Illinois receiver Arrelious Benn's stock may be dropping after a less-than-stellar performance at the Combine on Sunday.
February 2010 Archives
Illinois receiver Arrelious Benn's stock may be dropping after a less-than-stellar performance at the Combine on Sunday.
Just because the Bears don't have a first-or second-round draft pick doesn't mean they aren't looking to add young talent.
The Bears may depart from their standard approach and become a major player in free agency.
But based on conversations with half a dozen NFL executives, the Bears don't really have any other choice.
Bears coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo head into a crucial 2010 season without a first- and second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
One league vice president projected that the Bears would sign at least one of the most coveted unrestricted free agents available, a list that could expand before free agency commences on March 5.
The Bears could make a strong push to sign either Julius Peppers or Aaron Kampman, two defensive ends who are expected to receive deals with an annual average of $12 and $11 million, respectively.
In addition, Smith and Angelo haven't masked their desire to upgrade their depth at safety, and they appear primed to make an upgrade at running back and along the offensive line, too.
Safety, though, maybe a priority, and accomplished safeties could become available because of high roster bonuses and base salaries.
But one NFC general manager questioned whether Arizona Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle would be a good fit in Chicago. While he is one of the top-playmaking safeties in the league, Rolle thrives in a scheme that affords him plenty of opportunities to roam and make plays.
The general manager likened Rolle to former Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper. After intercepting nine passes for the Vikings in 2005, Sharper's numbers dramatically declined from 2006 to 2008, when new head coach Brad Childress implemented the Tampa Two defense. Sharper had eight interceptions over those three seasons but rebounded in 2009 with nine because the New Orleans Saints empowered him to play a style he prefers.
So unless the Bears are willing to make Rolle the league's highest-paid safety (Bob Sanders of the Indianapolis Colts currently holds that distinction with a five-year, $37.5 million contract that included $20 million in guarantees), then they may not be able to lure him to play in Lovie Smith's Tampa Two.
In Smith's scheme, the safeties often split the field in half. And given the struggles of the Bears current safeties, opposing teams would like pick on whoever is starting with Rolle, a Pro Bowl selection in 2009.
The other prominent safety that could be available is Kerry Rhodes, a 2006 all-pro who 15 career interceptions and six forced fumbles. Rhodes is a well-balanced player who has shown versatility in Rex Ryan's defense, which demands versatility from its players. But Rhodes fell out of favor with coaches in November - he got into a shouting match with his secondary coach - and he was benched for two games.
There have been suggestions that Ryan also hasn't been pleased with his focus on football. Rhodes acts, models and frequently appears on radio and television shows both locally and nationally.
For the Bears, however, Rhodes may be a cheaper and more versatile alternative to Rolle.
One AFC personnel director suggested that Bernard Pollard of the Houston Texans might be a solid fit for Bears, as well. Pollard plays strong safety, and he's infamous in New England because he was involved in tackles that ended the seasons of Tom Brady in 2008 and Wes Welker in 2009.
He has seven interceptions in four seasons, including four in 2009, along with six career forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks. Pollard, though, is a restricted free agent.
With Matt Forte entrenched, the Bears may also be in the market for another proven running back. Chester Taylor, who was Adrian Peterson's backup in Minnesota, could be an option for the Bears, although there is expected to be several teams interested in him.
It seems implausible, for instance, that the Bears would sign Peppers and/ or Kampman, as well as Rolle and/ or Rhodes and one of the more coveted running backs on the market.
But with teams expected to take a cautious approach, the Bears may lock in on one player then try to get a discount at a few other positions.
But with their highest pick in the third round, the Bears need to aggressively address a few of their holes via free agency.
Time may not be a luxury for Angelo and Smith.
Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen spent much of his interview session at the NFL Combine disputing what he described as "inaccurate perceptions" about his character and leadership ability.
"Some people say I'm cocky, I'm arrogant, that I'm not a good leader or a teammate," he said. "The people that are out there saying that don't know me as a person."
OK, so Brian Westbrook doesn't know that much about the Bears defense (see below). He does, however, like the idea of playing in Chicago.
