Moon: Carimi is a case of attitude


Moon: Carimi is a case of attitude

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Posted: 10:27 a.m.
By John Mullin

The first thing that strikes you about Gabe Carimi, after his sheer mass at 6-7, 315 pounds, is the attitude.

Not the ever-popular, ever-clichd mean streak." If you dont have at least a level of mean streak, youre not in the NFL; if you have too much mean streak, youre getting too many 15-yard penalties and youre headed for MMA.

But with Carimi its the attitude that actually matters and one that not every player has. And if they dont, they will only be so good.

There are only two options, Carimi said Saturday. You never can stay consistent. Improvement is the only way to go. I have a hunger to try to succeed at whatever I do. Thats the objective: to be the best Bear offensive lineman I can be.

Not everyone walks into Halas Hall with that attitude. For some, being a high draft choice is the accomplishment. For Carimi, its a dare.
WATCH: Bears' Carimi gets first look at Halas Hall

And he put that on himself when he declared at the NFL Scouting Combine that he was the best of a good tackle crop in this draft. Indeed, he doesnt quite get why someone wouldnt feel that way.

What am I going to say? That I dont think Im the best tackle or going to be the best tackle? Carimi wondered. But I am more than happy. This is exactly where I wanted to be, to be honest with you. If you ask any of my close friends, I told them, when they asked me, Where do you fit best in, or where do you think you want to go, I told them that I wanted to be a Bear.

The right guy

Every personnel executive after every draft pick declares that the particular pick was precisely the guy they wanted. In the case of the Bears and Carimi, that in fact was the case.

The Bears wouldve been delighted with Tyron Smith from USC (to Dallas No. 9), Nate Solder from Colorado (to New England No. 17), Anthony Castonzo from Boston College (to Indianapolis No. 22) and Carimi. What they got with Carimi was a four-starter with a top Big Ten program with a history of producing solid linemen.

Hes been an outstanding player at Wisconsin for four years, said offensive line coach Mike Tice. Hes gotten better every year. Hes gotten tougher every year too.

Were trying to get bigger. Film doesnt lie. Hell bring everything that were looking to bring to the offensive line room: toughness, intelligence, size. Hes a solid athlete, maybe not a great athlete, but a solid athlete.
Creatively keeping the faith

Carimi is Jewish, which raises the question of whether he can or will play on the Jewish holidays. Sandy Koufax did not pitch a World Series game because it fell on the high holy days.

Carimi played last season against Arizona State after fasting based on observing Yom Kippur on Israeli time. He fasted and then received an IV to speed up recovery of nourishment.

And just to be sure, Carimi checked calendars and found Yom Kippur falling on no projected game day for more than a decade.

Yeah, thats what I did this year, Carimi said. It was Yom Yippur this year. Basically what I did was go off Israeli time. Fast at 12 oclock and then had like three hours to IV-up and eat.

I didnt feel any different. Ive already looked out 15 years from now and it doesnt happen on Sunday.

To his credit, Carimi also has adjusted a core belief system as far as his fan allegiance, which was to the Green Bay Packers because of his Wisconsin roots.

I was a Packers fan growing up, but Ive had my errors in my way, Carimi deadpanned. Ive sinned and repented, so Im good now. Ive seen the light.

Now, if he can see the 30-some pass protections of Tice and the Bears offense just as clearly, the Bears will have something.

John "Moon" Mullin is's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

In moving forward with Dion Sims, the Bears will keep a mix of skillsets at tight end

USA Today

In moving forward with Dion Sims, the Bears will keep a mix of skillsets at tight end

When the Bears signed Trey Burton to a four-year contract worth a reported $32 million (with $18 million of it guaranteed), the natural thought was this: So long, Dion Sims. But the Bears are all but certainly going to hang on to the 27-year-old tight end after his $4 million roster bonus became fully guaranteed on Friday, barring a trade. 

“We like Dion Sims, a well-rounded tight end,” general manager Ryan Pace said on Thursday. “We’re excited we got him.”

Cynically — or, perhaps, fairly — Pace’s comments could’ve been interpreted as part of a play to trade Sims, who signed a three-year contract in 2017. The Bears saw Sims as a strong run blocker with pass-catching upside, but still gave themselves an out after one year that would’ve netted $5.666 million in cap savings. 

Sims didn’t show any of that receiving upside last year, though, catching 15 of 29 targets (51 percent) for 180 yards with one touchdown. Crucially, the Bears have the cap space to keep Sims, even with the flurry of signings they’ve announced this week -- and Kyle Fuller's reported four-year, $56 million extension -- and contract extensions looming for Eddie Goldman and possibly Adrian Amos, too. 

