Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, March 11: What's the role of newly acquired Josh Bullocks?

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Busy day of football activity, and we're going to tidy up action from the day in another post here shortly with a few interesting things, so be sure to check back. Right now, let's jump into the mailbag and Four Down Territory.

Q: What did you think of the signing of Josh Bullocks? Is he more likely to start at free safety than Craig Steltz or a rookie? Is he not that highly regarded to sign an inexpensive one-year deal at age 26 or was he just caught on a bad Saints defense? If he was a quality player, would he have been a priority for New Orleans? Does this signing make it more likely the top picks will be at offensive tackle, wide receiver and defensive end, especially because (as you pointed out) the team has had success drafting defensive backs on the second day?

Joe B., Oxford, Conn.

A: We've got a lot to chew on here. My best guess right now is that Bullocks eventually finds himself in a three-man competition for the starting job with Steltz and a yet to be drafted rookie. What round the rookie comes in and how Steltz fares will obviously dictate to a degree Bullocks' chances, but right now he's got the best skill set to play the position. The Bears didn't have a free safety until he was brought on board. And, who knows, perhaps Steltz winds up in a situation where he competes with Kevin Payne for the starting gig at strong safety. Don't discount that possibility either.

Bullocks lost his starting job last summer with the Saints and never really got back into the picture although he made six starts when injuries mixed things up in what was one of the worst secondaries in football. Keep in mind, however, the Saints generated almost no pass rush and had some real issues at linebacker. So other factors led to the secondary posting very poor statistics. Bullocks might be better suited to play the cover two the Bears like to employ and we'll see. They're certainly not expecting him to be an all-pro based on he $1.2 million, one-year deal he received, but there wasn't a lot out there. The free-agent market offered a handful of options at strong safety but the only true free safety with proven skills was Brian Dawkins and general manager Jerry Angelo pretty much made it clear he wasn't in the market for 35-year-old defensive backs. This is a good signing for the Bears and Bullocks. They get someone with range at a good price. He gets a chance to bounce back--the guy had a very strong rookie season with the Saints--and then get back to the bargaining table in a hurry if he plays well.

I don't think the addition of Bullocks will necessarily alter the draft strategy. The Bears had to bring in someone with experience at the position. If they see a free safety they really like, they could grab one in the first three rounds of the draft. Problem is, it's not a real deep class. One who might be worth looking at is Texas Tech's Darcel McBath.


Q: With all the concern regarding the offensive line wouldn't it make perfect sense to grab perennial Pro Bowler Orlando Pace? Pace still has some tread left on the tires and at worst would be one of the best right tackles in the game. This would allow the Bears to put Frank Omiyale at guard and groom him to take over at right tackle when Pace retires. In the meantime that would give the Bears a large, strong, athletic and versatile line. Not to mention the mentoring Chris Williams would get from Pace, one of the best to ever play left tackle. I think this would also give the Bears a little wiggle room in the draft, freeing up picks to be used on more of the explosive skill position players. What do you think?

Elvin K., Columbus, Ohio

A: Pace will unquestionably go down as one of the top few tackles of his era along with Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden, and the No. 1 overall pick in 1997 will one day be honored in Canton, Ohio. No question. I go against the thinking that signing Pace makes perfect sense, however. The Bears have had good luck with aging veterans on the line before, particularly with guard Ruben Brown, but what they need to do is get younger on the line. That means using a high pick on another tackle. If they can get some building blocks on the line that pan out, that takes a tremendous burden off the front office for a number of years. I'm not sure you want to go through the snow with Pace, either, meaning I don't know if he has much tread left on those tires. We're talking about a guy who has missed 25 games over the last three seasons. A knee injury kept him out of two games last season. He missed 15 in 2007 and was out of eight games in 2006.

