Chicago Sun-Times

Recently in Darryl Drake Category

Darryl Drake will not be leaving the Bears for Western Kentucky.

The former wide receiver for the Hilltoppers, who began his coaching career with nine seasons at the school, talked to school officials about the job after they contacted him first but never seriously pursued the job and it was given to Stanford running backs coach Willie Taggart this morning. Taggart, another former player at Western Kentucky, will be introduced at the school later today.

Unless the Bears can pull out of their rut in a big way, it appears that the future of the offensive coaching staff could be on rocky ground after the season.

Mike Mulligan, a friend to Inside the Bears, reports in Monday's edition of the Sun-Times that wide receivers coach Darryl Drake could be in the mix for the head-coaching job at Western Kentucky.

The Louisville native played for the Hilltoppers and got his first job in coaching at Western Kentucky in 1983 and he stayed there for nine seasons. He made stops in the college ranks at Texas, Baylor and Georgia, and served as an associate head coach for the Longhorns.

The sudden emergence of rookie Johnny Knox through the first two games has raised an interesting question about a wide receiver that had a breakthrough during training camp and preseason--Devin Aromashodu.

Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake jokingly referred to Aromashodu as Wally Pipp and Knox as Lou Gehrig, a funny analogy but one that doesn't fit. Aromashodu can't be Pipp because he hasn't been out on the field with the Bears in the regular season yet. It's impossible to lose a gig he never had. But on the fields of training camp and in preseason, he quickly emerged as one of Jay Cutler's preferred targets. At 6-2, 201 pounds, he has good size, and the relationship was evident at the very beginning of camp. It was cemented in preseason when Cutler actively worked to feed him the ball.

But a slight quad pull sidelined Aromashodu for the season opener at Green Bay, creating an opening on the game day roster for Knox, who otherwise appeared destined to be inactive. He took the opportunity, and a few passes from Cutler, and ran with them. The Bears have only dressed four receivers for the first two games--starters Devin Hester and Earl Bennett--Knox, and Rashied Davis. It's going to be hard to justify bumping up another wide receiver when you consider special teams needs. Davis is a four-phase contributor on special teams, and that matters. He forced the game-ending fumble against Pittsburgh on the kickoff coverage unit. It's clear Cutler wants to see Aromashodu at some point, but the wideout will likely have to prove useful for special teams coordinator Dave Toub. Fourth and fifth wideouts have to be major special teams players.

ward918.jpg

If the Bears defensive backs have that feeling like they wish their heads were on swivels come Sunday afternoon, they can thank their own wide receivers coach.

It was Darryl Drake who helped mold Ward into the player he is today, one of the most ferocious downfield blockers the league has known for the last two decades, while at Georgia.

"The player you see out on the field today has a lot to do with coach Drake,'' Ward told the Sun-Times. "He motivated me. I got recruited as a quarterback and I didn't know anything about wideout. I played two years under him and all and all, he taught me the game itself, how to block, how to be a complete player and I owe it all to him.''

The two remain close and have already talked about the Bears' meeting with Pittsburgh at Soldier Field.

"When I got him,'' Drake said. "He was a 163-pound wide receiver. That kid could have been [Troy] Polamalu too. One of the best high school safeties I've ever seen.''

The defensive backs know they need to be on the lookout. Just because Ward has a rule named after himself now--the Hines Ward rule--doesn't mean he's not going to be seeking to knock someone sideways. The NFL has cracked down on blindside blocks, the kind he specializes in. Now, a blindside block with the helmet, forearm or shoulder in the head or neck area of the defender is a penalty and will likely draw a fine.

``You're going to be aware of someone when they make rules out there for him,'' said cornerback Zack Bowman, who will be making his first career start. ``He can lay some hits. Look at what happened to Keith Rivers last year. You always have to respect a guy like Hines Ward. He can catch, run good routes, and he can also block. You always have to respect a guy like that.''