So hanging on to Sims means the Bears value his contributions as a run blocker and are willing to shoulder a $6.3 million cap hit for him to primarily be used in that role. The Bears expect Shaheen to be their primary in-line tight end, with Burton and Daniel Brown, who signed a one-year contract Friday, the more pass-catching-oriented “move” guys in Matt Nagy’s offense. But Sims will still have a role as the Bears look to maximize their production from the tight end position. 

“I think we can use all our tight ends,” Pace said. “I think the Super Bowl champions are a recent example of that, of using a lot of tight ends. They’re all valuable weapons. They’re all a little different. I think they all complement each other. It fits together nicely.”

Bears attitude adjustment already apparent in first wave of free agents

Bears attitude adjustment already apparent in first wave of free agents

The first thing you notice is some swagger, some chips on the shoulders of the newest Bears, and while that doesn’t win any games in-season, let alone in March, it’s something of a positive for a team that’d had a lot of its swagger pained out of it over the past two years in particular.

Receivers Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson, tight end Trey Burton, backup quarterback Chase Daniel and kicker Cody Parkey all said the requisite niceties and platitudes on Thursday, all about how much they like the coaches, the organization, all that stuff.

But I’ve seen free agents come and go since real free agency started in 1993. All levels of players coming through, and they all say right stuff. There was something else with this bunch, though, and it wasn’t always there in the past. (More on that in a second.)

So there was Gabriel mentioning how Mitch Trubisky had texted him after Gabriel had signed, and Gabriel first piping in with, “How’s your deep ball?” And Trubisky was right back at Gabriel, one of the fastest players in the NFL, with, “Are you still fast?”

Best guess — they’ll get along just fine.

Gabriel’s first comment on impressions of coach Matt Nagy? Not about his football knowledge, his enthusiasm. No, it was: “Smooth dude, man,” Gabriel said. “I like his swag a little bit.”

Robinson was described by former Jacksonville and current Bears teammate cornerback Prince Amukamara as “a nightmare” to play against because he let defensive guys, even his own, know when he’d had them for lunch. As far as now, a very high bar has been set: “I think for me as a player, it's not my job to make Mitch's job easier, it's to make his job easy.”

Two points on why this comes with a touch more relevance in the case of a Bears team coming off a fourth straight NFC North basement finish:

First, because of what developed on the other side of the football when the likes of Akiem Hicks, Pernell McPhee (describing his style of football as “violent”) and Danny Trevathan came in, even rookie safety Eddie Jackson last year. They brought in attitudes from not just winning organizations, but more important, championship organizations. And they were good enough to walk the walk, even as they struggled through injuries.

The result was that in less than three full seasons, the Bears were a Top 10 defense. Attitudes can be infectious, for good or bad, and the right attitude with the right players made the defense a force, even with its injuries.

What the Bears secured in their first wave of free agents was five players all involved in points production — two wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a backup quarterback, whose two mission statements consist of being ready to play winning football if he’s needed and also to be a foundation pillar for the starter, in this case Trubisky.

What makes this a speck more interesting is that Trubisky will be the biggest factor in formation of the 2018-and-beyond Bears, and it was Trubisky whom Leonard Floyd and his defensive mates dubbed “Pretty Boy Assassin” last year because of Trubisky’s give-some-smack attitude anytime he lit up the No. 1 defense just running scout-team plays.

The second observation is that this wasn’t the case last year with Markus Wheaton, Quintin Demps, Marcus Cooper, Dion Sims and certainly not Mike Glennon, last year’s main free agency additions. Some of that’s obviously personality; Glennon and those guys are simply not swagger-smack kinds of guys, and that’s OK, as long as they play with attitude.

Last year’s group, just to use them as a case in point, came from decent programs. But the current top Bears additions include Super Bowl winners (Burton, Daniel as Drew Brees’ backup), a Super Bowl loser (Gabriel, painfully in the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse vs. New England) and a top wideout who had his dream derailed by injury and missed out on his team’s drive to within 2 minutes 48 seconds of a Super Bowl (Robinson).

And while Nagy and the organization are probably wise to counsel patience in the Bears’ recovery climb, the players aren’t seeing it that way.

“You can never underestimate how important youth is and guys who are willing to learn and willing to get better, but then also you look at the city,” Burton said. “They want another championship. They want to win. They want to be winners. You look at the other sports, the Bulls, the Blackhawks, the Cubs, the Cubs just won a couple years ago.

“The city's ready for another championship and like I said, they have a great quarterback, young quarterback, and an unbelievable head coach. They're aggressive and they're ready to win right now.”