St. Louis has a first-year coach in Steve Spagnuolo and has invested heavily in quarterback Marc Bulger and more recently running back Steven Jackson. If the Rams believed Pace was still a top talent--at left or right tackle--they wouldn't be cutting him loose. The landscape for coaches has changed in the NFL. They're no longer getting five-year plans to turn things around. Coaches are expected to win and win quick, and if Spagnuolo believed Pace was a means to that end, he'd still be a Ram because his salary-cap situation wasn't all that serious. This wasn't a money decision as much as it was a football decision. Now, Pace could have a few years left in him at 33, but in the Bears' case, they need to find another young tackle to hopefully pair with Williams. If they both work out, that's a tremendous stroke of good fortune and allows the team to do just what you said--pursue explosive skill position players. Pace is no sure thing and it's hard to say he still is at an elite level. He hasn't been to the Pro Bowl since after the 2005 season. I believe Omiyale will be starting at guard no matter who comes in, taking the place of Josh Beekman on the left side with Roberto Garza remaining the right guard.

The ex-Ram to keep an eye on could be wide receiver Torry Holt, when he's cut loose before the team has to pay him a $1.25 million roster bonus on Tuesday. What the chances are of the Bears pursuing him, I have no idea. I don't know if they'd even be interested, but he would make more sense in this writer's opinion than Pace.


Q: I know you've been bombarded with free-agent wide receiver questions. Here is one more: If the Bears are trying so hard to improve their run game, then why not kill two birds with one stone? Reggie Williams is still available from Jacksonville. I'm not going to kid anyone into thinking that he's a No. 1 receiver, but he is 6-4, 214 pounds, he'll only be 26 at the start of next season and he's a great blocker. Devin Hester is already slated as the No. 1 receiver and deep threat. Why not add a big target for Orton, and a great run/screen blocker for the running backs?

Jason P., Las Vegas

A: Williams certainly is a big receiver with some skill to him and he caught 10 touchdown passes in 2007 for the Jaguars when their offense wasn't broken down as it was much of last year. But the former first-round pick from Washington didn't help himself when he was busted on the eve of free agency for drunk driving and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. We're not sure where that ranks in the poor-timing-to-get-busted-partying list, but that's pretty much right up there with the night before the draft, right?

Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports put together a list of free agent bargains and players to beware. Where did Williams land? You guessed it, on the buyer beware list.

5. Reggie Williams, WR: His size and athletic ability make him tempting. He still shows flashes that make you think he can be a big-time player. But even before his recent arrest, he had the reputation of being an unfocused knucklehead. He's destined to break some team's heart.

General manager Jerry Angelo has hinted the real help for the Bears at the position will come via the draft. I wouldn't rule out an addition in free agency, a small deal similar to what Bullocks got earlier today. Williams would be more intriguing minus the weed-and-booze incident. Cleveland cut loose Joe Jurevicius on Wednesday. He's another big, veteran guy and has high character. But he didn't play at all in 2008 while he recovered from a staph infection and it's not certain how much he has less. Jurevicius, who grew up a Browns fan, was due to make $2.4 million. If healthy, he'd be worth investigating.


Q: I've been posting for a few weeks now how Lance Moore is worth a second-round pick. The guy had over 70 receptions and almost 1,000 yards with 10 touchdowns last year. Not to mention the fact that he's only 25 years old. Am I mistaken or are those facts worthy of trading away a second-round pick? The guy is getting paid a petty $1.545 million and I doubt New Orleans will match a good Bears' offer. The Bears haven't seen a receiver with these numbers in a while and let's not try to disguise Devin Hester as a No. 1 option.

Fred G., Parts Unknown

A: Moore was wildly productive in the high-powered New Orleans passing attack last season, catching 79 passes for 928 yards with 10 touchdowns. Putting those numbers into my converter that translates statistics from other offenses to the one used here, well, it's not so shiny--43 catches, 481 yards, 2 touchdowns. OK. We're just kidding. We don't have a converter, but I hope you get my point. It's impossible to look at his number with Drew Brees, a 5,000-yard passer, and project what he could do for the Bears. What the Bears need is a No. 1 receiver. I don't think anyone views Moore as the next Steve Smith. He's a terrific player for the Saints, but at 5-9, 190 pounds, he's just not a true No. 1 target. You're right, Hester might not be either. But collecting No. 2's doesn't create a No. 1. Plus, I'm not so convinced the Saints wouldn't strongly consider matching an offer. This from Mike Triplett at the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

TEAMS CONSIDER MOORE: Saints restricted free-agent receiver Lance Moore has not gone on any free-agent recruiting visits this year, but he has received some legitimate interest around the league, according to a league source. A report in the Tennesseean on Sunday suggested that the Titans are "intrigued" by Moore.

