Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, March 23: The quiet on the Cutler front

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Full day of football news coming out of the owners meetings. The Bears got what they were looking for in a third-round compensatory pick for losing Bernard Berrian. Now, if they can make sure that third-round pick isn't Mike Okwo or Roosevelt Williams, maybe they will be OK. Off to the questions.

Q: It's been reported that the New York Jets are one of the 10 or so teams that have inquired about Jay Cutler's services. Wouldn't general manager Jerry Angelo earn some goodwill with a fan base that has become rather weary of his leadership by leaking the same news, that the Bears are going to be in the hunt for the quarterback if Denver decides to cut its unbelievable losses and trade the Pro Bowl quarterback?

Rafael S., Chicago

A: Sure, Angelo might make the fans happy for a day. Maybe a week. But would it matter if the Bears didn't land Cutler? I bet the Bears might have wanted to draft Ryan Clady last season too. He wasn't available when they picked at No. 14. Would knowing that make you feel better?

It was a sourced report in the Denver Post that 10 teams had made inquiries with the Broncos about Cutler and his availability. It's been reported that if Cutler reaches the open market, the Jets want in on the action. I don't think it would do the Bears any good to have their intentions known, whether they want in on Cutler or not. What's the point? You would tip off competition if you wanted in on the action. You would put a lot of extra pressure and scrutiny on yourself. Worse yet, miss on a deal and then you have Kyle Orton feeling just like Cutler, right? I can't say the Bears want in or don't have an interest in what is playing out in Denver right now. I know that in Angelo's tenure he's never come close to the kind of bold move it would take to pull off a deal like this. Not by a longshot. Playing your hand now wouldn't help the Bears, whatever path they choose. And remember, Josh McDaniels got a nifty platform provided for him by the league itself when he went on NFL Network Monday proclaiming Cutler was his quarterback.


Q: I read today that USC's Mark Sanchez will meet with or has met with the Jaguars, Colts, Jets and Redskins and I'm sure that's not a complete list. Are the Bears really not even going to meet with Sanchez? Are they that afraid that this might hurt Kyle Orton's feelings? Are they that content at quarterback that they wouldn't even consider Sanchez if he slipped to No. 18 or at least slipped to the the point where it would make sense to trade up and grab him? Orton could still play out his contract year in 2009 and if he plays great--awesome--you've got a good problem on your hands. If Orton doesn't live up to his 2008 first-half numbers, then you've got Sanchez with a year under his belt to step in instead of having to draft a quarterback in the first round of 2010 in what amounts to a full-blown rebuilding mode (and maybe with a new coach and GM). That being said, why wouldn't the Bears at least meet with Sanchez to kick the tires?

Dan M., Wheaton

A: You said it yourself, it may not be a complete list of teams Sanchez will meet with in a pre-draft visit. Not all visits are announced or discovered. Not every team has a visit with a player it drafts, even a high pick. I might be wrong, but I don't believe the Bears brought in Rex Grossman for a visit in 2003. I don't think they had a private workout with him either, but I could be wrong. The point is, just because there is no known visit doesn't mean there is no interest. I can tell you for a fact that often times teams will show interest in a player just to throw off their true intentions, help an agent or both. There's more smoke being released this time of year than truth, I can promise you that. The challenge is trying to find the truth here and there. We discovered the Bears were interested in running back Matt Forte last year. They had multiple pre-draft meetings with him. We reported Lovie Smith was at Arkansas at the pro day, they wound up drafting Marcus Harrison and Marcus Monk. There's no way of saying right now what visits will turn into picks, what workouts amount to serious interest.

Q: Before Josh Bullocks and Glenn Earl were signed, I felt free safety needed to be addressed after offensive tackle and wide receiver. With these two signings has anything changed?

Vic F., Springfield, Va.

A: Probably not. Both veterans signed one-year contracts with Earl coming on board for the minimum. That doesn't strike you as being much in the way of a longterm plan, does it? Earl is more of a strong safety and I suspect he could get a look at nickel back as a backup to Danieal Manning. Bullocks will man free safety and he made a few plays in minicamp. I think it's a decent bet the Bears look for a free safety in the first three rounds. One agent I spoke with last week suggested they would go offensive tackle, free safety and wide receiver, in that order, with their first three selections. If it's a receiver in the third round, can he catch a pass as a rookie?