Jerry Angelo couldn't talk about specific players. That would be tampering. But you can bet he was asked about the possibility of signing free-agent defensive end Julius Peppers just the same when he met with reporters at the NFL Combine on Friday.
Cornerback Nathan Vasher has struggled since going to the Pro Bowl after the 2005 season.
Last season, he started just two games.
But general manager Jerry Angelo said Vasher will be at Bears training camp.
"He's on the roster," Angelo said. "We've paid him his money. It doesn't behoove us to let him go. We're going to take him to training camp.
"Right now it's business as usual with Nathan."
Vasher is set to make nearly $3 million 2010, and his salary cap number is nearly $5 million. But the club doesn't have to pay him that base salary unless he's on the regular-season roster.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo reiterated what coach Lovie Smith said earlier: they like their receiver corps.
Angelo acknowledged the rumors linking Torry Holt -- who starred under new offensive coordinator Mike Martz in St. Louis -- to the Bears. But Angelo essentially dismissed that possibility, along with any other veteran receiver.
"Our experience has been, and we learned this a couple years ago when we brought in Brandon Lloyd and Marty Booker, is they are going to take reps. Whose reps are they going take? They are going to take younger guys' reps," Angelo said. "Obviously, the veteran is the incumbent. You're always going to have security with him and sometimes in that case it's at the expense of some of our younger receivers.
While a team may want a veteran to lead young receivers, he said those players ultimately take snaps away from them, too.
"You can't have the best of both worlds," he said.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo didn't clear up why he ousted senior pro personnel director Bobby DePaul or if he's going to replace him with longtime colleague Tim Ruskell.
But this much is clear: changes are coming.
"Obviously, I want to restructure," Angelo said. "But I haven't cemented anything."
Earlier this week, ESPN reported Ruskell would be hired within 48 hours then added another story that said he had "agreed to terms" with the Bears.
The club disputed both reports.
"There's been a lot of speculation - wrongful speculation," Angelo said.
"He's a professional friend," Angelo later said of Ruskell, with whom he worked in Tampa.
Ruskell resigned as the Seattle Seahawks president of football operations in December.
Angelo wouldn't provide deals, only saying, "I'll address it at the right time."
But he said the changes are natural.
"We evolve," he said. "You have to evolve."
Buzz at the NFL combine is that Bears scout Chris Ballard could be in line for a promotion of some sort.
Because the Bears don't have a first- or second-round draft pick doesn't mean they will approach the draft from a radically different point of view. No one knows what might happen between now and the April 22nd draft.
While it may be difficult to move up, it's not impossible.
Bears coach Lovie Smith doesn't feel any extra pressure right now, even though his team has missed the postseason the last three seasons.
"Every year, every day I've been on the job, I felt like I needed to get the job done then," he said. "Nothing has changed."
Smith, though, didn't begrudge the questions about his job security.
"We haven't made the playoffs in three years," he said. "Normally, if you haven't done that, there's rumblings going on.
"But Ted Phillips and the McCaskey family have been nothing but supportive to me.
My glass is half full."
Smith seemed completely at ease during his two interviews, which covered about a half hour combined. He dodged questions about specific free agents -- to avoid any concerns about tampering -- but he answered everything else.
He also displayed some confidence in 2010.
"I'm excited about this opportunity that we have. And when we do well this year, everything will take care of itself," he said. "It's as simple as that."
The Bears only had one interception from the safety position last season. For a defense built around forcing turnovers, and a scheme that relies on a ball-hawking safety, that's not good enough.
Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris finished a disappointing 2009 season with 2.5 seasons. But Bears coach Lovie Smith bolstered his faith in the three-time Pro Bowl selection and noted his sack total should have been higher.
"I'll say (he should have had) five more sacks where he just didn't wrap the guy up," Smith said at the NFL combine. "He can still be an impact player. He will still be an impact player. Our defense is counting on him to do that.
"When you go through some injuries sometimes you say, 'Well, maybe a guy can't do it anymore.' He can still do it. And he needs to do it this year."
Harris has 7.5 sacks in the last two seasons, after having a career-high 8.0 in 2008. He is due a $2.5 million roster bonus in June.