Teams would have to pay a stiff price to snatch Moore away from the Saints. New Orleans tendered him a contract offer at the second-round compensation level last month. That means the Saints would first have the option to match any offer sheet he signs with another team. If they elect not to match the offer, the team would owe New Orleans a second-round pick.

Two of the Saints' other restricted free agents are even less likely to go anywhere. The team tendered guard Jahri Evans at a first- and third-round compensation level, and they tendered backup offensive tackle Zach Strief at a second-round level.

Moore is a good, young talent. The Bears need a big receiver who can make plays downfield.

Thank you for all of the participation and questions. As always, thanks for reading. Shoot in your questions and we'll get back to the mailbag and Four Down Questions again on Thursday.

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16 Comments

Two or three years of a Torry Holt would do wonders for the Bears offense and Devin Hester. Then Bennett could be the slot guy that he is really destined to be. With this combo and some more O line help who knows how good the offense could be?

Since the Bears best receivers are tight ends, would the best Bears offense have two TEs on the field? One RB, two TEs, and two WRs? OR two RBs, two TEs, and one WR? It seems that the best coaches find a way to place their best players on the field all the time.

Brad,
can you explain how the compensation picks work? is it based off last years performance,or is there a tier based on salary?
The Deangelo Hall signing by the Raiders is why I'm curious,since they cut him mid-season.

How exciting. A safety who couldn't make it with the Saints' porous defense. Oh, OK. The Cover two will fix him. Ha.

I'd like to see the Bears add Holt and 1 more WR who is young, can block down field, and catch better than Rashied Davis, before draft day. I'm starting to feel a little more optomistic, not confident, just a bit more optomistic. It's difficult being patient, but as much as I've been down on JA, the Bears are slightly better off than they were at the start of the postseason. I don't think they're finished in Free Agency either. Add a couple FA WRs before draft day and they have the opportunity to get more than slightly better by training camp. I would love for Bears to have some flexibilty on draft weekend.

bullocks did well in his first season under haslett...when peyton got there is where the defense as a whole unit went south and quickly...

the cover-2 will also give him less responsibility...the only thing that alarms me is that his field awareness has been questioned and thats something you def have to have in order to succeed in the cover-2

its a low risk aquisition and the bears will draft a FS on the first day so at least the position is now finally being addressed after browns inability first to stay healthy and then secondly play the FS position

Have any of you seen the youtube video posted at the Trib of Bullocks? It's under Rosenblogs latest. This guy is brutal, he couldn't cover the Bears recievers, he makes Manning look like a genius back there. By the way Greg Williams is the guy who got rid of Bullocks, he was to big of a liability back there, he is horrible in Pass coverage and he also looks slow in the video as evreyone is burning him. He gets fooled on fakes real bad and his back pedal is just bad.

Sure the cover-0 will fix him . . . he doesn't have to cover anyone in our scheme. He can just let the guy catch the ball and then try to make the tackle.

I wrote in the other day about the Bears trading for Boldin. A report off of Profootballtalk.com posted today has the Cardinals shopping Boldin. So now with the question of whether or not the cardinals are shopping Boldin out of the way how can the Bears not make this happen. There he is for the taking and is worth 2 or 3 picks or even a player. Please argue why this shouldn’t now be the main offseason priority, Jerry can’t claim that the contract Boldin will want is an "exorbitant" of money for a player with his credentials

I saw the youtube film after my post. He looked lost. A former 2nd round pick though, with some speed and ball skills, from what 'they' say. Bears risk little, and maybe in a new scheme??? Still, he looked crazy lost on at least 3 of those plays, like he was biting on a flat route from 25 yards deep after the ball had been thrown in his area.