Q: Last season saw a number of third-and-short and fourth-and-goal failures by the offense. I suspect that is one of the main reasons for the signing of Frank Omiyale in an attempt to get bigger and more powerful up front. It's the guards that make the running game go. The Bears need "road graders" playing guard in order to effectively "get off the bus running." With an early round offensive tackle in the works do you think the O-line rebuild will be done or do you see more activity in this area? Any chance the Bears get a tackle in round one and guard Duke Robinson in round two?

Patrick K., Parts Unknown

A: You're right, Patrick, the Bears were not nearly as effective in third- and fourth-and-short as they should have been. In fact, they converted just 64 percent of the time on third-and-one (16-for-25 and were 43 percent on fourth down overall (6-for-14). Taking an even closer look at it, running back Matt Forte gained 36 yards on 18 carries on third-and-two or less. That's not finding many holes. One fourth-and-two or less, Forte carries seven times for 12 yards. Take away a long carry of eight yards, and he had four yards on six carries. That starts with a push up front, and I suspect your hunch is a primary reason why the Bears are seeking to get bigger up front with Omiyale, who we all know was first worked at left guard when minicamp opened last week. If the Bears can find a right tackle in free agency or draft one, then they can go back to the plan of working Omiyale on the inside.

I would agree with you also that they need more young talent on the line than just one tackle. Considering the serious needs elsewhere--receiver and free safety--I don't know if the Bears will be able to go back to the line right away. Doing so might shore up some issues for years to come but guard could wind up being more of what general manager Jerry Angelo classifies as a "want" than a "need."

Thank you for all of the participation and questions. As always, thanks for reading. Our next Q&A will be Tuesday. Get your questions in soon.

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24 Comments

Here's one way to improve the short yardage efficiency: Have Ron Turner throw out the Fullback dive from the playbook, as that play cost the Bears in losses in crucial moments against Carolina and Houston.

Adam, I'm with you all the way on that one there. With the size of of running backs nowadays, plus the use of TE's as H-backs, I really don't see why a roster spot is wasted on a slow, non atheletic player, with very little functions. And in Da Bears case, our FB had absolutely no function. He didn't blast open holes for Forte. And he didn't bowl over defenders trying to tackle him. I've said many times that a backfield of Jones and Forte would make your offense very potent and less predictable. How could a faster more atheletic backfield hurt us. Both are big guys capable of blocking, catching and running.

We do need to get bigger and stronger up front. So the guard position needs to be addressed sometime during the draft. I suspect sometime during the second day. I actually liked Beekman, and at one point I loved Kreutz. But now I feel that Kreutz and Garza are our weakest links. We'll see how it all plays out in a few weeks. Go Bears!!!

Having an adequately sized interior line is a need, not a want. The perennially good teams build from the defensive and offensive lines first, because they are the foundations of their units. If the interior of the offensive line is too small, like that of the Bears, a team cannot run effectively in short yardage situations. An offensive play caller can use all the smoke and mirrors he wants -- and Ron Turner is very good at this by necessity -- but eventually the lack of size and quality on the offensive line will ensure that the offense is not successful.

That's true Adam P.

That full back dive hurt us when it didn't work but I would be willing to bet that "IF" the O-line had more beef between the Tackles that those type's of plays would be more effective. Forte would have had more success on those third and short plays as well.

Play calls only work when executed and from what I saw last season between Beekman, Kruetz and Garza was a lot of D-line penetration that blew up running plays on short yardage.

Beef up that O-line and the entire offense will function more efficiently.


No one has talked much about the fullback spot the ones we have are weak at POA and I would be looking in the late rounds for a real lead-blocker, we are using a overweight tailback and Olsen sometimes as a H-back and neither block real well Kevin Anderson from Tufts looks to be a impressive lead blocker type with attitude. Are the Bears in the market would be a good insurance policy for Orton and Forte.

Have I missed something? The Bears stopped being a power running team a couple years ago. They have smaller OG & C because they want them to get to the 2nd level, or pull and trap. That's why it makes no sense to try and run a power dive for a 1st down or touchdown.