Smith reinforced the importance of the position to his cover-two based defense ("It's the shortest distance to the quarterback," Smith said), but he also made a strong point.
"We need Tommie to play the way he's capable of playing --- every snap," Smith said.
Harris had his "ups and downs," Smith said, but he also had a lot of "flash plays."
During an earlier interview, as he was speaking generally about some of the combine's elite defensive tackles, Smith highlighted the importance of the position in his scheme.
"Having a dominant player right there, especially for our defense, it makes our defense tick," Smith said. "It's the reason we pay our defensive tackle more money than we have any other players on our team.
"So, it's very important to have a disruptive guy there that can cause havoc and make teams double-team him."
Harris signed a four-year extension in 2008 worth $40 million, including $17 million in guarantees. The deal made him the highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL, at the time. It has since been surpassed, most recently by Albert Haynesworth, who signed a seven-year, $100 million contract last year that included $41 million in guarantees.
In a league in which teams are constantly looking for an edge, the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints are about to divulge one of their secrets.
A Tacoma-based company called IdentityMine last season developed a system for the Saints that merged player records, reports and charts with videos to streamline the team's personnel department. Northbrook-based STATS Inc., provided the specialized content, and Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard provided the touch-screen technologies.
The system is called ICE, which stands for Interactive, Collaboration & Evaluation.
"They're ecstatic about it," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said of his scouts. "But they hate this because now it might be available to other teams."
Although ICE saved the Saints time, they didn't fully realize the benefits because they didn't get to access all the tools during the entire 2009 season. Loomis said they missed the window to get coaches up to speed, but he leaned on his pro personnel scouts to serve as the team's guinea pigs. Specifically, the pro scouts relied on the system to help with their evaluation of upcoming opponents.
"We were excite because we'd never seen X-Info tied to a video catalog," said Nick Stamm, the associate director of marketing and communications at STATS. "So it's increasing the value of the data, and it's more user-friendly."
Now, though, IdentityMine is prepared to expand their service to other teams - on a first come, first serve basis.
John Pollard of IdentityMine said his company is able to implement the system for the entire 2010 season for 12 other NFL clubs. Along with Stamm and representatives from HP, Pollard is showcasing his system to NFL executives and coaches at the combine.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Minnesota Vikings vice president Rick Spielman are among those who have already seen the system.
"It really unlocks the knowledge and intelligence teams have available to them," said Pollard, the director of business development for sports and entertainment at IdentityMine.
For instance, the Saints grades of incoming rookies is on a magnetic board in the team's personnel room. But IdentityMine's system will digitize the draft board, automatically updating the ever-changing grades and also allowing the information to be displayed on other platforms.
With the system, players can download "homework" onto their mobile phones via a USB cable, and coaches can more easily package information for meetings.
"I think this technology will help our coaches more than it'll help our personnel department," Loomis said, noting that the game plans could be automated.
Former Bears linebacker Mike Singletary said he is always surprised when former teammate Richard Dent doesn't join him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, although he doesn't begrudge anyone who is elected.
"I just know that Richard is a guy who should be (in) there," said Singletary, now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
"I think the film speaks for itself," Singletary said earlier.
Presently, Singletary and defensive tackle Dan Hampton are the only players from the famed 1985 Bears defense in the Hall of Fame.
Dent finished with 137.5 career sacks, and he was the MVP of Super Bowl XX.
Seattle Times writer Danny O'Neil chimes in with an excellent analysis of Tim Ruskell's tenure with the Seahawks, concluding that Ruskell, who could soon join the Bears front office, contributed to Seattle's decline with play-it-safe drafts. The Seahawks lack impact players, according to O'Neil, because of Ruskell's conservative strategy.
Adam Schefter is sticking to his guns.
So are the Bears.
The ESPN workaholic told the "Afternoon Saloon" on WMVP (AM-1000) that the Bears have agreed to terms with former Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell.
OK, OK, some readers have been critical of me throwing so many names out there as free-agent possibilities for the Bears.
A Bears spokesperson has denied an ESPN report that the Bears have hired former Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell.
