romo.

After reviewing what you saw at the combine do you believe the running back from Liberty, Rashad Jennigs, would be a good pick for the Bears at#49 or will they not take a running back as early as the second round?

Brad I hear a lot of fans and pundits assuming the Bears have little option other than to draft a tackle in the first round.

My question is: what does history say on the draft positions of tackle tandems with the Bears and currently around the league? Are we dead without a first rounder at RT?

With all the signings around the league, the free agents out there are a little less appealing, but there are some good ones that would indeed help the Bears and whom they should target.

Eugene Wilson at FS. Guy is a winner and a legitimate FREE safety, something we don't have. Is fimiliar with both Turner and Hoke and wouldn't be too expensive. Could step right in at FS, allowing the Bears to draft one in round 3 or 4 to develop behind him.

RT Stacey Andrews. This should be our big signing. Could plug him at RT for the next 4 years and let a young tackle learn behind him. A cheaper option would be RT Jon Stinchcomb from the Saints.

At WR there are 2 interesting options. Michael Jenkins and Nate Washington. Jenkins would probably come cheaper. At 6'4 he would bring a big target to move the chains and help in the redzone. Opposite of what we have in Hester. Washington is more of a big play threat, but also has nice size. He would have more upside then Jenkins. Get either of these guys and allow Bennett to fit into the slot and a rookie doesn't have to be pushed into the starting lineup. Also give Rideau a shot already!

These are the types of free agents that wouldn't break the bank and would help fill numberous holes in our team. It would also give us great flexiblity in the draft to take the best impact player and even look at trading down to pick up additional picks.

Any remarks would be appreciated......I know Creighton will have some.

-Trade for Leinart, who will be buried again on bench in Arizona.

-My guess is that Grossman will be a backup for Bucs.

-Harrison will be with the Eagles, bank on it.

-Draft DE Orokapu from Texas. Gonna be a star. Lot of WRs to draft in second round

-Put a lot of FA dollars into top lineman (Stacy Andrews, Tra Thomas, Mark Tauscher) which will improve offense with more protection for whomever is QB

-I think Amani Toomer would be a nice fit for a vet WR FA.

It seems to me that Hester is our deep threat guy, and needs to be complimented by a big possession receiver who can also block. (Thus Booker? But he didn't pan out so we move on.) I'm using the Ward-Holmes model here for a reason.

It would seem that Bennett doesn't fill this role, and Davis doesn't seem to fill any role on the offense. What receivers in the draft will particularly compliment Hester in this way? I'm tired of hearing about 40-times and big-play receivers when I see our needs as more fundamental.

What's the chance of Nathan Vasher getting crack at the nickelback spot? I know they have Manning penciled in as the nickel, but they've already moved him several times, and the chances of him being moved again are rather high seeing as how he might be the best option at Free Safety over both the draft and free agency. I'd like to keep Manning at Nickel, but I also seem to remember Vasher playing pretty well as a nickel his rookie season. I know he's getting paid quite a bit, but the way Lovie talks about the nickelback, it seems as though it's more important to his defense then a strong side linebacker.

So why would the bears not consider D Bly. I know he wasn’t the best fit for the Denver defense but in the Bears’ defense I think he would excel. Also with all the questions at WR why not just make a trade for Boldin. you most certainly fill a void at the Receiver position, you take coverage off a developing Hester, you don’t have to throw a draft pick away on a prospect because you already know what you have. He is absolutely worth a 1st and 3rd pick and maybe even throw in a player. Forte,Hester,Boldin and Olsen make for a pretty interesting group of weapons for Orton.

So basically Jackson you want the Bears to do what they did last year at reciever. Bring in a couple of stop gaps. Angelo does not want to dip into Free Agency, he likes the team he has put together.

I think the Bears must be looking at a Free Saftie in free agency, I cannot imagine they are going with Steltz, Angelo must like someone in free agency cause they don't really like anyone in the draft. Also according to Angelo it looks like he wants Bennett to start so I am guessing he is not going reciever very early.

It seems Angelo feels his recievers are good enough and that the problem is at QB. Just guessing by his comments this year.

Lovie on the other hand seem to think QB is fine and reciever is a problem.

