It's the color that every personnel man in the National Football League wants to see.
Blues are what define winning organizations. They are the difference between winning and losing on Sundays. Blues shines brightest in the biggest moments. Blues command the biggest paychecks. Blues are what the game is all about.
Mike Lombardi at the National Football Post spent the last few weeks breaking down what blue players are on every roster in the league. First, let's let him describe what a blue is. He should know. He spent more than two decades in front offices in Oakland, Cleveland. San Francisco, Philadelphia and Denver.
"Player has abilities that can create mismatches vs. most opponents in the league. Is a featured player on the team and has impact on the outcome of the game. Not one player can take him out of the game. Each week he has a consistent level of performance. Plays at a championship level performance. He rates in the top ten at his position in the league."
Jay Cutler: He's a blue player, now he needs to be a blue winner.
Matt Forte: Does it all--run, catch, protect--very well.
Devin Hester: Not sure he's a blue player, but he's a blue playmaker.
Almost, but not blue
Brian Urlacher: If blockers get to him, he's blocked, so he's not a blue.
Lance Briggs: No one on the Bears' defense is a blue.
It's an interesting take. Certainly Urlacher has not been on top of his game the last two seasons, and Lombardi isn't the only trained eye to make that assessment. Briggs fails to make the cut also and he's been to four consecutive Pro Bowls. I took a look at the outside linebackers who were included on the list and I think it's easy to see what Lombardi was seeking. He wanted outside linebackers who get to the quarterback.
Terrell Suggs, Baltimore
Joey Porter, Miami
LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh
James Harrison, Pittsburgh
Shawne Merriman, San Diego
Aaron Kampman, Green Bay
There's a leap of faith involved there that Merriman will bounce back from a serious knee injury to again be a dominant performer, and that Kampman will adjust to the move outside from defensive end in the new 3-4 scheme Dom Capers has brought to the Packers. But they're both established pass rushers and that is simply not something Briggs does. Teams don't put as much of an emphasis on weak-side linebackers as every is seeking pass rushers.
Lombardi also omits defensive tackle Tommie Harris from the list, and Harris didn't play up to a blue level last season. There are concerns about his knee, too. Tight end Greg Olsen could certainly ascend and be considered a blue quickly. In fact, it seems the Bears expect him to be an elite performer beginning this season.
It certainly makes for a good discussion. The Bears trail Minnesota and Green Bay in the division when it comes to blues.
Bears 3 blues/3 almost blues
Green Bay 5/3