The Bears may be going "hog wild" in free agency, after all.
Brian Westbrook wants to continue his career even if the Eagles have made it known that it won't be in Philadelphia.
The veteran running back might be a good fit in Chicago, where he has the all-around skills to excel in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system and would complement Matt Forte.
This is from a Bears press release:
LAKE FOREST, IL - The Chicago Bears signed TE Richard Angulo and WR Eric Peterman to one-year contracts today. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Ladainian Tomlinson may no longer be the player he was, but he could be intriguing to a team like the Bears, who are in the market for an all-around back who can compliment Matt Forte.
As expected, the Chargers released Tomlinson on Tuesday. The move came early, presumably to give him more time to latch on with his team of choice in free agency.
Not everybody is enamored with Julius Peppers, who will be by far the biggest prize on the diluted free-agent market.
It's no secret the Bears are in desperate need of help along the defensive line and at safety, which means we'll scrutinize players at those positions who may become available.
Take Antrel Rolle, for example.
It is not known whether head bands and sunglasses will become mandatory for all Chicago Slaughter players, or whether an acupuncturist will be kept on staff, but the indoor professional football team based in Hoffman Estates announced Monday that former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon has become the new owner of a team.
Missing the playoffs for three straight seasons won't prevent the Bears from raising ticket prices.
Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio is reporting that it's only a matter of time before the Bears announce that former Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell will replace senior director of pro personnel Bobby DePaul, who was fired Monday.
The following was written by profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio. I posted a comment at the end.
It's still not absolutely certain what hastened Bobby DePaul's departure from the Bears, but Tim Ruskell's name pops up again and again as a potential replacement.
That's assuming the Bears replace DePaul, that is.
After much speculation, NFL.com's Steve Wyche is reporting that the Saints will indeed slap the franchise tag on safety Darren Sharper.
Kyle Vanden Bosch's agent dismissed rumors that is client is contemplating retirement.
Senior director of pro personnel Bobby DePaul has been relieved of his duties, a Bears spokesperson confirmed.
The Vikings would like to keep Chester Taylor. The veteran running back is a good fit for offensive coordinator Mike Martz's new scheme in Chicago, as well.
The Bears finished sixth in Rick Gosselin's special team's rankings.
Bears defensive end Gaines Adams had marijuana and alcohol in his system when he died, according to the Greenwood, S.C., Index-Journal.
The Bears could use another safety like Mark Carrier. Remember him? He was the sixth overall pick in the 1990 draft out of USC. As a rookie, all he did was lead the NFL with 10 interceptions while posting a career high 122 tackles and 20 passes defensed. He also had five forced fumbles.
How much better would the Bears be if they could pick up a rookie who could duplicate those numbers next season?
It might be a lot of noise about nothing. After all, general manager Jerry Angelo will have the final say on all personnel matters. But if offensive coordinator Mike Martz does want Torry Holt to come to the Bears, and if Angelo agrees, Holt made it sound as if he would be on the first flight to Chicago while being interviewed recently on a local radio show.
"Absolutely I would consider coming to Chicago because of Coach Martz," Holt said on the "Waddle & Silvy Show" (WMVP AM-1000).
As long as the Bears need defensive line help, Julius Peppers will remain part of the conversation, as unlikely as Peppers coming to Chicago might be.
Torry Holt is available if Bears general manager Jerry Angelo is interested in reuniting the veteran receiver with new offensive coordinator Mike Martz in Chicago.
During my chat on colleague Mike Mulligan's radio show on 670 The Score, he raised a very interesting point about what the Bears may do at offensive tackle in 2010.
It's widely expected that Orlando Pace will be released during the off-season and that Chris Williams (the 14th overall pick in 2008) will take over at left tackle.
But Mulligan insisted that the Bears right tackle will be... Frank Omiyale.
Omiyale started and finished the season as the starting left guard, although he was benched for a few games. But Omiyale's background is as an offensive tackle.
He started one game for the Carolina Panthers last year, when Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross was sidelined with an injury.
Josh Beekman started four games at left guard in place of Omiyale.
The Bears could well be in the market for a free agent defensive end this offseason. If that's the case, one of the better options may be off the market.