The adavantage of the smaller quicker OL is they tend to play longer with less injury. The disadvantage is they tend to not get a good push at the line of scrimmage.

Well put Reggie.

My feeling is that the Bears draft OT early, either 1'st or 2'nd round like many predict and perhaps even add a veteran cast off post draft for depth purposes.

Frank Omilyale will be the LG opening day. Kruetz will be playing his last season as a Bear because Beekman will be the starting Center in 2010. Garza could very well get beat out by Dan Buenning in trainging camp, if he does then Garza will be dumped before the season opener. Angelo knows the O-line needs to get both bigger and younger fast. No sense on keeping aging veterans who have lost some push around if younger, bigger guy's are ready to step up.

I would not be surprised if the Bears select a Gaurd as well before the 4'th round in this draft. They have needs at WR, OT and safety even depth concerns on the D-line but the O-line is still a top priority and can't be overlooked like it has for so many years now with such a deep draft class of quality prospects.

Build the O-line up first and foremost Angelo.

Go Bears !!

There are some interesting prospects available in the middle to later rounds that I think could go a long way in cementing the youth movement on the offensive line. While players like Duke Robinson may not be there, there are a lot of guards, centers, and tackles that are third round or later prospects that could fit what we are looking for. That could let us end the Tyler Reed experiment, and get some legitimate talent on the roster.

At tackle, guys like Jason Watkins, T.J. Lang, Ramon Foster, and Sebastian Vollmer could be guys we look at late in the draft. Lydon Murtha might be an interesting choice as a blocking tight end late in the draft because of his size and athleticism. I don't know if he can be a legit tackle prospect, but he can certainly contribute for a long time.

At guard, it all depends on who you ask. Guys like Greg Isdaner, Craig Urbik, Andy Levitre, Louis Vasquez, and even Jaimie Thomas are all over the board when you see the different mocks and rankings, so they could go anywhere from 2nd round to 4th round, so that could make for an interesting position to watch.

At center, Mack, Unger, and Wood should all go by the end of the second round. After that, Antoine Caldwell, Johnny Luigs, and A.Q. Shipley could all be in the 3rd to 5th round range.

There are a lot of decent prospects this year, so it is probably a good thing that Jerry finally is being forced to focus on the offensive line as a position group. The Bears are in position now with 9 draft picks to get 3-4 offensive linemen before the end of the draft. Now if we look at our needs, in no particular order other than how they spill out of my brain:

RT
WR
FS
SLB
C
DE
DT
Swing Tackle
QB

Now we have 9 picks....Of course it would be unreasonable to assume we can fill all 9 needs with the 9 picks. Odds are they skip the QB position, and probably only draft one defensive lineman, preferably a tackle. They will probably load up on either OTs or WRs to see if they can turn that position over on the roster. Is anybody happy with Aromashodu, Broussard, Rideau, and Davis behind Hester and Bennett? Me either. Most of that group shouldn't even be on a roster, and if they are come September, more pressure will be on Hester, Olsen, and Clark.

Enough of this Cutler stuff. He is a major head case. Orton is a solid QB. Yes he struggles on the deep balls, but a whole off season being #1 will help that. Orton is fabulous on passes in the 20-25 yard range. He has a strong arm and can make the needed throws. Lets not forget he had the circus clowns at WR last year. Hester is doing better, but other then him they had nobody. Cutler has stud WR's (Marshall) to throw to. Plus the O-Line was average at best. When the team made Orton a captain, what does that tell you?? Orton is a solid team player and has good pocket sense. Ease off the guy. Does Joe Montana win all those Super Bowls with Rashied Davis and Brandon LLoyd at WR??? Ummmm no. Orton is not the all world QB. There are few of those. Hes a solid QB that stays within himself and does not force passes.. (See Rex for that)
He had some bad games last year, but so does every QB. Build a good line and give him some WR's that can separate and catch balls.. and then evaluate him.

Why is anyone that high on Cutler? He was on a team that had a poor defense (similar to Chicago) and had awesome WR's, better than Chicago, so why would anyone think he is better for Chicago than Orton? Orton put up a better Win/Loss record than Cutler?