When Lovie Smith wants to establish whether or not a team has toughness, that is the area he looks at.


Who says you need a Pro Bowl wide receiver to win the Super Bowl?

Not Rick Gosselin, that is for sure.

The veteran Dallas Morning News' scribe did an interesting breakdown of Super Bowl winners from 1991 to present and how the makeup of offenses has changed. History proves you don't need an elite receiver to win the Big Game, not anymore any way. It's good news for the Bears, right? They have nine wideouts on their roster right now and two of them have more than seven career catches--Devin Hester and Rashied Davis. The other seven--Devin Aromashodu (7), John Broussard (4), Earl Bennett (0), Juaquin Iglesias (0), Johnny Knox (0), Derek Kinder (0) and Eric Peterman (0)--have 11 combined receptions. Yes, more than half of the receivers on the roster have not caught a pass in the NFL making position coach Darryl Drake's job about as important as anyone's entering this season.

"Neither of the last two Super Bowl champions - Pittsburgh in 2008 or the New York Giants in 2007 - had a Pro Bowl wide receiver that season. Neither had a Pro Bowl quarterback, for that matter. The Steelers finished 17th in the NFL in passing and the Giants were 21st.


"When the New England Patriots won back-to-back titles in the 2003 and 2004 seasons, their top wideouts failed to crack the NFL's top 30 in receiving those seasons. Deion Branch finished 42nd in 2003 and David Givens 40th in 2004. Baltimore's top wideout in its 2000 championship season was Qadry Ismail, who finished 68th in the NFL.


"Only two NFL champions in the 2000 decade lined up a Pro Bowl wide receiver in their Super Bowl seasons - Troy Brown for the Patriots in 2001 and Marvin Harrison for the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. The rest preferred quantity over quality on the flank."

Gosselin provides a chart comparing the top wideout for the Super Bowl champs from 2000 through 2008 to the top wideout for the Super Bowl champs from 1991 through 1999. Five wideouts from the 1991 to 1999 group made Pro Bowls. Two in the more recent group were selected, including Harrison for Indianapolis in 2006, the year the Colts defeated the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

There are some key points made in this story but the question right now is not if the Bears have an elite wide receiver for new quarterback Jay Cutler. The burning question is whether or not the Bears have enough wide receivers worthy of regular playing time in the NFL? I doesn't matter if you have Cutler or Kyle Orton at quarterback, you're not going to make a living pushing the ball downfield to tight ends and running backs.

What can a dominant receiver mean in the postseason? Consider Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, whose four-game postseason run included 30 receptions for 546 yards and seven touchdowns. To put that in perspective, Hester was the only Bears wide receiver with more yards in 2008, and the Bears haven't had a wideout score that many times since Marty Booker had eight touchdowns in 2001.

Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes was the third wide receiver to claim Super Bowl MVP honors in the last five years. You might not need a Pro Bowl wide receiver, but you have to have one who can perform big on the sport's grandest stage. It's been 12 years since a running back was named Super Bowl MVP.


*** Over at the National Football Post, Matt Bowen likes the addition of strong-side linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa to the Bears' defense, but the thing that jumps out from this read is his assessment of new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.

"I doubt they'll disappoint with new D-line coach Rod Marinelli, who's gotten rave reviews from former players I've talked to as well as Bears GM Jerry Angelo. "The best teaching coach in the league," I've heard more than once.''

The Bears injected a little youth into the line with third-round pick Jarron Gilbert and fourth-round selection Henry Melton, but otherwise they're hoping to rediscover their swagger of 2005 and 2006 with virtually the same personnel. Some have questioned the ability of Marinelli to come in, wave a magic wand and make it happen. Bowen and other league insiders believe Marinelli can make it happen, and everyone knows the hard work Marinelli has ahead for the linemen. We've written it before, we'll write it again, pay attention to the individual D-line drills in training camp.