Shahid Khan, president of Urbana-based Flex-N-Gate Corp, has agreed to purchase 60 percent of the St. Louis Rams, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
It's hard to find information specifically about Khan, who is a graduate of the School of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois, according to the newspaper.
But Flex-N-Gate Corp., according to its website, describes itself as an original equipment manufacturing leader since 1968, with over 9 ,500 employees at 48 manufacturing and 9 product development and engineering facilities throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. The company's products are largely car parts, including full bumper and fascia systems and spare tire hoists, hinges, checks, pedals, parking brakes,and latch systems.
Citing multiple league sources, the Post-Dispatch said Khan will purchase the 60 percent of the team owned by siblings Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, who inherited the franchise from their late mother, Georgia Frontiere, in early 2008.
One of the keys to the sale, according to the newspaper, is Khan's inclination to keep the franchise in St. Louis.
NFL owners must approve the sale.
Stan Kroenke, who owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, owns the remaining 40 percent of the Rams.
The Bears attempted to trade a second-round draft pick for Anquan Boldin last year. Might they be tempted to send a third rounder to the Cardinals this year, even if it means they wouldn't have a pick in the first three rounds of the draft?
Mike Martz was interviewed extensively on the "Mully and Hanley Show this morning. Here are the highlights:
Earl Bennett stopped to see Mike Martz on the new offensive coordinator's first full day at Halas Hall on Monday, according to a story on ChicagoBears.com.
If the Bears are interested in Torry Holt, they will have to wait until the veteran receiver becomes available.
Richard Dent has to keep on waiting.
The former Bears defensive end was not elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday evening for the eighth time. This year's class hasn't been announced yet, but Dent won't be among the inductees.
According to Hall of Fame voter Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dent was eliminated in the cutdown from 10 to five, along with Cris Carter, Shannon Sharpe, Andre Reed and Cortez Kennedy.
Dent's old head coach certainly thinks he belongs.
"What makes any Hall of Fame football player?" Bears coach Mike Ditka said Friday night. "I think he made the game better by playing. He made our team better by winning. He made the people around him better.
"He was a force to be reckoned with every time he stepped on the field."
When he retired in 1997, Dent's 137.5 career sacks trailed only Bruce Smith (200.0) and Reggie White (198.0) among defensive ends. But the decorated Dent - he was a four-time Pro Bowl selection - was one of only six defensive players ever to be named a Super Bowl MVP.
In Super Bowl XX, Dent had three tackles, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. In the NFC Divisonal playoff game against the New York Giants, Dent had seven tackles, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Bears decided not to seriously pursue Torry Holt last offseason. However, that may change now that Mike Martz has been hired as the team's offensive coordinator. Holt and Martz enjoyed much success together in St. Louis and the veteran receiver might be able to help the Bears' young receiving corps learn the nuances of Martz's system.
The Bears' long and often-criticized coaching search ended Friday with big changes on offense and a reshuffling of the defensive staff.
The Bears ended their coaching searches with a series of hires.
Rod Marinelli has been promoted to defensive coordinator/assistant head coach. Eric Washington will be defensive line coach, Shane Day as quarterbacks coach, Andrew Hayes-Stoker as offensive quality control and Mikal Smith as defensive quality control.
Shane Day will become the Bears new quarterbacks coach later today, according to multiple league sources.
Here we go again with Richard Dent.
The guy belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a better player than Howie Long, and Long has been inducted.
Hopefully, justice will be served and Dent will be elected Saturday.
Here is Dent on WMVP's "Waddle and Silvy" on Friday.
He had college head coaching experience. He had been a successful offensive coordinator in the NFL.
The longer the Bears search dragged on, the more you wondered when Lovie Smith would come full circle and interview ... Ron Turner.
Linebacker Lance Briggs appeared with "Waddle and Silvy" on WVMP (1000-AM) this morning and had some interesting things to say about his season, the Bears' defensive scheme and Jay Cutler.
Here's the transcript:
Coach Lovie Smith wants a defensive coordinator who buys into his cover-2 schemes. He needs somebody that doesn't mind working on a staff that includes the Bob Babich and Smith, who each tried unsuccessfully to coordinate the defense the past two seasons.
