Chicago Sun-Times

Why the Bears may deviate from the norm and why Rolle may not be a good fit

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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.

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I guess Angelo and Smith are feeling a little heat as they should, their Bears teams have underperformed for three years and lets say the coaching is some times pop warnerish, lots of penalties, no discipline.

If going after top level free agents is correct, it is too bad that it takes the potential of being unemployed as an impetus to get a more competitive team. Now it is time to save their jobs as GM and Head Coach, so now is finally the time they really start to make the necessary moves.

Why could this dynamic duo not have had a sense of urgency in the past three years to have a champion caliber team? I love the Bears, always will but in some ways I want this twosome of Lovie and Angelo to fail so that Bears fans do not continue to have to live with mediocrity.

After the Superbowl, the years records of 7-9, 9-7 and 7-9 is completely unacceptable, when the Bears team should have been a playoff caliber team each year. When they needed clutch wins any of these years they wilted, where is the backbone and determination? Anyone that suggests that both of these two deserves anything but walking the plank has not been really closely watching the Bears lose games each of these years they should have won.

Just making the playoffs is not good enough, they need to recapture the division and host a playoff game for Lovie Dovie and JA to continue with this team.

As for Free Agency, Peppers, Rhodes and Taylor might help the Bears recapture their glory but still missing a few links in the Offensive Line. Have yet to hear a good plan for resolving this area and provide Cutler with more time.

Sean, a couple of things. Pollard isn't going anywhere. As you said, he's an RFA and the Texans will be locking him up with a high tender or a multi-year deal. He's an anchor in a much improved Texans run defense over the last 13 games of the season in 2009.

Also, Pollard had nothing to do with Welker's injury. Welker's injury was purely non-contact sustained when he planted his foot while making a cut on a run-after-catch. Pollard was closing in as Welker made the cut, then made incidental contact with Welker after he was already down - and already injured.

As a side note, Welker's injury was very similar to Texans Pro Bowl TE Owen Daniels' season ending ACL tear sustained at Buffalo earlier in the season. Both went down without contact while making a high speed cut. The turf at Reliant Stadium in Houston had less to do with Welker's injury than what is being propogated by media and blogger community. The indisputable fact is that there have been very few serious knee injuries on the tray turf system at Reliant since its debut in 2002.

Rolle and Rhodes play in more aggressive defenses. Even if the cards are not very good. Same with Sharper, those defenses are aggressive, they are not affraid of the big play, there primary job is to attack the QB no matter what. Those teams try ot force the turnover, Smith likes to sit back and try and get the turnover after the play with a strip.

I said it before about Rolle, forget about him. I don't know why people are so scheme challenged on this board. "You watch Olsen will have a 1000 yards with Martz." BS. If a guy played well in a totally different system he will play well here. BS. "We need a big 350 pound NT." BS. Hey I have heard of that guy, bring him here. BS.

Cards are trying to sign Rolle by the way and many excpect them to get the deal done. By the way Rex Ryans defense is probably the most aggressive in the nfl and Rex knows defense a lot better than Lovie. Anyone playing for Rex would have to come to the passive dumbed down defense of the Bears.

Oh and please spare me the Taylor talk, how over rated can a guy get. A career backup who played his whole career behind big powerful run blocking lines that had a lot of talent. I am sure know that he is 30 and even slower than before he will be great. Spare me.

Another guy mentioned Willie Parker, that is a much better fit sense he can at least turn the corner and has speed. Unlike every back that has been listed on this board.

Its been reported that the Bears are very intrested in FA Brandon Manumaleuna a big powerful blocking TE. It has also been reported that Olsen is very concerned about the Martz offense and his place in it. Most receptions by any TE in Martz's system, 38. Trade, Trade, Trade.

I would say go after any player thats better than what we have now, and that includes Rolle, we just dont have good talent period. Now, I like what you guys said about aggresive, that is the point, Lovies D has always been passive (except Tank/Harris/Briggs and Url when he was healthy/young/stronger) oh yeah, we had Ron R. then huh? This D has went downhill in every single category since the SB, passive, laying back. And now Lovie promotes Rod who did NOT do his job. How does that deserve a promotion? Sounds like Babich again. I like Lovie but he needs an aggresive D Coach, sure the D system he runs would be fine with more aggressive play calling. woah, reminds me of Turners O play calling?
Now that was spot on dahli! Where were those guys after the SB - tearing up the cue cards that got them there glory? Now they want to fix it. lolol After we had to sit here screaming our heads off that the !@#$ thing needed fixed.
And yeah, I have heard nada about fixing the Oline. what is up with that? Everyone and his brother said the Oline was terrible, but nothing...must be the Draft on that one again and they dont want to spill the Pooh bear Honey Jar, we could get a decent OG with the 3rd (better than the 5-7 which Jerry usually does)

1.Jahri Evans, move Omiyale to RT to compete with Shafer
2.Aaron Kampman
3.Antrel Rolle

On draft day, follow your board and draft the best player available because of all of the holes on the team.

I would rather see the bears go after Chester Taylor to split carries w/ Matt Forte, he could also do Passing downs. He would be a awesome back up in case Frte suffered a season ending injury. Peppers i think will garnish too much attention in a bidding war. If you could get him for a reaonable price he would be great. Rolle i think would flourish, he can cover 3/4 of the field and make up for a weaker counter part. I think going after Chester Taylor would be first and for most though. We just need to get more production from our younger D-lineman.

Chester Taylor is severely under rated.
He is a backup only because of AP.
he also doesnt fumble like AP
he would e a great compliment to Forte as they have similar skills
I wish we could also get sproles as well.
that would make our RB core solid
goodbye peterson and Wolfe
also trade that wuss TE Olsen for WHATEVER any sucker team will give you. He cant block and he cant run either. He is not Dallas Clark or Jason Witten good at catching and getting YAC.
he only excelled because Orton (remember that guy) had NO ONE else to throw to.Give me manumaleauna, now thats a tough SOB.
Free Agency - LG OT DE SS TE RB
Draft - OL (best available) DB SS DT (we lost dusy remember)

The first thing the Bears need to do is look at the Patriots OG Logan Mankins. If he is unrestricted then he would be a diamond in the rough. This would be a signing that would help the offensive line as much as Steve Hutchinson played a part in the Viqueen's line becoming so good. The next player would be Aaron Kampman. This guy does not have the pure talent that Julius Peppers has but is still a solid DE. If the Bears were to actually be successful in getting Peppers, he would be much like Albert Haynesworth, you can tell he has been playing for a contract the past two years. Willie Parker would be my ideal RB because of his ability to burst through the offensive line and his pure speed. Look at the line he had with the Steelers, the line that can't keep Roethlisberger off his back. Fast Willie Parker has earned more than what the Steelers have given him. The ideal safety for the scheme that the Bears have would be O.J. Atogwe. This isn't very probable because he is a restricted free agent, so the safety I would be happy with the Bears picking up would be Kerry Rhoades. Him and Afalava would work well together. A few other free agents that would be nice to see in Bears uniforms would be Dre' Bly, Mike Furrey (purely for his leadership for the WR), and Kyle Vanden Bosch. This is all speculation of course but I wouldn't mind seeing a few of these guys play for the Monsters of the Midway.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on February 28, 2010 8:45 AM.

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