So far from Angelo and Lovie's comments this off season I would say the two are having problems communicating and neither one of them is on the same page sense they both keep saying different things and trying to correct the other. This is very strange for Angelo and Lovie who now seem to be getting more public with there problems.

Ed has a point about your increasing negativism regarding bloggers' questions. Still, there have been quite a few silly questions.I am curious about how you think the draft will go. Every time I read about the Bears' needs, it seems they need help everywhere. I still see the offensive line and a pass rusher as critical. The O line was a bit better this last year, but still is not very good, and clearly the front four on defense were handledc pretty well by blockers.


Not sure how you can compare Jenkins or Washington to Booker and Lloyd. Booker is old and had lost more then a step and Lloyd had zero production for the Skins. Jenkins has produced in Atlanta with poor QB's. He's had back to back 50+ rec years and had 7 td's in 06 and he's only 26. Washington is 25 and has shown great big play ability with Pittsburg. Both have produced, are still young and have upside. Booker and Lloyd were wastes ofoster stops.

Yes, Angelo won't spend big. That's why Wilson, Jenkins and Washington all make sense. You can still draft Britton, Oher or Maclin with #18, or trade down and take Loadholt, Nicks or Britt. Going into the season with a rookie starting WR, 2nd year WR in the slot and basically 2 rookies at tackles spells nothing but trouble. Angelo would have to hit it big with our first 3 picks AND Williams and Bennett would have to produce. Too many IF's. Get some inexpensive, but productive veterans.

Creighton since you corrected me last week I must return the favor. It is "Safety" not "Saftie".

Anyways,I do agree with you that we do not need to bring in anymore stop gap players who are already 2 steps from when they started. For the right price I do think Harrison still has some left in the tank, but like we keep hearing from JA its all about Bennett.

I think Eugene Wilson would be a great addition, he is still young, has played on 2 Super Bowl winning teams and would not break the bank. Everything JA likes about Free Agents. I wonder how he can mess this up?


For the past two day's I have read the non answer answer's that the local media has allowed both Coach Smith and Angelo to get away with.
Why is it so hard to hold these two accountable for the bad draft choices, and lack of judgement that other big market towns do? We have a GM that is apparently afraid to draft skill players in the first round because he doesn't trust his ability to evaluate QB/WR talent at that point.
We are stuck in mediocracy and a large percentage of sport's writers give them a free pass. You guy's are enablers, making excuses for Angelo about how difficult it is to draft a skill player so high...well tough, that's what they get paid (and paid well) to do! Here's a thought, stop being so nice and cover them the way you guy's cover the Sox's.

Tom I always do that. Wilson could be a guy he likes after all who is new DB coach, but one thing to consider out Wilson is he has been injured a lot. The Pats released him because of this and so did the Buc's, now Texas is looking to sign him but Wilson may test free agency, either way given the need of lots of teams at that position he will command some money. Maybe he will get a little to rich for Angies blood. But I am sure he is looking for a vet at free SAFETY. I mean Steltz, common. Then again Steltz could be a smoke screen for the draft.

What about QB????????........ORTON SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NBS- Glad to see you shortened your name Neck Beard, but the comments are still the same. When O' When will you give some insight or finally admit your man crush on Orton?


Nice article in the `other news' about how Angelo is throwing Smith and the Coaches under the Bus, how he has gotten them all the right players and its up to the Coaches to get them the wins.....very interesting how Angelo is forgetting all the holes that need filled due to his bad drafts, also how Angelo and Smith seem to be contradicting each other on the players (see QB)abilities....
Its hard to say what the hey Angelo is going to do with all the non info being said, but I am hoping JA is blowing smoke as to how we have all the players we need.....and we don't need Free Agents or that bad position 18th pick in the draft but it doesnt look good when you have a GM and Coach saying different things and pointing fingers at each other subtly.

I guess the other teams are not put off by the Bears Fans booing Rex.
Housh and a few other players are available via Free Agency so Angelo needs to go FA and quit thinking he has gotten the Bears a playoff team assembled already and its all good! When you stand pat, you stand pat Jerry!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 23, 2009 8:31 PM.

Jerry Angelo in his own words was the previous entry in this blog.

Four Down Territory, Feb. 24: The growing buzz for WVU's Pat White is the next entry in this blog.

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