Then there's Rod Marinelli, the former Lions coach who has 34 years of coaching experience.
In other words, the team's new defensive coordinator won't lack experienced assistants who know the cover-2 inside out.
Shannon Sharpe said he doesn't expect Brandon Marshall to return to the Broncos next season. The CBS analyst and Hall of Fame finalist also said three teams are interested in trading for Marshall. He did not say which teams would be interested, which begs the question:
Might one be the Bears?
Brandon Marshall may be having second thoughts about leaving the Broncos.
More from "Waddle and Silvy" on WMVP (AM 1000).
Devin Hester appeared on the "Waddle and Silvy Show" on WMVP (AM 1000) today and covered a variety of topics.
Joe Montana was a guest on the "Waddle and Silvy" show on WMVP (AM-1000) today and had this to say about Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler:
Mike Martz's reputation for being tough on quarterbacks doesn't bother Jay Cutler. The Bears quarterback told the team's website that he is eager to start learning Martz's system.
It looks like the Bears are about to fill the last position on their offensive staff.
Shane Day interviewed at Halas Hall on Wednesday. A reliable source told me that he would've had to have bombed in his interview not to be hired as quarterbacks coach.
Former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon doesn't watch many games anymore. But he hasn't been impressed with Jay Cutler.
"I haven't seen him play a lot. Just what I see on ESPN," McMahon told the Sun-Times. "Seems to me he relies too much on his cannon, instead of his instincts and reads.
"When they show replays of his picks, it's like, 'What are you thinking?' "
McMahon, the fifth overall pick of the Bears in 1982, helped the Bears win Super Bowl XX.
He was traded to the San Diego Chargers after the 1988 season.
Shane Day is interviewing at Halas Hall today to become the Bears' quarterbacks coach.
This is from Wednesday's editions of The Greenville News:
he State Law Enforcement Division found in toxicology tests that no additional factors contributed to the death of Chicago Bears defensive end Gaines Adams, Greenwood County's chief deputy coroner told The Greenville News .
Larry Coyer is the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator. But in 2007, Coyer was the assistant head coach/ defensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So Coyer worked with Gaines Adams, whom the Bucs selected in the first round of that year's draft.
Here's what Coyer had to say about Adams, who died of a cardiac arrest last month.
"It's very sad for me to see what people think and what really happens are two different things. This guy was a worker," Coyer said. "He was the victim of being a, 'Top draft choice' and what Gaines Adams needed was just reps and time.
"It's a tragedy. His smile would light up a room. Gaines was an old country southern boy, and that guy was going to be a great player."
Coyer said what Rod Marinelli told the Sun-Times a few weeks ago: that Adams needed to get stronger and refine his game.
"Some guys develop at different times in their career, and it angers me some to hear people say that he didn't do anything," Coyer said. "This guy was an okay guy, and he was a hard working guy. I'll just say this. I wish I had more years with Gaines Adams. He was a joy to be around..."
New Orleans Saints tight ends coach Terry Malone said it was "fun to hear my name tossed around" last week, linking him to the Bears search for an offensive coordinator.
"I've got a bunch of family in Chicago now, so they were on fire," he said. "I've also got friends on that staff.
"I think certainly the reason my name got thrown out is because of our success, so it's the good and the bad of it. But I have no complaints at all."
That's because he's coaching in the Super Bowl and because the Bears filled the spot by hiring Mike Martz on Monday.
Still, he's wrapping up his fourth NFL season, having spent the rest of his 22-year coaching career in the college ranks. And he ultimately wants to go back.
"I guess there's a lot of different roads I could take from here," he said. "But I've kind of had it set in my mind to be a head college coach, to tell you the truth."
So what drew him to New Orleans and the NFL?
"Sean Payton," Malone said, referring to the Saints head coach.
They briefly worked together, and they have stayed in touch ever since.
"I always said, 'When you get your head coaching job, I'd like to be a part of your staff.' Never imagining it would be New Orleans," Malone said.
