Bears

Moon: Should Bears address OT first?

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Moon: Should Bears address OT first?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted: 11:00 a.m.By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

A question facing the Bears later this month remains whether or not, with needs on both the offensive and defensive lines, can they afford to wait on grabbing one or the other at No. 29.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks the Bears can get an immediate starter at offensive line, specifically a tackle, with that 29th-overall pick, possibly Colorados Nate Solder or Mississippi States Derek Sherrod.

But the Bears are high enough on JMarcus Webb to plan on moving him to left tackle. Chris Williams hasnt proved that hes a lock-down starter anywhere, although he had his best days at right tackle in the final third of 2009. So the need may not be truly at tackle, a spot where landing a rookie starter like Webb turned out to be is a rarity.

Kiper confirmed that the Bears could wait until the second round to address defensive tackle, perhaps with someone like Marvin Austin out of North Carolina or Miami DEDT Allen Bailey (6-3, 285). The problem with Austin, however, is a possible character flag since he was suspended and missed 2010 for improper dealings with an agent; Jerry Angelo was burned badly the last time he took a character question mark in the second round (Tank Johnson) and chances of him risking that again with Austin is virtually nil.

The third round will be where matters turn especially interesting. My own guess is that the Bears will look inside on the offensive line before they take a tackle, depending on grades obviously, but Kiper sees a number of centerguard types being there for the Bears in the third round, including Wisconsins John Moffitt (6-4, 315) or Stefen Wisniewski (6-3, 295) from Penn State. Theres a lot of those centerguard guys to look at, Kiper said.

But protecting Cutler is front and center, Mel said, speaking in a voice sounding suspiciously like Mike Martzs.
Backer thoughts

The Bears have two linebackers in place, both veterans in Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. That also ties up substantial payroll, meaning the Bears will not invest heavily at the position in free agency, particular for a player who projects to be a two-down role fit at least until either Briggs or Urlacher are substantially less productive.

The intrigue for drafting a linebacker is choosing one that fits a 4-3, which the Bears play, vs. one that fits a 3-4, which Green Bay and myriad other teams play. The clear first choice for the latter remains Von Miller out of Texas A&M, who is being compared physically to Lawrence Taylor, who created the rush linebacker type who is a hybrid backerDE.

When he comes around the edge, I dont know how he keeps his feet sometimes, Kiper said, noting that Miller also is the only senior among his top 12 players. If hes going to be a great player in the NFL, its going to be how he gets after the quarterback, not how he plays the run.

Kiper has seen more success than failure in the Miller types. A lot of these 3-4 guys have made it big, Kiper said. New York Jets linebacker Vernon Gholston is one of the few busts.

Carolina watchin
Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers have the first-overall pick of the draft. They also have former Notre Damer Jimmy Clausen as their quarterback, a second-round pick, and one school of thought says Clausen is worth waiting on to develop, rather than jumping at a quarterback with that No. 1 pick, presumably Missouris Blaine Gabbert.

Based on what I know about Jimmy Clausen, I would trade out of there, move down and get a Nick Fairley, KIper said. Defensive linemen with high grades are going to go down to No. 18.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com'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.

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

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USA TODAY

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

The news on Tuesday wasn’t really any sort of surprise: Brian Urlacher being selected as a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Some of the immediate thoughts were, however, for one writer who covered Brian from the day he was drafted on through the unpleasant end of his 13-year career as a Bear.

Good thoughts, though. Definitely good.

The first was a flashback, to a Tuesday in late August 2000 when the ninth-overall pick of the draft, who’d been anointed the starting strong-side linebacker by coach Dick Jauron on draft day, was benched.

It happened up at Halas Hall when Urlacher all of a sudden wasn’t running with the 1’s. Rosie Colvin was in Urlacher’s spot with the starters and would be for a few games into the 2000 season. I caught up with Brian before he walked, in a daze, into Halas Hall after practice and asked about what I’d just seen.

"I'm unhappy with the way I'm playing and I'm sure they are, too," Urlacher said. "I don't think I've been playing very well so that's probably the cause for it right there. I just don't have any technique. I need to work on my technique, hands and feet mostly. I've got to get those down, figure out what I'm doing. I know the defense pretty good now, just don't know how to use my hands and feet."

Urlacher, an All-American safety at New Mexico but MVP of the Senior Bowl in his first game at middle linebacker, had been starting at strong side, over the tight end, because coaches considered it a simpler position for Urlacher to master. But he was not always correctly aligned before the snap, did not use his hands against blockers effectively and occasionally led with his head on tackles. His benching cost him the chance to be the first Bears rookie linebacker since Dick Butkus to start an Opening Day.

It also was the first time in his football life that Urlacher could remember being demoted.

"It's not a good feeling," he said. "I definitely don't like getting demoted but I know why I am. I just have to get better."

Coaches understood what they were really attempting, subsequently acknowledged privately that the SLB experiment was a mistake. While the strong-side slot may have been simpler than the other two principally because of coverage duties, "we're trying to force-feed the kid an elephant," then-defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

"So you see him gag and what do you do? You give him the Heimlich maneuver, you take some of it out of his mouth, try to chop it up into smaller pieces. He's going to devour it and be a great football player. But he wouldn't be if we choked him to death."

Urlacher didn’t choke and eventually became the starter, not outside, but at middle linebacker when Barry Minter was injured week two at Tampa Bay.

We sometimes don’t fully know the import or significance at the time we’re witnessing something. Urlacher stepping in at middle linebacker was not one of those times – you knew, watching him pick up four tackles in basically just the fourth quarter of a 41-0 blowout by the Bucs.

That was the beginning. Over the years came moments like Urlacher scooping up a Michael Vick fumble in the 2001 Atlanta game and going 90 yards with Vick giving chase but not catching him. Lots of those kinds of moments.

And then cutting to the ending, in 2013, when he and the organization came to an acrimonious parting after GM Phil Emery managed to alienate the face of the franchise both with the one-year contract offer and the way it was handled. Butkus had a nasty separation at the end of his Bears years, too, and Bill George finished his career as a Los Angeles Ram after creating the middle linebacker position as a Bear. Maybe that’s just how Bears and some of their linebackers wind up their relationships.

In any case, while there is no cheering in the pressbox, the hope here is that Brian goes into the Hall in a class with Ray Lewis in their first years of eligibility. Somehow that just seems like it all should close out for that confused kid from New Mexico who lost his first job out of college, but responded to that by becoming one of the all-time greats in his sport.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the most blame for Bears losses?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the most blame for Bears losses?

Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Kevin Fishbain (The Athletic) join Kap on the panel. It’s another losing season for the Bears. So who deserves the most blame: Ryan Pace, John Fox or the players? Plus Mark Schanowski drops by to talk about the Bulls future and if the Celtics will win the East.