I am so tired of all you butt heads picking on Orton. You know if Orton was in the Military last year he would have gotten a purple heart for him playing on that bad ankle. It took some guts and fortitude. I would like to see any of you play football on a bady sprained high ankle. Most of you wouldn't even go to your desk job or what ever.

Strass- Amen to that brother. That has been my belief the whole time. Better line, more time to throw and more time for receivers to get open. Bigger holes for Forte to run through and take some pressure off of Orton. I think the Bears proved without a doubt last season that even an average quarterback can tear you apart if the defense can't get to him.

From McKie to Shelton, Bears FBs seem top heavy. Their hands are OK, but they're not very nimble on their feet and always seem to be heading directly OB, stumbling, one yard from where the ball was snapped. Take a decent FB with a later round pick.

And don't wait for rnd. 3 to take a WR. No later than 2 I'm hoping, especially since there's no activity via FA (Tory Holt?). I like WR at 1 or 2, and OL at 1 and 3 or 2 and 3 depending on the round WR is addressed.

There's only so much you can do with one draft when it's apparent that's the only vehicle the Bears will use to improve.

Bears should draft Hakeem Nicks WR from North Carolina in the first round. They have the fast guy in Hester, now they need the big strong guy who can out muscle people for the ball. He reminds me of Michael "the playmaker" Irvin minus the off the field issues and steller mustache. I agree that Neckbeard can be a pretty good NFL quarterback if he had a few new weapons to play with. And he definitely has the support of his teammates more than Sexy Rexy ever did. Of course, Angelo will draft a tackle and then catch the leftover recievers in round 2-3 and we will be stuck with Hester and stone hands Davis starting at wr...

Brad,

Some keep harping on past failures, but I think extra draft choices has a good chance to make the Bears better. There is evidence that Jerry Angelo and friends are starting to figure it out. For example, in the last 3 drafts 20 of 28 players drafted are still with the team.

Even given that JA likes to give them every chance, that sounds like a lot to me. How does this stack up with the rest of the league?

I agree that Orton is a serviceable NFL Qb and with better wideouts and more protection, Orton could do OK, maybe even win the division with him at QB.

But are you guys saying to not go after Cutler? Cutler is a little spoiled brat at times but so have many great QB's been high maintenance. The fact is that Cutler has better ability to be that franchise Qb that could lead a team year in and year out for 10 years or so.

Cutler has a better arm, no question. Cutler is far more mobile which makes him more dangerous and has better touch on the deep pass.

Orton played well against weak competition last year. He had his best games against weak secondaries. You guys don't see that? Yes, the wideouts are a problem, no question and the line is as well, but the talent level of the two QB's leans heavily toward Cutler in my opinion.

You have got to take a shot at getting a franchise Qb when you have a chance to do so. It may take another 50 years to get another legitimate shot at a franchise QB.

Don't get me wrong, I like Orton and support him for what he does bring to the BEARS but I firmly believe that Cutler could be special, very special.

Brad, what would be the odds of the Bears aquiring Tauscher?

Another thing to ponder here draft wise.. Priority positions in the draft- WR, OT, FS, DE and maybe strong side LB. I put DE in there because Wally is gonna be gone and Alex Brown's contract is up after this year. I like Mark Anderson, but he seems to have vanished. Look at the top play makers at each spot we need filled. Then compare them to the other players available. I know we need an OT and WR.. but if Larry English is on the board.. gotta take him. That guy has the "IT" factor going. Hes Trent Cole and Dwight Freeney wrapped up into one. I watched all of his tape at the senior bowl. He was a monster. Granted 6'02 and 260 is not huge, but this guy just has that ability to get there and make plays. For giggles lets say we draft him and he becomes that 12-15 sack guy.. then all of sudden your "D" becomes big and takes alot of pressure off of the "O". Then your front 4 create havoc while you drop 7 into coverage. I just think hes gonna be a star. My bet is that he goes in the top 15, but if he were to fall to the Bears???? We need help at several spots, but all things considered.. If I were to put English on the table along with DHB, Britten, Hicks, Louis Delmas.. no contest in terms of who would help us the most.. I will eat crow later if I have to, but English is gonna be a pro bowl player and difference maker.