But Malone has helped Payton slowly build a winner, culminating in the Super Bowl.
Malone said it has been a thrill to "take a program and build it from scratch the way we did."
"We had to find out why the Saints had never won, and then make adjustments, then we had to change the locker room," he said. "And the culture did get changed."
Malone, at heart, is a teacher, which is why he's drawn to the collegiate level. He was an offensive coordinator at Boston College and Michigan but also worked extensively with offensive linemen.
His most famous student is Minnesota Vikings All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson.
In 2008, Mike Singletary and Mike Martz were both assistants on the San Francisco 49ers staff.
Then, after the ouster of Mike Nolan, Singletary was named interim head coach. And when he was named head coach, Singletary relieved Martz of his duties as offensive coordinator.
"It had nothing to do with his professionalism," Singletary said this morning. "It was a difference in philosophy. I think Mike will do a great job in Chicago.
"I think Mike and I both understand why we parted ways. We just had different philosophies. That's basically it."
Martz downplayed any issues when he was dismissed. Singletary wanted an offense focused more on running the ball than passing it.
"I wish him nothing but the best," Martz said at the time. "I am not what he is looking for offensively. I understand that. This is just a part of professional sports."
A legendary Bears player, Singletary said Martz should thrive in Chicago.
"He'll do a great job, and I think he's perfect for Jay Cutler and I think he'll do a great job with that offense," Singletary said.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
BEARS REACH AGREEMENT WITH MIKE DEBORD
LAKE FOREST, IL - The Chicago Bears reached an agreement with Mike DeBord today, making him their tight ends coach.
When the Bears officially hired Mike Martz on Tuesday, I thought of a player who could thrive in his system: Minnesota Vikings running back Chester Taylor.
Now mentioning Taylor isn't intended to be a knock on Bears starter Matt Forte. After a strong rookie season, Forte's numbers dipped due to a number of factors, including health. But the reality is, teams need two talented running backs, and Taylor is a veteran who has proven he can co-exist with someone else.
He's also an unrestricted free agent, whether there's a cap or not because he just wrapped up his eighth NFL season.
Taylor was primarily the Vikings' third-down back because he's an excellent blocker, he's got excellent hands, and he's effective at running draws. He's a savvy veteran who can sell things and almost always beats linebackers in one-on-one situations.
While he's 30, Taylor doesn't have a whole lot of mileage, playing behind Jamal Lewis in Baltimore then stepping aside when Adrian Peterson emerged in 2007. Keep in mind that Taylor, in his only season as full-time starter, gained 1,216 rushing yards and scored six rushing touchdowns for the Vikings in 2006.
Taylor remained an effective player, and he endeared himself to his teammates and coaches for not sulking about giving way to Peterson, whom the team selected seventh overall, although they hadn't necessarily intended to take a running back.
Former St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk offered some perspective on the Bears hiring of Mike Martz.
Here are some highlights:
On the marriage: "think this is a great move for Mike, going to Chicago. He understands this may be the last chance for him to prove to people that he can get it done, which doesn't make sense, because everywhere he's been, the offense has done well.
"Every place that he's been, they've been successful. They went up. Offenses never went down."
On Martz and Jay Cutler: "It'll be very interesting. This will be the first time that Jay Cutler will not have control of the decisions that he wants to make. I'm very familiar with the offense, and it will be a challenge to Jay. And I don't want to take anything away from Ron Turner, but Mike will test his football knowledge, and test his willingness to want to get better in the NFL, because he'll ask him to do some things that Jay may not be comfortable with."
On what Kurt Warner's concern about Cutler's ability to anticipate throws: "Jay is a see it, throw it guy. And when you have the talent that a guy like that has, you sometimes don't rely on your instinct to guide you.
"Mike will really ask him to be more of an anticipator, and Jay will struggle with it. He'll struggle with it at the beginning. But hopefully, he'll look at Mike's resume....
On Matt Forte's role: "He will love it. If he can just understand and come to grips with the fact... not expect to get 30 caries a game, you can survive and play well in Mike's offense."
On Greg Olsen: "The key guy will be Olsen. Getting a tight end involved. It'll be tremendous. It'll be hard to stop, the dynamic of that offense.