*** It seems that the last month or so has been one projection followed by one list followed by another projection. Well, here's another list ... this time ESPN's John Clayton puts together the top five general manager-coach combinations in the NFL. He ranks Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith fourth.

"Lovie Smith-Jerry Angelo, Chicago Bears: This one might surprise some because Angelo isn't a vocal general manager and the Bears, as a team, usually slip under the radar. They stay in contention most years in the NFC North, and made it to the Super Bowl in 2006. Angelo made one of the biggest moves of the offseason, acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler, who could take the Bears to 11 wins. In the meantime, Smith has taken over the play-calling duties on defense and expects an improved, more aggressive unit this fall."


driver.jpg


We didn't stumble across Donald Driver's assessment of the Bears' wide receivers until a big headline was plastered across ProFootballTalk.com, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel came across something that position coach Darryl Drake might want to print out and stick in his training camp bag. Now.

Driver, talking to Sirius NFL Radio, was very complimentary of the Bears' acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler, and had nice things to say about the offensive line, running back Matt Forte and the defense. But the wideouts ... what wideouts?

"I think Chicago did a great job, and Lovie Smith went out there and got Jay Cutler to lead this team, but one thing they don't have is they don't have the receiver group," Driver said. "They have the running back, they have the offensive line and they have a great defense. But you're going to have to need receivers to make plays down the field, and they don't have that right now. So I can see on our end we have all of that on our offense. And then you go back to look at Minnesota. Minnesota has a great running game, but they just don't have the top-of-the-line quarterback that they need. So I'm hoping my guy [Brett Favre] doesn't go over there, but if he does then I wish the best for him."

The way the Bears' wideouts played against Green Bay last season, Driver may have let them off easy. Packers cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson did a public mugging of the wide receivers in the first meeting. The Bears managed to lose 37-3 and in the process they completed four passes to wide receivers. Yes, they lost by five touchdowns (minus one extra point) and couldn't get five passes to the biggest playmakers on offense.

Brandon Lloyd has two receptions for 17 yards.

Rashied Davis had one receptions for 36 yards.

Devin Hester had one reception for seven yards.

Four catches. 60 yards.

Granted, that was the week Kyle Orton came back a week too early from an ankle injury but Orton wasn't the only player struggling at Lambeau Field.

Need No. 1--WIde receiver

Players on roster

WR Devin Hester (signed through 20013)
WR Earl Bennett (2011)
WR Rashied Davis (2010)
WR Brandon Rideau (2009)
WR John Broussard (2010)
WR Devin Aromashodu (2010)

Need

Let's see if we can get this straight. Prior to the trade for quarterback Jay Cutler just more than three weeks ago, general manager Jerry Angelo said the Bears had talked themselves into drafting a wide receiver in the first round with the 18th overall selection. Angelo thought there was a good chance the Bears could land a "blue'' receiver in that spot, meaning a guy who has a chance to be an elite performer. The Bears needed to upgrade their receiver corps and Angelo was willing to take the plunge after drafting only one wideout in the first round in the combined tenures of his time with the Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kyle Orton needed the help and it was on the way. OK. What exactly has changed?

juaquini.jpg


If anyone has the pre-draft buildup figured out it's Juaquin Iglesias.

The Oklahoma wide receiver got away for five days last week when he went to the Turks and Caicos islands with some players he has been working out with at Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta, Chip Smith's facility that Brian Urlacher has done a lot of work at in the past. Iglesias, along with his girlfriend, vacationed with Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama, Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou and Georgia safety C.J. Byrd.

"Working out and relaxing,'' Iglesias said. ``That's all I can do.''

Iglesias returned on Tuesday and is counting the days to the NFL draft now. He's hopeful to be selected in the second round and will likely be off the board by the third round. The Bears put Iglesias through a private workout on April 7 in his hometown of Killeen, Texas. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake worked out Iglesias the day before he traveled to Athens, Ga., to put Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi through a private workout.