Strass wrote:
"Another thing to ponder here draft wise.. Priority positions in the draft- WR, OT, FS, DE and maybe strong side LB. I put DE in there because Wally is gonna be gone and Alex Brown's contract is up after this year."

I agree on the main point. But Alex Brown signed an extension for two more years last Feb. He is under contract through the 2011 season. We have him for three more years.

Strass,
So an undersized DE that is a candidate to move to OLB in a 3-4, and will play in a rotation here will have more of an impact than a starting RT? If we get Britton to RT, that moves Omiyale to either LG or RG, thereby strengthening two positions on the line in one pick. But if we go defense, which is certainly a valid argument, I would argue that we need a DT more than a DE. If he does become that 12-15 sack guy, (which I don't see happening, but I could be wrong) he would be a solid addition, and a better solution than the RT. But with Tommie not even able to make it through a mini-camp, and Dusty already making his reservation on IR, we need some help inside more than outside. Leaving Izzy in there would have helped, but apparently, we feel like special teams is more important than having our most consistent DL stay at one position. But Adams, Harrison, Dvoracek, and Harris is basically a walking wounded list, whereas Wale, Brown, Anderson, and Idonije are very durable players who rarely miss time.


But I would rather see Orton stay upright, and pass on the opportunity to see the opposing QB not stay upright. Get our OL fixed first, and see what Marinelli can do with Alex, Wale, Anderson, and Izzy. If we pass on the next Dwight Freeney, I guess we will have to live with that. But if we take English in 1, Loadholt is our only hope in round 2, and I would much rather have Britton, and take my chances on discovering a defensive end later in the draft, like we did with Anderson and Alex Brown. Pass rushers come in all rounds, but quality offensive tackles rarely come from the later rounds and start on day 1. It has been known to happen, but not as a general rule.

To me, Maclin and Britton are my option 1 and option 2. Anything after that, either we trade back, or go DT.

Joe, Regarding English,, yes hes not the biggest DE, but he is an impact player. Dwight Freeny was down graded due to his size and he became a huge impact player. To compare talent level to Britten is crazy. Britten will be a sold LT/RT, but play making wise English would be the better pick. Going back to the comment about DT, I totally agree that the position needs a huge upgrade. I said in an earlier post that it was very concerning that Tommie did not practise at the mini-camp. Another thing to look at is Tommie tends to vanish alot. He will have hot streaks, then hes gonzo. I would not have spent 40 mill. on such a streaky player. Plus this injury problem.. he has not been healthy for a whole season since '05. And in the Carolina playoff game, he didnt do anything. I would not care if they grabbed a stud DT at #18. The problem now is that due to JA's pure stupidity with ignoring the O-Line, we know have a crisis at that position. Had he taken O-Line in 2007 with the 2nd and 3rd rounders, we would be much better off. Guess my point was with all the glaring needs, look at all the impact players on the board and pick the one that gives you the most bang for buck. We have so many holes, it should not be hard to pick some good players. Either way with this draft, a need is going to be passed over. I would love to trade up and grab one of the top 3 tackles, but that wont happen. Then there is this problem.. JA tends to miss on 1st round picks. The last impact draft we had was 2000 when Mark Hatley drafted Urlacher and Mike Brown. JA does alright finding players in the lower rounds, but when it comes to nailing a solid 1st round impact guy??? Whifffff

are you seriously wondering why everyone is so high on cutler? Is that a joke?

I personally don't want Cutler in Windy City. He is just not the guy. We have a franchise QB on our roster and that is.....not Neckbeard.....but Hanie. This kid has it all and hopefully he'll get to show that in Chicago. Hanie 1st string!

Point taken, WM. But consider the disadvantages you mentioned. If the line can't get a good push, what good is it? A small line that can't get a good push will fail consistently in short yardage situations and will also cause the offense to be poor in the red zone, where a strong running game is necessary for success, and a power running game is needed near the goal line. Football is not a track meet or basketball game, and despite the delusional claims of Lovie Smith, size DOES matter on the lines.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on March 23, 2009 9:10 PM.

UPDATED: Bears net extra third-round pick and two sevenths was the previous entry in this blog.

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