Justinc, the Bears have been addressing FS, they just have not drafted a good FS.

2006 2ND RD pick D. Manning was suppose to be the guy funny Bullocks was taken right before him in that draft.
2007 5TH RD picks Kevin Payne and Corey Graham, Payne a FS in college and Graham was projected as a FS.
2008 4th RD pick Craig Steltz 5th Round Zack Bowman a guy projected as a CB or FS

So he has thrown some picks at the FS/S position in fact Angelo has spent more picks on DB's than any other position on the team. More than LB, OL, DL, WR, so he has been looking for help there, he just hasn't found it.


Brad I was just listening ot the score and they were saying Tampa was in trade talks for Jay Cutler. If Tampa can be in trade talks for Cutler, why can't the Bears be? Tampa doesn't have a QB and the Bears have a higher first rd pick than them. Shouldn't Angelo at least try to get in there for a QB of this calibur? Did he not say fixing the QB position was a priority? With all of Angelo's first round busts would this not be a safe move? Cutler is not Cassell, he has all the good and has shown it, he is a fan of the Bears and has the type of arm and feet you need in Chicago.

Brad,

I recently read that Jerry Angelo said he did not believe there will be any 'elite' players available when the Bears are on the clock with the 18th overall pick. Because when they were elite they would not last that long.

This makes me wonder how many true 'elite' player actually will be available this coming draft. And moreover, when the Bears were in the position to draft such a player, which one would do you believe they should go for.

Love reading your posts.

Best regards,

Maarten
Europe (the Netherlands)

actually I don't feel Jerry was totally being honest when he stated that about the QB, Not sure why he fired that s... out there to undermine the respect for Orton or force Lovie to defend him or just wtf went on with that but I think he has since reversed position on that statement. I feel he was trying to distance himself from the backlash if we don't have a good year again. Not to say that Orton is great but he is decent and not the problem and certainly not the only position Jerry has not drafted well over the years. But at least Jerry did the backpedal better than Bullocks huh?

Wow, that video looks really bad, of course they focused on his bad plays but he looked really really slow, flat out getting beat on speed alone, and biting on moves, getting left behind, wow, that did not look like scheme problems - that looked like a player that can not stick to a WR at all.
The Forte thing hey Forte is good don't forget, but he did look lost.

Hi Brad, first I want to thank you for answering all of us starved Bear fan questions. I look forward to coming home from work to read the "Inside the Bears" blog daily. So please don't stop but think of more to do for us real Bear fans during this long offseason. Here are few of question for Four Down Territory.

There has been a lot of talk about the Bears needs this offseason but little has been said about the need for an upgrade at the fullback position that the Bears employ and use frequently each game. I think that with two starting quality backs in Forte and Jones, an elite full back can go a long way in helping their success as well as their health. Do you agree that the Bears need to find a lead back to compete with the "average at best" FB Jason McKie? Is there a full back in the draft that the Bears should/may take a look at or maybe a player that can be converted to play full back?


Having a football background myself, I know that camaraderie can take a team a long way and is usually created by a vocal leader on a team. Some teams have coaches that take this role like Mike Tomlin but most have players like Ray Lewis and Brian Dawkins or Michael Strahan who all the other player on the team don't want to disappoint and look to for the emotional leadership. Last season I did not recognize this player on our team and we know that Lovie (good coach and teacher of the game) did not light that fire under the team. In the past Mike Brown was this guy but seemed not to take that role last season. What do you think of the importance of such a player on a NFL team? If a coach recognizes that this is an unfilled position, should he privately go to a player and ask him to take that role?

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on March 11, 2009 9:20 PM.

Bullocks and Metcalf revisited was the previous entry in this blog.

UPDATED Terps fever: WR Heyward-Bey dazzles at Maryland pro day is the next entry in this blog.

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