While the Bears did their best to downplay the possibility the team will choose a wideout with its first pick--No. 49 overall--there is no denying it is the greatest need on the roster. It's been NFC North teams that have shown the most interest in Iglesias. Minnesota personnel boss Rick Spielman and coach Brad Childress attended the Oklahoma pro day. Iglesias then made an official visit to the team's facility.

MoMass.jpg


Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi was the second wide receiver Bears assistant coach Darryl Drake put through a private workout in as many days Wednesday.

Drake returned to Athens, Ga., where he was an assistant from 1992-1996, to meet with Massaquoi, who is believed to be moving up draft boards into the second round.

On Tuesday, Drake was in Killeen, Texas, where he had what was described as a solid workout with Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias. Both will be under consideration by the Bears for the 49th pick in the draft, their first selection.

We caught up with Massaquoi on the phone for a conversation after he worked out following his workout with Drake. Here is the Q&A:

HOW DID THE WORKOUT WITH WIDE RECEIVERS COACH DARRYL DRAKE GO TODAY?

It went pretty good. Hopefully he got a chance to see a couple of things that he was looking for. I think I did some things out there well today. We'll just see.

THE PAST TWO WEEKS YOU HAVE GOTTEN SOME MORE BUZZ AND THE FEELING IS YOU MIGHT BE MOVING UP SOME DRAFT BOARDS. WHY IS THAT?

I think people are taking a closer look evaluating my game and I just think they are seeing a lot of things they like and hopefully I can influence them that I do some things differently from other receivers and I would be a good fit for their team.

btate.jpeg


The Bears have not left any stone unturned in Chapel Hill, N.C., this spring.

College scouting director Greg Gabriel went in to do some work at North Carolina. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake went in. The Bears put wide receiver Hakeem Nicks through a private workout. Ditto tight end Richard Quinn.

Now that the Bears are out of the first round and do not have their first selection until No. 49 overall, Nicks seems like a real longshot. Chances are he's off the board between the middle of the first round and beginning of the second round. Could it be the Bears are considering a former Tar Heel--wide receiver Brandon Tate?

Some considered Tate a better prospect than Nicks before he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in a victory over Notre Dame in early October. Tate was leading the ACC in all-purpose yardage at the time of the injury. He is considered a good route runner and is skilled in the open field.

Earlier this week it looked like the Bears were in a position where they had to draft an offensive tackle in the first round.

What a difference a few days makes. Not only do the Bears not have a first-round pick any longer after acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler from Denver, they filled a pressing need on the line by signing seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace.

That leaves the Bears with a complete line, minus a young tackle to eventually join Chris Williams in the starting lineup, and some flexibility when it comes to the draft, right?

Wrong.

The addition of Cutler has made it a virtual lock the Bears will have to draft a wide receiver when their pick comes up in the second round, 49th overall, the 17th pick of the round. The idea that Cutler will make the cast they currently have better is only going to go so far. There is no Brandon Marshall on this roster. There might not be an Eddie Royal on the roster either depending on how Devin Hester progresses. Marshall and Royal gave Cutler one of the better 1-2 combinations in the league in Denver.

"I don't think quarterbacks make receivers, and I don't think receivers make the quarterback,'' Cutler said. "It's a joint mesh there, we've got to both be on the same page. I've got to deliver the ball and they've got to be in the right place. I can't do it without them, and they can't do it without me."

nicks.jpg


We've tracked down the names of a couple players the Bears will bring to Halas Hall on official pre-draft visits so far--Eastern Michigan offensive tackle T.J. Lang and Penn State guard Rich Ohrnberger. Scout.com's Adam Caplan first reported the Ohrnberger visit. The Bears are scheduled to put Ohio University safety Michael Mitchell through a private workout later this month.

Now a bigger name.

Twitter updates

Categories

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Darryl Drake category.

Darrius Heyward-Bey is the previous category.

Dave Toub is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.