"This will be the best tight that (Martz has) ever had."
On relating to Martz: "If you mess up, if you don't do your job, if you don't work hard, he's extremely difficult to deal with. If you decide to take off, you will hate Mike Martz. If you show up and you're not prepared, you will hate him. It's that simple."
On Cutler picking up the offense: "The learning curve is based on Cutler, and what his abilities are. I mean, he's a Vanderbilt guy. He should be able to digest it in a week."
Lovie Smith touched on several topics during Monday's conference call announcing the hiring of Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. Among them:
Here is the best of general manager Jerry Angelo from Monday's conference call.
I've been saying since the beginning that I thought Indianapolis Colts secondary coach Alan Williams would be a good fit for the Bears coordinator job.
I feel even stronger about that after talking to him this morning at Super Bowl Media Day.
He isn't anxious to leave, but he's confident that he's ready to become a coordinator.
"It'll come. It'll come. All coordinator jobs are intriguing," he said when I asked him about the Bears job. "if they call and if that happens, when that time comes, it'll be neat to explore the opportunity. But if not, I have a great group to work with."
Williams said he learned about patience from former Colts head coach Tony Dungy, who hired him in Tampa.
"My time will come. I'm not going to get impatient about it," Williams said. "The best thing I can do is keep putting a good product on the field and we keep winning football games, and the right job will come around when it comes around."
As I've mentioned before, Williams should be someone the Bears explore because of his track record of developing young players into starters. The best example is safety Antoine Bethea, a former sixth-round pick who became a Pro Bowl player.
Three Bears --- linebacker Brian Urlacher, center Olin Kreutz and returner Devin Hester ---were named to the NFL's All-Decade Team.
NFL All-Decade teams are chosen by Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee members. What follows is the ninth All-Decade team in NFL history.
The advantage of blogging is there are no space restrictions. Here are Mike Martz's answers to some of the more pertinent questions asked Monday.
I'll add entries from coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo later in the day.
Kurt Warner doesn't necessarily feel like a retired quarterback yet, even though he announced his decision last Friday.
He's spent time with his family, and he arrived in Miami Monday evening for some pre-scheduled arrangements and meetings.
"So far, so good," Warner told the Sun-Times.
But Warner, 38, expected the challenge will come in the late summer, when his body clock prepares for the NFL pre-season.
"I'm sure there's going to be a transition," he said, "because I've done it for so long."
But don't think that means he has any regrets; Warner said he'a always wanted to be proactive about retiring.
"I did not want to hang on too long," he said. "There's no question it was the right timing (for me).
"I'm not worried, or second-guessing it one bit. I'm enjoying the idea that, 'Hey, it's done.' "
Warner had one of his best seasons ever, finishing 10th in the NFL with a passer-rating of 93.2. And after leading his second team to a Super Bowl last season, Warner helped the Arizona Cardinals win a dramatic NFC Wildcard game against the Green Bay Packers. The Cardinals won 51-45 with Warner completing a remarkable 29 of 33 passes for 379 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 154.1 near perfect (158.3 is the best possible).
Sure, Warner could have come back next season, and the Cardinals would have loved to have him. But, again, he has no regrets.
"I'm looking forward to what's next," he said.
The Bears put Mike Martz, Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo on a conference call that just concluded. Here are the highlights:
Martz said he had an "instant connection" with Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler when they had dinner on Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn. According to Martz, the two then spent some time drawing Xs and Os on a grease board.
BEARS REACH AGREEMENT WITH MIKE MARTZ
LAKE FOREST, IL - The Chicago Bears reached an agreement with Mike Martz today, making him their offensive coordinator.
Mike Martz will be named the Bears' new offensive coordinators, multiple sources have confirmed.
BOSTON -- Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Haynes and current Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer are among more than a dozen NFL players who have pledged to donate their brain and spinal cord tissue for concussion research.
Bears coach Lovie Smith has been subjected to much criticism for allowing Jay Cutler to meet with offensive coordinator candidates, which I struggle to fathom.
The only beef I would have with Smith was if he prevented Cutler from being part of this all-important process.